[Collected via e-mail, September 2008]
While suturing a cut on the hand of a
[Chattanooga Times Free Press, March 2001]
A country doctor is suturing a laceration on the hand of an old farmer.
Old Farmer: "All you need to know about the 2000 election is that young Dubya Bush is a post turtle."
Doctor: "Oh? What is a post turtle?"
Old Farmer: "When yer driving down a country road, and ya' come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top? That's a post turtle. Ya' know he didn't get there by himself, he don't belong there, he can't get anything done while he's up there, and you just want to help take the poor thang down."
The current example lampooning Governor Sarah Palin, for instance, we also saw circulated in July 2008 about Senator Barack Obama.
The "post turtle" appellation can be applied to any seeker of high office who is viewed as attempting to rise above his or her native abilities and thus would be as out of place if successful as a turtle on a fence post. Such label is used to identify a politician the anecdote's teller regards as intrinsically unsuited for the office being bid for and to communicate that view to others via an amusing mental image.
As to exactly what defines a "post turtle," that varies a bit from telling to telling:
- "Well, you know that turtle didn't get up there by himself. Someone's got to have put him up there. And if there's one thing you know, it's sooner or later that turtle's going to fall." (Associated Press, August 2008)
- "You know he didn't get up there by himself, and he sure as heck doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do up there and you just wonder what kind of an idiot put him up there in the first place." (Monterey County Herald, July 2008)
- "It sure doesn't belong there, it didn't get there by itself and now that it's there it doesn't know what to do." (Buffalo News, April 2001)
- "Ya' know he didn't get there by himself, he don't belong there, he can't get anything done while he's up there, and you just want to help take the poor thang down." (Chattanooga Times Free Press, March 2001)
Last updated: 25 September 2008
Condren, Dave. "Public Financing of Elections Needed to Reform Politics, Commentator Says." Buffalo News. 28 April 2001 (p. B6). Lindsey, Greg. "How to Get to the Top." Monterey County Herald. 9 July 2008. Saunders, Debra. "Mercy for Mr. Plano." The San Francisco Chronicle. 24 February 2004 (p. A21). Smyth, Julie Carr. "Ohio Swing County Rejects Labels, Goes with Gut." Associated Press. 23 August 2008. Weaver, Linda. "President 'Post Turtle' on His Tax-Cut Plan." Chattanooga Times Free Press. 12 March 2001 (p. B6).