Aug. 23, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Heard on the Hill: Pearls Before Swine

Sen. Barack Obama got himself into a whole sty of trouble with his “lipstick on a pig” comment. Republicans instantly saw a porcine conspiracy behind the words and accused the Illinois Democrat of a sexist smear of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the running mate of Obama’s opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

But the phrase actually is an oft-used old saw among Members of Congress of both parties. In a highly scientific survey of the Congressional Record,

HOH turned up 16 such uses of some variant of the phrase by Members during the 110th Congress. And the oinky utterance knows no party lines: Six of its uses were by Democrats, and 10 by Republicans. Most were straightforward, but there were some amusing spins. And some Members are clearly fond of the swine-y figure of speech. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), for example, is responsible for three of the GOP’s uses of the expression.

• Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) on the Peru free-trade agreement: “Same old model with a little lipstick.”

• Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) on trade policy: “You know the old saying about lipstick on a pig? Well, I smell bacon.”

• Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) on withdrawal in Iraq: “Calling this surrender a ‘withdrawal’ or a ‘redeployment’ is like putting lipstick on a pig. No matter what you call it, it is still a pig.”

• Westmoreland on energy policy: “The energy bills that were brought out this week was kind of like putting lipstick on a pig.”

• Westmoreland, again on energy policy: “It’s almost like putting lipstick on a pig. You can make it look good, but it’s only going to be a pig.”

• Westmoreland, yet again on energy policy: “So while we are passing these bills ... it’s been putting lipstick on a pig.”

• Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) on an omnibus spending bill: “There has been lipstick placed on this pig, but it’s still a pig.”

• Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) on an ethics proposal: “They may have put lipstick on that pig, but it is still a pig.”

• Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) on the president’s veto of a children’s health bill: “There’s just no lipstick to pretty up this pig.”

• Ortiz on language in a border-wall bill: “That puts a little lipstick on the pig.”

• Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Republican moves on carbon emissions: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.”

• Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) on a children’s health bill alternative: “We have a saying in Texas, if you put lipstick on a pig, it will still be a pig.”

• Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) on equal-pay legislation: “This amendment is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.”

• Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on wiretapping legislation: “It’s very difficult to put lipstick on a pig.”

• Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) on Medicare legislation: “... trying to put lipstick on this legislative pig.”

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