Saturday, August 25, 2012

Humor – and Lack of It – in Presidential Campaign

One man’s sense of humor is another man’s sense of humus.
August 24, 2012 –  To  Mitt Romney’s remark in Michigan yesterday about himself  and his wife, Ann “ No one ever asked to see our birth certificates.  They know this is a place where we were and raised”, Obama’s campaign retorted angrily, “ Romney embraced the most strident issue in his party instead of standing up to them.  Embracing unfounded conspiracy theories distracted from the real issues. America doesn’t need a birther-in-chief.”
To the "birther-in-chief" retort,  Romney responded, “I’ve said throughout this campaign and before.  He was born in the U.S.  This was fun about us and coming home.  And humor, you know, we’ve got to have a little humor in this campaign.” 

A little humor may be in order, but so far Romney’s humor often comes across as wooden and forced and not his strong suit.
Humor is tricky.  As humorist E. B. White said, “Humor," said White, "can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process, and its innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind."
But as Peggy Noonan said of Romney in today WSJ,”America Meets Mr. Romney,"
He must use humor, for three reasons. One is that wit breaks through and sharpens all points. Another is that it is natural to him. Before the voting in Iowa, he wryly told a friend that the caucuses were like the LaBrea Tar Pits: "No one comes out the way they went in." On a conference call recently, he asked a question of his staff. No one answered. Mr. Romney waited. "Bueller? Bueller?" he said, in a perfect imitation of Ben Stein. “Third, President Obama can't stand to be made fun of. His pride won't allow it, his amour propre cannot countenance a joke at his own expense. If Mr. Romney lands a few very funny lines about the president's leadership, Mr. Obama will freak out. That would be fun, wouldn't it?”
Why is Obama so sensitive and so easy to outrage? 
  • It may come from his background.   In the film "2016," now in local theatres,  based on Dinesh Souza’s book,  The Roots of Obama’s Rage," the narrative is that Obama was born in Hawaii, but harbors strong  anti-colonialism beliefs from his time spent in Indonesia,  from visits to his father’s homeland, Kenya, and from his work as a community organizer in Chicago.  These beliefs are that wealthy developed nations got where they are by pillaging  poor nations and that individual wealth in America depends on bilking and robbing the poor.  That one of his first acts as President was to send the bust of Winston Churchill, whom he regarded as a greedy colonialist, back to regarded by some as evidence of his mindset.
·         It may also come from tDemocrat Party  believers who assert that  they, and only they,  are to be taken  “seriously” as the governing party, as the “serious” protectors of the underclasses, which includes the middle classes, of America; and as the only "serious "intellects.  Their political opponents, they maintain, represent the wealthy and business classes,  who are only interested in exploiting  the rest of us.  Consequnetly, Democrats tend to be devoid of a sense of humor and are unduly defensive and sensitive to any humor used to portray them as reckless 'tax and spend liberals" or as proponents of the philosophy,“Damn the Deficit, Full Speed Ahead."  We shall see how this line of thinking plays out in the November elections.
Tweet:  Romney’s remark about his and wife’s birth certificates triggered outrage among Dems who saw the remark not as  humor but as a smear.



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