Hanukkah Hams: “Vote for Me!” Edition

by Andy Wood on October 31, 2012

in Leadership, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, Pleasers, Spoofs, Words

Strike up the band celebrity endorsements, hang those chads, and God bless the United States of America!  It’s that time again!  Voters in many parts of the country are already heading to the polls to vote early for the upcoming election, and the turn-off (um, I mean turnout) is high!

What better way to remind you that these are humans, not just 8 x 10 glossies, than with another round of Hanukkah Hams?

Since it’s been a while, let me give you the talking points on what a Hanukkah Ham is.  Named in honor of somebody who suggested that his Greenwich Village Jewish customers would love a big ham for their next Hanukkah celebration, a Hanukkah Ham is a really bad (translation:  stupid) idea concocted by usually really smart people.

Previous Hanukkah Ham stories have explored the worlds of  electricity, money, college life, Christmas, air travel and hunting, to name a few.

But with so many words flying these days, what could invite more people to ask, “Did he just say that?” than political races across the country?  Ever since I heard Philip Johns promise to get grits au gratin taken off the lunchroom menu in seventh grade, and Richard Tyson promised to build a student center in ninth, I’ve heard people running for office – any office – say some pretty outlandish things.  I guess it just comes with the territory.

Just Tell It Like it Is… or Isn’t

“Our campaign is the opposite of ‘competence.’” That’s what Eli Segal said about Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992.  Early in his political career, Clinton himself said in an interview, “Politics gives guys so much power that they tend to behave badly around women. And I hope I never get into that.”

Meanwhile, Hillary said, “In the Bible it says they asked Jesus how many times you should forgive, and he said 70 times 7. Well, I want you all to know that I’m keeping a chart.”

Al Gore was once asked what it takes to win an election.  He replied, “You have to rip your opponent’s lungs out and then move on.”  Speaking of moving on, later Gore jokingly said, “I used to be the future president of the United States.”

A 1988 presidential ad campaign for Gore claimed, “A brilliant student, Gore won a scholarship at Harvard where he graduated with honors.”  Hmmm.  Truth is, he was an average student.

While running for re-election, Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson Louisiana brazenly ran an ad stating, “I have never taken a bribe from anyone.”This was in response to an FBI investigation for taking bribes, in which they videotaped him accepting a briefcase stuffed with $100,000 in cash.  But it wasn’t for him, of course.  It was for the vice president of Nigeria.  Oh – and that $90,000 hidden in his freezer.  It was not a bribe.  He was just stealing from a bribe.  But it wasn’t a bribe.

This one’s been quoted a few times by others, but it seems to have originated from a Mr. Slow (actual name) who was running for Congress in Texas in the 1800s:  “That scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I’m just the one to do it.”

Promises, Promises

The job of a leader-in-the-making is to articulate a vision.  Ronald Reagan did that with his vision of a “city on a hill.”  George H. W. Bush introduced us to the vision of a “kinder, gentler” nation and a “thousand points of light.”

Enter Gray Davis, former governor of California, who was fighting for his job in a recall campaign.  “My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth.” 

“God bless the America we are trying to create,” said Hillary Clinton.  Well, at least she was honest about it.  When campaigning for her husband’s reelection in 1996, Hillary said, “Give Bill a second term, and Al Gore and I will be turned loose to do what we really want to do.”  But my favorite Hillary promise of all:  “We are going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

Gary Hart, that champion for new ideas in 1988, dared the press when his morals were challenged:  “Follow me around. I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.” Uh huh.  Problem was, two reporters from The Miami Herald took him up on his offer, and subsequently introduced the world to Donna Rice.

Foreign Policy

It can be a massive leap from tending to the affairs of a state or business to addressing international relationships.  Some people don’t make the jump.  When Sarah Palin was asked about her foreign policy experience, the sagely replied, “As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.”  She later said of the Korean conflict, “But obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies.”

Governor Palin was hardly the first to face this.  George Wallace, when campaigning for president in 1968, said, “I’ve read about foreign policy and studied – I know the number of continents.”  President Ford actually said in a debate, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.”  And Herman Cain asked, “How do you say ‘delicious’ in Cuban?”  You don’t, Herman.  You say it in Spanish.

The best campaigners handle their lack of foreign policy experience with humor.  Like Mike Huckabee:  “And the ultimate thing is, I may not be the expert that some people are on foreign policy, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

But my favorite quote ended in a laugh.  When asked what qualified her to deal with leaders from places like North Korea and Iran, Hillary Clinton said, “The question is, we face a lot of dangers in the world and, in the gentleman’s words, we face a lot of evil men. And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?” Then she laughed.  And so did I.

“Presence” of Mind

It helps to know where you are, and that can be a challenge when you’re constantly criss-crossing the country.  Barak Obama kept up with it, though.  He said, “I’ve now been in 57 states — I think one left to go.”

Bob Dole knew where he was, too – California.  “I know there are California oranges and Florida oranges. When I’m in Florida, I like Florida oranges. Today, I think California oranges are the best, of course.”

“I was recently on a tour of Latin America,” Dan Quayle said, “and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.”

Mitt Romney wanted to fit in with “the folks,” so he put on a plaid shirt and talk to a group of steel workers about how government employees “are making a lot more money than we are.”  Um, who is “we,” Mitt?

But no one said “you are here” quite like Ross Perot:  “This planet is our home. If we destroy the planet, we’ve destroyed our home, so it is fundamentally important.”


Leadership requires a profound grasp of truth and understanding at times.  Good thing political leaders have to run for reelection.  When asked, “What were the signs that you would win the race,” newly-elected Circuit Judge Paul Reilly said, “We concentrated heavily on yard signs. And yard signs, particularly, in people’s yards.”

George H. W. Bush, spoke to the American Legion in Louisville, Kentucky in 1988 and said, “This is Pearl Harbor Day. 47 years ago to this very day, we were hit and hit hard at Pearl Harbor.”  Problem was, he said that on September 7… and Pearl Harbor was hit on December 7.

Al Gore was right about President Bush-the-first:  “A zebra does not change its spots.”

George W. Bush, on the other hand, had a firm grip on, well, something.  “More and more our imports are coming from overseas,” he said.  Oh, and… “In the long run, the right answer to unemployment is to create more jobs.”  That’s right up there with Dan Quayle’s observation that “a low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.”

Joe Biden may know something about the economy, but he must have plagiarized somebody’s math test:   “Look, John’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle 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, jobs.”

Bob Dole sagely observed that “Life is very important to Americans.” But who could match the abstract intelligence of Rick Santorum’s comparison of military heroism to bumper stickers?

“We have brave men and women who are willing to step forward because they know what’s at stake. They’re willing to sacrifice their lives for this great country. What I’m asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country?”

Could I Try That Again?

Sometimes even the smartest among us just wish we could unsay what we just said.  I’m sure that’s how Jimmy Carter felt after a speech before the Democratic National Committee where he said, “One of our nation’s greatest leaders of all time was Hubert Horatio Hornblower.”  Another former Georgia Governor, Joe Frank Harris, said, “Anyone can be elected governor.  I’m proof of that.

Al Gore, of course, said, “I invented the internet.”  In something of a Republican demand for equal time, Bob Dole said, “The Internet is a good tool to use to get on the Net.”  Thanks, Bob.

“Solutions are not the answer!” said Richard Nixon.  However, should solutions be needed, Al Gore had us covered:  “We are ready for an unforeseen event that may or may not occur.” Rudy Giuliani admitted that even among Republicans there is room for disagreement.  “I don’t agree with myself on everything,” he said.

Speaking of a Republican disagreeing with himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.” And I close with the rally-cry of that wordsmith, Dan Quayle:

“My friends, no matter how rough the road may be, we can and we will never, never surrender to what is right.”

Martha Orlando October 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Oh, how I am “lolling” at this one, Andy! And, really, they expect us to believe what comes out of their mouths? Really needed this light-hearted look at politics as the election looms.
Blessings to you!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post .."And, a Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven . . ."

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