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Post turtle is a phrase that has been used in political discussion of various countries, including the U.S. and Canada[1], based on an old joke. Various politicians have been referenced by the joke or used the joke, including George W Bush [2], Barack Obama[3], Bill Clinton[4], and Stephen Harper[5].

The Joke

An old rancher is talking about politics with a young man from the city. He compares a politician to a "post turtle". The young man doesn't understand and asks him what a post turtle is.

The old man says, "When you're driving down a country road and you see a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle. You know he didn't get up there by himself. He doesn't belong there; he can't get anything done while he's up there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down."

The post-turtle is further explained: He did not get there by himself. He cannot get down. And he can only see in the direction he has been turned.

Notable usage

William J. Kennedy reviews the book THE NATURAL The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton by Joe Klein who quotes Clinton on his own achievement: "If you see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, it didn't get there by accident"[6].

Molly Ivins[7] is attributed to usage for George W. Bush.

A list of old sources is here[8].

References

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