Monday, July 28, 2008

Monona Doug, blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Political Insults
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Inspired by author Chris Lamb's (I'll Be Sober in the Morning by Chris Lamb and Steve Stegelin) appearance on NPR's Talk of the Nation :When Winston Churchill, who liked a few, ran into Socialist Parliament member Bessie Braddock (Battling Bessie - TIME) at a party she said, "Mr. Churchill, you are drunk."To which he replied, "And Bessie, you are ugly. You are very ugly. I'll be sober in the morning."
***An exchange between Churchill and Virginia-born Nancy, Lady Astor:"Winston, if you were my husband I'd put poison in your coffee.""If you were my wife, Nancy, I'd drink it."
***Lady Astor, his nemesis, was speaking to the House of Commons on agriculture when Churchill interrupted, saying "I'll make a bet she doesn't even know how many toes a pig has."Replied Lady Astor: "Why don't you take off your little shoosies, and we'll count them together."
***The 18th-century political reformer John Wilkes was in a heated exchange with John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), who shouted "I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox" (venereal disease).Wilkes replied, "That sir, depends on whether I embrace your Lordship's principles or your Lordship's mistress."
***"A sheep in sheep's clothing." - Winston Churchill on Clement Attlee
***"He says he works out because it clears his mind. Sometimes just a little too much." - Jay Leno on George W Bush (George W Bush is the AntiChrist !)
***Of William Jennings Bryan, politician David Houston (David F. Houston - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) said, “One could drive a schooner through any part of his argument and never scrape against a fact.”
***Jonathan Aitken had this description for what he considered Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's ignorance of the Middle East: “She probably thinks Sinai is the plural of sinus.”
***"The Hon. leader of the Opposition knows all about butts. He has had his hands on more butts than there are members of this House." – Transport Minister John Crosbie in November 1987 to Liberal Leader John Turner. Crosbie is referring to Turner's 1984 election campaign gaffe on TV when he was caught slapping Liberal MP's Iona Campagnolo's bum.
***And, better still, when asked to distinguish between a misfortune and a calamity Disraeli said: “If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune. If anybody pulled him out, that, I suppose, would be a calamity.”
***About Baroness Thatcher. “When she speaks without thinking,” mused Lord St John of Fawsley, “she says what she thinks.”
***"There but for the grace of God goes God” Winston Churchill on Sir Stafford Cripps.
***George Bernard Shaw send Churchill two tickets to the opening night of his new play, with a note saying, "Bring a friend, if you have one." Churchill returned the tickets with a note saying, "Can't be there first night. Will be there second night, if there is one."
***One could not even dignify him with the name of stuffed shirt. He was simply a hole on the air. - - - George Orwell (about Stanley Baldwin)
***How can they tell? - - - Dorothy Parker (hearing of Calvin Coolidge's death)
***He looks as though he's been weaned on a pickle. - - - Alice Roosevelt Longworth (about Calvin Coolidge)
***To err is Truman. - - - A popular joke in 1946

Dianosphere, blog of Martin Diano

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Political Insult: An Art Form Perfected Over The Centuries
The Political Insult: An Art Form Perfected Over The Centuries

At the 1992 Republican convention, Dan Quayle, upon his nomination as the vice presidential running mate with George H. Bush, proudly declared that he intended to "be a pit bull" in the campaign that year. When Democratic candidate Bill Clinton was asked by a reporter about the remark, he responded, "That's got every fire hydrant in America worried."

To make a stinging comeback when you have been verbally attacted requires quick thinking, wit, courage, and sometimes a bit of preparation.In politics, the political insult has been perfected to an art form.

Here is one from the 18th. century:The 18th. century political reformer John Wilkes was apparently in a heated argument with John Montagu, the Forth Earl of Sandwich, who shouted "I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox." (Pox during that era meant venereal disease.)Wilkes replied, That sir, depends on whether I embrace your Lordship's principles or your Lordship's mistress."

Wow! Not bad.

How about this one from Winston Churchill:When Winston Churchill, who liked to tip a few every now and then, ran into Socialist Parliament member Bessie Braddock at a party she said, "Mr. Churchill, you are drunk."To which he replied, "And Bessie, you are ugly. I'll sober up in the morning."

These are a few examples of classic political insults compiled by Chris Lamb, a professor at South Carolina's College of Charleston. Mr. Lamb found so many insults during his research that he complied them all in a book titled "I'll Be Sober in the Morning."

Churchill is widely credited with some of the best insults of all time is said to have thought of some of his beforehand, concludes Professor Lamb.Here's one more Churchill classic: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd put poison in your coffee,""If you were my wife, Nancy, I'd drink it."

With the presidential race in full swing, let's pay close attention. Let's see if we can determine which of the political insults were preplanned from those that were spontaneous.For all the quips and insults compiled by Professor Lamb, you can purchase "I'll Be Sober in the Morning." from

Friday, July 25, 2008

Review in Creative Loafing

By John Grooms
Published 07.23.2008

Frontline Press, a new book publisher in the Charleston area, starts off with a bang with this clever, hilarious collection of "Great Political Comebacks, Putdowns & Ripostes" through the ages, snazzily illustrated by artist Steve Stegelin. The book's title comes from a famous remark by Great Britain's Winston Churchill. He had been drinking heartily at a party when he accidentally bumped into a Socialist member of Parliament, Bessie Braddock, who told him, "Mr. Churchill, you are drunk!" Churchill, not too drunk to be witheringly funny, replied, "And Bessie, you are ugly. But I'll be sober in the morning."
That kind of cutting wit fills the book, ranging from fifth century BC orator Pericles being smacked down by his nephew Alcibades for being old-fashioned to Vladimir Putin telling George W. Bush, who urged the Russian President to allow more democracy in his nation, that "We certainly would not have the same kind of democracy as Iraq." In between, classics abound, such as writer Dorothy Parker's tête-à-tête with conservative Congresswoman Claire Booth Luce. When the two political adversaries arrived at the door of a New York restaurant simultaneously. Luce moved aside and cattily said, "Age before beauty," to which Parker replied as she walked past, "And pearls before swine."
Anyone interested in humor and politics ought to get a kick out of I'll Be Sober In The Morning. Anyone who isn't, well, what's wrong with you? Let's end with one more quip from Churchill, who was asked if he was thrilled by the large crowds he was drawing to his speeches. "It is quite flattering," said the Prime Minister. "But whenever I feel this way I remember that if instead of making a political speech, I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big."

I'll Be Sober mentioned in Kathleen Parker column

Kathleen Parker
Washington Post Writers Group

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Laugh, Obama, Laugh July 18, 2008

Oh, for a good riposte.Barack Obama's levity-free reaction to the now-famous New Yorker cartoon leaves one reluctantly wondering: Is he humor-challenged? Perchance, does he take himself too seriously for a nation of wits and wags?So soaring has been Obama's rhetoric and so dazzling his smile that we've missed the possibility that the Illinois senator is less the lanky rock star and more the purse-lipped church lady, clucking his tongue in disapproval of the chuckling masses. His campaign's angry reaction to the magazine cover shows a stunning lack of political dexterity. It wasn't always so. In earlier days, Obama was self-deprecating and light of touch. But something happens as people get closer to Washington, as Obama himself has pointed out in other contexts. A popular story that Obama tells concerns a Las Vegas debate during which he was asked about his weaknesses.Obama answered that he has trouble keeping up with paper, that his desk is a mess. OK, it wasn't knee-slapping hilarious, but it was honest and, therefore, endearing. A real answer from a real person.In contrast, two of Obama's contenders, both Washington veterans, responded to the same question with the kind of painful earnestness that makes dogs cynical. As Obama recounts it, one of them said his biggest weakness was that "I'm just so passionate about helping poor people." The other said, "I'm just so impatient to help the American people solve their problems."Ooph. Obama continues the story: "So then I realize, well, I wish I'd gone last and then I would have known." (Laughter, applause.) "I'm stupid that way, I thought that when they asked what your biggest weakness was, they asked what your biggest weakness was. And now I know that my biggest weakness is I like to help old ladies across the street."Now, that's funny. And there's a reason the other two candidates -- John "passionate" Edwards and Hillary "impatient" Clinton -- aren't leading the Democratic ticket.Obama's self-deprecation was his most charming bit, but lately he is, well, less charming. He and his wife seem more like a finger-wagging principal and teacher tag team, with Michelle Obama promising that her husband will make us work harder when he becomes president. You get the feeling that should the Obamas take over, we'll all be staying after school. They used to call that detention.Of course, John McCain isn't exactly a merchant of mirth. He didn't like the cartoon either, or so he said. Although his usual disregard for politically correct reverence is refreshing, his humor often seems not offbeat, but off-a-beat. Spontaneous jokes, such as his singing "Bomb-Iran-bomb-bomb-bomb," are actually less funny than the fact of his telling (or performing) them. Does he get it?When I hear McCain "being funny," I'm reminded of a booklet of after-dinner jokes my father compiled to help pay his college tuition. The World War II-vintage jokes simply aren't amusing anymore. They belong to another time and place, another set of cultural markers, the common understanding of which is crucial to humor.What's missing -- and much missed -- are the timeless, biting quips of politicians past who put the "rip" in riposte. Classy, biting and pandering to no one, these elder statesmen knew something about language -- and American attitudes -- that we seem to have forgotten.Chris Lamb, a College of Charleston (S.C.) journalism professor and cartoon historian, reminds us with his recent political-comeback collection, "I'll Be Sober in the Morning," that the wicked retort is invariably more effective than righteous indignation. A couple of sample anecdotes:Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, told that he couldn't play golf at a Chevy Chase, Md., country club because it was restricted, replied: "I'm only half Jewish, so can't I play nine holes?"Sa-wish.U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson was giving a speech in Dallas when a heckler demanded to know the ambassador's beliefs. Replied Stevenson: "I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of ignorance."Sublime.There's no better tonic -- nor better defuser of enemy bombs -- than humor. How refreshing it would have been had Obama merely pointed to the New Yorker cartoon and said: "He didn't get my ears right."With a deft trip off the tongue, the cartoon and the baseless controversy would have been rendered impotent, revealed as what they were: laughable. It's not too late. Humor us.

Interview on Talk of the Nation

Election 2008
Political Junkie: Mastering Political Put-Downs
Listen Now [47 min 5 sec] add to playlist

What's your favorite political put-down?

Talk of the Nation, July 16, 2008 · Winston Churchill may have been the master of the political put-down, but American politicians have delivered their own gems over the years. In this week's edition of the Political Junkie, NPR's Ken Rudin talks about John McCain and Barack Obama's address at the NAACP annual convention, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and the art of the political put-down.
Chris Lamb, professor of communication at the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., and editor of I'll Be Sober in the Morning: Great Political Comebacks, Putdowns & Ripostes, and Kelly Brewington, diversity and demographics reporter for The Baltimore Sun, join the conversation.

Editor and Publisher article on I'll Be Sober in the Morning

Chris Lamb's 'Putdowns' Book Includes Journalism-Related Content
By Dave Astor
Editor and Publisher
Published: July 15, 2008 12:29 PM ET

NEW YORK Journalism-related content is among the material in the new book "I'll Be Sober in the Morning: Great Political Comebacks, Putdowns & Ripostes."The 195-page paperback is edited by Chris Lamb, whose other books include "Drawn to Extremes: The Use and Abuse of Editorial Cartoons." The communication professor at South Carolina's College of Charleston has also been a staff reporter and freelance contributor for newspapers.Among the passages in Lamb's book: -- In the course of a conversation, a congressman told newspaper editor Horace Greeley that he was a self-made man. "That, sir," Greeley replied, "relieves the Almighty of a great responsibility."-- As a rookie reporter for the New York World, Heywood Broun was told to interview Utah Senator Reed Smoot. "I have nothing to say," Smoot told Broun. "I know," replied Broun. "Now let's get down to the interview."-- After Calvin Coolidge announced he did not choose to run for a second term, reporters pressed him for a more detailed statement. "Exactly, why don't you want to be president again, Mr. Coolidge?" one reporter insisted. "Because there's no chance for advancement," Coolidge explained. -- When reporters asked President George Herbert Walker Bush to display the middle finger from which he was about to have a cyst removed, Bush replied, "Don't tempt me."The book, from Frontline Press in Charleston, is illustrated by Steve Stegelin.
Dave Astor ( is a senior editor at E&P.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'll Be Sober in the Morning -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Morning File / A mayor who loves both Simon, Garfinkle
Monday, July 14, 2008
By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

College of Charleston communications professor Chris Lamb recently compiled a book, "I'll Be Sober in the Morning," based on "great political comebacks, putdowns and ripostes." It is heavy on the humor of Winston Churchill.
For instance, the British statesman's political rival, Nancy Astor, once snapped at him, "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd put poison in your coffee."
Mr. Churchill's response: "If you were my wife, Nancy, I'd drink it."
Now there's a ringing endorsement
Mr. Lamb's book has just one Pennsylvania reference, but it doesn't reflect any great wit by a Keystone state politician. Instead, former Gov. Robert Casey is the butt of the humor, and he told the joke on himself.
The Scranton-bred Democrat was campaigning for re-election as governor in 1990 in Oil City, far from his power base. He approached a gas station attendant with the standard, "Hi, I'm running for governor" introduction, and asked for his vote.
The man said sure, he'd vote for him. But when Mr. Casey asked why, the attendant explained, "Anybody would be better than the guy that's in there now."
Gary Rotstein can be reached at or 412-263-1255.
First published on July 14, 2008 at 12:47 am

Friday, July 11, 2008

Editorial on political insults, Charleston Post and Courier

Charleston Post and Courier

The perils of political 'civility'
Friday, July 11, 2008
Commentary decrying an alleged decline of civility in American political discourse proliferates. Yet Joseph Tartakovsky, on The Wall Street Journal's Opinion page last week, makes a persuasive case that what ails our campaign seasons these days is not an excess, but a shortage, of well-delivered "ridicule."
Mr. Tarkakovsky, an associate editor of the Claremont Review of Books, argues: "The political insult is not insinuation, a whisper campaign, or a planted story. It is direct verbal attack, a public performance before a voting audience."
He cited "the flamboyant Sen. John Randolph," who produced this memorable condemnation of Edward Livingston, secretary of state under President Andrew Jackson:
"He is a man of splendid abilities but utterly corrupt. Like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, he shines and stinks."
So don't count Mr. Tartakovsky among the legions demanding that Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, and their allies, fulfill the candidates' mutual pledge, issued five weeks ago, to maintain "a civil discussion" over the next four months.
Mr. Tartakovsky warns: "Civility has a way of creeping into daintiness. If our candidates lose their willingness to spar, their sense of combative humor, will the contest grow more polite, or just less honest?"
And while unseemly rhetorical barbs can turn off some voters, the electorate generally is better informed about the honest essence of candidates who must endure such verbal and written abuse — and is far more engaged in the political process when it isn't cloaked in a prearranged "civility."

Wall Street Journal piece on political insults

July 2, 2008
The Wall Street Journal
In Praise of Political Insults

By JOSEPH TARTAKOVSKYJuly 2, 2008; Page A13
The great American political insult is older than the nation itself. Ben Franklin, writing in 1771 before the States were even United, lamented "Libeling and Personal Abuse, which is of late Years become so disgraceful to our Country." Not even George Washington was spared: Tom Paine raged about his "treachery" and "pusillanimity."
By the time of the third U.S. administration, Thomas Jefferson had seen enough of the democratic officeholder's fate to perceive that "it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring him into it." So it has passed.
But insults, unlike imperfect man, are not created equal. In March, Samantha Power, a scholar-activist then on the Barack Obama campaign, called Hillary Clinton a "monster." "You just look at her and think, 'Ergh,'" she elaborated. It is encouraging that she was thrown from the campaign, but her insult was only a disgrace because of its insipidity.
It is an old parlor game to gripe that our political wit fails the coruscating standard of a Benjamin Disraeli or a Winston Churchill. But what, after all, makes for an effective political insult?
The answer is style. Too coarse, and the abuser sounds malicious. Too unimaginative, and the words evaporate en route. Too petty, and the insulter is harmed more than the insultee. Too distant from truth, and it just won't stick. Bill Moyers's jibe that "hyperbole was to Lyndon Johnson what oxygen is to life" is an attempt at wit; the real thing is Bill Buckley's remark that LBJ was a man of his last word. Is Jimmy Carter the worst president the U.S. ever had, or, as William Safire put it, the "best U.S. president the Soviet Union ever had"? Gore Vidal calling Ronald Reagan a "triumph of the embalmer's art" seems itself the triumph of a curdled soul; but even Reagan could laugh when Gerald Ford quipped, "No, Reagan doesn't dye his hair. He's just prematurely orange."
It is one thing for our semiliterate intellectuals to sneer at the current president's locution, and another to remark, as H.L. Mencken did of Warren Harding, that his speech "reminds me of a string of wet sponges . . . It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash." Compare this to Sen. Harry Reid's feeble attempt at scathing wit against President George W. Bush in 2005: "I think this guy is a loser."
Benjamin Franklin Bache, writing in the 1790s, probably our most abusive era, called John Adams a "ruffian deserving of the curses of mankind," which isn't bad. But that's a mere zephyr compared to the storms of James Callender, who called the second president a "hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."
The political insult is not insinuation, a whisper campaign, or a planted story. It is direct verbal attack, a public performance before a voting audience. Its purpose is to stain character, which, in the great personality contests that are elections, is a candidate's most precious asset. Nothing does this better than ridicule.
The flamboyant Sen. John Randolph (1773-1833) was an early master. His famed sallies, like good poetry, present unforgettable images: "He is a man of splendid abilities but utterly corrupt," he said of Secretary of State Edward Livingston. "Like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, he shines and stinks." "Never was ability so much below mediocrity so well rewarded," he said of one political appointee. "No, not even when Caligula's horse was made consul." Randolph had a flamboyant 20th-century counterpart in Norman Mailer, who is supposed to have said, "Gerald Ford was unknown throughout America. Now he's unknown throughout the world."
We can cheer the fact that these days, newspapers, TV networks, politicians and parties that traffic in scurrility imperil only their own reputations. The spirit of benevolence is upon us: Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, speaking by phone on June 4, agreed nobly to uphold "civil discussion."
But civility has a way of creeping into daintiness. If our candidates lose their willingness to spar, their sense of combative humor, will the contest grow more polite, or just less honest? The well-turned insult is a necessary and salutary force in politics, a spicy seasoning in an old, force-fed dish. It's a check on pomposity, proof of democratic vitality, a relief from endless electioneering, and a show of intelligence and moderation. The dull and the bigoted are rarely witty.
During a campaign, Henry Adams reminded us, the air is full of speeches and vice versa. Nothing deflates like a happy insult.
Mr. Tartakovsky is an associate editor of the Claremont Review of Books.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

review of I'll Be Sober in the Morning -- Barnes and Noble

Customer Reviews
Number of Reviews: A reviewerA reviewer, a journalist & political columnist, 01/06/2008
I'll Be Sober in the Morning is the best book of political humor I have seen this year -- in several years, to be exact. I wish that our current crop of politicos was as clever, sage and insightful as the wags quoted in this great little book.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Reviews of I'll Be Sober in the Morning

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful:
Countless retorts and hilarious vocal burns, May 7, 2008
Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) - See all my reviews
Upon stumbling in on a nude Winston Churchill as he was a guest in the white house, Churchill said to Franklin Delanor Roosevelt "The Prime Minister of Britain has nothing to hide from the President of the United States." - "I'll Be Sober In the Morning: Great Political Comebacks, Put downs, & Ripostes" shows that some of the most powerful men in the world have also have been some of the most sharp-witted. Filled cover to cover with countless retorts and hilarious vocal burns, and charmingly illustrated by Steve Stegalin, "I'll Be Sober In the Morning: Great Political Comebacks, Put downs, & Ripostes" is highly recommended to humor shelves everywhere with a nod to political studies shelves.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Really Fun Book, June 11, 2008
W. C. McCormack "redsoxfan" (Portsmouth, NH, USA) - See all my reviews
Loved this little book - it reads quickly, and is a great compendium of comebacks and putdowns by the rich and famous. Good stocking stuffer for pursuers of political trivia, opponents of the politically correct, and for those like me who always say "I wish I'd said that!". I only wish it had been longer.