There are a lot of people talking about stuff these days, but very few of them really seem to say anything.
Most of the time, these "talking heads" as they're known, appear on the various TV shows to offer their opinions. In some cases, I'm convinced they were just asked to provide a counter-opinion, even if they don't really believe it.
The point/counterpoint arguments can sometimes involve shouting, insulting, interrupting or when all else fails ... just talking over the other person.
Often, the only thing that's really ever accomplished is that they "fill" the time. By then, I've usually hit the remote and settled in to programming that's much more uplifting. Shows like "Duck Dynasty" or "American Pickers." OK, there's an outside chance I'll also stop for a while to enjoy "Swamp People."
It's a shame we can't agree to disagree anymore with some degree of civility.
And whatever happened to the short, witty response that leaves the other person wondering what just hit 'em?
Here's the problem. We've reached a point where the only way to make a point is to say it louder and more often than the other person. "I SAID ... WE'VE REACHED A POINT ..."
I recently stumbled across a list of some of the wittiest comebacks of all time. Most of these were uttered by politicians, and most were stated before the creation of TV talk shows, for that matter.
Here are a few that made me smile and appreciate the rapid, but deftly placed reply.
When Rev. Edward Everett Hall appeared before the U.S. Senate and was asked if he prayed for the senators?
He said, "No, I look at the senators and pray for the country."
Our own former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings makes this list when responding to a challenge by an opponent during a televised debate to take a drug test.
Hollings replied, "I'll take a drug test if you'll take an IQ test."
That response, though, did not reach the level of insensitivity as did this exchange between two 18th-century political enemies.
John Montagu: "Sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox."
John Wilkes: "That will depend, my lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
The list of witty retorts includes two or three from Abe Lincoln, who was famously honest, after all.
When Stephen Douglas, during a debate, called Lincoln "two-faced," this was Lincoln's off-the-cuff response:
"I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?"
Best of the best
Nobody holds a candle, though, to Sir Winston Churchill's ability to succinctly sum up his feelings, when challenged.
When a member of parliament asked, "Mr. Churchill, must you fall asleep while I'm speaking?"
Churchill replied, "No, it's purely voluntary."
When Lady Astor scolded him by saying, "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd put poison in your coffee."
He responded, "Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it."
These aren't long, verbose replies. Just quick, to-the-point responses that hit the mark and leave us with a wry smile.
Even the soft-spoken 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, gets a mention in this list after this exchange with a lady at a White House dinner.
Woman: "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you."
Coolidge: "You lose."
More is not always better when it comes to knowing what to say and when to say it. And it's probably a good time right now to put a period at the end of this sentence.
Reach Warren Peper at 937-5577 or wpeper@post andcourier.com.