November 1, 2007 Contact: Chris Lamb, Professor
5 College Way
Dept. of Communication
College of Charleston
843-953-6591, w email@example.com
`I’ll Be Sober in the Morning’ Book Includes Best Political Putdowns
CHARLESTON, S.C. – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been drinking heavily at a party and bumped into Bessie Braddock, a Socialist parliament member
"Mr. Churchill, you are drunk," Braddock said harshly.
Churchill paused and said, "And Bessie, you are ugly. You are very ugly. I’ll be sober in the morning."
The ability to fire off a sharp comeback that leaves a rival or heckler red-faced and speechless can be a potent political weapon. In a war of words, few could stand up to Winston Churchill.
“I’ll Be Sober in the Morning: Great Political Putdowns, Comebacks, and Ripostes,” edited by Chris Lamb and published by Frontline Press, is a must-read to survive the interminable 2008 political campaign. In “I’ll Be Sober in the Morning,” you’ll find punishing putdowns like this:
John Wilkes, the 18th-century British political reformer, was debating John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, in Parliament. The exchange kept increasing in bile until Montagu shouted at Wilkes that he would either die on the gallows or of venereal disease. To which Wilkes responded, “That, sir, depends on whether I first embrace your Lordship’s principles or your Lordship’s mistresses.”
No record exists of Montagu’s response, or if he even had one. He probably put what was left of his manhood in a thimble and skulked away in silence. To this day, no one has delivered a comeback so devastating and so spontaneous.
Below are samples from “I’ll Be Sober in the Morning: Great Putdowns, Comebacks, and Ripostes.” For a copy of the book, call Chris Lamb at 843-953-6591 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
During one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the incumbent U.S. Sen. Stephen Douglas told a conservative audience that he had once seen Lincoln selling whiskey. When it was his turn to speak, Lincoln made no attempt to dispute the charge. He agreed that he had once worked as a bartender. “I was on one side of the bar serving drinks,” Lincoln said, “and Douglas was on the other side drinking them.”
A political opponent charged New York Gov. Al Smith with telling lies about him. "You ought to be glad," Smith replied. "If I told the truth about you, they'd run you out of town."
When Woodrow Wilson was governor of New Jersey, he was informed that one of the state's U.S. senators had died and it would therefore be up to Wilson to appoint a replacement. Shortly thereafter, a state politician called Wilson and said, "Mr. Governor, I'd like to take the senator's place."
"It's OK with me,” Wilson replied, “if it's okay with the undertaker."
One evening a nervous soprano struggled hopelessly before president Calvin Coolidge at a White House recital. “What do you think of the singer’s execution?” one of the guests asked Coolidge. Coolidge paused and then quietly answered, “I’m all for it.”
During a congressional debate an opponent shouted at the diminutive U.S. Sen. A.H. Stephens, "You little know nothing, I could swallow you whole and never know I had eaten anything." Stephens then fired back, "And if you did that, you would have more brains in your belly than you have in your head."
Former Georgia governor Herman Talmadge was asked what would be the effect of all the people moving from Georgia to Florida. "I am sure it will enhance the level of intelligence of both states," Talmadge said.
During an exchange in Parliament, Lady Nancy Astor snarled at Winston Churchill and said: “If you were my husband, I would poison your coffee.” Churchill replied, “If you were my wife, Nancy, I’d drink it.”