In The Words Of The Dead Presidents

Of the four Colorado House and Senate leaders who delivered opening day speeches to kick off the start of the legislative session last week, only Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany did not eulogize the wit and wisdom of any dead presidents (or almost-presidents).

The others smattered their floor speeches with references to Gerald Ford, LBJ, FDR, Honest Abe and, of course, Ronald Reagan.

Here is Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff’s ode to Republican President Gerald Ford:

“In the fall of 1973, then-Representative Ford was nominated as vice president. At his Senate confirmation hearings, he said, ‘I am not a saint, and I am sure I have done things I might have done better or differently, or not at all. But I believe and hope that I have been honest with myself and with others, that I have been faithful to my friends and fair to my opponents, and that I have tried my very best to make this great Government work for the good of all Americans.’ ”

Romanoff also told this Lyndon B. Johnson/Sam Rayburn story:

“President Johnson was once a brash young member of Congress. He was elected to the House when he was just 29. He was walking through the Capitol one day, when he noticed a pair of Republican congressmen headed in the other direction. He turned to an older colleague named Sam Rayburn and said, ‘There goes the enemy.’

“Speaker Rayburn quickly corrected him. He said, ‘No, Lyndon, the Republicans are our opponents. The Senate is our enemy!’

House Minority Leader Mike May, (R-Parker) alluded to Ronald Reagan‘s “Creative Society”:

“President Ronald Reagan once talked about what he called the ‘Creative Society’ – a society that gave people the opportunity of self-government and provided greater efficiency. His strategy was to review the structure of state government and bring it into line with the most advanced, modern business practices. 

During his speech, May also talked about President Abraham Lincoln, who said, “It is not merely for today, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald deviated from the water theme of her speech (which compared the Legislature with the Colorado River) long enough to quote Robert F. Kennedy: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself but each of us can work to change a small portion of events and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

And, to her colleagues: “We have a lot of work to do, so in the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I will ‘Be sincere, be brief, and be seated.'”

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Cara Degette

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