Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
This saying is both so funny and so wise that a number of funny and wise men are given credit for it, including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Alex Rieger of “Taxi.”
For politicians, the problem is especially acute. They feel the need to speak up, speak out and remove all doubt as to whether they are fools.
Here are two seemingly different but actually related examples:
Case one: Is a congressman from Oklahoma a living human being, or was he hanged in 2011?
U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, a 10-term Republican from Oklahoma, won his primary last Tuesday with 83 percent of the vote. But Timothy Ray Murray, who got only 5 percent of the vote, wrote that the election is invalid because Lucas “is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike.”
The real Frank Lucas, Murray says, was “executed by The World Court on or about Jan. 11, 2011 in Southern Ukraine.”
Murray furthers states that he himself is “a human.”
I feel for Murray on this one. Normally in Oklahoma, being a human is good enough to get you into Congress.
But according to KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, Rep. Lucas says he is alive, has never been executed and has never even been to Ukraine.
“Many things have been said about me,” Lucas stated. “This is the first time I’ve ever been accused of being a body double or a robot.”
So here’s the question: Should Murray have remained silent, or was he justified in asserting that because his opponent is dead, he cannot serve in Congress?
Ruling: Murray should have remained silent. The Constitution states, “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”
It says nothing about being alive.
Case two: Is Hillary Clinton capable of emotion?
Clinton’s book tour has been awash in controversy because of her statements that she was “dead broke” when she left the White House, with only a multimillion-dollar book advance, one $1.7 million home and one $2.8 million home to comfort her. She also has been sharply questioned about how far she has “evolved” on the subject of same-sex marriage, which she used to oppose but now says is up to each state to decide.
No matter. Hillary has bigger things to worry about.
Remember that historic picture of her in the Situation Room, sitting around a table with the president, the vice president and others watching the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound?
In that picture, Hillary is the only one with her hand to her face, in what appears to be a moment of pure emotion, whether shock, horror, anticipation or something else.
So what was Hillary really feeling? The New York Times recently took a look:
On May 5, 2011, Hillary told ABC News that it was probably allergies.
“I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early-spring allergic coughs,” she said.
She also said she had “no idea” what she was watching when White House photographer Pete Souza snapped the picture.
But that was the old Hillary. Solid, intense, emotionless.
Today there is a new Hillary. And she has a new reason for her hand’s being at her mouth.
Hillary recently told an Italian magazine, “We watched it all in real time — the helicopters that landed in the courtyard of Osama’s compound, our SEALs that attacked the building, the helicopter’s tail that hit the wall but succeeded in touching down regardless — and I closed my mouth to keep my heart from coming out of my throat.”
Wait. Now she has a clear idea of what was happening instead of “no idea”?
And now it was not allergies but an emotion so deeply felt that it almost caused her heart to come out of her throat?
As the Times reported, this is a “shift from a cough to a gasp.”
So should Clinton have spoken up, revealing a flip-flop, or kept silent, leaving her critics less ammunition?
Ruling: She did the right thing by revealing she has emotions. In every election, at least one candidate should not be a robot.