Clerihew corner (politics edition).

by Harry on November 6, 2017

I introduced clerihews last week (post here) and was stunned by the response — you are great at this! Most in that thread were about philosophers, though there were a good number about other types of people. I’ll return to philosophers (one of my colleagues has been quietly supplying me with his own contributions so I’ll have to find a way to publicize them). This week’s challenge is to write clerihews about politicians — broadly conceived. Here are my efforts (including Montgomery, not strictly a politician I guess):

Edward Clerihew Bentley
did his satire gently.
Would he have kept to that precedent
with this President?

After the white van man picture Emily Thornberry
Said she was sorry, but she wasn’t very.
Now that Boris behaves like a gooseberry
Even white van man wants her as Foreign Secretary.

Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery
Eschewed entirely involvement in mummery.
Instead he devoted himself to Irish dance
Which he performed to his troops at every chance

When the loathsome Morrison asked Ernest Bevin,
After Labour’s great win,
To stand against Clement Attlee
Bevin said, “That’s just not me”.

Some people say of Julie Burchill
That she’s a distant relation of Winston Churchill
Unlikelier cousins there may not be
(Apart from Lady GaGa and Clement Attlee). [1]

[1] I wrote this one immediately after learning that not only is Angela Lansbury a red diaper baby and lifelong leftwinger, but also the granddaughter of George Lansbury (and daughter of communist Edgar), cousin to Oliver Postgate, and in some complicated way related to Malcolm Turnbull.



steven t johnson 11.06.17 at 3:30 pm

President Barack Obama
Starred in a real life crime drama,
When officers speaking montone
Gave orders to murder by drone.

Well. To try again…

President Barack Obama
Follows all the rules for period and comma,
But in Libya, he got all daffy
About minutia when killing Qaddaffi.

Well, worse. Last try…

President Barack Obama
Is much too noble to rassle a llama.
Alas, there is no mohair the man
Can use to make a new Afghan.

I lied. One more try…

President Barack Obama
Had a banker grandmama
Who taught him the vital facts
About the importance of Goldman Sachs.

Somehow, the light hearted touch escapes me completely. The vacant throne of Ogden Nash is dusty still.


b9n10nt 11.06.17 at 5:31 pm

Who can count the transgressions of Donald,
Who nevertheless seems to have learned “governing” from Ronald:
The masses are sold racism and quackery
While his ilk would be fodder for Thackeray


Gavin Kostick 11.06.17 at 5:37 pm

Berkeley held that nothing is provable,
A position Dr Johnson found inexcusable,
With great restraint he did not shoot ‘im.
But kicked a rock and cried, “I refute ‘im!”


Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.06.17 at 6:28 pm

Paul John Manafort Jr.
Was told “very soon you’re
Gonna get locked up in jail
So co-operate before that ship sets sail.”

The son-in-law named Jared
Is trying to act un-a-scar-ed.
But considering all that’s come out in the news,
I’m glad I ain’t in his shoes.


Gavin Kostick 11.06.17 at 7:12 pm

Whoops sorry. Misread the post.


Stephen 11.06.17 at 7:51 pm

Hilary Rodham
Clinton said “surely in Sodom
And Gomorrah they’d have voted for me.
Weren’t they all GLBT?”


Stephen 11.06.17 at 7:59 pm

LGBT, obviously. Ladies before gentlemen.


Chris Bertram 11.06.17 at 8:46 pm

Priti Patel when taking her annual vacation in Palestine
Had meetings with Benjamin Netanyanu entirely on her own time
When someone blabbed to the press she tried to affect amnesia
But why bother when shredding the ministerial code couldn’t be easier?


Chris Bertram 11.06.17 at 8:49 pm

When pretending to be Foreign Sec Boris
Would rarely glance up from his copy of Horace
If required to say something he’d just improvise
And failing that, lies


Trader Joe 11.06.17 at 9:02 pm

While Joe Biden was washing his Trans Am
The DNC asked if he’d be their man
But unwilling to cross the Clinton machine
He said Bernie’s your guy if you want Mr. Clean

Bernie Sanders, its said could have beaten Clinton
If he’d used a boxing glove instead of a mitten
But the party was unwilling to hear his call
which lead to the hardest punch of all


orangeman 11.06.17 at 9:51 pm

iirc, 5 years ago, you trashed N Kristof of the Times when he criticized academics as out of touch
maybe you shd take a moment to praise him ?
and reflect that being mean is maybe not a thing you shd be doing ?


oldster 11.07.17 at 2:27 am

Benjamin Disraeli
never wrote for a daily.
Among his creations:
the novel, “Two Nations”.


Thomas Lumley 11.07.17 at 2:43 am

Winston Peters
Is one of the best schmoozers and greeters
But gets a bit mental
About the Oriental.

James Phillip Edward Shaw
Could not possibly want more
As Statistics Minister and leader of the Greens
He has seized the production of means

Jacinda Ardern
Gave journalists a burn
Suggesting it wasn’t their business, maybe,
If she planned to have a baby


oldster 11.07.17 at 2:46 am

John Caldwell Calhoun
was a vicious racist loon.
Just how beyond the pale?
He’s too right-wing for Yale.


oldster 11.07.17 at 2:57 am

“Fighting Bob” LaFollette,
was tribune of the worker’s wallet.
A liberal Wisconsinite,
he taught Progressives how to fight.


Alan White 11.07.17 at 3:55 am

Kellyanne Conway
has the gift to gainsay
the blue of sky and that Orange Julius
is nasty, short, and needs a Brutus.


qzt359 11.07.17 at 5:46 am

Trump. . . chump. . . nation. . . ruination. . .

There’s something in there, I think.


johnb78 11.07.17 at 6:05 am

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull
Is not a man you could call humble
Now his government’s collapsing into debris
Because of a scandal about foreign MPs


bad Jim 11.07.17 at 6:26 am

“I am in control here”, claimed Alexander Haig
when Reagan was shot. Not inclined to be vague
was this much-decorated general, nor given to doubt
and soon he was out.


bad Jim 11.07.17 at 6:39 am

We seem to have forgotten old Earl Butz.
Compared to the current administration he no longer seems especially nuts.
He was fired for a joke that mentioned a tipsy kitty,
perhaps. He merits no pity.


bad Jim 11.07.17 at 7:51 am

Then there’s Zbigniew Brzezinski,
who thought policies ought to have ends and begins. Key
strategies involved running amok in Iran
and wreaking havoc in Afghanistan.


MFB 11.07.17 at 7:53 am

OK, here’s a rather weak one from South Africa:

Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
Eschews innuendo and rumour.
Hence he won’t accept his political death
So long as one of his supporters still draws breath.


Gavin Kostick 11.07.17 at 8:30 am

A political one to make up.

Boris Johnson believed his friend,
Would not betray him in the end,
Only to, oh blast!, discover,
Michael Gove would stab his mother.


Gavin Kostick 11.07.17 at 9:51 am


Boris Johnson as strove for glory,
Thought he knew the Roman story,
But Caesar should have warned him how it ends,
You really cannot trust your friends.


Retaliated Donor 11.07.17 at 2:10 pm

Dennis Kucinich
Timidly admitted to disliking spinach,
Unlike President Bush, who cockily
Bragged about hating broccoli.


RichT 11.07.17 at 2:16 pm

Donald J Trump
Tends to talk like a chump
But still, acting silly won
The votes of sixty million.

Hillary Rodham
Clinton said “Sod ’em
“They made a fuss about use of email
“But I know it’s because I’m female”.

Eloquent Theresa May
Never knew quite what to say
On TV, radio, print and cable
She just repeated “strong and stable”.

Jeremy Corbyn hoped to lose
By less than expected by the News
But who’d’a thought it, son of a gun
and bugger me, he nearly won!

And kudos to bad Jim for getting a rhyme for Zbigniew Brzezinski.


Harry 11.07.17 at 2:36 pm

British Leyland shop steward, Mr Red Robbo
Was anything but your standard yobbo
After leading workers in their striking
He liked pink fairy cakes with lemon icing.


Harry 11.07.17 at 2:41 pm

Harold Adrian Russell (Kim) Philby
Preferred the Homburg to the Trilby
About him nothing more should be said:
We shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.


Hugh 11.07.17 at 3:23 pm

Betsy DeVos,
I’m at a loss
For an explanation:
You’re secretary of education.


oldster 11.07.17 at 3:27 pm

Harold Stassen
sixteen years since his passin’
is still the most qualified nominee
for the GOP.


Harry 11.07.17 at 4:51 pm

#11 — completely off-topic unless you can make a clerihew about him. And… no, you don’t remember correctly, I have never trashed Kristof. Its not really my style. (In fact, a reasonably good search of the site indicates I’ve never even mentioned him).


Thomas Lumley 11.07.17 at 5:58 pm

Barnaby Joyce
Was an ineligible choice
For deputy PM, but not, we hear
For New Zealander of the Year.


Thomas Lumley 11.07.17 at 6:08 pm

Après Rainbow Warrior
The French seemed sorrier
About their comms
Than the bombs.

The 1981 Springboks Tour
Is now a bit of a blur
For people who weren’t on the opposite side
To apartheid.


Thomas Lumley 11.07.17 at 6:52 pm

Is, with no chance of rebuttal
The name you most don’t wanta
Show up in you teleprompta

(Ok, not politics, but international news at least)


Thomas Lumley 11.07.17 at 6:53 pm



TheSophist 11.07.17 at 6:58 pm

George W Bush
Ate babaganoush
Irrelevant as hell
but scans extremely well


Thomas Lumley 11.07.17 at 7:00 pm

Kamehameha the Great
Brought Hawai’i to a unified state
He was not called ‘the Great’ at the time
But it makes him much easier to rhyme


dsquared 11.08.17 at 12:00 am

Nicholas Kristof
Must be pissed off
That swanning around with a “rescued” Cambodian prostitute
Is no longer considered cute


dsquared 11.08.17 at 12:10 am

Ernest Bevin
Made plum tarts from heaven
Ond nid allai Aneurin
Wneud dim byd gyda eirin.

(I think Google translate will get that right)


bad Jim 11.08.17 at 6:16 am

“Unknown unknowns” quacked Donald Rumsfeld
whose bombs and guns and bums felled
thousands or millions just to push
the re-election of the younger Bush.


bad Jim 11.08.17 at 6:45 am

Whereas the victory of “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf,
master of the operational arts (cough)
did not cast enough of a heroical glint on
the elder Bush to prevail against Clinton.


bad Jim 11.08.17 at 7:19 am

The Speaker of the House is now Paul Ryan
following John Boehner who was famous for cryin’.
Eventually John wearied of losing and quit.
Paul keeps the job, no clue what to do with it.


J-D 11.08.17 at 8:36 am

Edmund Barton
Was never compared to Sidney Carton:
‘Toby Tosspot’
Was the nickname he got.

George Reid
Slackened speed
When Alfred Deakin
Began to weaken.

The surname of Chris Watson
Is merely assonant with ‘flotsam’.
Some say it should have been ‘Tanck’,
Which rhymesters could take to the bank.

Andy Fisher
Was always ready to squish a
And shout ‘Finito!’

It’s unlikely Billy Hughes
Was a votary of the Muse:
Folk don’t mark a poetic figure
With the nickname ‘The Little Digger’.

Joe Cook
When SM Bruce
Cut loose.

The ignorance of Joe Lyons
On the subject of prions
Was like that of Jimmy Scullin
About medullin.

Earle Page
Rattled his cage
But didn’t madden
Artie Fadden.

The death of Jack Curtin
Made certain
Frank Forde
Would be less often ignored.

The adventures of Bob Menzies
Were not like Barry McKenzie’s:
He was less of an ocker
Than Barry Crocker.

Ben Chifley
Preferred not to speak stiffly.
Instead he unbent
And people knew what he meant.

Harold Holt
May have acted the dolt
When he thought sea-
Bathing was safe at Portsea.

Billy McMahon
Said ‘Darn
‘Jack McEwen!
‘I’m spewin’!’

Malcolm Fraser,
Without using a razor,
Was able to shorten
The career of John Gorton.

The Cabinet of Gough Whitlam
Didn’t want him to belittle ‘em;
Bob Hawke
Let his ministers talk.

The Coalition and John Howard
Were governmentally empowered
When voters gave a beating
To Labor and Paul Keating.

Kevin Rudd
Was no chewer of cud,
But rather Kevin

Julia Gillard
Is no physicist like Leo Szilard,
Neil DeGrasse Tyson,
Or Freeman Dyson.

Tony Abbott
Like Python’s Arthurian rabbit
Isn’t proof against a hand grenade
Thrown from ambuscade.

Malcolm Turnbull
Keeps many an urn full
Not of ash,
But of cash.


bad Jim 11.08.17 at 9:34 am

The attorney general is a Keebler elf: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the third.
Empty the chamber pot: shameless, mendacious, appalling, absurd.
When proposed as a judge, his peers thought him unfit, too weird to serve
Now he’s on top, with a grade from a definitely different curve.


oldster 11.08.17 at 3:33 pm

Edmund Bentley’s “Clerihew:”
a form that, alas!, very few
use with


Mike Schilling 11.09.17 at 6:43 am

Henry IV was Holy Roman Emperor,
which beats being being Werner Klemperer.
Henry thought he was the biggest boss. A
thing he unlearned at Canossa.


J-D 11.09.17 at 9:10 am

Frank Tudor
Never flew Garuda,
Because a time machine
Is a thing there’s never been.

As an MP, Matt Charlton
Never represented Carlton,
Or Innisfail.

The Latham whose forename was John
Had long passed on
When he whose forename was Mark
Jumped the shark.

The engine roared when Bert Evatt
Decided to rev it,
And Arthur Calwell
Didn’t feel at all well.

Unlike Brer Rabbit, Billy Snedden
Was ‘bred’n
‘Bawn in’ WA,
But didn’t stay.

The legend of Bill Hayden,
The Rhine Maiden,
And the Eleusinian mystery
Is an epic lost to history.

Andrew Peacock
Couldn’t restock
Any shelf
By himself.

When the grip of John Hewson
On leadership began to loosen,
Alexander Downer
Was no frowner.

Kim Beazley
Doesn’t fancy vegan Cheezly.
His diet is less green
Than that of Simon Crean.

Is Brendan Nelson
Able to distinguish a kelson
From a transom?
Not for a king’s ransom.

Bill Shorten
Didn’t graduate from Wharton,
But has an MBA


Kate 11.09.17 at 4:05 pm

Annoyed by the member from Gander
Trudeau used foul language in anger
Thinking perhaps it would be subtle
He claimed that he’d said “fuddle duddle”.

Comments on this entry are closed.