I hope we’re all enjoying the Summer Olympics, where people come together to compete for their home countries. I think it’s great that people can put aside their cultural differences every four years and just have fun. It’s also helpful that these games happen during presidential election years and provide some much needed relief from the incessant gamesmanship of the political process. If running for president is not an Olympic sport, I don’t know what is?.
As much as I find politics and politicians to be extremely unpleasant and the worst examples of humanity, they are a necessary part of life on this planet. Maybe we just need to try harder to understand them because they aren’t always the best communicators. In my daily reading and research I began to notice historical trends among politicians and the way they explain things, like this quote from Emperor Hirohito shortly after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage.“ As understatements go, that’s a winner.
Going back even further I ran across this bit of unvarnished truth from the German leader, Otto Von Bismarck, “Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.” I think we could substitute the word politicians for laws and it would still be good advice. Or how about this prescient statement from Herbert Hoover, “Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.” At least he tried to warn us. On the other hand, when it comes to total disregard for the truth, we can look to Joseph Stalin, “Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union.” Not to be outdone, our own beloved President Richard Nixon made this strange observation, “I would have made a good Pope.”
Politicians have a way of making us scratch our heads in bewilderment, like no one else. Senator Orrin Hatch created an epidemic of baldness when he uttered this nonsense, “Capital punishment is our society’s recognition of the sanctity of human life.” HUH? His fellow Senator, Everett Dirksen couldn’t resist the temptation to get in on Hatch’s glorious moment when he explained the national debt this way, “A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon it adds up to real money.” WHAT? Does anybody remember when billions were a lot of money?
Every once in a while though, we do hear something from a politician that is totally honest but completely unintended like Barry Goldwater’s famous line, “I’m not even sure I’ve got the brains to be President.” That must have been followed by Adlai Stevenson’s observation, “In America, anybody can become President. That’s one of the risks you take.” Honesty isn’t really something politicians handle that well and it seems to surprise them when it happens, as this comment from President Kennedy reveals, “When we got into office, the thing that surprised me the most was that things were as bad as we’d been saying they were.”
I did find a few pearls of wisdom from some unlikely sources that I would like to end with. Representative Lynn Martin gave us a glimpse into the reality of Washington when she said this, “No matter what your religion, you should become a government program, for then you will have everlasting life.” Then we have the old sage Pat Paulsen who came up with the greatest campaign slogan of all time, “We’ve upped our standards. Up yours.” Now, for my final thought on the subject of political discourse, I would suggest we all take heed of Napoleon’s warning, “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.