Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidential Election Insults

The history of U.S. elections is one of barb and insult. Those good old days were not quite as gentlemanly as we like to envision them. In fact, they were down right insulting at times. This episode, which aired on Monday, Feb. 14 (I wonder if that was done with no small irony by Kyle for Valentine's Day) showed that well back into the 19th century, there was no love lost between candidates.

I enjoy coming up with these, because once I can get Kyle on a chuckling roll, it's fun to see how much I can get him to crack up. The one that did the trick was this passage, when I'm closing out the 19th century:

I’ll toss in a 20th century bonus --1912 was an absolute fiesta. Sitting president William Howard Taft called the previous president, now third-party candidate Theodore Roosevelt, a “dangerous egotist” and a “demagogue.” TR called his former hand-picked successor a “fathead” with the brain of a “guinea pig” and a “flubdub with a streak of the second rate and the common in him.” Woodrow Wilson labeled TR as “the most dangerous man of the age.” TR returned the favor that Wilson was “a damned presbyterian hypocrite and a Byzantine logothete,” “an infernal skunk in the White House.”

If milk were available, there would have been sinus irrigation.

Now this episode drew some phone calls to the station -- not by angry listeners -- but those who wanted to know what was that book we were using. Bad news here, it's not just one book. Those lovely campaign quotes have been collected over the years from several places.

However, if you want a single volume good starting place, one of my personal favorite authors on the presidents and their unusual proclivities and pronouncements was Paul Boller. The TCU professor had a series of books that ran under "Presidential . . . " -- Presidential Anecdotes and Presidential Campaigns have a lot of these in them.

And if you liked this episode, the same day we taped an "evergreen" on the end of civility in politics in general that will air sometime later this spring. It is full of many of the one-liners about politicians -- not from campaigns, per se, but opinions offered during the course of working together -- that were used on the @Were_History Twitter feed with the hashtag of #TheySaidIt during the end of January and the first of February.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Are you getting the tweets?

Following on with longer posts here about the individual segments, we've begun sending out some of our favorite quotes -- some that can be on public airways and some that are, well, a little blue -- from the historical past.

They are going out from our @Were_History twitter feed with the hash tag of #theysaidit. It includes some whoppers. To keep up with this quote a day series over the next couple of weeks, and to get regular updates, be sure to subscribe.

Also, don't forget our Facebook page either.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Presidential Press Secretaries

While snow may have delayed it for a day, the latest edition of We're History is available now on-line. It aired on Wednesday, Feb. 2 -- a Ground Hog Day special of sorts as this was a bit of a retread of one of our episodes from the 2008 season.

This script had some of the elements of the episode we did when George Bush's press secretary Scott McClellan came out with his book, accusing his superiors of making him lie for the president.

The recently departed Robert Gibbs did not have a similar moment, and in the course of getting this episode out some of the comments on Gibbs were cut for time. We do review the two great schools -- former journalists and advisers/PR types/friends of the president. Gibbs certainly was more of the adviser-friend to Obama.

The new press secretary swings back toward the former journalist pro with Jay Carney. We saw that within Bush's world -- Tony Snow as the famous journalist who left and was replaced by McClellan, then Dana Perino.

McClellan does give me the chance to bring back up the great story of Gerald Ford's one-month spokesman in Jerald terHorst. terHorst resigned when he felt Ford and the White House mislead him, famously saying:

I cannot in good conscious support your decision to pardon former President Nixon

You can read the whole thing with this image from WikiPedia.

As for Gibbs, he leaves us with a great quote for the social media age. In speaking of what needs to happen when dealing with real-time or social media:

The best way to fight rumor is with fact. If you don't fight rumor, it becomes truth.

And of course, no remembrance of PR types is complete without two Ron Ziegler quotes:

This is the operative statement. All other statements are inoperative.


If my answers sound confusing, I think they are confusing because the questions are confusing and the situation is confusing.