Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: Book Review: "The Fun and Laughter of Politics"

Is this where I put in key words such as sex, lesbians, vampires, Christopher Lloyd and others things to which this blog do not pertain, but by putting them here, I may get hits from all the Christoper Lloyd lesbian vampire fans (and you know who you are)? This is the primarily humorous and occasionally rambling writings of Leon Tchaikovsky, humor writer. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Book Review: "The Fun and Laughter of Politics"

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

A few months ago, I reviewed a book by John Parker published in 1960 that I found at the Philadelphia Free Library Bookstore. A recent visit to this same bookstore discovered yet another book of John Parker, only this one was published in 1978. It is noted John Parker still was a Massachusetts State Senator who apparently spent much of his legislative career collecting political humor. Being a Republican Senator, he obviously was often in close proximity to humorous material.

The book informs us that political humor stretches back thousands of years. Emperor Augustus, when apprised of a foreigner who looked just like him, ordered the visitor brought to him. Augustus asked whether the stranger’s mother had ever been to Rome. “No”, replied the guest, “but my father was.”

The quote “whenever I make an appointment (to office), I make 100 enemies and one cool friend”, was said by Governor James Curley. And by Abraham Lincoln. And by Andrew Jackson. And by Louis XIV. Presumably it will be said again.

The joke about puppies being Republican when they are born and then Democrats days later-after they’re eyes have opened, was often told by Adlai Stevenson. It was also said during the Presidential elections a century before.

Great political lessons can be learned from ancient political stories. During an election in Athens two thousand years ago, a political candidate made a lengthy presentation. His opponent, the ultimate victor, responded simply with “all that my opponent has said, I will do.”

Readers can learn the truth about politics from its humor. When Governor Thomas Marshall proudly announced he had given 169 campaign speeches, his wife corrected him by pointing out he had given one speech 169 times.

Politicians have a history of being distrusted. When a mother learned a politician was in a barn helping her unmarried daughter deliver a calf, she promptly ordered her daughter into the house. Further, the daughter was commanded to bring the cow in as well.

Former Senator Roscoe Conkling refused to leave retirement to campaign for a former colleague, explaining “I have retired from criminal practice.”

Another politician declined to campaign for his political party during one election. When it was mentioned that he was a staunch party man, he replied “I am, but the staunch is worse this year than ever.”

Negative campaigning is an old practice. As Barry Goldwater explained, “If I hadn’t known Barry Goldwater personally, I would have voted against the son of a bitch myself.” It was Hubert Humphrey who explained that Barry Goldwater “is living so far in the past that he was offered a movie contract by 18th Century Fox.”

Not everyone admires politicians. When Senator George Vest was thrown out the back door of a club, the Senator made certain the personnel discovered his identity. When they learned he was a United States Senator, he was invited back in, and then thrown out the front door.

Politics may not be for everyone. Congressional candidate Harry Hartwell once filed this campaign finance report: “I lost six months and ten days campaigning, lost 1,000 hours of sleep worrying over the results of the election, lost 20 pounds of flesh, kissed 500 babies, kindled 100 kitchens fires, put up 10 stoves, cut 11 cords of wood, carried 50 buckets of water, pulled 400 bundles of fodder, walked 1,100 miles, shook 27,000 hands, and talked enough to fill one month’s issue of the New York Daily World, I was baptized on five different occasions, made love to nine gross widows, got dog bit eight times-and then, damn it, I get defeated.”

Learn to be careful of what you say. A state legislator who once told voters “think of the accidents the (Highway) Patrol has prevented” was met with a voter who then queried “alright, name one.”

Public officials should fully consider the ramifications of their actions. The Washington Biological Survey used to ban birds with a ring reading “Notify Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C. Wash. Biol. Serv.” until they received a letter “Dear Sirs: I shot one of your pet crows the other day and followed instructions attached to it. I washed it and boiled it and served it. It was terrible.”

A politician once told voters “it’s the working man who has made the country what it is today” only to meet with a voter who responded “that’s the trouble with you politicians, you blame everything on the poor people.”

Some issues never go away. When Congress fled and later returned to Washington during the War of 1812, it was a concern that the representatives collected mileage both ways.

A phone call was received within a Capitol requesting “is this the gas company?” When informed the caller had reached the State House, the caller responded “well, I didn’t miss by much, did I?”

A state legislator once yelled at a page, “what is your IQ anyway, 20-20?”

A Maine Senator once stated “the Senator from Bangor, across the chamber, admitted that he started this debate ignorant of the subject. He has talked for 20 minutes and lost ground all the way.”

A Massachusetts State House member stated “I have been lying awake nights wrestling with my conscience” whereupon he was interrupted with “what was her name?”

A Texas legislator once announced he had found a ten dollar bill on the chamber floor. Nine colleagues claimed it.

A Pennsylvania state legislator once received a letter that read: “Sir, my stenographer, being a lady, cannot type what I think of you. I, being a gentleman, cannot say it. You, being neither, will understand what I mean.”

Governor Herman Talmadge once explained that “lots of people have left Georgia for Florida, and I feel that it raises the level of intelligence in both states.”

Public officials should not expect respect even after they leave office. A preacher once proclaimed at a funeral “the corpse has represented this district in Congress for 20 years.”

This is a good compilation of political humor. What was politically humorous years ago often remains funny today. Among the observations that upholds over time is the one that a person who throws the bull in Spain is called a matador, and in America that person is called a Senator. The book holds up over time, even if it was compiled by someone who earned his living throwing the bull American style.


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