Gephart: (from our man in the trenches Harry Camp)

In the cramped faculty lounge of the Top of the Hop, House Minority Leader Richard Gephart spoke at 4 pm yesterday afternoon. The crowd of about seventy-five seemed to be the more politically active element of campus. Many students did not even know about the event, and a last minute change of venue from Rocky 3 probably further affected the crowd. Gephart joked at the beginning that with the beautiful weather and media coverage by C-Span, he was surprised that he had any audience at all. Both Democrat and Republican, audience and speaker charged the event with insightful questions and open, informative discussion of issues.

His speech focused on issues in the Middle East, where he has recently traveled. Gephart characterized American involvement as a necessity for collective peace and prosperity in “this little bitty community we call the planet Earth.” He suggested that only by solving other countries’ problems will America’s welfare result. Gephart praised his colleagues’ work on what he called an “incremental” approach to campaign finance reform. All in all, a very soft tone pervaded the talk. He carefully prefaced his words regarding President Bush’s foreign policy with the words “constructive criticism” when referring to his disagreement with the decision to pull out of Kyoto Accords. Congressman Gephard concluded with an appeal to college-age students to devote some years of their lives to public service.