In Washington, the lingua franca of policy discussions is "lobbyspeak," a form of communication that seeks, among other things, to conceal any hint of personal belief or interest.
The allure of lobbyspeak is that it allows the speaker to say things in a way that inoculates him from the risk that someone might denigrate his arguments as being just his own opinions, as contrasted, say, with positions derived from case law, or precedent, or that runaway favorite, the “public interest.”
Considered in the larger scheme of things, this is not the worst thing in the world. Among the initiated, after all, it is easily spotted, and in some cases even appreciated — like a risqué double entendre — for its naughty cleverness. But it can be, and often is, remarkably tiresome.
Which is why I write today to commend a speech given in Washington this week by the president of the Consumer Electronics Association, the people who host the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Lobbyspeak it was not.
As reported Tuesday in the headline of a Broadcasting & Cable story, "CEA president Gary Shapiro says media has ‘failed’ the country by poorly analyzing important stories," the speech excoriated the press for their insufficient attention to the substantive aspects of the recently enacted stimulus legislation, and our financial crisis generally.
In a town in which many, association executives particularly, are loathe to say anything that might upset anyone — the press and policymakers especially — Shapiro’s speech before The Media Institute was stunningly different, and frank, and courageous.