Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: Book Review: "If Elected I Promise"

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: "If Elected I Promise"

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

“If we pass this bond issue, we’ll kill the goose at both ends”, was an argument once given during debate amongst Massachusetts State Senators. This out-of-print book (published in 1960 and discovered at the Philadelphia Free Library Book Store) presents a collection of political humor as compiled by John Parker, who then himself was a Massachusetts State Senator.

State legislators have contributed their share of humor. A New Jersey State Senator once proclaimed “to hell with the public. I’m here to represent the people.” A Maine legislator, thinking he was speaking in favor of a bill which would benefit lumbering in his district, instead declared during debate concerning fraud “I support it in behalf of many of my constituents who get their living no other way.” A confused Massachusetts State Representative, during roll call, once voted “not guilty”. A Tennessee state legislator once stated before adjournment “And, now gentlemen, God will take care of us; if we do not meet here again, we shall meet in Heaven” to which another legislator responded “Stop, Mr. Chairman, don’t adjourn to that place. If we do, we shall never get a quorum.” A proposal to name a county after General Lewis Cass was met with an amendment to delete the first letter in the proposed county’s new name. Sometimes, legislators unintentionally create humor, as the legislator who was so impressed with roadside milestones that he proposed placing them closer together.

Even the Pennsylvania legislature made this book. The author noted that Pennsylvania legislation to increase salaries for “certain Judges” was amended to also increase salaries for “uncertain Judges.”

Pennsylvania provided the basis of political humor when a job seeker at the funeral of the Postmaster Dagan of Brownsville, Penna. asked President Lincoln if he could take Mr. Dagan’s place. President Lincoln replied “Certainly. Speak to the undertaker.”

Governors have added to political humor. After an audience member threw a head of cabbage at Gov. William Howard Taft, the Governor responded “I see that one of my hecklers has lost his head.” Governor Earl Warren, after telling a larger than expected crowd that “I’m pleased to see such a dense crowd here tonight”, to which someone responded “Don’t be too pleased, Governor, we ain’t all dense.”

Republicans get their deserved share of humor. When once asked what the prospects are for “an honest lawyer and a Republican”, the response was “If you are an honest lawyer, you will have absolutely no competition. If you are a Republican, the Game laws will protect you.” A dying man waived away speaking to clergy with “I can’t see what occasion I have for the services of a clergyman. I never voted the Republican ticket in my life.”

Democrats have our share of laughs, especially when noting the Syracuse Democratic Party position that “We are in favor of a law which absolutely prohibits the sale of liquor on Sunday, but we are against its enforcement.”

Readers learn details about Congress that are seldom written elsewhere. Traditional advice given to new members of Congress is “You spend your first six months wondering how you got here. After that, you wonder how the other Members made it.” Sen. Norris explained the legislative process as such: “A bill receives the OK in the House and the KO in the Senate and vice versa.” There is the story of a Congressman’s wife who awoke him one night concerned there were robbers in the house. “Impossible”, replied his husband, “In the Senate, yes, but not in the House.” There is also a famous speech delivered by Sen. George Smathers concerning his political rival, Sen. Claude Pepper: “Are you good folks aware that Sen. Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Claude Pepper before his marriage habitually practiced celibacy.”

A few tales in the book are less humorous yet still interesting. Were you aware that, had it not been for a loose pig, we might never have gon to war with England in 1812? The resolution declaring war passed by one vote. One of the Senators (who then were elected by state legislatures) favoring war was elected by one vote. One of the state legislators was voted for the winning Senator was elected to the legislature by one vote. His legislative race opponent lost one vote from his friend and neighbor who was mad at him because the candidate had a pig that ventured into the neighbor’s yard.

If you can find a copy, read it and laugh. If you own pigs, try and keep them in your own yard.


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