A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 29, 2010
“I don’t need you when I’m right”

"I don’t need you when I’m right!” is a political saying that comes from Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long (1895-1960), although the saying has been cited in print since only 1961 (a year after Long’s death). An aide told Long: “I’m with you when you’re right, Governor. But not when you’re wrong.” Long is credited as replying: “You stupid son of a bitch. I don’t need you when I’m right!”

Other politicians have used the saying. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill (1912-1994) is often remembered for saying “I don’t need you when I’m right.”


Wikipedia: Earl Long
Earl Kemp Long (August 26, 1895 – September 5, 1960) was an American politician and the 45th Governor of Louisiana for three non-consecutive terms. Long, termed himself the “last of the red hot poppas” of politics, referring to his stump-speaking skills. He served from 1939–1940, 1948–1952, and 1956–1960.

He was also lieutenant governor, having served from 1936–1939, but he failed in three other bids to be elected lieutenant governor. In 1932, he lost to state House Speaker John B. Fournet of Jennings in Jefferson Davis Parish; in 1944, he was defeated in a runoff by J. Emile Verret of Iberia Parish, and in 1959, the position went to the conservative Clarence C. “Taddy” Aycock of Franklin in St. Mary Parish. In that first defeat, Earl’s brother, Huey Pierce Long, Jr., endorsed Four net, but the rest of the Long family stood with Earl. The outraged Earl, at thirty-six, called Huey “the yellowest physical coward that God had ever let live.” Huey Long said of Earl: “Earl is my brother but he’s crooked. If you live long enough he’ll double cross you.” In the 1944 contest, Earl Long lost to a man whose previous political position had been no higher than a school board presidency. In the latter contest, Aycock won a second primary over the mayor of Alexandria, W. George Bowdon, Jr., as Long failed even to secure a runoff berth.

At the time of his death, Long’s last term as governor had expired, and he was the Democratic nominee in the now defunct Eighth Congressional District, based in central Louisiana.

18 February 1961, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, “House Passes ‘Packing’ Bill,” sec. 3, pg. 17, col. 6:
New Orleans Rep. George Tessler suggested legislators were voting for the bill in accord with a phrasing by the late Earl K. Long, who once said, “I don’t need you when I’m right; I need you when I’m wrong.”

OCLC WorldCat record
I don’t need you when I’m right : the confessions of a Washington PR man
Author: Victor Gold
Publisher: New York : Morrow, 1975.
Edition/Format:  Book : Biography : English

Google News Archive
26 June 1975, Schenectady (NY) Gazette, “Washington Offbeat’ by Vera Glaser, pg. 28, col. 3:
The book’s title, “I Don’t Need You When I’m Right” (Wm. Morrow & Co.), reflects the late Earl Long’s view of public relations men. The flyleaf immortalized Long’s exchange with an aide:

“I’m with you when you’re right, Governor. But not when you’re wrong.”

“You stupid son of a bitch. I don’t need you when I’m right!”

Google Books
The Interest Group Connection:
Electioneering, lobbying, and policymaking in Washington

By Paul S. Herrnson, Ronald G. Shaiko and Clyde Wilcox
Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers
1998
Pg. ?:
To which Johnson retorted: “I don’t need you when I’m right on the issue, son. I need you now!”

Google Books
Inside the Statehouse:
Lessons from the speaker

By Ralph G. Wright
Washington, DC: CQ Press
2005
Pg. 168:
Suddenly my mind flashed back to a rather famous “Tip” O’Neill tale, and I ended the conversation by lashing out at him, paraphrasing the legendary former US House Speaker from Massachusetts: “Bobby, you asshole, I don’t need you when I’m right. I need you now.”

Google Books
George Washington on Leadership
By Richard Brookhiser
New York, NY: Basic Books
2008
Pg. 217:
A twentieth-century governor of Louisiana, Earl Long, was told by an aide, “I’m with you when you’re right, Governor. But not when you’re wrong.” “You stupid sonofabitch,” Long said, “I don’t need you when I’m right.”

Google Books
Engines of Democracy:
Politics and policymaking in state legislatures

By Alan Rosenthal
Washington, DC: CQ Press
2009
Pg. 247:
Suddenly my mind flashed back to a rather famous “Tip” O’Neill tale and I ended the conversation by lashing out at him, paraphrasing the legendary US House Speaker from Massachusetts: “Billy, you ass, I don’t need you when I’m right.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, December 29, 2010 • Permalink