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 Has 'My Man Mitch' Become 'Our Chauncey Gardiner'?

Ok, was it just me, or did Governor Mitch Daniels’ speech Monday night give anyone else reason to be concerned?

The governor isn’t exactly on a lot of local “favorite person” lists right now, especially with the announced closing of the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home. Some people are just down right ticked off at the man.

But in his inaugural address Monday, Daniels didn’t look like himself. He didn’t talk like himself. He looked and sounded more like Peter Sellers in the 1979 motion picture “Being There.”

What Governor Daniels said:

"These present troubles are but a frost in April, a brief chill before the full flowering of the greener Indiana to come. Not even the cold realities of a wintry world economy can obscure the signs of spring in our state."

The speech took me back to the Oscar-winning performance of Sellers in the “Being There” movie. In the movie, Sellers portrayed “Chance”, a simple man who knew nothing about the outside world because he had lived his entire life inside the home of a billionaire. He was the gardener. He watched a lot of television, so TV and gardening were his outer limits of knowledge.

In the movie, Chance was mistaken for a man of profound intelligence, and through some confusing misinterpretations, his name was thought to be Chauncy Gardiner, instead of Chance the gardener. Simple phrases about gardening were misinterpreted as being anything from economic predictions to sound political advice. He was quickly launched into a position of political power, and soon became an advisor to the president.

Said Chauncey, “A garden needs tending and care. But all is well ... and all will be well ... in the garden.”

Governor Daniels warned, “The frosts of fear can nip the most promising and beautiful of buds."

In the movie, the president quotes Chauncey and makes references to gardening and seasons as bright metaphors and insightful comment regarding the hope for improvement in the economy.

Chauncey said, “In the spring, everything will be better in the garden.”

Governor Daniels said, "When you're green, you grow. When you're ripe, you rot."

When I heard the governor’s speech Monday night, I immediately told myself, “Hey, I’ve heard this before.”

So I popped in the old VHS copy of the movie, and sure enough, the governor of the state of Indiana gave a speech that was strikingly similar to lines from a 30-year-old movie about an illiterate gardener who was mistaken for a man who had brilliant ideas on the economy.

In Daniels’ speech he said, "Indiana's garden will need constant tending, and continual nurture, if it is to remain fertile and hospitable to more growth and opportunity.”

Chauncey Gardiner said, “In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.”

Then the president said to Chauncey, “So OK, you’re saying a fertile economy with constant tending will spur growth in the spring. I like that.”

Someone on the governor’s speech-writing team is kidding, right?

In the movie, a lot of people were duped into thinking that a simpleton gardener was a brilliant economist who had the answers to many questions and problems. I find it rather ironic that in these times of economic hardship and warnings of worse things to come, that our governor is dangerously close to quoting that illiterate gardener character.

Who are you kidding with this gibberish?

The man who campaigned on job creation and education improvements just announced that he’ll be taking away over 180 jobs and putting potentially hundreds of less fortunate kids back into public school systems – environments in which they could not function before. That’s what will happen when the ISSCH closes this May.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the governor, but if you are going to borrow an entire theme from a motion picture and use it in your inaugural speech, it probably would have been a better idea to choose one that didn’t revolve around an illiterate, who, albeit innocently, fooled everyone around him.


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