Posted by Brad @ 10:48 am on May 22nd 2009

Job Posting: Elite High School Debater Wanted

During my debating days in high school, I became pretty good at speed reading. I don’t mean quietly scanning through a book rapidly, I mean reading a book aloud at the quickest pace possible, comprehension mostly optional. This was a valued skill in debate, where, if your judges were acclimated well enough, the game could often come down to which team could simply cover the most ground in their allotted 8 minute speeches. So, if a couple of KU debaters were judging, you’d bust out every file you had on the given subject and just try to cram it all in, the idea being if you could read aloud faster than the other team, you’ll be able to throw more stuff at the wall.

But I always wondered, what’s the job market for somebody who is interested in the minutia of policy-making and can manage to read aloud at a rate of 450 words a minute?

Democrats in the House Energy and Commerce Committee have taken a novel step to head off Republican efforts to slow action this week on a sweeping climate bill: Hiring a speed reader.

Committee Republicans, who largely oppose the measure, have said they may force the reading of the entire 946-page bill, as well as major amendments totaling several hundred pages. So far, Republicans have decided not to use the procedural maneuver, but Chairman Henry Waxman of California is prepared.

A committee spokeswoman said the young man, who’s doing door duty at the hearing as he awaits his possible call to the microphone, was hired to help career staff. After years of practice, the panel’s clerks can certainly read rapidly, but she says the speed reader is a lot faster.

“Judging by the size of the amendments, I can read a page about every 34 seconds,” said the newly hired “staff assistant” who declined to give his name. Based on that count, it would take around nine hours to read the entire bill.

This leads to some CSPAN fun.

For the record, I think I could beat that guy, though I’m pretty out of practice.

1 Comment »

  1. At least someone on Capital Hill is reading a bill for a change.

    Comment by James — 5/22/2009 @ 1:34 pm

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