Glenn Reynolds has adopted the refrain commenting on Obama administration missteps: “The country’s in the very best of hands….” It comes from the lyrics Johnny Mercer wrote for the 1956 Broadway musical “Li’l Abner.” (Gene de Paul wrote the music.) The show was successful on Broadway, but the show’s songs failed to produce a single hit and the show itself has not had much of an afterlife. In his biography of Mercer, Philip Furia rightly asserts that “it may be a period piece, tied to the popularity of Al Capp’s cartoons in the 1950s.”
Yesterday Turner Classic Movies broadcast the film version of the musical and posted a clip of “The Country’s in the Very Best of Hands.” The clip is accessible here. The premise of “Li’l Abner” may be dated, but watching the film, I was struck by the timeliness of Mercer’s lyrics:
The Treasury says the national debt is climbing to the sky
And govermnent expenditures have never been so high.
It makes a feller get a gleam of pride within his eye,
to see how our economy expands,
The country’s in the very best of hands…
The money that they taxes us, that’s known as revenues,
They compound up collaterals, subtracts the residues.
Don’t worry ’bout the principle and interest that accrues,
They’re shipping all that stuff to foreign lands,
The country’s in the very best of hands.