In the summer of 1992, at the Democratic National Convention, Texas Governor Ann Richards said, “Well, you can put lipstick on a pig and call it Monique, but it's still a pig.” This referred to a plan by President George H.W. Bush to use U.S. warships to protect oil tankers in the Middle East. In the presidential campaign, Democratic and Republican candidates accused their opponents of putting “lipstick” on a pig, that is, of manipulating voters into accepting undesirable policies.
The inconsistency between pigs and cosmetics was expressed as early as 1926 by the colorful editor Charles F. Although the term “lipstick on a pig” was coined in the 20th century, many old phrases use the pig as a kind of standard to refer to the raw or undesirable. However, the phrase “lipstick on a pig” wasn't documented until the 20th century; lipstick itself wasn't invented until the 1880s. WASHINGTON — Barack Obama stuck his foot in his mouth today when he said, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig, which McCain's furious campaign immediately reported as an off-limits attack on his running mate Sarah Palin.
Many of the members of the Obama crowd stood up in delight, apparently taking the “pig” comment as a direct blow to Palin. Since then, “lipstick on a pig has peppered everyone's political jargon, from Charlie Rangel to Dick Cheney. When Barack Obama told a crowd at a campaign event on Tuesday: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig, McCain's campaign quickly became offended, claiming that the analogy was aimed at vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Putting “lipstick” on a pig would be a waste of time and a good lipstick; most people still wouldn't want to kiss one.
It is often said when you apply lipstick or whatever it is to try to camouflage the seriousness or absurdity of the situation. In 1991, at his first budgeting session, he said: “This is not another one of those agreements where you put lipstick on a pig and you call it a princess. McCain had used the phrase “lipstick” on a pig the previous year to describe an opponent's policies. The “lipstick” variant is relatively novel, not surprising, since the word lipstick itself dates only to 1880.