In Case You Were Wondering, Here’s the Price of Milk

Seeing Sarah Palin’s recent witticism:

It’s no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you need to breast feed your babies … the price of milk is so high!

I was reminded of Dan Quayle’s quip during the 1988 campaign:

The governor of Massachusetts, he lost his top naval adviser last week. His rubber ducky drowned in the bathtub.

And this got me wondering: how often do legitimate political figures–not talk show hosts, but actual politicians–communicate via schoolyard-style taunts?

I’m not talking here about dry wit of the Bob Dole or Morris Udall variety, or political gamesmanship such as Ronald Reagan’s “make my day,” or flat-out partisanship like Alan Grayson’s “the Republicans want you to die quickly” or James Watt’s line about “liberals and Americans.” It’s gotta be an actual joke.

There must be some other examples of Palin/Quayle style humor, but I’m not sure where to look.

I keep thinking of Veronica Geng’s hilarious story which includes the line:

In 1950, when Shaw died, his last words were “Don’t tell L.B.J. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction.”

P.S. In case you’re wondering, here’s the price of milk:

The price has declined since 2008 with a slight rebound during the past year. The monthly data stop in Dec 2010 but maybe there’s a big spike during Jan-Feb 2011. I did find this document saying that nonfat dry milk has increased in price by 8% in the past month, so maybe there’s something going on. Although of course this is pretty much irrelevant to choices of how you feed your baby.

P.P.S. The Daily News reports that Palin “made the crack during an appearance at a Long Island country club.” Country club Republicans, indeed.

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About Andrew Gelman 26 Articles

Affiliation: Columbia University

Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University. He has received the Outstanding Statistical Application award from the American Statistical Association, the award for best article published in the American Political Science Review, and the Council of Presidents of Statistical Societies award for outstanding contributions by a person under the age of 40.

His books include Bayesian Data Analysis (with John Carlin, Hal Stern, and Don Rubin), Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks (with Deb Nolan), Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models (with Jennifer Hill), and, most recently, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do (with David Park, Boris Shor, Joe Bafumi, and Jeronimo Cortina).

Andrew has done research on a wide range of topics, including: why it is rational to vote; why campaign polls are so variable when elections are so predictable; why redistricting is good for democracy; reversals of death sentences; police stops in New York City, the statistical challenges of estimating small effects; the probability that your vote will be decisive; seats and votes in Congress; social network structure; arsenic in Bangladesh; radon in your basement; toxicology; medical imaging; and methods in surveys, experimental design, statistical inference, computation, and graphics.

Visit: Andrew Gelman's Website

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