Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was clearly smitten with Miss America Lauren Nelson on Tuesday.
Nelson, of Lawton, testified before Inouye’s committee about protecting children from Internet predators, but, before she could even open her mouth, the Hawaii Democrat called her “lovely” twice.
Then, after she finished her statement, Inouye (pronounced In-O-Way) said he had heard “thousands” of witnesses give testimony in his years on Capitol Hill _ he’s been here since 1959 _ but that her statement was “one of the most informative and articulate” he’d heard.
Nelson was quite poised, no doubt. She had a written statement that was distributed to reporters, but she didn’t read it. She did her comments without a hard “script” and never stumbled.
In the minutes before the meeting started, Nelson sat at the witness table writing notes and appeared to be going over her “talking points” on the issue of Internet safety.
When Inouye came in the room, Nelson went to the front of the room to greet _ and obviously charm _ him.
After Inouye was done calling her lovely and called on her to speak, Nelson gave a concise overview of the issue, weaving in her own experiences both as a teenager and as Miss America and wrapped by calling for mandatoryInternet safety education. All without reading from a text.
Many witnesses _ I haven’t seen thousands, but I’ve definitely seen hundreds _ go before congressional committees with written remarks that they read verbatim, often with little inflection and, often, that go over the customary five minutes.
For jaded, impatient Washington types, the perfect witness is one that summarizes his or her statement in language used by real people (as opposed to jargon and acronyms and broad, bland platitudes) and stays well under five minutes.
It helps too if the witness is lovely.
(A Reuters photo of Miss America at the hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Tuesday)
Chris Casteel, Washington Bureau