Thursday, February 09, 2006

If you can't say something nice...really, really nice...

Your congressman might put his foot in his mouth. In Washington state:

Our story begins last summer when Kevin Nelson of Centralia College sent a typed, four-sentence letter to Congressman Brian Baird, a Democrat from the Vancouver area. The lawmaker and his wife had awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the student, a spokeswoman for Baird said. Nelson put the amount at $500. Whichever the amount, he was grateful.

"I would like to thank you for your generous scholarship," Nelson wrote. "These funds will greatly assist me in my pursuit of higher education. ... The money I save will go toward my goal of attending business school and law school. Thank you again."

The letter of appreciation apparently didn't satisfy Baird, who fired back a missive that raised eyebrows, mine included.

"Your note, a copy of which is attached, was quite frankly, not very impressive to say the least," the congressman said, blasting the well-meaning young man.

...."Perhaps you have not been given instruction in how to write formal letters, but let us suggest that you learn," Baird wrote in his December reply. He said Nelson should have penned gratitude on "some form of nice card" or letterhead.

"What is more," Baird piled on, "if you wish to advance in life, it will behoove you to learn how to draft a truly thoughtful and expressive letter."

.... "When someone contributes rather generously and selflessly to your benefit," Baird wrote, "you owe them a sincere and heartfelt expression of gratitude."

Say, like Jack Abramoff would do?

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