Yi Blames Bad McGovern Day Speech on Emotion; Rep. Tim Ryan Shows Passion and Polish

Charlyne Yi KSFY
Charlyne Yi somehow manages not to curse on KSFY, 2016.04.30.

I am not qualified fairly summarize or evaluate Charlyne Yi’s speech to South Dakota Democrats at McGovern Day in Sioux Falls on April 30. I entered the event biased, disappointed that the Bernie Sanders campaign was sending as its surrogate a lesser-known Hollywood celebrity while the Hillary Clinton campaign was sending seven-term Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. I walked out of Yi’s speech halfway through when she apparently abandoned any prepared remarks and started dropping f-bombs. I thus cannot properly assess the quality and impact of her entire speech.

Yi apparently got the sense it didn’t go too well… but rationalizes her failure to represent candidate Sanders effectively as an exercise in her emotional superiority to political figures:

I think I am too angry to speak in politics. I went to McGovern Day in South Dakota tonight and cursed up a storm during dinner….I don’t think it went over very well. My heart exploded everywhere. Political figures speak in riddles and rhymes avoiding actually feeling empathy and talking about the issues. And to be honest, my heart is broken because we shouldn’t have to debate whether the lives of those affected by Fracking (who are dealing with cancer, mental health problems, respiratory problems) are worth fighting for. We shouldn’t have to convince people to start caring about the well being of Native Americans. We shouldn’t have to beg the government to honor their treaty, allowing the Apache to keep Oak Flat, their culture, and ceremonial land that they’ve had for over 700 years. What kind of surreal world do we live in where empathy is not our first instinct and profit is? Do we really need to take more from the Native people? Without honor, what are we?

Tomorrow I’ll release my speech that I meant to say at McGovern Day. Unfortunately, something else came out. Maybe my soul that’s aching [Charlyne Yi, Facebook post, 2016.04.30 23:42 CST].

Congressman Tim Ryan [D-Ohio-17] with South Dakota State Legislative candidates Nikki Bootz and Cory Heidelberger, Democrats from Aberdeen, SD.
Congressman Tim Ryan [D-Ohio-17] with South Dakota State Legislative candidates Nikki Bootz and Cory Heidelberger, Democrats from Aberdeen, SD, at McGovern Day, 2016.04.30.
That’s funny. Congressman Tim Ryan is a political figure. I heard him speak at dinner and earlier at our candidate training session. I didn’t hear him speaking in riddles and rhymes. I heard him speaking with empathy for the working class and talking about issues. I heard his soul bursting with pride in the achievements of his preferred Presidential candidate, our party, and our nation yet still aching over injustice that he’s determined to fight. Amidst all of his passion, he maintained the stage presence and control to give the clear, conversational, rousing speech that he meant to give. And when Congressman Ryan summed up his McGovern Day appearance on his Facebook page, he didn’t need to indulge and excuse his emotions. He just repeated what he was there to do: support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party:

Congressman Tim Ryan, Facebook post, 2016.04.30 20:06 CDT.
Congressman Tim Ryan, Facebook post, 2016.04.30 20:06 CDT.

We can speak with passion, empathy, and clarity about political issues. I try to do that every day here on the blog. It’s not easy. It takes practice. It takes getting beyond self-indulgence and understanding one’s duty to one’s audience. Keep practicing, Ms. Yi. Take notes from Congressman Ryan. You can get there. You can make your emotions propel your political messages rather than letting your emotions get in the way.

44 Responses to Yi Blames Bad McGovern Day Speech on Emotion; Rep. Tim Ryan Shows Passion and Polish

  1. Just what I keep saying – liberals are mad and that is what is needed to break up Washington. We needed Bern!

  2. Star of the night, Paula Hawks!

  3. the only “quote” I wrote down was one of hers. It may not have made it back with the program notes, or maybe one of the other riders grabbed it, so I can’t repeat it right now.

    I was hoping for some serious comedy that night. speak what you know, you know. sometimes complex issues are hard to understand for younger folks. but they know for sure that Hillary may not look as cool as young san francisco high tech/social media-type employers who practice ageism and ignore supremely gifted, trained, experienced older job candidates. with wrinkles and grey hair.

  4. Indeed, sometimes you misspeak and then it comes back to haunt you. Could have happened to anyone. “communities. the little people. my guess is she doesn’t mean “committed to coal corporations” or she’d have said it. she slipped up too mentioning going off the reservation. she immediately corrected her poor comment. these aren’t judgement problems. these are little things, but not for the locals effected. she knows that.” No one is perfect, that is why I could never be anymore than who I am.

  5. Leslie, Bernie looks like the biggest unpopular nerd that was bullied. Maybe that’s why he’s so lovable! :)

  6. Paula Hawks definitely lit up the stage with the best, toughest, boldest speech I’ve heard her make. Every speech I’ve heard her make has been stronger than the one before. Stand that confidence and fight up against Noem on the same stage, and voters will see the difference a real Congresswoman would make.

  7. Jenny, you enunciate that point better than Yi did. We have a right to be angry. We must channel that anger into rousing battle cries and action.

    Stephanie Herseth Sandlin actually made funnier jokes that Yi. Stephanie’s riff on the “woman card” meme that Trump launched was brilliant and punishing.

  8. Leslie, you make a reasonable observation: Yi appears to have stepped away from what she knows into an issue she wasn’t ready to discuss in front of a big crowd. I likely would have been disappointed with comedy as well, if it wasn’t focused on the purpose of her speech, which was to represent Bernie Sanders.

    Ryan did that well by citing Scripture (and remember, I’m an atheist Sanders man praising this line)—Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'”—and saying Hillary Clinton has always said, “Send me!” He used that line to tie the candidate he was representing to the candidates in the room whom he’d met during the day. He built that common ground, encouraging us to see Hillary the same way we see ourselves, as answering a call to serve. Yi could have used exactly the same language to boost Sanders… but Ryan did it and made it work.

  9. Jerry, I agree, no one is perfect. I’m prone to error and getting carried away in my speeches. That’s why I’m perhaps sensitive to Yi’s own errors, since they feel like errors I could make.

    But I note that the f-bombs in her speech didn’t feel like a slip. She said it. Then she repeated it. And in her Facebook self-evaluation, I don’t hear her correcting or apologizing. for either those few choice words or for her overall failure to represent her candidate the way she planned.

  10. Surrogates are not the Candidate. Unfortunately Ms. Yi did not adequately represent the policies, practices and seriousness of Bernie Sanders. Anyone who knows Senator Sanders and his policies which reflect a sanity that is missing in our national discourse must come to be able to overlook and disregard this comedian’s failure to meet his and our standards. Unfortunate and a missed opportunity for South Dakota Democrats; however, it is time to move on and fight the good fight for Bernie Sanders and the vast majority of South Dakotans and our fellow Americans.

  11. Clearly Yi is very passionate about her positions. While she was not the strongest speaker of the evening, her voice was filled with her concern and frustration.

    We do understand the plight of the Native people of South Dakota. We also understand the harmful effects of fracking. Her words did not fall on deaf ears. These are issues Democrats care about.

    I was not offended by her use of colorful language. It seemed the crowd was about equally shocked and relieved when she finally found her voice.

    We need to remember Yi is not a politician; she is a comedian who is passionate about Bernie. And while she did not speak with the same eloquence as the other speakers at McGovern Day I empathize with the position she was in. Before she spoke, Bernie’s video did not play. There were technical difficulties. That alone had to be unnerving for Yi. Then it played for the first time in its entirety only the audio came through. That could have troubled experienced speakers.

    I prefer to focus on the success of the day, which was great, in my humble opinion. :D

  12. I agree with the fact that f bombs are not appropriate in a speaking engagement. You may make an error and let one go, I have done that before I even realized I did it and it was not from hurting myself either. For her to continue down that trail shows she was not up to her task and should have been vetted much better. I would not care to read her revisionist version either, time for her to move on.

  13. Yi’s speech was the only one that made people cringe, but she was passionate. Like it has been said, take notes and practice. I was amazed by all of the speakers, Paula was a firecracker! When Tim Ryan spoke earlier in the day, and at the supper, I couldn’t help but wonder why he isn’t the one running for president.
    All in all, it was a wonderful, exciting time.

  14. Nick Nemec

    Dropping the f-bomb twice was the least of the problems with Ms. Yi’s speech. It was sadly disjointed and rambled between multiple subjects without completing one thought before shifting on to the next. At one point the person next to me leaned over and asked if I was following the speech, I said “no, are you” and was told “neither am I”. I responded “thank God I thought my ADD was kicking in.”

    The Sanders campaign should have sent her a speech or at least some talking points.

  15. Who knows that maybe this is what she was alluding to with fracking and a Democratic governor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc5-2yF1EzM Maybe she was saying frack instead of, well, that other word we cannot utter.

    Time to leave the oil in the ground and put an end to the destruction of fracking.

  16. cory, frmr Sen. & Rep. Frank J. Kloucek (D. Scotland-my gramma’s birth place) is becoming a friend and I assert in your smiling face on this post, I see a young, suave, smooth Mr. Kloucek too. hahahaha! wiki

  17. Pocketgopher

    If i knew she was going i would have gone. She’s my oxykitten.


  18. Leo, I agree that the relative merits of the performances of the surrogates Saturday do not reflect the merits of their candidates. I’m sure we could find any number of Clinton supporters who could do as poor a job of enunciating Clinton’s policies. And I don’t want to discourage any citizen from getting involved in politics and speaking up for candidates they support.

    But as a performer, Yi should recognize the importance of preparing for an audience. Nick makes a good suggestion: if a person takes a stage as a surrogate of a candidate, that candidate should help that surrogate prepare and make certain expectations clear, and that surrogate should practice in order to represent the candidate well.

  19. Jerry, if that was her reference, she needed to make it clear. But she dropped the f-bombs while talking about Indians, not fracking. Her usage was clear and deliberate.

  20. Of course it was deliberate. My mom used to say that when people really did not have much to say they just cursed and spit. Guess Ms Yi just was not on her game and you cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube after such a bomb.

  21. pocketgopher, you rule man. How appropriate

  22. Oh, Leslie—I don’t want to be the next Kloucek. I will be happy to lead the charge that paves the road in the 2017 Legislature for the real Kloucek to come out of political retirement and win the Governor’s chair in 2018. Swords at the ready, men! Charge!

  23. I wish I could have heard this speech. It seems like this Yi lady would be interesting as a politician. I do feel bad, Mr. H, that your expectations where not up to what you would have liked. I can imagine it was a frustrating day. But good that you and the young lady got a picture with that Mr. Ryan. Your smile looks good like a politician’s should, but your backpack seems to be heavy and pulling you down.

  24. Grudz, you could have seen the speech for a mere $65. You’d have gotten dinner, too. Plenty of neighbors you could have ridden with.

    The disappointment of Yi’s speech was the exception to an otherwise wonderful day of Democratic pride. Our two statewide candidates gave solid speeches that should call all those Democrats who’ve been sitting out to get back on the horse and ride with us. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin gave a rousing speech that would put the fear of God in Jackley, Noem, Mickelson, and anyone else on the other side. Just you wait.

  25. Cory –
    I’m usually pretty charitable and generous, but although there was a seat available in my car, Grudz would not have been welcome. Besides, all the conversation would have gone right over his thick head.

  26. $65 for supper!? I would expect to pay that sort of thing for a good song and dance and maybe that’s what Ms. Yi was all about. Goodness, I’d pay my money in spades for a good Lincoln day dinner with some fellows who are likely to take office. Not those federal types but the locals who can actually make a difference. Regardless I still offer my compliments about your presence there, you are looking more and more politically correct all the time and smiling nice.

  27. Mr. Curt, you seem the sort of fellow who wouldn’t even wipe the gravy from my chin or help me to the restroom. You’re not one of the socialist ones, you’re a selfish libbie aren’t you?

  28. Grudz – How are you able to operate a keyboard if you are unable to find the restroom or wipe gravy from your own chin? (Btw, my plate had no gravy – must have cost extra.)

  29. Mr. Curt, do not be facetious. It is not that I cannot find the restroom, I need assistance therein.

    As to the keyboard issue I have a pencil with an oddly shaped rubber thing, purple in color, slipped over the business end. I hold the pencil with that and poke at the keys with the other eraser end that isn’t pointy. You must think me a Luddite of some insaner sort.

  30. I hope Democrats can overlook this young ladies cursing to get mad enough, fired up enough, angry and motivated, to do something about the trade deals and many other things that we are being so callous about. These young folks are gonna be taking the brunt of the slack of what we have been allowing for some time now. We will need their enthusiasm to fight the fight. Forget about it and get mad, real mad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yid-CW-O9Qw

  31. Lanny V Stricherz

    It astounds me, that people can get worked up over some folks use of expletives, and completely ignore the lying and cheating of other folks. How is it okay that a candidate says that she was always for gay marriage, when the filmed quotes are out there to show that she was not, or that she doesn’t change her position when it is politically expedient, even though we know she does for instance when she was for the Keystone XL and now she is against it?

    For instance, how do we know that Jesus didn’t say those f—in pharisees? We know that he came into the temple and knocked over the stuff of the money changers, at least it says so in the Bible, but how do we know that he didn’t use some expletives in so doing?

  32. I’m glad that this blog talks about Democratic presidential candidates. Go to that GOP party blog and get past the press releases and you wouldn’t know there is even a presidential race going on. The GOP party is so ashamed of its own presidential candidates it won’t even talk about them.

    The GOP party knows it’s going to lose the presidential race to the Democratic nominee. For the GOP party this year it’s all about stopping the bleeding. Let’s stop wounding each other on the Dem side and give the GOP side some more well-deserved bleeding to worry about stopping.

  33. Careful, Lanny. I’m not comparing surrogate Yi to candidate Clinton. I’m comparing surrogate Yi to surrogate Ryan and offering a speech critique.

    When I give a speech, I do not take my own powerful emotions as license to say whatever I want. I recognize that I still have a duty to my audience and to whomever I may be representing with my speech to speak effectively and avoid unnecessary offense.

  34. Lanny V Stricherz

    My point was/is, I am more offended by lying than I ever have been by foul language and that even includes the points in my life when I did not use foul language.

  35. As surrogates to the Democratic Party, I am wondering how much the DNC has sent to South Dakota Democratic Party for the upcoming elections. My guess is nothing, so where is the moolah for the down ticket, in Clinton’s pockets. http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/04/19/sanders-blasts-cozy-clinton-dnc-scheme-large-dollar-donors

    There is a reason for strong emotion, but not cussing, in speaking of how our election process works here. We use voter suppression here in South Dakota just like it is done nationally. A disgrace to veterans who fought and died for freedom. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose, young folks get it because we have forgotten those days of Kris and Janis.

  36. Nick Nemec

    Lanny, like you I am not overly offended by the foul language. Maybe a stint in the Marine Corps and a lifetime around rank cows blowing snot has calloused my ears.
    I do however object to rambling disjointed speeches with no discernible point. Had Ms. Yi been giving an extemporaneous speech in a high school speech class I would have given her a D had it been a prepared speech I would have given her an F. I wonder what the actual speech teachers in the room would have given her?

  37. Nick, this speech teacher would have given her the good advice you see in my last paragraph so she could prepare to do better in her next important speech.

  38. Nick Nemec

    I probably would have given her an incomplete and a second chance to give a more prepared speech. It’s a learning process. Had she blown off the chance for a do over then the original grades would stand.

  39. In politics and in theater, we don’t get do-overs. We get one shot at our audience. We must always practice and perform with that thought in mind: These folks may never see me again. This is my only chance to win them over.

  40. Nick Nemec

    I agree Cory, real life doesn’t have many do overs, but I was talking about if I was a speech teacher. “Your speech was a failure, I’ll give you the weekend to have a do over. Now work on XY&Z and see if you can do a better job.”

  41. Bernie Sanders takes it closer to convention with is win!

  42. GOP party members cryin’ in their soup
    Win or lose Trump costs them the senate majority
    If Trump wins he destroys the GOP party and loses the house majority in 2 years
    And he’ll appoint liberal justices and sign Democratic bills
    GOP party members eating bitter watery soup