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Note to Paul Hackett -- Phoney Speech Patterns Are the Death of Good Candidates

I remember hearing a young, charismatic Ted Kennedy ready to pick up the torch of his brothers.

I remember hearing a smart, but humble, Al Gore who solar-powered through the Senate.

I remember a courageous John Kerry discarding political correctness to speak from his heart.

I remember a balls ahead Hillary exposing the vast right wing conspiracy (though Bill certainly did his best to suck the air out of that truth).

I remember watching a noble "Candidate," Bill McKay (Robert Redford), speaking for the little man.

Unfortunately, I watched everyone of them, about to reach a political zenith, drop every scent of authenticity, and become a "candidate."

A candidate is a creature who, given the opportunity to attain everything they ever dreamt of, decides the principles they've voiced so honestly to get there, were worth far less than some Dick Morris whispering in their ear.

The first indication that they're beginning to listen to someone or someplace other than their heart, is their changing speech pattern.

Human speech cadence is replaced by a halting, soulless, robotic, much-too-careful rhythm that no homo sapien was ever meant to speak. As if no more than six words are able to fit into a single breath; as if they're speaking to a stadium full of folks even in the confines of a talk show studio, they no longer speak. Instead, they make speeches.

I'm not even speaking about content. Oh, that changes too. But it wouldn't even matter what they said because if it comes out sounding phoney, no amount of truth is going to have it be heard any other way.

People can detect a phoney as easy as a sore on the tongue. Don't matter what comes out, it's irritating as hell.

As (I hate this word but damn if sometime it isn't perfectly appropriate) retarded as our president sounds, as idiotic the words that come out of his mouth, voters believed him.

"Sure he's an idiot, but I kind of like the guy."

Even people who voted for Kerry didn't want to have a beer with the actual war hero.

I never understood why politicians have always been willing to throw away the integrity that drove them into politics in the first place. It was what won them voters. But it seems that when the power brokers in the Democratic Party hear anything that sounds like integrity, they throw it away. They did it with Paul Hackett. They're doing it with Marcy Winograd. Feingold and Obama may be next.

As Paul Hackett considers another run, it's important that he sticks to his guns and remember the lessons of Gore's concession speech. Did Gore ever sound more like a real-life human being? 'Course he never should have conceded, but with the pressure off, he dropped all pretense and returned to who he was that originally got him elected to earlier office.

In his surrender, he found himself. A bit too late, but not too late for Hackett.

Perhaps the best way for the Dems to win the next election is to act as if they already lost. At least sound as if they have.

Steve Young is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful." and can be read every Sunday in the LA Daily News opinon page...right next to Bill O'Reilly.