In the New England where I grew up, March was an unpopular month — wet, muddy, cold and, with the occasional late-spring snowfall and mud, really ugly. Nobody ever wrote a memorable (or unmemorable) ode to the charms of March.
For this reason, we all about now need a good smile, or even a chuckle, for which I turn, irrespective of party of origin, to a few of my favorite political one-liners.
During his presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan was regularly reminded of many of his non-Oscar-nominated appearances on the silver screen. Reagan was remarkably even-tempered when questioned about his mostly unmemorable roles. On the campaign plane one day, a reporter, asking for the candidate’s autograph, produced a glossy studio photo of Reagan and his co-star Bonzo the chimpanzee from “Bedtime for Bonzo.” The Gipper obliged and with a twinkle in his eye inscribed, “I’m the one with the wristwatch.”
No politician was wittier than Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who explained to a college graduation audience that she was only the second woman to be governor of the Lone Star State. The first, Richards explained, was Miriam Amanda “Ma” Ferguson, who was called “Ma” because she was married to “Pa” Ferguson. Ma initially ran for governor because Pa had been impeached.
The big issue of Ma Ferguson’s administration was whether or not Texas schoolchildren would be punished for speaking Spanish in school. Asked for her position on the controversy, Ferguson answered “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the schoolchildren of Texas.”
One doesn’t ordinarily think of President Joe Biden as the Will Rogers of the 21st century, but when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was running for the Republican presidential nomination by emphasizing how unpopular he was with his own Senate colleagues, Biden, then the vice president, came to the Texas conservative’s defense: “Ted Cruz? An inspiration to every kid in America who worries that he’ll never be able to run for president because nobody likes him.” Biden added that he had given the following advice to then-President Barack Obama: “If you really, really want to remake the Supreme Court, nominate Cruz. Before you know it, you’ll have eight vacancies.”
Of course, not all political scandals take place in Washington. Last week, in a state prison not that many hours’ drive from here, one convict turned to his cellmate and said, “The food was a lot better here when you were governor.”
Plains, Georgia, the hometown of former President Jimmy Carter was really small — a total population of 776 in the most recent census. How small, you ask? So small that at the local grocery, you’ll find the Velveeta in the gourmet food section. April cannot get here fast enough.
To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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