Politik Talk

September 23, 1952: Richard Nixon Makes the ‘Checkers ...
Richard Nixon’s Nationally Televised Checkers Speech

I love how politicians (don’t) answer questions. Instead of answering the question they are asked, they answer a different question–not the one asked, but one that lets them say what they want to say.

I call it “Nixoning.” In 1952, while running for Vice President with Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nixon was asked about a $16,000 fund that was irregular, if not illegal. Nixon went on national television to contest the challenge. He stated that there was one gift he’d never return–a black and white dog named Checkers.

No one asked about Checkers. Nixon answered the question he wanted to answer–and who would want his children to lose their dog? (Maybe he should have claimed that the dog ate the $16,000.)

Today, reporters ask politicians about serious issues and get amazing answers. In the spirit of “In for a penny, in for a pound” I suggest that politicians take it just one teeny-tiny step further. For them it should be quite easy.

Reporter: How should the US respond to the objections to, and often destruction of, monuments of slaveholders?
Politician: I think it’s sad, in fact tragic, that today’s youth are not growing up respecting the heroes we idolized when we were little. For example, almost no grade, middle, or high school student today has any appreciation for Mighty Mouse. It’s sad. It’s an outrage.

Reporter: With more than 132,000 deaths in the US, is the response to the coronavirus pandemic being properly managed?
Politician: I’d like to answer that in two ways, first with my normal voice and then with an irritating high-pitched squeaky voice.* Let me just say that it is impossible to manage any disease. We pass laws, yet those nasty little germs do whatever they want. Why? Because they’re so tiny it’s difficult to catch them, much less get them in front of a judge!

As the old joke asketh: “How can you tell when a politician is lying?”

And answereth with: “Their lips are moving.”

* With apologies to Graham Chapman and all the members of Monty Python.

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