Tom Brokaw said politics ain’t beanbag at the 2016 Iowa Caucus on NBC TV.
It is response to politicians who complain about the rough and tumble of the campaign trail, below-the-belt shots from their opponents or unfair treatment from the media.
It was first uttered by Mr. Dooley, an Irish-American character created by writer Finley Peter Dunne in an 1895 newspaper column. The full quote: “Sure, politics ain’t bean-bag. ‘Tis a man’s game, an’ women, childer’, cripples an’ prohybitionists ‘d do well to keep out iv it.”
Pundits have kept the expression alive. Just before Tuesday’s election, syndicated columnist Mark Shields wrote: “If Nov. 4 turns out to be a blue-ribbon day for Republicans, Obama will painfully learn once more the timeless wisdom of Peter Finley Dunne.” And after the election, The New York Post’s Bob McManus attacked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for running a campaign that was “thuggish, hypocritical and utterly without principal” before adding: “Big deal: Politics ain’t beanbag, as the Irish used to say, and Andrew Mark Cuomo woke up Wednesday morning sitting right where it matters most – in the catbird seat.”
Source: Political words have the power to confound, obscure, and even inspire. Taegan Goddard's Political Dictionary takes apart the language of politics to uncover its deeper meanings and broader significance. And http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/Politics-Voices/2014/1114/Politics-ain-t-beanbag