Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 8, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
48 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Wodneittny, November 8, 1972 What are these men laughing about? Or, whatever became of political humor? By TOM TIEDE BALTIMORE, Mel. (NBA I Whatever else the presidential campaign has been this year, it hasn't been ivilty. Jocular re- lief has been as rare as honest answers. Hardly a ho-ho has happened. The candidates have been about as funny as broken bones. George Mi-Govern was kind of clever afler the California nrimary when he said: "1 can't believe I won the M'hooolc thing Sargent Shrivcr peaked when, aflcr (he Tom Eagleton affair, he said the only skeleton he had in his closet was his Eunice. As [or Thud. Alas, campaign humor seems to be going the way of cam- paign oratory in America: downhill. Dr. Brownlec Corrin, a political scientist who special- ized in political humor al Gou- cher College here, says this is dullest campaign in a long, long time." None of the com- batants, Corrin suggests, seem to have the competence or the confidence to take the edge oft their remarks with levity. Con- sequently, "We wind up with everybody atlacking everybody else with the public the worse for the wear." It's not thai the candidates haven't tried, occasionally, to convince their audiences the sky is not really falling. But, says Dr. Corrin, even the attempts at humor are not so humorous as they are bitter. McGovern, for example, was once asked if he had any res- pect for Nixon's handling of world affairs except Vietnam. His answer: "To say we are doing fairly well in foreign pol- icy except for Vietnam is like the man saying "I feel pretty good except for the cancer in my throat." Moreover, even when the can- didates have succeeded this year in cracking passable jokes, they have been less ex- temporaneous than s t a g ed. Spiro Agnew can be witty Sarge Shriver says his family had six hungry mouths to feed, hi! means himself and five polo but he gets much of Ws mslerial from Bob Hope. Hope. You know him. The fellow who attended a din- ner once for New York's Car- dinal Cookc and said the priest's unfovorite song was: "Those Wedding Bells are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine." President Nixon, says Dr. Corrin, is a caie all his own: "Has he ever told a real, ripe ripe joke" Probably not. One collodion of gags credits the President with something about an Merna! Revenue ageiit who goes to a church to check the tax return of a member of the congregation. "We see he lists a donation (o your building fund. Deacon, of thai right" The minister smiles and says, "I don't know off- hand, but 1 promise you one thing: If he hasn't, he Ah, well. No wonder Nixon sticks to foreign affairs. 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And that wasn't very far back, either. "John says Corrin, "was one of Hie wittiest presidents we ever had. I remember one of his classics very well. It was during the time he was empha- sizing physical fitness, and he was telling about Arthur Gold- belt going mountain climbing somewhere in the Alps. Well, Goldberg was gone for several days and nobody heard from him, so a search party was or- ganized. A team went from peak to peak calling out: "Gold- berg, Goooldherg. Where are you? Goldberg, Goldberg, it's the Red Cross.' Finally, a voice came back from out in the wild- erness, very small and faint: "I gave at the office." Before Kennedy, of course, there was Lincoln, who once wrote to General McClellan: "I have just read your dispatch about fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatiques And there was Franklin Roosevelt who, when told Wendell WiUkie had his eye on the presidential chair, replied: "Yes, but look what T have on it." Also there was William Howard Taft, the fattest president in history, who ivent for a dip in the New Jer- sey surf one day and told his sons to wait because "The President is using the ocean." Then there was Calvin Coolidge, perhaps the most wryly witty of them all. When asked whether chickens lie or lay, he replied: "Where I come from, we pick them up to see." And al a state dinner, during office, Alice Roosevelt Long- wortii elbowed him: "Thsee for- mal dinners must bore you to death, Mr. President, why do you attend so many of than" Forking a hunk of beef, Cool- idge confided: "Well, a man has to eat somewhere." Times, for sure, have chang- ed drastically since the days when politicians were confront- ed with such weighty questions as whether hens lie or lay. And, says political scientist Corrin, this might explain some of the trend away from campaign hu- mor. Today's matters war, the bomb, the explosion of environmental problems are often too serious, Dr. Corrin feels, "to allow room for much levity." Also, he believes, American public expects more of their politicians than wit. "Look at Adlai Stevenson. There was a man who could not resist a gag, even when it cost him voles." And It eoet him plenty. Yet of all of today's gloom, Corrin sighs, would there were some laughter too. Imagine ft Nixon, with a rancor, flashing a one-liner like: "Senator Mc- Govern's campaign is the sort that gives failure a bad name." Or imagine George Chiding Dick, gently: "Few people blame themselves until ttiey have exhausted all other possi- bilities." Or, better, Imagine an audi- ence today in America, still awake, like the one that con- fronted Theodore Roosevelt years ago. A heckler interrupt- ed that president by saying: "My grandfather was a Demo- crat, my father was a Democrat and I'm a Democrat." Rooae- vet retorted by a 8 k i n K: "Friend, if your grandfather had been a jackass and your father had been a jackass, what would you Instantly the man replied: "A Republican, naturally." (Newspaper Enterprise A strange way to enhance peace talks By FRED S. HOFFMAN WASHINGTON (AP) De- fence Secretary Melvin 'Laird said here "we are trying to enhance negotiations through acceleration of deliveries" of planes and weapons to South Vietnam. Laird spoke after North Viet- nam and China accused (he United States government of stalling on concluding a cease- fire agreement while worldng to build up South Vietnamese military forces. Asked how a speedup in mill- Lary equipment deliveries to South Vietnam could enhance negotiations, Laird said in an interview: It assures the South Viet- namese they will have the capability to provide their own in-country security. "It also notifies the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong that our commitment to Vict- namization is a firm com- mitment" and (hat the United States will carry It through. A tentative U.S.-North Viet- namese ceasefire agreement, outlined publicly in late Octo- ber, would bar introduction of any new military equipment into South Vietnam by either side except as replacement for worn-out or destroyed gear nn a one-for-one basis. Laird said the Vietnamization nlan, Iflid out In 1M9, envisaged building the South Vietnamese air force to about planes and helicopters hy the rnd o[ 1973. MISS TARGET However, he Indicated that even will) the new speedup ihat goal will probably be missed bv perhaps 100 to iso aircraft by Ihc lime a ceasefire begins. As of Oct. 1. Laird snirt, I hp South Vietnamese air torcc had about planes and helicop- ters. He did not say how many aircraft were being sent to South Vietnam during Ihc cur- rent buildup. But the Pentagon acknowledged Into last week Ihat it was borrowing some 120 F-5 Freedom Fighters from South Korea, Nationalist China and Iron to reinforce Snigon's fllr force. Ulrd snld the South Viet- namese (mound forces "in pretty good shape" and that most of the equipment buildup is for the air force. Laird reported that the North Vietnamese are moving lot of stuff" down through the Lao- tian supply trails, also in antici- pation of a ceasefire. At the same time, he Mid there's been a significant In- crease in the number of Soviet and other Communist-bloc steps unloading supplies for North Vietnam in Chinese ports in the past four to eight weeks. With North Vietnamese ports still blockaded by U.S. minei, supplies from Communist allies are routed through China down a network of roads and what- ever railways are still function- Air piracy indictment names trio WASHINGTON (AP) Charles Andrew Tuller, for- mer federal employee, and his two sons were indicted by federal grand Jury in Houston, Tex., on charges of air pirncy and kidnapping on connection with the hijacking to Cuba of an Eastern Air Lines flighl bound from Texas to New York, the United Slates justice dcpnrtmenl announced. A three-conn! indiclmenl named Tuller, 49, his two sons, Dryce, 19. and Jonathan, 18. and a fourth man, William Gra- ham, also IB. All four are cur- rently in Cuba. Tuiler. lormer U.S. com- merce rirnnrlincnl employer, and his older son lived in Alex- andria. Va. The younger Tuller and Graham are absent without lenve from the U.S. Army. The Tullers and Graham have also been charged by Ar- lington Va., nulhm-Hlcs with murder. murder and allcmplcd bank robbery In con- ncclion with a lioldup al a hrnnch of Ine Arlington Trust Co, Ocl. 2S. A policeman and the hank manager wore slain In thu (ampler! holdup.