Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: Book Review: "Political Humor and Satire"

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: "Political Humor and Satire"

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

Political jokes are not only fun, they also demonstrate how some people view politics. Public humor often sheds insight into underlying national feelings. For instance, one looks at a photograph of a button reading "Saddam Hussein still has a job. Do you?" and immediately appreciates how President George Bush could have a 90% approval rating after Desert Storm in 1991 and lose to Bill Clinton during the recession of 1992.

The book shows and explains examples of humorous artifacts and how they helped shaped public opinion for and against politicians. People opposed to Franklin Roosevelt being elected to a third term reached for a baseball analogy in wearing buttons reading "Out stealing third!" A Roosevelt supporter might respond by wearing a button reading "Willkie for the millionaires. Roosevelt for the millions."

This book highlights one of the more jovial Democratic moments in history. President Truman, after winning the 1948 election following early returns indicating he was losing, is shown holding a copy of an early edition paper with the headlines "Dewey Defeats Truman".

Democrats were very respectful in defeat. After Eisenhower was elected President in 1952, Democrats gave out cards that read "To my Republican Friend: The election is over, the results are well known, the will of the people has clearly been shown, Let’s forget our differences and show by our deeds, That we will give Ike all the backing he needs, We’ll all get together and let bitterness pass, I’ll hug your elephant and you kiss my ass."

Republicans could be bitter, too. They had a button during Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency reading "Sterilize LBJ: No more ugly children!" Democrats meanwhile could be spotted with pins reading "Goldwater in ’64, Hot-water in ’65."

The book either has an error, or I have a recollection that turns the meaning of a button around. The book lists a pro-Nixon 1968 button criticizing the Democratic administration with a quote by Nixon "Those who have had a chance for four years and could not produce peace, should not be given another chance." I recall that button being worn by McGovern supporters in 1972. Democrats also wore buttons "I Made Dean’s List", not because of the collegiate achievement but in criticism of the fact that White House Chief Counsel John Dean had created a list of enemies to the Nixon Administration, including Groucho Marx (probably confused for Karl, no relation).

Senator Birch Bayh supporters learned to kill two birds with one stone by wearing a button reading "Good Bayh Nixon". Nixon left office in 1974 and Jimmy Carter later defeated President Gerald Ford in 1976, Jimmy Carter was the recipient of several jokes following his decision to grant an interview to Playboy magazine. A button appeared reading "Jimmy Carter is broad minded". Democrats countered with buttons reading "Ford is an Edsel".

Ronald Reagan, divorced from actress Jane Wyman, became the first divorced person to win the Presidency. Democrats could be found wearing buttons reading "Jane Wyman was right". A great hat appeared was one reading "A poor man voting for Reagan is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders".

Republicans had to think twice before wearing a button containing a slogan of their 1990s hero Dan Quayle. The button contained one of his many famous quotes: "We are the most powerful planet on earth." Republicans had a button reading "It takes a village to satisfy Clinton", but I can’t possibly figure out what that button meant.

Clinton’s second inaugural produced a great button of the "Second Inauguration of the First Cat. In Socks We Trust." Al Gore later discovered he had difficulty overcoming his wooden image when a button appeared that reads ‘Termites for Al Gore".

To see what these items and many others looked like, take a look at this book. You may assure your Republican friends that there are Republican items pictured as well, but, frankly, I didn’t find the anti-Democratic items particularly funny. If you want to laugh while learning about political history, get this book.


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