Saturday, October 4, 2008

More Lists, Political One Liners and a mini-rant

Just the other day, I was confessing my love of lists and look what I find...Vanity Fair is celebrating its 25th anniversary with lists of top 25 everything- books, songs, name it. So far they just have a few categories including best book and album covers but more will be added as time goes by. The categories are interesting in themselves because they're not obvious like 'best actor' or 'best music video'. You can vote for your favorites and see how they are doing in an online poll. So a lot of fun!

Since this is sorta turning into a politics blog, I thought I'd focus on their ongoing poll of 25 best political one liners.

Some are obvious candidates for inclusion ("Ask not what your country can do for you" ...JFK or "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" Reagan or "Read my lips, no new taxes" Bush Senior) and others are more dubious but equally infamous "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is"...Bill Clinton.

Of course the list is heavily skewed (actually totally skewed) towards American Presidents. What happened to the rest of the world, Vanity Fair? No Churchill? No De Gaulle? No Mao? No Saddam Hussein, even. They said some memorable/important/crazy stuff.

This brings me to one of my pet peeves: the assumption that American history/ culture is world history/ culture. Putting aside all the intellectual arguments about Eurocentrism, the interconnections of power/knowledge etc.- lets just look at it from a commonsensical point of view. I totally understand that given that this is America and Vanity Fair is an American magazine, it is natural to focus on American history and culture but why not just call it that? Call it top 25 American Political One-Liners and be done with it.

Ok, my mini-rant is done.

Anyway to correct this imbalance, I'm going to ask you (my imaginary but beloved readers) the following question (this might be something to comment on- hint hint):

What's your favorite political one liner? Extra points for non-American submissions.

I'll start with mine, it's a little cliche but I think its humor and sophistication endures:

"I think it would be a good idea" - Gandhi on being asked what he thought about Western Civilization.

Other notes:

I'm pleased to see the Secret History by Donna Tartt getting a mention for book cover. I never really noticed the cover but I have loved the book for more than 10 years now.

1 comment:

Heather said...

First thoughts on notable Canadian one liners... just the other night at the leaders debate we got a good one from Jack Layton- leader of the New Democratic Party. He said "Where's the platform? Under the sweater?" to our current prime minister. The context is that the Conservatives STILL have not released their election platform (election in T minus 9 days) and they are running these ads intended to show prime minister Stephen Harper's "softer side" where instead of wearing a suit he is wearing a sweater vest.

I'll try to think of some more historic selections but one that jumps out is DeGaulle, during a visit to Quebec in the 60s. He said "Vive le Quebec libre!" Yah, that didn't go over too well...