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The Political Junkie

The Political Junkie

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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I just saw Ken Rudin, walking down the hallway, wearing a necktie. A necktie!

It must be Wednesday. And time once again for "The Political Junkie."

As usual, we'll start with a trivia question. Then we'll plow through the news of the week: Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL) have given speeches on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the economy. The economy! Former wrestler — and governor — Jesse Ventura announced that he would not run for an open senate seat in Minnesota. And there's that magazine cover...

Later in the hour, we'll talk about political put downs. What works? What doesn't? And why aren't there more of them? What is your favorite?



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Best political put down

YouTube - Lloyd Bentsen puts down Dan Quayle

"Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy."

Sent by Simeon Berman, MD | 2:28 PM | 7-16-2008

I don't remember the quote Clinton shot back to George SR during a debate, but George SR brought up Clinton protesting the Vietnam w/ soliders dying that Clinto shot back w/ a quote from a past statesman & that quote was George SR's father.

Sent by Thelma H | 2:38 PM | 7-16-2008

Poor Clement Atlee, who succeed Churchill as Prime Minister after World War II, was the butt of many quips.

Churchill once playfully described Atlee as a "sheep in sheep's clothing.
On another occasion Churchill said 'An empty taxi drew up at ten Downing street, and Mr. Atlee stepped out.'

Sent by Paul Barkworth | 2:39 PM | 7-16-2008

Neal, I believe that your "ripahst" is correctly pronounced "ri pohst.

Sent by haskell springer | 2:40 PM | 7-16-2008

Correction about Gov. Endicott Peabody of Massachusetts. There is no city Endicott. The three cities named after him are Peabody, Marblehead, and Athol.

Sent by Ray Dempsey | 2:42 PM | 7-16-2008

Political quips:
When he was Senate Majority Leader, Johnson bragged about having a phone in his car. So, when Minority Leader Everett Dirksen finally got his own car phone, he arranged to surprise Johnson. "Hello, Lyndon," he exclaimed with pride, "This is Everett, I'm calling you from my car." "Everett, Could you hold on for a second," Johnson replied from his backseat without missing a beat. "My other line is ringing."

Sent by Gordon Sabaduquia | 2:43 PM | 7-16-2008

"I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat."
Will Rogers

Sent by John Brandon | 2:43 PM | 7-16-2008

Here is a letter from an average American to GW that you might find funny.

Dear President Bush,

I would like to thank you personally. Thank you for all you have done for myself and all your fellow Americans over these last 8 yrs. I know it goes unsaid most of the time, but without your guidance and leadership, how could I have ever explained to my child how important an education really is, or what it feels like to not know where your next meal is coming from.

Oh yeah.....she was just like allot of other kids in the America, over indulged and spoiled, but you saw the err in that and corrected the situation so that we will never be able to spoil our child again. Matter of fact, now she even has to concentrate more in school, because I SURELY cannot afford to send her to a university without public assistance or a scholarship to defray the costs. I guess that is how the system will be able to cherry pick only those people that it deems fit to educate. We certainly don't need an assortment of differing ideas as we move forward do we? We need just one voice and one idea......and anyone that doesn't like it.....well tough luck for them right?

A personal thanks from me too, without your excellent planning and skillful use of everything that America offered, I might have been ready to retire. I might have actually stopped working and contributing and spent my days playing golf or traveling. Just think what a waste that would have been for America. Now with my pension in limbo and my taxes and general cost of living climbing at a rate that far outstrips my stagnant pay, we don't have to worry anymore about that possibility.....I will have to remain in my job and continue being part of the working class until the day I die!

Only you realized it was really time we see how others have struggled around the world to live. What made us think we weren't ever going to have to deal with the abject poverty we had seen on commercials on the TV. Thanks for bringing home the real feeling of hopelessness that was in those peoples eyes. No longer is it something we see on TV late at night, I can now look in my own child's eyes to see the fear and confusion
that poverty brings. We never really appreciated the "American Dream" I guess that's because too many were achieving it so we thought it was something like an entitlement.....but you saw the danger of that thinking and returned home ownership to the "dream" that is should be.

Thanks President Bush......thanks for all you have done for us in the last 8 yrs!

Sent by Robert Unschuld | 2:43 PM | 7-16-2008

My favorite recent putdown was in the wake of Katrina and the performance of FEMA Charles Rangel stating that G. W Bush had "shattered the myth of white supremacy once and for all."

Sent by Steve Weiter | 2:45 PM | 7-16-2008

From WBEZ listener in Chicago. In the early 1980's, Iowa's two Senators were Charles Grassley and Roger Jepsen. After Senator Jepsen was caught charging massage parlor visits to his personal creedit card, he was referred to as Tweedle Dumb and Grassley as Tweedle Dumber

Sent by Barry Aldridge | 2:46 PM | 7-16-2008

There was some exchange during the first Kennedy campaign, when some accused Kennedy's father of buying the election, to which Kennedy replied something like, "My father said he would buy me enough votes to get elected and not one more." My understanding is that he set the issue to rest.

Sent by Ward Shortridge | 2:48 PM | 7-16-2008

When Bill Clinton met SF mayor Willy Brown, known as a great political operator, he said, "Now I've met the REAL Slick Willy."

Sent by Anna Korn | 2:48 PM | 7-16-2008

Why don't we have good quotes from Barack Obama? Doesn't he have a sense of humor?

Sent by Tina Weinstein | 2:50 PM | 7-16-2008

My favorite was Anne Richards line in a speech to the Democratic Convention saying that George Bush was born with a silver foot in his mouth.

Sent by Ed Erwin | 2:51 PM | 7-16-2008

From William F Buckley when asked what the first thing he would do if elected as Mayor of NYC. He responded dryly "Demand a recount.

Sent by Bruce from York PA | 2:51 PM | 7-16-2008

Fritz Hollings, South Carolina in response to a committee to do away with undesirable lyrics in rock music. "I don't know why you are worried about this, nobody can understand what they are saying anyway."

Sent by Kathy Delaney | 2:52 PM | 7-16-2008

Apocryphal story (?)

LBJ and his men are in a graveyard writing down the names of voters, off the tombstones - of course. One of his men says that he can't read the name off one gravestone. "make it up" LBJ says, "he's got as much a right to vote as anyone else here."

My father told me this, told me it was apocryphal, and ever since then I have confused the meaning of apocryphal and apocalyptic. I never understood what LBJ in a graveyard has to do with the end of the world.

Sent by Hans Rauch | 2:53 PM | 7-16-2008

Edwin Edwards - former Governor of Louisiana
"The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy. "
On his 1983 Gubernatorial election against incumbent David C. Treen

Sent by Jason | 2:54 PM | 7-16-2008

In the recent primaries someone commented. "When a democrat says they want to jump start the economy, they always intend to connect the jumper cables to your wallet"

Sent by John Setala | 2:55 PM | 7-16-2008

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston

Sent by Brian Sanders | 2:55 PM | 7-16-2008

In the 90's, some old guy who's name I don't remember was running against David Duke, former KKK leader for the Senate or some such thing. Someone asked this guy about a commend Duke had made about this guy not having the right experience for the job and the guy responded "I don't know what he's talking about, I am a wizard under the sheets too."

Sent by David | 2:55 PM | 7-16-2008

Pat Buchanan: John McCain makes Ghengis Kahn look like Ghandi

Sent by Carol | 2:57 PM | 7-16-2008

While Gandhi was visiting London a reporter asked him what he thought of western civilization, and Gandhi replied "I think it would be a good idea."

Sent by Rob Ward | 2:57 PM | 7-16-2008

Buddy Hackett greeted by President and Mrs. Ford before a state dinner, and Gerald inquired how Buddy was doing. Buddy said just ok since he was instructed to tone down his (blue) act in respect to the office of the President. Ford said "Why you? - nobody else does."

Sent by Gary Kusmierczak | 2:58 PM | 7-16-2008

In December 1989, during the negotiations in Prague between the collapsing communist government and the newly formed Civic Forum, Rita Klimova described the sitting Prime Minister Milos Jakes as: someone who would fail a lie detector test if he began a sentence with the words: I think.

Sent by Edward Serotta | 2:58 PM | 7-16-2008

Churchill- drunk, having vomited on adjacent female at dinner; "Thank God, Madame, the white wine came up with the fish." Apocryphal?

Sent by Thomas Meadoff | 2:58 PM | 7-16-2008

Favorite bumper sticker (after Watergate)- Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts

Sent by Charlene DeRiggs | 2:59 PM | 7-16-2008

I believe it was the Speaker of the House in Texas, talking about then-Governor George W. Bush: If ignorance ever gets to $50 a barrel, I want the drilling rights on that man's head. Quoted by Molly Ivins.

Sent by Sharon Bower | 2:59 PM | 7-16-2008

Your caller from Baton Rouge reminds me of several quotes by or about Edwin Edwards. In 1983, speaking of his gubernatorial opponent, incumbent Dave Treen: "He's so slow it takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 minutes."

Edwin--a notorious womanizer--was later asked if he liked kissing babies. His reply: "I prefer kissing their mommas." Edwin also supposedly once claimed, "the only way I can't get elected is if they catch me in bed with a live boy or a dead girl."

And, finally, in 1991, during his final campaign for governor, against David Duke, bumper stickers circulated saying "Vote for the crook--it's important," and "Better a lizard than a wizard," a reference to Mr. Duke's bed-sheeted past.

Otherwise, I'm enjoying the show...thanks.

Sent by Michael Ferry | 2:59 PM | 7-16-2008

You are pumping up McCain's humor, but his jokes tend to have cruelty as the punchline - not real wit. Besides, he didn't say "maybe they will smoke them and die from them" as you quoted. Look it up and get your facts right.

Sent by Pat Kelly | 2:59 PM | 7-16-2008

I know I just missed the end of the show, but someone once running for office said "my opponent is a philatelist and his sister is a thespian in New York City." (Would that be a pseudo-innuendo?)

Sent by Brian Schill | 3:00 PM | 7-16-2008

Please tell Neil (Neal?) that it can be spelled riposte or ripost, but both are pronounced ree-post (with a long o, from the French, natch). That's according to my Webster's New World, 10 years of French and a tendency to be a language maven/stickler.

from a former NPR newmedia associate producer (in other, better, words an editor/copy editor/rewrite man)

Sent by Doug Stevenson | 3:06 PM | 7-16-2008

I enjoyed listening to the program on political put downs today. It reminded me of a story about a political put down I heard a number of years ago, although I read that Sen. Chris Dodd used this one during the primary at an appearance in New Hampshire. I found the text of the story at The story involved President William Howard Taft and Sen. Chauncey Depew and is as follows:

"President William Howard Taft was an enormous man, weighing more than 300 pounds. While introducing the President to an audience, Senator Chauncey Depew pointed to the President's huge stomach and said, "He's pregnant (pause) ... with courage." The audience laughed loudly.
Still pointing to Taft's stomach, Senator Depew added, "He's pregnant (pause) ... with integrity." The audience again erupted in laughter.
Then President Taft came to the podium, put his hands on his huge belly, and said, "If the baby is a girl, I will call her 'courage.' If it's a boy, I will call him 'integrity.' But if it's gas, as I suspect it is, I will call it Chauncey Depew."

Sent by Mark Gray | 3:22 PM | 7-16-2008

On subject of political put-downs:

Dating from RMN's typically slimy run for congress in 1940's my father, a clean freak, used to say, "There are just two things I hate: flies and Richard Nixon."

Jim Smith

Sent by Jim Smith | 3:28 PM | 7-16-2008

The answer to the question is
the senate race between Paul Wellstone and Rudy Boschwitz

Sent by Sandy Bennett | 4:13 PM | 7-16-2008

If Ken Rudin is going to quote McCain's cigarette Iran quip he should paraphrase in a way that is not disgusting and misleading.

Sent by Marlboro Dude | 4:29 PM | 7-16-2008

From Harry Truman about Dewey: "He says he's for the minimum wage, and I believe the lower the minimum, the better he likes it." Followed by the famous "Give 'em hell, Harry!" To which Truman replied something like "I'll just tell the truth and they'll think it's hell."

Sent by Richard Bagenstos | 4:35 PM | 7-16-2008

Mya favorite was during a press conference during W's first term;
Ari Fleisher: "I have 3 stories for you.."
Sam Donadlason: "Make it 2!!"

Sent by Bill | 4:41 PM | 7-16-2008

Senator Biden of Mayor Giuliani: "He doesn't say anything anymore. All he says is a noun a verb and 9/11 and that's it!"

Sent by Tausif Khan | 8:55 PM | 7-16-2008

Ken: The Barbara Boxer / Bruce Herschensohn race for a California Senate seat was in 1992.

Sent by Paul Young | 5:11 PM | 7-17-2008

I don't know who said it, or about whom, but it goes:
There are only two things I don't like about him, his face.

Sent by Patrick O'Donohue | 6:53 AM | 8-15-2008