A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 16, 2018
“Politicians and nappies should be changed often, and for the same reason”

"Politicians and diapers should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason” is a saying that has appeared on many images, but is of unknown origin. “

“Eileen’s campaign manager had small paper-shaped diapers with the words ‘Time for a change’ which the voters could pin on their lapels” was printed in The Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, IN) on Novembe 14, 1950. “Seasoned politics-watchers can only remind the gloomies that a more or less regular turnover is good for the Republic. In a sound democracy, our rulers ought to be changed routinely, like diapers for the same reason” was printed in the San Francisco (CA) Examiner on November 10, 1966.

“Socks” is an early form of the saying and is sometimes used instead of “diapers.” “Women is like socks...you gotta change ‘em regular” from the movie A Lady Takes a Chance (1943) perhaps influenced this version.

“Office holders, like socks, should he changed often and for very much the same reason. So remember, no re-elections” was printed in the Boston (MA) Traveler on September 10, 1952. “We have always been of the opinion that politicians like socks, should be changed frequently—and for the same reason” was printed in the Indianapolis (IN) Star on November 2, 1958. “There are two schools of thought—one, united we stand and divided we fall; or two, that political parties, like socks, must be changed often to stay clean” was printed in the Franklin (KY) Favorite on July 13, 1972. “As a redneck voter, who thinks 99.99 percent of all politicians should be changed regularly, like socks,” Garrett S. Parker wrote in the Atlanta (GA) Constitution on May 4, 1979. “But, we subscribe to the view that politicians are like socks and should be changed often” was printed in the Franklin (KY) Favorite on October 29, 1981.

However, the “diapers” version would become standard. “This has been a quiet campaign as far as issues go, but I think politicians, like diapers, should be changed regularly” was said by Betty Carpenter in the Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer on October 25, 1987. “A bumper sticker declares: ‘Politicians and diapers should be changed often’” was printed in The Wall Street Journal on December 27, 1991. The saying went viral in 1992.

“Nappies” is a version that became popular in the United Kingdom by at least 1993. “Politicians are like nappies. Both should be changed regularly and for the same reason” was a graffito that was printed in The Guardian (London, UK) on December 24, 1993.

There is no evidence that this political saying was said by American writer and humorist Mark Twain (1835-1910), American statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) or by Portuguese author José Maria de Eça de Queiroz (1845-1900).

[This entry was assisted by subsequent research from the Quote Investigator.]


Wikiquote: Politics
Politicians are like nappies, they should be changed regularly and for the same reason.
. Ken Dodd
. This quote has been credited to multiple sources, including Mark Twain, José Maria de Eça de Queiroz (translated from Portuguese), and “unknown, originated around 1992” (see The Big Apple, Entry from December 12, 2009: “Politicians and diapers should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason”).

14 November 1950, The Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, IN), “Students Elect George Rhed Pres. Student Council,” pg. 8, col. 7:
Eileen’s campaign manager had small paper-shaped diapers with the words “Time for a change” which the voters could pin on their lapels.

10 September 1952, Boston (MA) Traveler, “People’s Forum: No Re-Elections,” pg. 26, col. 5:
People’s Editor:
If a politician needs to hold office but six years to get a pension let’s all go to the polls and see that he doesn’t hold office that long. Office holders, like socks, should he changed often and for very much the same reason. So remember, no re-elections.
JOHN Q.
Rosindale.

2 November 1958, Indianapolis (IN) Star, “The Things I Hear!” by Lowell Nussbaum, sec. 2, pg. 11, col. 2:
FROM THE Reflector, the Indiana Reformatory inmate paper:

“We have always been of the opinion that politicians like socks, should be changed frequently—and for the same reason.”

10 November 1966, San Francisco (CA) Examiner, “See—I’ve Still Got a Neck” by Dick Nolan, pg. 41, col. 4:
Seasoned politics-watchers can only remind the gloomies that a more or less regular turnover is good for the Republic. In a sound democracy, our rulers ought to be changed routinely, like diapers for the same reason.

13 July 1972, Franklin (KY) Favorite, “Is 2-party system a victim of suicide?” (editorial), pg. 3, col. 2:
There are two schools of thought—one, united we stand and divided we fall; or two, that political parties, like socks, must be changed often to stay clean.

4 May 1979, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, “Pulse of the Public,” pg. 5-A, col. 5:
As a redneck voter, who thinks 99.99 percent of all politicians should be changed regularly, like socks, Billy ain’t what I had in mind for senator in 1980.
(...)
GARRETT S. PARKER

29 October 1981, Franklin (KY) Favorite, “Voting record is first class—let’s keep it that way"(editorial), pg. A-2, col. 5:
We don’t predict chaos is either side wins. But, we subscribe to the view that politicians are like socks and should be changed often.

25 October 1987, Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer, “Fort Thomas Council,” Elections: Kentucky sec., pg. 2, col. 3:
Betty Carpenter
(...)
Issues in this race: This has been a quiet campaign as far as issues go, but I think politicians, like diapers, should be changed regularly. New faces bring fresh new ideas and perspectives to government.

10 November 1990, Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), “Bookmarks: Reporter reflects on people and places across Canada” by Verne Clemence, Prism sec., pg. 10, col. 3:
Governments should be changed “more often than we change underwear.”
(Dave McIntosh’s book Visits.—ed.)

27 December 1991, The Wall Street Journal (New York, NY), “A Special Report From The Wall Street Journal’s Capital Bureau” compiled by Rich Jaroslovsky, pg. A1:
A bumper sticker declares: “Politicians and diapers should be changed often.”

31 December 1991, Tallahassee (FL) Democrat, “By the way...,” pg. 8A, col. 2:
Both are smelly?
Bumper-sticker report from the Wall Street Journal: “Politicians and diapers should be changed often.”

22 February 1992, Roanoke (VA) Times, “Should Ed Run,” pg. E-1:
Politicians and diapers should be changed regularly, but shame on you for considering to run.

14 March 1992, Santa Cruz (CA) Sentinel, “‘Rubbergate:’ Red herring or debacle?” by Robin Musitelli, pg. A1, col. 5:
“Politicians, like baby diapers, should be changed often, and for much the same reason,” (Lee—ed.) Phelps quipped.

1 May 1992, San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune, “And it’s always news to me” by Tom Blair, pg. B1:
“Politicians are like diapers,” (. California Libertarian candidate John—ed.) Wallner observed. “They both should be changed often. And for the same reason.”

25 May 1992, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “California Elections ‘92 Congress” by Patt Morrison, Metro, pg. B1:
...Libertarian candidate John Wallner told a debate audience: “Politicians are like diapers. They both should be changed often—and for the same reason.”

11 October 1992, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Style Eclipses Gender in 49th District Race Politics” by Barry M. Horstman, Metro, pg. B1:
“Politicians are like diapers,” Wallner tells audiences. “Both should be changed often-and for the same reason.”

Google Groups: alt.fan.bill-gates
Newsgroups: alt.fan.bill-gates
From: (Andy - Patrizio)
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1993 02:26:26 GMT
Local: Tues, Nov 16 1993 8:26 pm
Subject: Re: Hiring Freeze

Andy Patrizio | Politicians are like diapers. Both should be changed
Stamford, CT | regularly because they get full of crap and start
| to stink.

24 December 1993, The Guardian (London, UK), “Rector’s wife on a stairway to heaven: Diary” by Maev Kennedy, pg. 18, col. 6:
THIS graffito has appeared overnight on a hoarding in Yeovil (remind me, who is the local MP?)” “Politicians are like nappies. Both should be changed regularly and for the same reason. Happy Xmas and 1994.”

3 June 1994, Sacramento (CA) Bee:
Along those same lines, Bonnie Allen spotted this wordy-but-true bumper sticker: “Politicians are like baby diapers - they need to be changed regularly.”

Google Books
The Economist
Volume 334, Issues 7896-7899
1995
Pg. 102:
Sir— In the same week that you published your leader on term limits, I opened the pages of an Italian magazine and found the following quotation: “The men in government should be changed regularly, like nappies, for the same reason.” There was a time when nappies could be washed. Nowadays, like politicians, they usually are disposable.
RICHARD DAVIES
Geneva

20 April 1996, Kansas City (MO) Star, “Party in focus in ‘96, not Perot candidacy” by Steve Kraske, pg. A1:
Maeder, whose blue Chevrolet Celebrity carries a bumper sticker reading “Diapers and Politicians Should Be Changed Regularly,” ...

Google Books
Mitch Murray’s One-liners for Business:
And how to Use Them in Your Speech

By Mitch Murray
Cippenham, UK: Foulsham
1997
Pg. 161:
Politicians and nappies should be changed often — and for the same reason.

Google Groups: alt.tasteless.jokes
Newsgroups: alt.jokes, alt.jokes.limericks, alt.jokes.pentium, alt.tasteless.jokes, aus.jokes, eunet.jokes, fido.ger.jokes, fj.jokes, z-netz.alt.jokes
From: “Gregs-Jokes”
Date: 1998/12/29
Subject: Politicians and diapers.

Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason.

Google Books
Net-wit.com:
A smorgasbord of e-mail and internet wit blended with humorous incidents from the author’s wild and wooly life

By Marvin Rubinstein
Rockville, MD: Schreiber Publishers
2000
Pg. 153:
Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason.

10 December 2000, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA):
John Wallner: “Politicians are like diapers—they should be changed often, and for the same reason.”

Google Books
Term Limits
By Gideon Doron and Michael Harris
Lanham, MD: Lexington Books
2001
Pg. 3:
Politicians in government should be changed regularly, like diapers, for the same reason.
-- Richard Davies, Geneva, Switzerland

Google Books
Eater
By Gregory Benford
New York, NY: HarperCollins
2001
Pg. 248:
“What’s the saying? ‘Politicians, diapers — both should be changed regularly, and for the same reason.’”

Jewish World Review
Jan. 3, 2001 / 8 Teves, 5761
Mort Zuckerman
Quipping in the new year
(...)
The American voter on election year 2000: “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common: They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason.”

IMDb (The Internet Movie Database)
Man of the Year (2006)
Quotes

Tom Dobbs: [quoting Benjamin Franklin] Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reason.

OCLC WorldCat record
Politicians and diapers have one thing in common : both get dirty
Author: Varghese Kattooparambil
Publisher: [Cranbourne, Vic.] : Meni Publishing and Binding, 2007.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed

New York (NY) Daily News
Politicians, like babies, ‘need to be changed regularly,’ says biz man who helped enact term limits
BY Frank Lombardi
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Friday, September 5th 2008, 2:10 PM
The mayor may be mum on his feelings about term limits, but the father of the movement that gave birth to the law is about to start wailing in defense of his baby.

Millionaire Ronald Lauder — who spent a fortune bringing about the referendum that created term limits in 1993 - is unleashing a TV spot likening politicians to diapered babies “who need to be changed regularly.”

Twitter
Rob Schultz
@truebluetitan
“Politicians and diapers should be changed often and for the same reason. “ ~Mark Twain
7:54 AM - 9 Oct 2008

Google Books
5,000 Sidesplitting Jokes and One-Liners
Compiled by Grant Tucker
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2013
Pg. ?:
Politicians and nappies have one thing in common: they should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.

Google Books
The Sarcasm Handbook
By Lawrence Dorfman and James Michael Naccarato
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2017
Pg. ?:
“Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.” —JOSÉ MARIA DE EÇA DE QUEIROZ, TRANSLATED FROM PORTUGUESE

Bookstr
10 Famous Mark Twain Quotes That He Never Said
Nope, not even the San Francisco one.

Chris Eder - 10 January 2018
(...)
1. “Politicians are like diapers: they should be changed often, and for the same reason.” - Probably from a Reader’s Digest fan named Willie.

Center for Mark Twain Studies
THE APOCRYPHAL TWAIN: “POLITICIANS ARE LIKE DIAPERS.”
Posted on November 5, 2018 by Matt Seybold
(...)
For reasons that remain unclear, the attribution to Twain became common practice in 2007.
(...)
But Harvey himself, in a syndicated editorial from June 1994, credits the exact quote – “Politicians, like diapers, should be changed often. And for the same reasons.” – to Tom Blair, a longtime columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Harvey likely got this attribution from a 1993 issue of Reader’s Digest in which the aphorism was excerpted with Blair’s byline.

But, when one tracks down the article which Reader’s Digest quoted from, one discovers that Blair himself was quoting a local candidate on the Libertarian ticket. John Wallner used the line repeatedly during his unsuccessful bid for a congressional seat in 1992, and thus it found its way into several major papers, including the Los Angeles Times, which dubbed it “the best line in a losing cause.”

One can’t help wondering whether Wallner would’ve still endorsed this catchphrase had he won.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, October 16, 2018 • Permalink