The “Historic Quote” section of this Weekly Comments will appeal to those of you intensely following the anticipated news about Senator Kerry’s choice for vice-president. For the other 90 percent, it will provide some light humor as a suitable ending to your July 4th holiday.
Weekly Comments: Will Sen. Kerry pick Will Rogers as V-P?
# 326, July 5, 2004
WESTON, West Va.: Senator Kerry played baseball on Iowa’s “Field of Dreams” this weekend. President Bush was speaking just a few miles down I-79 from here in Charleston.
Now, that would appear perfectly logical for Mr. Kerry; he has a Dream, and it involves being the #1 pitcher in Washington for the next four years. For Mr. Bush you may wonder, why is he campaigning in West Virginia when it’s states like Ohio where he needs votes. Well, it’s a holiday weekend, and half of Ohio is back home in West Virginia, so that’s where you go to reach ’em. The other half is in Kentucky and pretty much out of reach of any politicians, except those offering free samples of Jim Beam.
They say Mr. Kerry is naming his vice president this week. He has a long list of fine candidates… Sen. Edwards, Gen. Clark, Dick Gephardt, Sam Nunn, Sen. Biden, Gov. Graham, Sen. Clinton, even John McCain. I had not intended to spring this announcement till the convention in Boston, but he has forced my hand tonight.
Not one of those candidates can claim to live in three states: Oklahoma, California, and New York. I can say with confidence, a Democratic ticket with Will Rogers on it can carry two out of those three states. Of course a ticket with any other man might sweep all three.
When you hear his announcement, after reading this column, most of you will say, “He could have had somebody better.” Even without reading this column, you’ll likely say the same thing.
Historic quotes from Will Rogers: the 1924 Democratic Convention in New York City
[this is the famous convention that required sixteen days, and 101 ballots, to nominate John W. Davis of West Virginia to run against Calvin Coolidge. VP nominee was Charles Bryan, brother of William Jennings Bryan.]
WILL ROGERS COMES OUT FOR VICE PRESIDENT; CLAIMS ALL QUALIFICATIONS EXCEPT DRESS SUIT
June 26, 1924, Article #4, New York Times
The following is one of the bravest statements made in a political decade:
In the entire three years of preparation by the Democratic Party to groom some man for this present crisis there has never been a mention of a man to run for Vice President….
So I just got off and held a caucus with myself and said somebody has got to be sacrificed for the sake of party harmony. I hereby and hereon put myself in nomination, and to save some other man being humiliated by having to put me in nomination, why, I will just nominate myself.
So I, Will Rogers, of Claremore, Oklahoma; Hollywood, California; and 42nd St. and Broadway, New York, do hereby step right out and declare myself, not only as a receptive but an anxious candidate for the husband’s position (meaning second) on the forthcoming Democratic ticket.
On first hearing this it may sound like a joke, but when I relate to you some of the qualifications which I possess, why, I think any fair-minded man will give me serious consideration.
But the trouble is there are not any fair-minded men in politics.
In the first place, they have got to nominate a farmer who understands the farmers’ condition. Well, I got two farms in Oklahoma, both mortgaged, so no man knows their condition better than I do.
He has also to be a man from the West. Well, if a man came from 25 feet further West than I lived last year, he would have to be a fish in the Pacific Ocean.
(Charles) Dawes was nominated on the Republican ticket on account of his profanity. Now I have never tried cussin’ in public, but I guess I could learn to get used to it before a crowd.
Another big reason why I should be nominated is I am not a Democrat.
Another still bigger reason why I should be nominated is I am not a Republican.
I am just progressive enough to suit the dissatisfied. And lazy enough to be a Stand Patter.
Oil has never touched me. The reason I know it never has is, I drilled a well on my farm in Oklahoma, and I never even touched it, much less oil touching me.
I never worked for a big corporation.
When the President can’t go anywhere, why, the Vice President has to go and speak or eat for him. Now, I could take in all the dinners, for I am a fair eater.
I could say, “I am sorry the President can’t come, but he had pressing business.” Of course, I wouldn’t tell the reason why he didn’t come, so I am just good enough a liar to be a good Vice President.
I am not much of an after-dinner speaker, but I could learn two stories, one for dinners where ladies were present, and one for where they were not.
Of course I have no dress suit [tuxedo]. The Government would have to furnish me a dress suit. If I went to a dinner in a rented one, they would mistake me for a Congressman.
I know I can hear a lot of you all say, “Yes, Will, you would make a good Vice President, but suppose something happened to the President?”
Well, I would do just like Mr. Coolidge. I would go in there and keep still and say nothing. He is the first President to discover that what the American people want is to be let alone.
P.S. I was born in a Log Cabin.
(This is from the book, “Convention Articles of Will Rogers”, available from the Will Rogers Museum: www.willrogers.com, then click on Gift Shop.)