WIT, ABUSE, MISSPEAKERY, AND DUMBFUCKERY
History's funniest political quotes
Funny politicians are brutal politicians. And few were more cutting than Churchill when he took down an opponent by saying he had “the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought.”
Politicians can also be wise-cracking, like Margaret Thatcher, who responded to a colleague bemoaning England’s loss to Germany “at our national sport” by saying, “I shouldn’t worry too much. We’ve beaten them twice this century at theirs.”
Politicians can even excel at the comedy of truth like Gandhi who was asked what he thought of Western civilisation and responded by saying he thought “it would be a very good idea.”
Then, there’s the comedy of self-deprecation, which was Al Gore's specialty: “I am Al Gore. And I used to be the next president of the United States of America.”
For some, political comedy comes in the form of a back-alley brawl. And the greatest brawler of all was Paul John Keating. I was a kid when I first saw Keating ply his trade by launching into reporter, Richard Carleton, who’d been brought to Channel Nine from the ABC at great expense. Keating said to Carleton: “You had an important place in Australian society on the ABC and you gave it up to be a pop star … with a big cheque … and now you’re on to this sort of stuff. That shows what a 24 carat pissant you are, Richard, that’s for sure.” It was an early introduction to Keating’s comedy of abuse. But most of the time he directed his insults at Liberal Party MPs, who he called harlots, sleazebags, frauds, mugs, pigs, clowns, boxheads, crims, foul-mouthed grubs, criminal garbage, dullards, alley cats, gigolos, hare-brained hillbillies, scumbags, suckers, and thugs.
But the political comedy that unites us most comes from gaffes and verbal slip-ups. There always seems to be someone happy to talk about “suppositories” of wisdom or January 6 “insuruptions”.
So here are what I think are the best of the funniest political quotes. If you have any additions, please add them to the comments.
WIT AND BANTER
“These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.” - BARACK OBAMA.
“I tease Joe (Biden) sometimes, but has been at my side for seven years, I love that man. He’s not just a great vice president, he is a great friend. We’ve gotten so close in some places in Indiana, they won’t serve us pizza anymore.” – BARACK OBAMA.
"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important." - Minnesota Senator, EUGENE MCCARTHY.
NANCY ASTOR: “If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee.”
WINSTON CHURCHILL: “And if I were your husband I would drink it.”
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." – WINSTON CHURCHILL.
“As God once said, and I think rightly…” - MARGARET THATCHER
"A sheep in sheep's clothing." – WINSTON CHURCHILL on Labour leader, Clement Attlee.
“He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." – WINSTON CHURCHILL.
“The people have spoken - the bastards.” – DICK TUCK following his loss in a race for the California State Senate.
“I have never found, in a long experience of politics, that criticism is ever inhibited by ignorance.” - HAROLD MACMILLAN.
"Don't interrupt me while I'm interrupting." – WINSTON CHURCHILL.
“All I know is that I’m not a Marxist.” - KARL MARX
At the 1990 Conservative Party conference, MARGARET THATCHER likened the Liberal Democrats — with their yellow bird symbol — to the dead parrot in the celebrated Monty Python sketch. With deadpan delivery Mrs T intoned, “This is a late parrot — it has ceased to be”, and the party faithful roared. The day before, when she first saw the draft of the speech, she didn’t understand it. “Is this supposed to be funny?” she asked. “Trust us,” her advisers said. “It’s from Monty Python, Prime Minister, and it’s funny.” Mrs Thatcher remained unconvinced. According to John Whittingdale, her political secretary at the time, even as she made her way to the conference platform, she asked him: “This Monty Python — is he one of us?”
DID YOU JUST SAY THAT?
“Do you have blacks, too?” – GEORGE W. BUSH to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso.
“They’re young, feisty, I think I can probably say have a bit of sex appeal and they’re just very connected with the local area.” - TONY ABBOTT comparing former Liberal MP, Jackie Kelly, with current Liberal candidate Fiona Scott.
“I experimented with marijuana a time or two. And I didn’t like it, and I didn’t inhale.” - BILL CLINTON.
“Look, when I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point.” - BARACK OBAMA.
“The poorest people either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far in many cases.” - Treasurer JOE HOCKEY, trying to reassure us that the proposed fuel tax increase would not hurt poorer Australians.
“Life is indeed precious, and I believe the death penalty helps affirm this fact.” – New York City mayor EDWARD KOCH.
"If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome." – BARACK OBAMA, discussing his talents at a 2008 campaign fundraising dinner in New York.
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.” - GEORGE W. BUSH
“This is an impressive crowd: the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.” - GEORGE W. BUSH
“I’m not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president.” - HILLARY CLINTON.
"When your back's against the wall, it's time to turn around and start fighting." - British PM, JOHN MAJOR.
“Testing. Testing. I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing starts in five minutes.” - RONALD REAGAN’S infamous 1984 sound check for an NPR interview.
“Fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today.” – BARACK OBAMA’S Memorial Day address in Las Cruces, New Mexico, 2008.
“There’s nothing so improves the mood of the Party as the imminent execution of a senior colleague.” – Conservative Party MP, ALAN CLARK.
“I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy: ‘Dear Jack, Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.’” — JOHN F. KENNEDY, campaigning for President during the 1958 Gridiron Dinner.
“I love the poorly educated! They are the smartest people, the most loyal people.” – DONALD TRUMP.
“We have every mixture you can have. I have a black, a woman, two Jews, and a cripple. And we have talent.” - JAMES WATT, former Secretary of State, on diversity, September 1983.
THE COMEDY OF ABUSE
“You’re such a cunt.” - CHRISTOPHER PYNE. In Pyne’s defense, he reckons he said “grub”. Go to the tape and decide for yourself.
“Whomever just unfollowed me - show yourself you coward.” – future White House press secretary, SEAN SPICER.
“A modest man who has much to be modest about.” - WINSTON CHURCHILL unloads again on Labour leader, Clement Attlee.
“Harold Wilson is going around the country stirring up apathy.” – Conservative MP, WILLIAM WHITELAW.
“At the moment the Labour leader has two major problems to overcome. How he looks and what he says.” – lobbyist, PETER BINGLE on Labour leader, Ed Miliband.
“Don’t be so humble. You’re not that great.” - Israeli politician GOLDA MEIR to Israeli military leader and politician, Moshe Dayan.
“He has the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought.” - WINSTON CHURCHILL on Labour PM, Ramsay Macdonald.
“Most Tories seem to think that ‘ethics’ is a county near Middlesex.” – UK Deputy PM, JOHN PRESCOTT
“When they circumcised Herbert Samuel they threw away the wrong bit.” - UK PM DAVID LLOYD GEORGE discusses a rival.
“There they are. See no evil, hear no evil, and … evil.” - BOB DOLE on seeing former Presidents Carter, Ford and Nixon.
“Some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress. ‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ they ask. Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?” - BARACK OBAMA.
PAUL KEATING on Leader of the Opposition, John Hewson:
“He’s like a shiver waiting for a spine.”
“Debating with him is like being flogged by a warm lettuce.”
(After Hewson asked him why he wouldn’t call an early election) “The answer is, mate, because I want to do you slowly.”
PAUL KEATING on Andrew Peacock’s return to the post of Leader of the Opposition:
“A souffle doesn’t rise twice.”
PAUL KEATING on Prime Minister, John Howard
“He’s like a lizard on a rock, alive but looking dead.”
“What we’ve got is a dead carcass, swinging in the breeze, but nobody will cut it down to replace him.”
PAUL KEATING on the United Kingdom:
"Britain is like an old theme park sliding into the Atlantic.”
MISPEAKERY and DUMBFUCKERY:
“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.” –DAN QUAYLE.
“It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.” –DAN QUAYLE.
“We’re going to have the best-educated American people in the world.” –DAN QUAYLE.
“I love California, I practically grew up in Phoenix.” –DAN QUAYLE.
“The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation’s history. I mean in this century’s history. But we all lived in this century. I didn’t live in this century.” – DAN QUAYLE.
“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.”— RONALD REAGAN.
“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” – GEORGE W. BUSH.
“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” – GEORGE W. BUSH.
“Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.” - Mayor MARION BARRY
“Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, ‘Thank God , I’m still alive.’ But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again.” - Senator BARBARA BOXER.
“A man I’m proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next president of the United States — Barack America!” -- JOE BIDEN, at his first campaign rally with Barack Obama in Springfield, Illinois.
“George W. Bush did an incredible job in the presidency, defending us from freedom.” – Texas Governor, RICK PERRY.
“They misunderestimated me.” – GEORGE W. BUSH.
“Families is where our nation finds hope. Where wings take dream.” – GEORGE W. BUSH.
“Rarely is the question asked, ‘Is our children learning?’” – GEORGE W. BUSH.
“If you’re a single mother with two children — which is the toughest job in America , as far as I’m concerned — you’re working hard to put food on your family.” – GEORGE W. BUSH.
“We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease.” – GEORGE W. BUSH.
“For seven and a half years I’ve worked alongside President Reagan. We’ve had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex … uh…setbacks.” – GEORGE H. W. BUSH.
“Despite the constant negative press covfefe…” – DONALD J. TRUMP on Twitter.
"It's pretty obvious that, well, sometimes shit happens, doesn't it?" -- TONY ABBOTT, discussing events surrounding the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan.
"I would say to my daughters, if they were to ask me this question, I would say.....it is the greatest gift you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don't give it to someone lightly, that is what I would say." – TONY ABBOTT, when asked about sex before marriage.
"No one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced … is the suppository of all wisdom.” - TONY ABBOTT.
“The number one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J - O - B - S.” – JOE BIDEN.
“A zebra does not change its spots.” - AL GORE attacking George W Bush.
“One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is ‘to be prepared, ’” - DAN QUAYLE.