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Congressman Emanuel Cleaver

Representing the 5th District of MISSOURI

Settling for the Sizzle

Jun 15, 2016
Civility Message

Dear Friends,

I will, because of memory failure, tell the story a preacher told years ago. This story focuses on a young man, finally on his own as a blacksmith in a small east Texas town, eagerly beginning his first work day in the fall of 1937. His initial job was to make a latch for a cattle gate. With a blacksmith’s tongs, he removed a six inch piece of iron from the fire and with his 64 ounce blacksmith’s hammer began to beat it into the shape of a latch. Then, inexplicably, he placed the iron back in the fire. After a few minutes, the beginner blacksmith again removed the iron, hit it one time and again threw it back in the fire, as if he had changed his mind. After repeating this, in the fire, out of the fire, for two or three more times, he removed it from the fire, threw it in a tub of water and said, “At least I got a sizzle out of it.”

Back in my north west Missouri Congressional district, I often tell constituents that I have yet to meet a Member of the House who arrived in Washington with morbid motives. However, we sometimes, after unsuccessfully attempting to get things done like a budget or transportation or energy bill, begin to halt hoping for Congress to do things that are not going to happen. And after a while, we settle for the sizzle. We become more concerned about building political dominance than constructing public confidence; more interested in providing “red meat” to the base than working for a badly needed Washington about-face.

There has been much presidential campaign talk about revolution and to some degree that is good. Nevertheless, a revolution that does nothing but issue complaints is like a cloud that produces loud thunder and bone-chilling lighting but no rain. Anyone desiring rain but becomes satisfied with thunder and lighting is settling for the sizzle. We as a Congress and a country cannot afford to settle for the sizzle any longer.

Warmest Regards,


Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress