But let's be fair. David — also in those comments — came up with the first example of Obama humor: "You're likable enough, Hillary." I agree that was humor. I note too that it was directed at his opponent, sounded rather mean, and ended up hurting him.
An emailer reminded me of this post of mine from back in January:
I'm not declaring favorites in the presidential campaign, but I've got to say that stuff like this makes me love Obama, at least on a personal level:Now, that was good.Obama began by recalling a moment in Tuesday night's debate when he and his rivals were asked to name their biggest weakness. Obama answered first, saying he has a messy desk and needs help managing paperwork - something his opponents have since used to suggest he's not up to managing the country. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others, and Clinton said she gets impatient to bring change to America.
"Because I'm an ordinary person, I thought that they meant, 'What's your biggest weakness?'" Obama said to laughter from a packed house at Rancho High School. "If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. And then I could have said, 'Well, ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don't want to be helped. It's terrible.'"
So we could write a book called "The Wit and Humor of Barack Obama." But how thick would it be? You know, there was a book called "The Wit and Humor of Richard Nixon." Here's a Time Magazine article about it from 1969:
To many, the fact that Nixon has even a mild sense of humor comes as a surprise. And, in fact, the President did come by the gift of laughter, in public anyway, rather late in life. Perhaps because he felt he had to counterbalance his youth with seriousness for so many years—he was, at 39, the second youngest U.S. Vice President in history—Nixon was until last year the paradigm of sobriety. Then, at about the same time that people started talking about the new Nixon, he began sprinkling his speeches with one-liners.
Few, to be sure, were exactly memorable. "I'm trying to graduate from college myself this fall," Nixon would tell college audiences. "The Electoral College." A few were execrable. "It's one thing to give 'em hell," he said after Hubert Humphrey had made a well-publicized visit to Harry Truman. "It's another to give them Hubert." A new paperback, The Wit & Humor of Richard Nixon is necessarily brief (128 pages), has more than the usual amount of white space and includes Nixon's entire acceptance speech at Miami Beach, which contained not a scintilla of wit.
Some Nixon jokes, however, are genuinely funny. Talking to Virginia Republicans, he gently needled both a local G.O.P. official and himself. While he was preparing the itinerary for his South American trip in 1958, Nixon told how the official, Lee Potter, had noticed one omission. "Why don't you take in Caracas?" Potter had suggested. "It's a fun town." Said Nixon: "It sure was. I got stoned there."
IN THE COMMENTS: Mister Snitch says:
Obama has gotten less spontaneous and genuine (and 'funny') as he has gotten closer to the possibility of being elected. Note also some of the outrageous gaffes, truly worthy of a Dan Quayle or ANY verbal goof Bush might have ever made. He's cracking under the pressure, and it's not going to get any easier from here.It is really hard for him to risk a joke now, but I love that line. We know it resonates: There's a "Seinfeld" episode on the subject:
Geez, this was a NEW YORKER cartoon. The thing to say, to ingratiate himself to millions of middle-class Americans, was this: "You know, I never did get those New Yorker cartoons".
Even the New Yorker staff would have appreciated the gibe. And it would all be behind him by now. And us.
Elaine: Look at this cartoon in the New Yorker, I don't get this.
Jerry: I don't either.
Elaine: And you're on the fringe of the humor business.
Elaine: Hey! George look at this.
George: That's cute.
Elaine: You got it?
George: No, never mind.
Elaine: Come on, we're two intelligent people here. We can figure this out. Now we got a dog and a cat in an office.
Jerry: It looks like my accountant's office but there's no pets working there.
Elaine: The cat is saying, "I've enjoyed reading your E-mail."
George: Maybe it's got something to do with that 42 in the corner.
Elaine: It's a page number.
[The New Yorker cartoon editor] Mr. Elinoff: Oh! yeah... That's a rather clever jab at inter-office politics, don't you think?
Elaine: Ah, ah... yeah... uh but, why is it that the, that the animals enjoy reading the email?
Mr. Elinoff: Well Miss Benes. Cartoons are like gossamer and one doesn't dissect gossamer... heh... hemm...
Elaine: Well you don't have to dissect if you can just tell me. Why this is suppose to be funny?
Mr. Elinoff: Ha! It's merely a commentary on contemporary mores.er)
Elaine: But, what is the comment?
Mr. Elinoff: It's a slice of life.
Elaine: No it isn't.
Mr. Elinoff: Pun?
Elaine: I don't think so.
Mr Elinoff: Vorshtein?
Elaine: That's not a word.... You have no idea what this means do you?
Mr Elinoff: No.
Elaine: Then why did you print it?
Mr. Elinoff: I liked the kitty.