Great Political Wit

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

“... losing an election does not mean losing your sense of humor.” So states newfound comedian Bob Dole in his foreword to GREAT POLITICAL WIT: LAUGHING (ALMOST) ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE. According to Dole, he wrote this book as a form of therapy upon losing his bid for the presidency to Bill Clinton in the 1996 election: Only days after the election, Dole made an appearance on THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, cracked a joke, and a book deal was in the making.

GREAT POLITICAL WIT is a veritable Who’s Who, comprising quips from some of the most influential political figures of the twentieth century, including Dole himself. Among the many featured personages are Ronald Reagan, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon, and Warren Harding, to name a few. Most entertaining are the passages when the people quoted poke fun at themselves and their own personal foibles. For example, former vice president George Bush is quoted as saying, “It’s important for a Vice President not to upstage his boss, and you don’t know how hard it has been to keep my charisma in check these last few years.”

Throughout the book, Dole alludes frequently to his big disappointment, as when he quotes Barry Goldwater, “It’s a great country, where anybody can grow up to be President ... except me,” a remark that Dole admits hits close to home. Although he failed in his bid for the highest political office in the United States, Dole served some thirty-five years in Congress and, as evidenced by GREAT POLITICAL WIT, is living proof of Dwight Eisenhower’s observation that “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”