The Corner

A Speech Snafu in ’92

Impromptus today begins with an item about pandas — yes, really. There’s a reason — a political reason — trust me. Here in the Corner, I thought I’d do a little reminiscing, politically.

In 1992, former senator Paul Tsongas was challenging Governor Bill Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Tsongas was from Massachusetts, and sounded like it. He wanted to accuse Clinton of being a panderer (not a philanderer, which was a different thing, though possibly related). He wanted to accuse him of pandering to the voters.

So, his line was, “He’s a pander bear.” But there was a problem: his English, which was redolent of his native state. “Pander” came out “panda”; and “panda” came out “pander.”

So this is what a Florida audience, for example, heard: “That Bill Clinton! He’s a panda bear!” Silence, confusion. “You know, not a pander bear but a panda bear!”

Oh, it was fun.

P.S. I was once part of a student group in Washington. We visited Senator Tsongas in his office. One of my classmates was from Massachusetts. The question arose, What would my classmate have to do to be elected back home?

Tsongas said, “What’s your name?” My friend said, “Kevin O’Leary.” Tsongas said, “That’s a start.”

(Though there was a tradition of Greeks’ getting elected in Massachusetts — think not just Tsongas but Dukakis, too.)

Most Popular

U.S.

The Lies We’re Told about the American Story

Editor’s Note: The following essay was adapted from remarks delivered to the annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, in California, on October 4. Every American heart must break when lies are told to boys and girls, who then grow up to think the worst about their past: that the American ... Read More
U.S.

The Lies We’re Told about the American Story

Editor’s Note: The following essay was adapted from remarks delivered to the annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, in California, on October 4. Every American heart must break when lies are told to boys and girls, who then grow up to think the worst about their past: that the American ... Read More
Film & TV

Bill Murray: The King of Cool

Bill Murray’s Bill Murray impression is priceless in On the Rocks, the way John Wayne did a fantastic John Wayne parody in True Grit and Al Pacino found a new level of Pacino-ness in Scent of a Woman. I want to quote every line of dialogue Murray delivers in his new movie for Apple TV+ -- every hilarious piece ... Read More
Film & TV

Bill Murray: The King of Cool

Bill Murray’s Bill Murray impression is priceless in On the Rocks, the way John Wayne did a fantastic John Wayne parody in True Grit and Al Pacino found a new level of Pacino-ness in Scent of a Woman. I want to quote every line of dialogue Murray delivers in his new movie for Apple TV+ -- every hilarious piece ... Read More
Books

Orwell, Huxley, and Us

To hear some people tell it, America entered a dystopia long before the coronavirus and measures undertaken to combat it altered everyday life almost to the point of unrecognizability. As for which dystopia, and when, well — that depends on whom one asks. For many on the left, the annus horribilis was 2016, ... Read More
Books

Orwell, Huxley, and Us

To hear some people tell it, America entered a dystopia long before the coronavirus and measures undertaken to combat it altered everyday life almost to the point of unrecognizability. As for which dystopia, and when, well — that depends on whom one asks. For many on the left, the annus horribilis was 2016, ... Read More
Media

The Media’s Shameful Hunter Biden Abdication

In an interview with National Public Radio’s public editor today, Terence Samuel, managing editor for news, explained why readers haven’t seen any stories about the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop. “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want ... Read More
Media

The Media’s Shameful Hunter Biden Abdication

In an interview with National Public Radio’s public editor today, Terence Samuel, managing editor for news, explained why readers haven’t seen any stories about the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop. “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want ... Read More