Dr. Seuss Goes To Washington

From Ted Cruz to John Kerry, 'The Cat in the Hat' author has been a frequent source of inspiration on the Senate floor--they use his rhymes when they want to say more.

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Screen capture from video of Senator Ted Cruz speaking on the floor of the Senate

Within the first 14 hours of Senator Ted Cruz’s speech on the Senate floor, his musings had gone to moon and back. Perhaps the most noted moment came when the Texas Republican began to quote from Dr. Theodore Seuss’s 1960 poem and picture book, “Green Eggs and Ham.”

“I will credit my father, he invented … green eggs and ham,” Cruz said. “He did it two ways. The easy way was he would put green food coloring in … But if you take spinach and mix it into the eggs, the eggs turn green … I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am.”

Turns out this is not the first time the whimsical American poet and favorite of American children has had his lines read aloud in the grown-up debates of Congress.

Here’s guide to some of Seuss’s most recent cameos.

Harry Reid’s Obsession

Perhaps no Senator has Seuss on the brain more than Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevada Democrat hauled the cat in the hat into the country’s immigration debate. In 2007, he quoted Seuss to his colleges: “And this mess is so big. And this mess is so deep and so tall, we can not pick it up. There is no way at all!”

Reid returned to Seuss in 2008 when paying tribute to retiring Senator Peter Domenici.

“Now, how can I describe in my words how I feel about Pete Domenici leaving?” Reid said. “I guess we should, as Dr. Seuss said, ‘… not cry before it’s over, smile because it happened.’  That certainly applies to our relationship.”

John Kerry and The Lorax

In 2002, almost a year to the day after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Senator John Kerry, now Secretary of State, drew inspiration from “The Lorax,” Seuss’s environmental fable, to describe how Americans responded to the assault.

“Dr. Seuss reminded us in ‘The Lorax’ that  ‘unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. It’s not,’” Kerry said. “September 11, 2001, as tragic and traumatic as it was, can serve as a transformative event for the American people.”

Appropriations and the Big Hearted Moose

Senator Joe Lieberman, speaking in support of striking an appropriations bill in 2007, found wisdom in “Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose,” Seuss’s 1948 story.

“One of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is about Thidwick the moose. Thidwick is a glorious moose with large antlers,” Lieberman told the world’s greatest deliberative body. “Various creatures in the forest begin to occupy, ultimately quite unjustifiably Thidwick’s antlers until they fall off. There are parts of this supplemental appropriations bill that in my opinion, respectfully, do not belong there.”

A Cat’s Lesson

During a debate on the House floor over the Bipartisan Campaign Integrity Act of 1997, Rep. Lynn Rivers, a Michigan Democrat, was reminded not of Thidwick but, like so many of her colleagues, the cat in the hat.

“The cat was persuasive, as soothe as they come. He convinced those two kids to do things that were dumb,” Rivers said. “He urged them. He spun them. He did his best to distract. Sort of like this amendment we are told to enact.”