#487, January 25, 2008

Special edition by an old columnist

(Randall is on vacation this week, so Will Rogers is filling in. These little Historical tidbits should help prepare you to endure the onslaught of Primaries, interrupted momentarily by the State of the Union address and the Super Bowl.)

Being serious or being a good fellow has got nothing to do with running this country. If the breaks are with you, you could be a laughing hyena and still have a great administration.

Politics is the best show in America. I love animals and I love politicians. I like to watch both of ’em at play, either back home in their native state, or after they’ve been captured and sent to a zoo, or to Washington.

No voter is going to do anything that a politician thinks he will do (this year). The way most people feel they would like to vote against all of ’em if it was possible.

The two greatest traits to recommend the Democrats is optimism and humor. You’ve got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and you’ve got to be a humorist to stay one.

Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.

The Democrats and the Republicans are equally corrupt—it’s only in the amount where the Republicans excel.

Republicans want a candidate that can lend dignity to the office. Democrats want one that will lend money.

A Republican moves slowly. They are what we call conservatives. A conservative is a man who has plenty of money and doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t always have plenty of money. A Democrat is a fellow who never had any, but doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t have some.

You know how Congress is. They’ll vote for anything if the thing they vote for will turn around and vote for them.

Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously, and the politicians as a joke, when it used to be vice versa.

Many a politician wishes there was a law to burn old records.

Our president delivered his State of the Union message to Congress. That is one of the things his contract calls for — to tell Congress the condition of the country. This message, as I say, is to Congress. The rest of the people know the condition of the country, for they live in it, but Congress has no idea what is going on in America, so the president has to tell ‘em.

A president just can’t make much showing against Congress. They lay awake nights, thinking up things to be against the president on.

You know Lincoln’s famous remark about “God must have loved the common people, because he made so many of them?” Well, you are not going to get people’s votes nowadays by calling ‘em common. Lincoln might have said it, but I bet it was not until after he was elected.

I like to make little jokes and kid about the Senators. They are a kind of a never ending source of amusement, amazement, and discouragement. But the rascals, when you meet ’em face to face and know ’em, they are mighty nice fellows. It must be something in the office that makes ’em so ornery sometimes. When you see what they do officially you want to shoot ’em, but when one looks at you and grins so innocently, why you kinder want to kiss him.

#486, January 21, 2008

Football, politics and women stimulate the economy

COLUMBUS: The presidential campaigns are chugging along. Let’s see, out of fifty states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Michigan and Nevada have voted, and half of South Carolina. Some television folks can’t understand why the election is still undecided.

In football terms this election is about five minutes into the first quarter. Do they expect a team that’s trailing to give up? Besides, if the candidates all dropped out but two, what would these commentators argue about for the next six months?

The Republican candidates have moved from South Carolina to Florida. Of course Rudy Giuliani has been there all winter. Rudy has been campaigning on lower income taxes. He wants to cut income taxes. And every speech he gives in Florida, he always gets the same question: “What’s an income tax?”

The wackiness of the college football season infiltrated pro football. Of course the undefeated Patriots won, but the Giants? Playing in a sold out Green Bay stadium with temperatures below zero (degrees F, not C), two things were clear: on Sunday, the Giants’ Eli Manning was a better quarterback than Brett Favre of the Packers, and the debate on global warming got muddled. The Super Bowl will be a great game, especially big for folks in the northeast who can’t get enough of watching New York play Boston. The rest of the country was pulling for Green Bay to take on the Patriots.

Congress and President Bush say they are ready to stimulate the economy. They want to give us a hundred fifty Billion dollars with the proviso that we must spend it quickly. You can argue the merits of whether it should go to poor people for food, or business for investment, or as a refund to taxpayers. But if they really want it to be spent in a hurry, give it to women.

Where is the money coming from? Will China and Europe and Saudi Arabia go along and loan it to us? Regardless, the government had better act fast. By the time you read this, Wall Street may have taken more out of the economy than what Congress is proposing to put in.

Historical quotes from Will Rogers:

(The President and Congress) “are working out a lot of beneficial things. The only thing is it took ’em so long to think of any of ’em. We ought to have plans in case of depression, just like we do in case of fire, ‘Walk, don’t run, to the nearest exit.'” DT #1659, Nov. 16, 1931

“The budget is a mythical bean bag. Congress votes mythical beans into it, and then tries to reach in and pull real beans out.” DT #2047, Feb. 24, 1933

#485, January 13, 2008

No-Till Farmer Presidential Primary Results Announced: Sen. Obama and Gov. Huckabee win close contests

[This column is longer than usual, and worth it!!]

COLUMBUS: All I know is what I read in the paper, or learn out on the campaign trail. Another Presidential Primary was conducted Friday (January 11).

I was invited to be the MC for this primary, which was scheduled to be the first in the country. We made the mistake of announcing the date months ahead, and New Hampshire and Iowa jumped us. They couldn’t risk the competition.

These two states depend on Presidential politics for revenue the way Hollywood needs the millions in gross income from Awards shows to replace the dough lost on bad movies.

Wyoming conducted a primary also, but they practically had to buy ad space to get their results in the New York Times. Main difference between Wyoming and this No-Till Farmer election is that we had more voters. This is not a dig at the fine state of Wyoming because we had a bigger population to draw from. Out of all the no-till farmers in the country, almost 800 came to Cincinnati for our convention.

You may be wondering, how did we conduct a Primary so efficiently. Well, we brought all the voters into a big banquet hall, fed ’em noodles and undercooked snap beans, then brought out the candidates one at a time to be interviewed. Unlike these long-winded televised debates, we completed the whole process in about twenty minutes, and everybody marked a ballot. In another ten minutes the votes were tallied. No time for pundits to argue over exit polls.

In the public interest, and to show those other states how to conduct an honest election humorously and without commercial interruption, here’s a sampling of the intellectual exchanges between yours truly and the candidates or their representatives:

[Note to readers: Will Rogers often conducted “interviews” with politicians, where he wrote both sides of the conversation.]

“Welcome our first candidate, Senator John Edwards.”

He came on stage, primping, “How do I look?”

I asked, “Is it true you are for Change?”

He answered, “I’m for Change. Change for the country. Change for the world. Change for you.”

“So far you aren’t doing so well. If you eventually lose, will you still work for change?”

He said, “Work for change? Are you kidding? I’m a trial lawyer; we don’t work for change, we work for dollars. Millions of dollars. If I get defeated I’ll take it like a man, move on, and get back to work. Then I’ll feel better soon as I find somebody to sue. Maybe Monsanto.”

Next came Dennis Kucinich, the boyish-looking Congressman from Cleveland. I asked, “Are you running as Ohio’s Favorite Son?”

He said, “Actually, I’m running as Ohio’s Favorite Grandson.”

Fred Thompson sent his lovely, young wife to represent him. “My husband would have been here himself, but he’s resting up.”

I said, “Well, it’s easy for someone his age to get exhausted campaigning.”

She said, “Campaigning? Honey, it’s not the campaign he’s resting up from. Now, if it’s ok with you, I’m going to go get better acquainted with these voters.”

Next was Mike Huckabee, former governor of a fine agricultural state, and a Baptist preacher. He jumped right in, “After Fred’s wife gets through with this crowd, we may all need to pray for forgiveness of our sins.”

I asked, “Will your religion be a problem in the election?”

He said, “I’ve been asked if I believe only Baptists can get into Heaven. No, of course not. And there’s some Baptists I’ve met here that won’t get in either.”

Rudy Giuliani’s wife was next. “My husband skipped Iowa and New Hampshire. We always wanted the National No-Till Primary to be our first.” Well, that got applause. But, as it turned out, not many votes.

I asked, “Where’s Rudy today.”

She said, “Oh, he had to stay home. He’s behind on writing alimony checks.”

“Are you his second wife?”

She answered, “Actually third. But I’m the youngest. And prettiest, don’t you think?”

We were interrupted by an attractive young lady bounding across the stage. I asked, “Who are you, and what are you doing up here?”

She said breathlessly, “I’m gonna be Rudy Giuliani’s next wife.”

This shocked the current wife, “You can’t take my Rudy. When he’s President, I want to be First Lady.”

Future wife, “Well, ok. You keep him first term. But I get him for the second.”

Current wife, “Let’s go out here and work the crowd. We’ve got that Thompson witch outnumbered.”

Mitt Romney was next. “My wife is at home. And unlike Rudy, I want you folks to know I only have one wife.”

I asked, “What’s your plan to get elected?”

He said, “Spend lots of money. In Iowa every vote I got cost me about $200. Mostly for television commercials. Starting with this No-Till Primary, I have a new plan. I’ll pay directly for each vote.” As he held up a handful of cash, he asked, “Ok, who’ll vote for Romney?”

Not many took him up on the offer. He would’ve got more if corn was still $2.00 a bushel.

We also had conversations on stage with Ron Paul and John McCain.

Barack Obama couldn’t make it to Cincinnati, and neither could Oprah.

The star attraction was Senator Hillary Clinton. She came on stage wearing a skirt. Yes, a skirt. And a tight sweater. She came strolling across the stage, kinda like she got lessons on how to walk from Paris Hilton. Bill was trailing close behind.

She said, “You folks know that last week I was in New Hampshire. I listened to the people there, and in the process I found my true voice. This week I’ve been listening to no-till farmers… and I found the rest of me.”

I tried to interview our former President, but Hillary kept strutting back and forth in front of us, stealing all the attention including his. After being ignored on questions about Pakistan and Russia, I finally got his attention for one: “Didn’t eight years in the White House make you an expert on foreign affairs?”

He grinned, “Actually I’m an expert on all kind of affairs. But right now I’m only interested in Hillary. Take a look at this woman. I’ve never seen her like this. She’s got legs, and everything.”

She heard this, “Oh Bill, you noticed. Do you really think I’m hot? I’m gonna cry.”

I finally got her back on topic, “Earlier John Edwards said he’s for change. Are you for change too?”

She said, “Oh yes. Look at my experience. I’ve been working 35 years for change. Mainly working to change Bill.”

Gov. Bill Richardson was here earlier; got one look at Hillary, and conceded the election.

The results of the National No-Till Primary election are as follows: For the Democrats, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton by only 3 votes, with John Edwards a distant third. Dennis Kucinich was fourth.

For the Republicans, Mike Huckabee beat John McCain by 4 votes. Far back were Fred Thompson, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani was last, kinda like a late-closing race horse.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“Elections are a good deal like marriages, there’s no accounting for anyone’s taste. Every time we see a bridegroom we wonder why she ever picked him, and it’s the same with Public Officials.” WA #126, May 10, 1925

#484, January 5, 2008

Will speculates: if football games were like presidential primaries

COLUMBUS: It’s 2008, known in America as the Year of the 2-year election campaign. The first preliminary contest was held January 3, ten months before election day, November 4. That’s “my” birthday. I was born on election day, and I think they settled on November 4 this year just for comedy purposes. If ever a nation needed a sense of humor over an election, this is the year.

The primary election season is just underway, and already the newspapers and television folks are telling us who should win.

As I write this, Iowa has voted, and the candidates with their supporters and 20,000 media folks have invaded New Hampshire. By next week, the leading Democrat candidate may have corralled about 40 of the 4051 delegates up for grabs, the runner-up will have about 35, and the third guy around 30. The Republicans won’t be much different. And pundits will be telling you who has dropped out, who should drop out, and who they predict will round up 2000 more delegates and win the nomination. It is mostly nonsense but it gives the TV folks something to fill air time with till the Writers return.

But in these early states, it is serious business. Politics is New Hampshire’s leading industry, just ahead of real estate sales, mostly to former residents of Massachusetts. In Iowa it’s number 2, but only because this year corn is bringing $4.00 a bushel.

Suppose we ran a football game the same way we run Presidential politics. This Monday night in New Orleans, college football will declare a winner, either OSU or LSU.

Now if the TV boys were in charge of the game, here’s what to expect: Ohio State returns the opening kickoff to the 25. On the first play the running back (we’ll call him Joe) gains nothing. Next the quarterback passes for a first down at the 40.

Now it gets interesting: the referee calls a TV timeout so the half-dozen pundits at each network can speculate and predict who will win.

During the timeout, Joe (one run, zero yards) tells the coach, “I quit,” and walks out of the stadium. A bench warmer (Chris) quits with him. Can you imagine that? Years of playing football, weeks of intense practice, and less than a minute into the championship, they give up.

Meanwhile on the sideline, Dennis the water boy, sees the two players leave and corners the coach, “Let me play. I know I can do it. Pretty please.”

The TV folks take a poll of the viewers. Fans at the game can participate by texting. Poll results are posted on the scoreboard.

The game starts again. A long pass is intercepted, giving Louisiana State the ball on their 15. On the first play the star quarterback throws for 20 yards. Next play is a run for 12. Timeout!

More punditry, more polling, more intense speculating. Now the network folks are 75 percent sure they know the eventual winner.

The game finally continues, 13 minutes left in the first quarter. Next play, the quarterback is sacked. He’s hurt. Timeout!

TV folks say they are 90 percent positive that whoever is ahead at the end of the quarter will win.

Back on the field, the second-string quarterback enters the huddle. No, wait. It’s not the usual substitute. The crowd roars approval. The pundits recognize the change. Now they know, 100 percent positive, THIS is the winning team. Why? Because the new QB is the star quarterback’s wife.

Now, dear readers, this is what could happen if you played a championship football game like an election campaign.

Next week I’ll report results from the third primary. No, not South Carolina. This one will be January 11, the National No-till Farmers Presidential Primary, held in Cincinnati. No predictions on a winner, but I bet a couple of candidates will get more votes than they did in Iowa.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“The locusts that I saw swarming the Argentine are houseflies compared to the destruction by a presidential election… It takes a great country to stand a thing like that hitting it every four years.” WA #516, Nov. 3, 1932

“I was born on November 4, that was Election Day. Women couldn’t vote in those days, so my mother thought she would do something, so she stayed home and gave birth to me.” Notes, undated.