The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 7, 2012

It's Just Politics: Kelly speaks the people's language


---- — A recent study that seems to indicate a dumbing down of congressional discourse is a good news/bad news story for Mercer County’s congressman.

The Sunlight Foundation, a group that advocates for government transparency, studied legislative speechifying and found the vocabulary of federal lawmakers positively sophomoric. Capitol debaters speak at a 10th grade level, according to the group. That’s down from the 11th grade-level gabbing that it determined was the norm in 2005.

The average American reads at a 9th grade level, which is good news for U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, the Butler Republican who represents Mercer County. According to the study, Kelly speaks their language, coming in at a 9.65 level. The bad news for Kelly is that his score was the lowest in the Pennsylvania delegation.

The report notes that the Constitution was written at a 17.8 grade level, putting the founders at the level of doctoral candidates, and that one of the greatest pieces of American rhetoric, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, was written at a 9.4 grade level. Modern-day master orator President Obama’s public speeches come in around the 8th grade level, according to a University of Michigan study.

-- Nick Hildbrand, Herald News Editor/Weekends