“Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.”
- Eugene McCarthy,
U.S. senator, 1959-1971
P rotocol at many community gatherings in Tucson seems to drive the need for introduction of “dignitaries” in the audience.
Translated: politicians, appointed governmental officials and assorted hangers-on who somehow have acquired the rank of VIP.
This occurs regularly at fundraising dinner banquets and galas for nonprofits, breakfasts and luncheons for this or that organization and various other community events. The more VIPs, the better, and the VIPier they are the better.
Sometimes introductions are a short exercise, sometimes a long, laborious and exasperating one – especially for the emcee and the nondignitaries in the room – but they are always fun for seeing how these public servants are presented and how they respond to this forced adulation from the people.
Apparently, election to office wasn’t enough for them.
Don’t get me wrong. I think there are place and purpose for such introductions. Respect and politeness dictate so.
Understanding that hypothesis is one thing; understanding the practice of it is quite another.
For example, at an event this week at a local resort, one Tucson City Council member who apparently had left the room (” . . . so-and-so, who was here,” the emcee said) was introduced ahead of the mayor, who had bothered to stick around.
So who is VIPier?
In the same series of recognitions, two people were introduced as candidates for the 8th Congressional District seat. One other candidate was introduced, but his congressional candidacy wasn’t mentioned, only his status as a state legislator.
He is a Republican; the two non- officeholders introduced because they are congressional candidates are Democrats.
Probably just a coincidence.
At another recent event, dual masters of ceremony introduced a passel of elected officials. Then, a few minutes later, they introduced more. Then a third time. And yet once more.
Four trips to the dais to introduce elected and appointed governmental officials, driven by what? The fear that someone would be left out and have hurt feelings or seek political revenge of some sort?
Never mind that in the crowd were dozens of real VIPs – the businesspeople and working-class folks who make significant contributions to government and to the community’s nonprofits. No introductions came for any of them.
Which brings to mind my favorite introduction at a community event. The emcee opened by saying, “Everyone who is important, please stand and be recognized.”
With that, all attendees jumped to their feet and gave themselves and each other a big round of applause.
The VIPiest people of all.
Michael A. Chihak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4646.