“circumcised skunks”

Trust me.  The title phrase on this post isn’t of my creation.

Nope, all the comic credit goes to President Theodore Roosevelt, who coined it to describe some of his dissenters. I’m assuming he authored it, since prezzes of the past probably didn’t rely on speechwriters. (Please correct me, if I’m wrong…and I rather hope I am, having been pressed into speechwriting and survived.)

But the skunk statement is one of many new things I learned from this NPR story, which ran in the wake of the recent Journalists dinner in Washington, D.C.: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/05/01/151762298/the-funniest-presidents-in-history  Like so much else, these days, whether one found that event extremely funny or abysmal seems to follow party lines.

But as the NPR piece shows, while the voice and venue keeps changing, we get some pretty humorous people at that POTUS post. I’ve long been a fan of Abraham Lincoln’s humor. And for far more than the material. He clearly understood the impact of the seriously non-serious on individual and collective sanity, as this clip from The Lincoln Institute shows:

“On another occasion, the President prefaced a discussion of the draft Emancipation Proclamation by reading aloud from a favorite humorist. In response to the disapproval of some members of his cabinet, Mr. Lincoln said: ‘Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.'”

Interesting, isn’t it?

How some 150 years can pass and the same prescription remain curative?   

Photo: Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis); thanks to Wikipedia)


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