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Political Language

Guaranteed Effective All-Occasion Non-Slanderous Political Smear Speech

By Bill Garvin

Last Update: January 16, 2001

My fellow citizens, it is an honor and a pleasure to be here today. My opponent has openly admitted he feels an affinity toward your city, but I happen to like this area. It might be a salubrious place to him, but to me it is one of the nation's most delightful garden spots.

When I embarked upon this political campaign, I hoped that it could be conducted on a high level and that my opponent would be willing to stick to the issues. Unfortunately, he has decided to be tractable instead—to indulge in unequivocal language, to eschew the use of outright lies in his speeches, and even to make repeated veracious statements about me.

At first I tried to ignore these scrupulous, unvarnished fidelities. Now I will do so no longer. If my opponent wants a fight, he's going to get one!

It might be instructive to start with his background. My friends, have you ever accidentally dislodged a rock on the ground and seen what was underneath? Well, exploring my opponent's background is dissimilar. All the slime and filth and corruption you can possibly imagine, even in your wildest dreams, are glaringly nonexistent in this man's life. And even in his childhood!

Let us take a very quick look at that childhood: It is a known fact that, on a number of occasions, he emulated older boys at a certain playground. It is also known that his parents not only permitted him to masticate in their presence, but even urged him to do so. Most explicable of all, this man who poses as a paragon of virtue exacerbated his own sister when they were both teenagers!

I ask you, my fellow Americans: is this the kind of person we want in public office to set an example for our youth?

Of course, it's not surprising that he should have such a typically pristine background—no, not when you consider the other members of his family:

His female relatives put on a constant pose of purity and innocence, and claim they are inscrutable, yet every one of them has taken part in hortatory activities.

The men in the family are likewise completely amenable to moral suasion.

My opponent's uncle was a flagrant heterosexual.

His sister, who has always been obsessed by sects, once worked as a proselyte outside a church.

His father was secretly chagrined at least a dozen times by matters of a pecuniary nature.

His youngest brother wrote an essay extolling the virtues of being a homo sapien.

His great-aunt expired from a degenerative disease.

His nephew subscribes to a phonographic magazine.

His wife was a thespian before their marriage and even performed the act in front of paying customers.

And his own mother had to resign from a women's organization in her later years because she was an admitted sexagenarian.

Now what shall we say about the man himself?

I can tell you in solemn truth that he is the very antithesis of political radicalism, economic irresponsibility and personal depravity. His own record proves that he has frequently discountenanced treasonable, un-American philosophies and has perpetrated many overt acts as well.

He perambulated his infant on the street.

He practiced nepotism with his uncle and first cousin.

He attempted to interest a 13-year-old girl in philately.

He participated in a seance at a private residence where, among other odd goings-on, there was incense.

He has declared himself in favor of more homogeneity on college campuses.

He has advocated social intercourse in mixed company - and has taken part in such gatherings himself.

He has been deliberately averse to crime in our city streets.

He has urged our Protestant and Jewish citizens to develop more catholic tastes.

Last summer he committed a piscatorial act on a boat that was flying the U.S. flag.

Finally, at a time when we must be on our guard against all foreign isms, he has cooly announced his belief in altruism - and his fervent hope that some day this entire nation will be altruistic!

I beg you, my friends, to oppose this man whose life and work and ideas are so openly and avowedly compatible with our American way of life. A vote for him would be a vote for the perpetuation of everything we hold dear.

The facts are clear; the record speaks for itself. Do your duty.

Too ridiculous to be true? Perhaps, but not by much.

It was the 1950 Florida primary campaign for the U.S. Senate when George Smathers challenged incumbent Claude Pepper. In his campaign, Smathers targeted Pepper's unrestrained liberalism—before liberalism became a dirty word—and the fears of uneducated voters.

In a classic campaign speech in rural northern Florida, Smathers told his audience that Pepper was "a shameless extrovert" who was known to have engaged in "nepotism" with his sister-in-law, "whose sister was once a thespian" in wicked New York City, and who was acknowledged to have "practiced celibacy" before his marriage.

The Smathers smear worked. He defeated Pepper by almost 67,000 votes.

But is this story true, or is it another urban legend? Until the end of his Senate career in 1971, Smathers denied the story. Nevertheless, he acknowledged in Reconsiderations by Florida House Clerk Allen Morris, published in 1982, that the story has "gone into the history books."

Source: Mad Magazine, Number 139, December 1970

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