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Live from Tammany: It’s politics 2012

The Tammany Tiger Loose—"What are you going to do about it?", published in Harper's Weekly in November 1871, just before election dayThomas Nast/1871

By Bob Hicks

The national political season is getting good and nasty these days, and we here at Art Scatter World Headquarters are pretty pumped about it: blood sports do that to us.

We’re especially excited about the literary possibilities. In  recent days we’ve added some astute veteran political observers to our stable of correspondents, all of whom know their way around a well-turned phrase. First came Eugene Field, with his commentary on the viciousness of the infighting during the South Carolina primary campaign: “The truth about the cat and pup is this: they ate each other up!” Then we succeeded in persuading the Scottish poet William Miller, famed for breaking the Wee Willie Winkie scandal, to comment on Newt’s unusual nighttime frolics (“upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown”).

George Washington Plunkitt, ca. 1915. Wikimedia Commons.Now we’re extremely proud to be able to bring you the commentary of the legendary George Washington Plunkitt, whose plainspoken eloquence on the subject of practical politics captivated the nation in the best-selling Plunkitt of Tammany Hall. Plunkitt made a fortune in the political game, boasting, among other things, “of his record in filling four public offices in one year and drawing salaries from three of them at the same time.”

Following is his first dispatch to Art Scatter. Don’t ask us what we had to guarantee Mr. Plunkitt to get him to write for us. You don’t want to know.

Plunkitt on the uproar over Newt and Fannie Mae:

“Everybody is talkin’ these days about Tammany men growin’ rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin’ the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There’s all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself. I’ve made a big fortune out of the game, and I’m gettin’ richer every day, but I’ve not gone in for dishonest graft – blackmailin’ gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc. – and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics.

Continue reading Live from Tammany: It’s politics 2012