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    Jerry Summers: Tennessee Political Humor No. 1


    Jerry Summers

    In 2000 the University of Tennessee/Knoxville published the joint venture collection of stories and tales (some actually true) written by the late L.H. “Cotton” Ivy (1930-2021) and his co-author, Roy Herron, titled Tennessee Political Humor.

    Ivy served in the Tennessee General Assembly and was commissioner of agriculture under Governor Ned Ray McWherter and was also an author and humorist.

    Roy Herron, trial lawyer, state senator, and Methodist minister, is recognized as an author and public speaker.

    Prior to his death at age 91, Ivy and Herron published 132 pages of political tales from the Volunteer State that are timeless, but some will educate and entertain Tennesseans and invaders from the North, California, etc. in 2023.

    Following are a few examples of political humor contained in the paperback that are designed to entertain and humor the readers:

    1. REPUBLICAN PUPPIES FOR SALE: In 1986 both Ivy and Herron were running for the Tennessee legislature. A Republican opponent told the following story at a civic club:

    I was out campaigning and came to a house that had a sign out front that said: “Democratic puppies for sale.” So, I decided I would not waste my time seeking a vote there.

    A few days later I came by the same house and the sign had been changed to read: “Republican puppies for sale.”

    Intrigued by the change, and more hopeful of finding a vote, this time I stopped. I knocked, and a man came to the door.

    “Pardon me, sir,” I said: “I noticed that you have changed your sign from ‘Democratic puppies for sale’ to ‘Republican puppies for sale.’ Do you have some new puppies?”

    “Oh, no,” the gentleman replied. “They’re the same puppies. But now they’ve got their eyes open.

    2. McWHERTER’S SMOOTH AS BUTTER

    As Speaker McWherter was running for governor, one long-time friend said admiringly: “That Ned is one smooth politician. I mean, he knows how to butter the bread on both sides and never let it drop off either one…He can sic a dog on a cat and make the cat think he’s his friend.”

    3. SENATOR BAKER’S LANDING

    It was a tough night for flying, or at least for landing. Senator Howard Baker, his press secretary Ron McMahan, and some members of the media were flying in a small plane into a small Tennessee airport. The clouds were low and the visibility not much when the pilot attempted the landing.

    At the last moment, the pilot aborted the landing, pulled the plane’s nose back up, and went around again. His voice came over the intercom, explaining that he thought it was best that they take another attempt at landing.

    That got everyone’s attention. They peered out into the clouds in the darkness, seeing nothing resembling the earth.

    The pilot brought the plane back around, and they could feel the plane slowing and descending again. But once again the pilot yanked the control back, pushed the throttle forward, and pulled the plane out of its descent into who knew what.

    The pilot came on the intercom again, apologizing and saying that they would have to take another try. Baker’s press secretary spoke for everyone when he yelled to the pilot: “Land this ___________ thing! There’s not enough Jack Daniels to miss it again!”

    The stories told within the paperback publication are from another era where humor in politics was a standard tool that did not approach the vicious attacks on one opponent in the greater visibility of cable television and talk show commentators of today.

    * * *

    You can reach Jerry Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com

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