Gov. Brad Henry will not go down in history as Oklahoma's oratorical governor. For those who have followed him from the beginning of his gubernatorial campaign in 2002, listening to Henry deliver one of his speeches is like hearing whales mate: sort of intriguing and excruciating at the same time.
But Henry's latest State-of-the-State address hit a new mark. Halfway through the lecture, the governor acknowledged his troubled speech-making abilities and sent out SOS signals.
"If you guys hear something you like, please applaud," Henry said, which turned out to be his best line in the address as the chamber full of legislators and the gallery of spectators erupted in laughter. "I need all the help I can get."
The governor has been accused from time to time, mainly by Republicans, of being a little slow to pick up on clues. That is not to say he lacks intelligence " Henry's political skills these past six years have clearly proven he is not to be underestimated. Some of the criticism might be aimed at his inability to show up for certain events on time.
Throughout the State of the State address, it was clear the audience had difficulty knowing when to applaud or when to stand. It seemed the only time legislators knew when to clap came after the governor's dramatic pauses. A second or two would pass before someone's internal applause meter lit up and two hands started making that familiar noise. Then, others would join in, the clapping resembling the faint sound of a buffalo herd approaching, getting louder as the herd closed in.
No matter. Henry continues to ride high job-approval ratings, despite his oratorical skills.