tent-pissing follow-up

Kenneth Wolcott ken at WOL.CO.TT
Wed Sep 4 00:50:57 UTC 2013

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On Sep 3, 2013 8:24 PM, "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: tent-pissing follow-up
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Prompted by a suggestion (off-line) from Joel Berson, I tried googling
> "tent pissing out" + "Arab", and was led to a google book excerpt at
> http://books.google.com/books?id=_ERhV58kkFIC&pg=PT107&lpg=PT107&dq=%22inside+the+tent+pissing+out%22+%22Arab%22&source=bl&ots=aCo17YLwBT&sig=j_zId_Z2bNlIat3E0j3qMlDx41c&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DHsmUoPIGY6lsASruIHADQ&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=%22inside%20the%20tent%20pissing%20out%22%20%22Arab%22&f=false
> (sorry for not knowing how to figure out a more elegant tiny URL the way
> some of you can)--
> This book, _Eisenhower and Churchill: The Partnership that Saved the
> World_ by James C. Humes, notes that Lloyd George's argument for putting
> Churchill in the Cabinet (he was made "secretary of state for munitions"
> just before the American entry into WWI) was based on "a variation of the
> Arab proverb--better the camel inside the tent pissing out than outside the
> tent pissing in."  Humes mentions neither LBJ nor Olivier.  Nor the
> well-known difficulty of camel's piss fitting through the eye of a needle,
> to change proverbs midstream.
> LH
> On Sep 3, 2013, at 11:12 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> > On the discussion board for "Broadchurch", a rather good British murder
> mystery serial airing currently on BBCA, there's been discussion about the
> line used by one character:  "Better to have you inside the tent pissing
> out than outside the tent pissing in".  After some back and forth, it was
> agreed that the earliest anyone had heard the line was from LBJ re J. Edgar
> Hoover, and this matches YBOQ's verdict:
> >
> > "It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out than
> outside the tent pissing in"
> >
> > It certainly has the right fragrance for Lyndon, judging from another
> comment of his to John Kenneth Galbraith, "Making a speech on economics is
> a lot like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it never does to
> anyone else." At the same time, it has the feeling of an old Texas saw.  As
> far as we can tell, was the…um, salty expression in fact spontaneously
> coined by LBJ (as reported by David Halberstam on Halloween of 1971), or
> was he recycling earlier wisdom?  (It's sometimes given as "I'd rather have
> X inside the tent…")
> >
> > LH
> >
> > P.S. For the record, it appears that Laurence Olivier used the same line
> as an explanation of why he offered critic Kenneth Tynan a job at the
> National Theatre: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2005/mar/14/art.
>  But the standard view is that Olivier was cribbing from LBJ:
> >
> > http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436481/reviews
> > From [John] Lahr we learned that Olivier had never forgiven Tynan for
> giving his wife Vivien Leigh a bad review, and had only employed him at the
> National in order to have him (as President Johnson might have said) "on
> the inside, pissing out".
> >
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