Making fun of politicians

Some people are of the decided opinion that this generation of Americans have become decidedly uncouth. We should show our leaders respect, these individuals believe, and they are certain there was a purer time when society did not ridicule politicians like we do today.

How about the 1700s?

Tom Mullinex and Dick – by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

(Dick is Richard Tighe, a member of Irish parliament, and a Whig. Swift leaned towards Tory. Tom Mullinex was a half-crazed begger. That’s all you need to know.)

Tom and Dick had equal fame,
And both had equal knowledge;
Tom could write and spell his name,
But Dick had seen a college.

Dick a coxcomb, Tom was mad,
And both alike diverting,
Tom was held the merrier lad,
But Dick the best at farting.

Dick would cock his nose in scorn,
But Tom was kind and loving;
Tom a footboy bread and born,
But Dick was from an oven.

Dick could neatly dance a jig,
But Tom was best at borees;
Tom would pray for every Whig,
And Dick curse all the Tories.

Dick would make a woeful noise,
And scold at an election;
Tom huzza’d the blackguard boys,
And held them in subjection.

Tom could move with lordly grace,
Dick nimbly skip the gutter;
Tom could talk with solemn face,
But Dick could better sputter.

Dick was come to high renown
Since he commenced physician;
Tom was held by all the town
The deeper politician.

Tom had the genteeler swing,
His hat could nicely put on;
Dick knew better how to swing
His cane upon a button.

Dick for repartee was fit,
And Tom for deep discerning;
Dick was thought the brighter wit,
But Tom had better learning.

Dick with zealous no’s and aye’s,
Could roar as loud as Stentor;
In the House ’tis all he says;
But Tom is eloquenter.

Next time someone talks to you about showing respect to politicians, laugh in their face.

0 thoughts on “Making fun of politicians

  1. DL Emerick

    There were laws of slander, libel, malicious gossip and even treasonous talk back then.

    There were also deadly “duels” over “affairs of honor”.

    For better or for worse, we have abandoned most such laws regarding character insult, because of First Amendment concerns, at least for anyone who is a “public figure”. If you are a public figure, the sky is probably the limit upon what may be said about you. And, Catch-22, if you are not important enough to be a public figure, then most likely you don’t have a reputation that could suffer any damage worth the costs of a lawsuit. *And even then, the finding of “alleged” truth would be a defense to such a suit for slander.

    I find obnoxious the recent Louisiana (?) statutes that require students to address their elders by such respectful terms as “Ma’am” or “Sir”. I even think that I have a constitutional leg to stand on, in rejecting such laws: the prohibition upon conferring titles of respect. Of course, I interpret such laws, in practice, cautiously. I wouldn’t want to bring the wrath of any high-mighty judge down upon me, by failing to be respectful (even fearful!) in court, before such officer — when he can find you in contempt, for failing to be respectful toward the court, and have you jailed immediately and forthwith, even with no right of bond, and little effective right of appeal. “Yes, sir, your honor…” is what I say, even if I may be thinking, “You jerk…”

    And, I hate all the servility that attends ranking public officials, like senators and representatives and executive branch leaders. The term of address “Mr. President” is simply a bad practice in a democracy. Just say “Mr. Bush”, and even the “Mister” is so unnecessary, as speech, in my opinion, as their no reason to use it when speaking to a man, just as the parallel term “Ms.” or “Mrs.” or “Miss” are so male chauvinistic atavisms that no decent person ought to use them. (For, in our one-sided idea of sexual morality, we do not care whether a man is married or not, but continue to think it meaningful when addressing women, as if she were not a morally free agent, and that only men are.)