Candidates and those already elected would be best served by keeping quiet most all the time
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
This saying is both so funny and so wise that a number of funny and wise men are given credit for it, including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Alex Rieger of Taxi (season two, episode 36, Louie Meets the Folks).
So how come so few people follow this advice? Think about your own life. How many times have you left a party or a meeting and said to yourself, Why didnt I just shut up?
For politicians, the problem is especially acute. They feel the need to speak up, speak out and remove all doubt as to whether they are fools.
There have been so many examples recently that I barely know where to begin. But here are two seemingly different but actually related cases:
Case one: Is a congressman from Oklahoma a living human being, or was he hanged in 2011?
U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, a 10-term Republican from Oklahoma, won his primary last month with 83 percent of the vote, a margin that most political analysts would call convincing.
But Timothy Ray Murray, who got only 5 percent of the vote in that primary, wrote that the election is invalid because Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike.
The real Frank Lucas, Murray says, was executed by The World Court on or about Jan. 11, 2011 in Southern Ukraine.
Murray further states that he himself is a human.
I feel for Murray on this one. Normally in Oklahoma, being a human is good enough to get you into Congress.
But according to KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, Rep. Lucas says he is alive, has never been executed and has never even been to Ukraine.
Many things have been said about me, said to me in the course of all my campaigns, Lucas stated. This is the first time Ive ever been accused of being a body double or a robot.
So heres the question: Should Murray have remained silent, or was he justified in asserting that because his opponent is dead, he cannot serve in Congress?
Ruling: Murray should have remained silent. The Constitution states, No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
It says nothing about being alive.
Case two: Is Hillary Clinton capable of emotion?
Clintons book tour has been awash in controversy because of her statements that she was dead broke when she left the White House, with only a multimillion-dollar book advance, one $1.7 million home and one $2.8 million home to comfort her.
She also has been sharply questioned about how far she has evolved on the subject of same-sex marriage, which she used to oppose but now says is up to each state to decide.
President Barack Obama came to her defense sort of on June 30 when he said: I think that Hillary has been to this rodeo a bunch of times. ... Over time, I dont think its going to make a big difference.
Over time? How about November 2016? Would that be inside or outside the critical time period?
No matter. Hillary has bigger things to worry about.
Remember that historic picture of her in the Situation Room, sitting around a table with the president, the vice president and others watching the raid on Osama bin Ladens compound?
In that picture, Hillary is the only one with her hand to her face, in what appears to be a moment of pure emotion, whether shock, horror, anticipation or something else. Everyone else in the room is maintaining a deadpan expression.
So what was Hillary really feeling? The New York Times recently took a look:
On May 5, 2011, Hillary told ABC News that it was probably allergies.
I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early-spring allergic coughs, she said.
She also said she had no idea what she was watching when White House photographer Pete Souza snapped the picture.
But that was the old Hillary. Solid, intense, emotionless.
Today there is a new Hillary. And she has a new reason for her hands being at her mouth.
Hillary recently told Italian magazine Il Venerdì, We watched it all in real time the helicopters that landed in the courtyard of Osamas compound, our SEALs that attacked the building, the helicopters tail that hit the wall but succeeded in touching down regardless and I closed my mouth to keep my heart from coming out of my throat.
Wait. Now she has a clear idea of what was happening instead of no idea?
And now it was not allergies but an emotion so deeply felt that it almost caused her heart to come out of her throat?
As the Times reported, this is a shift from a cough to a gasp.
So should Clinton have spoken up, revealing a flip-flop, or kept silent, leaving her critics less ammunition?
Ruling: She did the right thing by revealing she has emotions. In every election, at least one candidate should not be a robot.
Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist