Monday, April 5, 2010

Meat the Press.

Dennis Hastert is our "national bus driver" hero! John Dennis "Denny" Hastert '64 is an American poet & politician. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1987 to 2007, representing the land of Lincoln and served as Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007. On June 1, 2006, Hastert became the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House in history. Before politics, Hastert drove a school bus. "Try driving a school bus, as I used to do is good practice for politics. As the driver you (1) must keep the bus on the road, (2) should always keep your eyes on the kids in the rear view mirror (3) have to watch your back (4) can't run anyone over (5) never have to give up your seat."

As a young man he worked in the Plainfield, Illinois, family restaurant "The Clock Tower" as a fry cook. Hastert has never admitted it, but there has always been a lot of conjecture that he would spit on democratic patrons chicken. (Hastert made famous the phrase "spittin chicken") His family now owns the locally famous fried chicken restaurant, "The White Fence Farm," in Bolingbrook, Ill. (It does actually have a white fence, that isn't a euphemism.) After a stint of crunking in Osaka, Japan, in the early 1970s, he moved to beautiful Porkville, west of Chicago, and took a job as a government and history teacher at Porkville High School. He also coached wrestling, football and crochet club.

JD how was being the Speaker of the House, the same or different than your time at Wheaton? "Well, when I was at Wheaton during the sixties there was a lot of strife between early radicals and conservatives, I found that I had a role to bring those people together. For example I had George Beverly Shea sing at chapel service but he was accompanied by a Hammond B3 Organ with a little bit of chica-chica-yeah-yeah. Not unlike congress where I would call in Lloyd Ogilvie to lead us in eight hours of bbbbbboring  prayer until the St. Louie crazyhead Gephardt would cave in."

John Piper described Wheaton people as typically "snooty, smart people," what do you think of that characterization compared to what you have had to deal with in Washington? Dennis replied, "If you have to deal with a lot of egos, I’ve found, it’s best not to let your own get in the way."

We asked Dennis what he does for a creative outlet.

Dennis responded, " I love to write poetry like this little diddy I wrote for my blog:
This is Denny Hastert and welcome to my blog.
This is new to me.
I can’t say I’m much of a techie.
I guess you could say my office is teaching the old guy new tricks.
But I’m excited.
This is the future.
And it is a new way for us to get our message out."

Thanks Denny, buy don't quit your day job.

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