American Speaker editor-in-chief Aram Bakshian Jr., who was a White House speechwriter under three U.S. presidents — Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan (he was director of speechwriting during the glory days of the Gipper's first term) — has given Inside the Beltway the first glance at his annual Patrick Henry Awards for best and worst public speakers.
(Mr. Bakshian explains the award is named for the Revolutionary figure — "Give me liberty or give me death!" — since he is "the founding father of American orators.")
Without further ado, the 2007 winners — and losers:
"Most Effective Campaign Speaker" goes to ... Elizabeth Edwards?
"That's right, Elizabeth, not John," confirms Mr. Bakshian. "The wife of the former senator from North Carolina and aspiring Democratic presidential nominee has consistently outperformed her spouse in personal appearances, on camera and at the microphone."
"Most Promising 'Dark Horse' Campaign Speaker" goes to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, initially "best remembered for a book he wrote about losing weight — not exactly the ideal branding for someone running for president. But after a surprise second-place finish in the Iowa straw poll vote last August, Mike Huckabee started attracting attention ...
"In debate after debate ... he stood out from the crowd of sometimes overprogrammed candidates as a man who knew who he was and what he stood for and could still raise an honest chuckle that bonded him with his audience."
Additional awards go to:
ABC News' Charles Gibson: Best Network News Anchor
Fox News' Chris Wallace: Best Political Interviewer
MSNBC's Chris Matthews: Worst Political Interviewer
Rosie O'Donnell: Worst Talk Show Panelist
Cal Ripken Jr: Most Inspiring Speaker
Finally, receiving the award for "Most Professional Spokesman" is Tony Snow, who "took over the White House press office at a time when its stock was very low."
"By force of his character — and because he knew what it was like to serve as a working journalist — he restored a measure of mutual confidence and respect between the press corps and the position he occupied."
Snow cap and gown
Speaking of Tony Snow, the former White House press secretary under President Bush will be the featured speaker at Old Dominion University's fall commencement Dec. 15.
The 52-year-old Mr. Snow tells Inside the Beltway he's "excited" to be returning to Norfolk, given that early in his journalism career he was an editorial writer for the city's Virginian-Pilot newspaper.
He's also opined for the Greensboro (N.C.) Record, the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), the Detroit News, USA Today and The Washington Times; and for seven years he was host of "Fox News Sunday," and later "The Tony Snow Show" on Fox News Radio.
After unprecedented early campaigning for the White House, the 2008 presidential election suddenly isn't so far away, given the announcement that New Hampshire will hold its first-in-the-nation presidential primary Tuesday, January 8 — just 43 days from today, or six weeks from tomorrow.
"Yes," reacts a sarcastic Christopher C. Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, "we absolutely must get on our private jets to drop into Bali in December to lecture the world on how individual energy consumption is immoral."
He is referring to a story just posted by Bali Discovery Tours about how the management of Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport "are concerned that the large number of additional private charter flights expected in Bali during the U.N. Conference on Climate Change, held Dec. 3-15, 2007, will exceed the carrying capacity of airport apron areas.
"To meet the added demand for aircraft storage, officials are allocating 'parking space' at other airports in Indonesia. The operational manager for Bali's airport, Azjar Effendi, says his three parking areas can only accommodate 15 planes, which means some of the jets used by VIP delegations will only be allowed to disembark and embark their planes in Bali with parking provided at airports in Surabaya, Lombok, Jakarta and Makassar."