Jason Atkinson: Political Words of Wisdom from Homer (Simpson, that is)

Homer Simpson has three phrases that work in every political situation:

“Cover me.”

You’re right that is a good idea”; and

It was like that when I got here.”

Brilliant!  Gone are the quotes of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, and stage right steps America’s three-fingered yellow skinned, balding “herald to the masses,” keeper of pop-language.  Roll over Danny Webster.

Cover me!

A great phrase used liberally in the western United States in close association with “Hey, hold my beer; I want to try something.”  It is not as used too much today across party lines and is more used safely inside the bounds of a politician’s registration; however in days past, I would find rural and urban legislators from different parities “covering” each other just to insure the process keep moving.

“Cover me” can be viewed as a phrase over cards in the smoky back room, but I think cover me is more of loyalty in friendship over partisan. “Cover me” — used between politicians, mostly for the good.

You’re right, that is a good idea

This is perhaps the ultimate way to defuse hostility.  Since politics is the anvil and our words are the hammer, this Homerism works in nearly all situations.  I’ve been teaching my eight-year-old son how to be a conversationalist, which I believe begins with being a good listener.  While no one would claim Homer in the same breath as Mark Twain or Shelby Foote, the phrase does work if we first listen.

It was like that when I got here.

Lastly comes the great one.  The phrase used by politicos ranging from Obama to freshly elected city counselors.  The universal deflection in which a politician keeps their status, deflects criticism, and champions all reform: “It was like that when I got here.”  It worked as children standing in a messy room; it worked in junior high when the bunsen burner caught fire; it performed brilliantly on Saturday morning chores with younger siblings; and does it ever work in politics!  It’s pass-the-buck-plus.

After I thought about it a while, I can’t use it without laughing, blowing my already tissue-thin cover, but for our RP readers, lovers words, students of political survivors, listen for it in our public discourse and smile yourself.

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