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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“A man is washing the car with his son. The son asks, ‘Dad, can’t you just use a sponge?‘“ (6/23)
“Don’t waste a moment of your life trying to be normal” (6/23)
“Dance like no one is watching. Because they are not. They’re checking their phones” (6/23)
“Dance like no one is watching. Because they are not. They’re checking their phones” (6/23)
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Entry from August 19, 2012
“The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as in Sampson’s time”

The story of Samson is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, Book of Judges chapters 13 to 16. God gave Samson supernatural strength and he slew the Philistines with only the jawbone of an ass.

“Jawbone of an ass” also has a modern interpretation, meaning the speech ("jawbone") of an idiot ("ass"). “The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as it was in Samson’s time” has been cited in print since at least March 1929. The line has frequently been credited to Richard Nixon (1913-1994) since about 2004, but Nixon—if he ever said it—could not have coined or popularized it.

The “jawbone of an ass” line has been used to describe political speech. In 2000, John McCain (a Republican senator from Arizona) used the line to describe the speech of former Nixon adviser Pat Buchanan.


Wikiquote: Talk:Richard Nixon
Seeking source
“The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as in Sampson’s time.”
The above quotation, which I rather like, has been attributed to Nixon, but I can’t find a source for it. I’ve searched everywhere, even the transcripts of his presidential tapes, with no luck. I was hoping somebody might know who actually said it. Sysmsifa 06:29, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Hathi Trust Digital Library
February 1914, Current Opinion, “Shear Nonsense,” pg. 523 (The page number is not clear—ed.), col. 1:
TRY THIS ON A SMALLER MAN.
We are not all of us Samsons, so we had better be careful how we use the jawbone of an ass.—Lippincott’s.

16 March 1929, Rockford (IL) Republic, pg. 7, col. 7:
The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as it used to be.—Clinton Journal.

28 March 1929, The Bee (Danville, VA), “Scoop’s Colyum,” pg. 4, col. 4:
The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as it was in Samson’s time.

Google Books
September 1938, The Rotarian, pg. 39, col. 2:
If your foot slips, you may recover your balance, but if your tongue slips, you cannot recall your words. The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as it was in the days of Samson.

Google News Archive
29 January 1944, Prescott (AZ) Evening Courier, “Hassayampa Yamps” by the Old Cattleman and his Grapevine Friends, pg. 4, col. 2:
THE JAWBONE OF AN ASS is just as dangerous a weapon today as it was in Samson’s time.

Google Books
Complete Speaker’s and Toastmaster’s Library
Edited by Jacob Morton Braude
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1965
Pg. 78:
The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as it was in Samson’s time.

Jewish World Review
Jan. 11, 2000 / 4 Shevat, 5760
Mort Zuckerman
Loose lips, fast quips
(...)
John McCain on Pat Buchanan: “The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as in Samson’s time.”

Google Books
To Be an Agnostic:
An Agnostic Approach to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

By James Kirk Wall
Bloomington, IN: iUniverse
2009
Pg. 21:
“The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as in Sampson’s time.”—Richard Nixon (1913-1994)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, August 19, 2012 • Permalink