• Mitch Galloway

When disasters hit, why would smiling ensue?

His nasally voice and hungry body donned the ballroom stage Friday afternoon at the Grand Amway Plaza Hotel.

The speech by Gov. Rick Snyder, held Jan. 29 at a luncheon, was supposed to be the week’s conclusion to the two-day journalism Nirvana, a crescendo for the Michigan Press Association’s Awards ceremony.

It was a denouement, sure, but it wasn’t the one I imagined. It seemed so odd, so inverted.

The event began with the restless anticipation for Snyder. He had already committed, cancelled and recommitted attending the conference all in less than a week’s time.

No tie, grey-textured jacket, black pants and a light blue shirt -- Snyder’s appearance gave way to his pleading voice, an Elton John song about sorry, about loss, about forgiveness.

Blinking rapidly, his left hand dribbling the air as he spoke, Snyder said, “We don’t just walk away. We don’t just rollover…”

Pause.

Snyder’s speech was about “the spirit of collaboration.” His voice, solemn, and his speech, practiced: everyone in attendance -- and I am being sincere when I say this -- was convinced of the new path Snyder wanted to forge.

“We have a crisis in Flint. We have a situation where people cannot drink the water coming out of the tap. That’s wrong. Worse than that people were exposed to lead,” Snyder said.

Snyder shook hands with legislators, journalists and students before his speech. An ovation as he stood next to an oak podium.