Excerpts from remarks by Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) Friday to newly elected members of Congress:
I want to welcome you to the city of the superlative -- everything here is either outstanding or outrageous -- leave nuance back home.
You are in the throes of a thoroughly exhilarating experience, ranking right up there with Churchill's being shot at and missed. . . .
A politician has been defined as someone who can accuse his opponent of duplicity without appearing envious, and one of my favorite cynics is Eugene McCarthy, who once said a politician has to be like a football coach -- smart enough to know something about the game but dumb enough to think what he's doing is important.
But I have ransacked my files for . . . the idea that I could provide you that would help you the most in coping with the stresses that your new career will impose (remember when you quote one person it's plagiarism, but when you quote many people it's research) -- and so I researched from Pericles to Vince Lombardi, from Dostoyevsky to Casey Stengel, and I couldn't find any wisdom that I could impart with credibility and authenticity.
But this morning, it came to me as a blinding inspiration -- and so I convey to you, at this sumptuous luncheon, a secret of immense value and utility -- and it's simply this: You don't have to eat everything they put in front of you!
. . . . Fashionable cynicism notwithstanding, public service is a vocation capable and deserving of honor, and, because the law is a teacher as well as a boundary-setter, it is no overstatement to say that your service will help shape the course of this great and ongoing experiment in self-government. . . . A care for nurturing the culture of democracy is an essential part of our responsibility as United States representatives. . . .
There are things worth losing for. This may sound odd, even ironic. You are here in the flush of victory. And yet it is precisely now that I ask you to contemplate the possibility of defeat -- perhaps even the necessity of defeat. . . .
Let me put the matter plainly: If you are here simply as a tote board registering the current state of opinion in your district, you are not going to serve either your constituents or the Congress of the United States well. . . .
You must take, at times, a national view, even if, in taking that view, you risk the displeasure of your neighbors and friends back home.
This institution needs more members willing to look beyond the biennial contest for power, more committed to public service as a vocation rather than merely a career.
This House needs members who are at least as clear on the reasons why they would risk losing as they are on the reasons why they wanted to come here in the first place.