The End of an Era

            Not many people have a life on network television news at age 92, and yet that is what Andy Rooney has been able to do. Curmudgeon that he is, his ideas were always thought-provoking. He has a communication style that basically says, "Here is my opinion and I don't care how the chips fall."  In addition, he looked at issues in a way no one else had thought about. He was willing to poke holes in our sacred cows.

            One I remember well was shortly after the inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2000. His criticism then was why Presidents always include in their speeches, "God bless America." Not only did President Bush do it in his inaugural address, but Rooney showed  short clips from Presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and the Democratic  presidential nominee  that year, Al Gore,  where each had invoked God's blessings. His question was, "Does that mean that God does not bless other countries? Or does that mean He should not bless other countries?”  This was a unique way of saying maybe we use  this phrase  as a trite throw-away line instead of actually thinking of a spiritual experience  that probably does not  fit most  major speech  situations.

            An important point for communicators from Andy is not to speak unless we have a specific point to make. His listeners who heard his commentaries never thought, "I wonder what his point was."  And Andy Rooney never rehashed old stuff. His other lesson for talkers is to speak only when you can add something new or different on the topic.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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