My Congressional Testimony vs. Stephen Colbert’s Performance

Posted by on September 27, 2010

Legislation, sausage, and the news are three things you never want to see being made.  Of the three, I think legislation is the ugliest with the least predictable (and sometimes least meaningful) outcome.

I have had the opportunity to testify on school safety issues four times before our nation’s Congress:

  • House Education and Labor Committee Joint Subcommittee hearing on strengthening federal school safety July 8, 2009.
  • House Homeland Security Committee hearing on school emergency readiness May 17, 2007.
  • House Education and Labor Committee hearing on school security issues April 23, 2007.
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee school safety hearing May 9, 1999.

    I have always considered the invitations to testify as an honor and as a service to my country.  So it was interesting to see the House hearing this past week in which comedian Stephen Colbert testified.

    It was even more interesting to watch the backlash on his testimony by both Democrats and Republicans, as highlighted in the Sunday L.A. Times story entitled Stephen Colbert’s congressional testimony was anything but funny, Republicans say.  (The headline is a bit leading as Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also spoke out against the way Colbert’s testimony was provided.)  Many have said his testimony was an embarrassing and disrespectful of the Congressional hearing process.

    Back in July of 2009, I testified on strengthening federal school safety policy and funding.  Two days later, an unrelated House committee eliminated $295 million in Safe and Drug Free Schools funding from the federal budget.  I scratched my head for the past year-plus wondering if anyone in Congress was listening to the testimony of the experts they call in to testify, given they did just the opposite of what myself and others testified was needed to improve federal response to school safety (increase funding, not cut it).

    Now I know the truth.  I failed to deliver my presentation “in character” like Stephen Colbert.  Had I done so, I would have captured national headlines for days. 

    If I ever get invited back again, I’ll be sure to deliver my testimony “in character.”  I’ll just have to figure out which “character” is the best to get the attention and action warranted from Congress for the serious issue they have called me four times to testify about:  The safety of children in schools.

    Maybe if I go “in character” the fifth time they’ll listen and act upon what I recommend in my testimony, rather than do just the opposite two days later?

    Ken Trump

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