February 21, 2008
Some people have this horrible dream of speaking in front of a large group and suddenly realizing they’re naked.
Well, my worst nightmare is being unable to remember the answer to a question on national TV, and mine came true.
In case you missed it, which I can’t imagine, I was interviewed on MSNBC Tuesday night after the Wisconsin primaries. Chris Matthews, the guy who hosts the show called “Hardball,” barked one question over and over that I would have loved to answer, had I not completely blanked. Here’s my statement on the whole thing.
Well, that was Tuesday. Today’s Friday, tomorrow’s the weekend. We had a Presidential debate at UT last night, and for another week and a half, we’re the center of the political universe. Early voting’s already underway.
It’s an important moment in our history, as a state and a nation.
It’s reassuring to remember that it’s not about me.
Heck, right now, I’m glad to say I remember anything.
Thankfully, there’s much more to report.
Almost nothing is more important to opportunity than some sort of higher education degree. As I say in the speech, people with some education beyond high school make far more money over their lives (about $1 million, on average).
Perhaps more significantly, a degree gives people far more freedom. They can more easily choose jobs they want, not the jobs they have to take.
But higher education also means opportunity for Texas. In Austin and around the state, our economic prosperity comes straight from the commitment of previous generations to invest in higher education. It’s the wellspring of entrepreneurs, engineers, creative workers, and others who will fuel our economy in the 21st Century. It’s past time that we, today, made a similar commitment.
At the same time, we have got to do a better job bringing the fastest growing segment of our population into our colleges and universities. In a little over a decade, Hispanics will be the largest demographic group in Texas. And it’s a remarkably young group. In the last census, the median age of Texas Hispanics was 25 and a half. For whites, it was 38.
We have to fully utilize the assets of this growth and this youth. The very best way to do that is to expand access to higher education — by creating more scholarship opportunities for people to go to college, by improving schools so kids are ready to do college work when they graduate, and by building more flagship universities.
Here’s an excerpt from the speech:
Our new challenge is as unique and modern as this century. It speaks to the challenges of our parents and grandparents — the obstacles they overcame, the laws they overturned — while lifting everyone to a new level of opportunity.
We must fulfill the drive for equality with the promise of prosperity.
And as you all know, this movement must start in our schools and universities. The challenge was once over unfair laws. Now, it’s time to take on those who write unfair budgets.
You can read the full speech here.
One last bit of news from the week: on Sunday, I ran my second half-marathon in three weeks. I had two goals: to run miles at less than 10 minutes each, and to finish in under two hours.
The first goal was a complete success. On the second, I finished at two hours – and 1 minute and 34 seconds.
I have tried to analyze, justify, and talk myself out of those extra 94 seconds. Unfortunately, there was a computer chip on my shoe that prevents that. Thank goodness for transparency and accountability.
So this means only one thing – I have to run another half-marathon. I’m dreading it. But after this week, it’s oddly reassuring to know there are things in the world more painful than running over 13 miles without stopping.