It was midway through George W. Bush’s first term and the Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle, was being hammered for being an obstructionist. More specifically, he was being accused of using the power of the Senate to thwart the will of the President. As luck would have it, or perhaps a bit of strategy, Daschle agreed to be the Democratic speaker at the Gridiron Dinner.
As is the custom in Washington, a call went out to a small group of political insiders on the Democrat side for lines for the speech. I thought Daschle could use his understated style to address the obstructionist label. He agreed — and his opening line was, “Hi, my name is Tom, and I’m an obstructionist. This is my first meeting.”
Not Hollywood material, but it worked — and with the audience that matters. Issues like Daschle’s political obstructionism and, more recently, Senator Amy Klobuchar’s alleged abusive-boss mannerisms only matter if Washington insiders think they matter. And if enough of them do, eventually voters could think they are important issues, too.