Broyles wows crowd with war, energy speech
Keynote speaker’s words ‘powerful.’
By Noah Brenner, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
May 28, 2008
In an increasingly digital age people can do almost anything over the Internet; get directions, order a pizza, sell old skis or find love.
Organizers of the Wyoming Democratic Convention even found one of their keynote speakers on the Web, and, according to many there, they couldn’t have made a better choice.
Jackson Hole screenwriter and journalist Bill Broyles’ lunch address left Democrats from across the state speechless, as he chronicled his outrage with the way Republicans have conducted the Iraq war and the nation’s failed energy policy that he believes has helped destroy the U.S. economy.
“We are loyal Democrats and we are fed up, yes, maybe even bitter with what the Bush-McCain era has done to our world,” he told the convention-goers. “We want our country back and we want it now – and we will get it.”
The crowd erupted.
Broyles, who had not been active in the local party previously, chose to run as a delegate to the state convention supporting Barack Obama. During a one-minute speech explaining his support for the Illinois senator, Broyles caught the eye of other Obama supporters including Teton County Democratic Party officials Marcia Kunstel and Larry Hamilton. Although Broyles had served as editor-in-chief of Newsweek, written a host of famous movies including Apollo 13 and Castaway, and lived in the valley for some time, neither Kunstel or Hamilton had heard of him.
“We Googled him because both of us didn’t know who he was,” Hamilton said. “When we saw what his accomplishments were, we thought this guy has potential – he went way beyond that.”
When first invited to speak Broyles worried he had nothing to say, he soon found he had more than enough.
“I wrote this the way I write everything – I start writing what’s on my mind and then look at it all and plunge into despair that it makes no sense and then I cut and paste and a lot of it for me is what to leave out,” he said in an interview. “There are so many things I wanted to talk about, and I decided to focus on the two things that I had the most experience about: energy and war.”
Broyles worked in a refinery to put himself through college and his father and grandfather worked in Texas oil fields.
“If we had a president who challenged us to become energy independent, who asked something of us, who inspired and mobilized America – I don’t just think we could do it. I know we could,” he said in his speech. “We’d build a whole new industry. We’d create millions of new jobs. We’d fight global warming and preserve our environment. And we’d free ourselves from the sheiks, dictators and terrorists who control oil today. We pay them, they pay the terrorists, our troops get blown up.”
The Broyles family has long put itself in that line of fire. Broyles forefathers served in World War I and II, while Broyles served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam. His son has served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as a para-rescue jumper with the Air Force.
“When you send men and women to war you don’t just ask them to risk their lives. You ask them to do what every fiber of their being and every value taught them tells them not to do: You ask them to kill,” he told the crowd. “There better be a good reason. Your country’s survival better be at stake. Because if it’s not, if you abuse their patriotism and their sacrifice, then you create a hole in their souls, and a hole in the soul of America.”
Throughout the remainder of the convention, Democrats, including Gov. Dave Freudenthal, remarked about the power of Broyles words.
“I don’t know how many people came up and told me that was probably one of the best speeches they have heard in their life, and makes us all realize what have to do in the future to change things,” Hamilton said.