July 14, 2008

The Wit and Humor of Barack Obama.

Okay, I raised the subject of Obama's humorlessness. "I have no response to that" was all he said about that New Yorker cover, and I speculated that he could have laughed. Then I frontpaged a comment — made by my younger son — that read: "He's always been dead serious about everything. Has he ever said anything funny?"

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:
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.'"
Now, that was good.

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.

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.
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:
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.

George: Hey!

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.

62 comments:

chuck b. said...

Prediction: He'll be invited on SNL and afterwards we'll discuss his funniness of his performance, whether or not it was scripted funniness (therefore fake, and unbelievable).

Whatever--I do desire to see all my political candidates on SNL. In drag, if at all possible. (Happy to have not gone there w/ Hillary.)

Christy said...

I don't think you can count the Rancho High School comment as humor. It sounds scripted to me, probably by a staffer trying to lighten him up. But no way to tell for sure.

chuck b. said...

(I guess we'll be waiting for that until September or October for next TV season to begin.)

Eli Blake said...

Nixon didn't have to say anything funny. He was funny anyway. I'm not even so sure that sometimes when you'd hear Nixon on the radio, it wasn't really Rich Little standing in for him.

As far as Obama being overly serious, that is a problem at times. But then again sometimes an ill-considered joke can get a candidate in more trouble than something he is serious about saying (i.e. John Kerry's attempt at a joke 'stuck in Iraq' which for all intensive purposes ended his try and another nomination this year.)

Frankly, we are facing some of the biggest challenges we've faced in decades and I'd rather have a President who is serious about solving them than one who can crack a good one-liner.

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

Thank God Americans can be funny even when a President is not a yuckmeister himself.

Have you guys seen a roundup of Late Night jokes on Obama? Oh God. Still laughing. They're not mean-spirited either. They're just plain funny.

"Insiders claim that even though Jesse Jackson supports Barack Obama publicly for president, privately he doesn't like him. You know, it's kind of like Bill with Hillary."

--

"Today Jesse tried to reach out to Obama, and Obama said, 'Keep your hands where I can see them!'"


~Jay Leno

"Both McCain and Senator Barack Obama are trying to woo voters who are outside their natural demographic. In this election, for Senator Obama, that means trying to reach working class, non-Muslim white women who love America."

~Jon Stewart

"Barack's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, the guy is everywhere. ... He's making speeches. He's on the radio. And Reverend Wright says he'd rather just go home and retire, but the money Hillary is paying him is so good."

--

"Of course, the Republicans will not let this Reverend Wright controversy die. You know, they're trying to keep it in the news. Like, today they said for the wedding of President Bush's daughter, he's gonna be the minister."


~Jay Leno

Cheers,
Victoria

Ann Althouse said...

"John Kerry's attempt at a joke 'stuck in Iraq' which for all intensive purposes ended his try and another nomination this year"

He was, however, able to continue for unintensive purposes, whatever those were.

George said...

Dick and Pat were having marital problems.

Of a sexual nature.

So Dick went to see his old football coach for advice.

It seems that Pat did not enjoy fellatio.

His coach said, "Dick, you gotta keep running that play until you get it down pat."

walter neff said...

John McCain isn't so good at jokes either. He told this one at the La Raza conferance and pissed off everybody:

A Mexican family crosses over the border to the Land of Milk and Honey where the streets are paved with gold. But the husband can find no work.

His family is hungry, so he takes a walk to a quiet place at the foot of a big hill, kneels at the base of a tree, and begins to pray: "Sweet Jesus, please show me a way to feed my family..."

Eyes closed, the Mexican does not see the Black guy coming over the top of the hill, who is struggling wildly with a broken grocery sack. When the Mexican man opens his eyes, a large wheel of cheddar cheese had rolled down the hill and lands at his feet!

"Oh, thank you Jesus, thank you!" he cries, grabs the cheese, and runs straight home. Upon returning home, he gives the cheese to his wife and instructs her to make nachos.

"But wouldn't you rather have cheese enchiladas and burritos and other things?" she inquires. "No," the husband says, "Jesus sent this to me with a message... As I ran home, I kept hearing Him yell,

'THAT'S NACHO CHEESE! THAT'S NACHO CHEESE!'

vbspurs said...

McCain being funny.

"That's right, fight amongst yourselves."

MadisonMan said...

He was, however, able to continue for unintensive purposes,

(snicker)

George said...

Nixon on Laugh In

A brilliant bit of politics.

This is what the show was like. Tiny Tim at 0:26 and John Wayne at 0:44.

walter neff said...

Lack of balls is contagious.

vbspurs said...

Nixon on Laugh In

Wow, the loop makes it creepy.

This is what the show was like.

Maybe it's one of those generational things, but I have watched outtakes of Laugh-In, and just didn't find any of it funny.

And what was this obsession with the "up-down" views American shows had? Brady Bunch, Laugh-In, Hee Haw. Always people popping up or over.

It was nice to see Doug Fairbanks at 0:09, Jr. though. Thanks, George!

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

JFK's humour in action.

Listen to him reflect on the burdens of the Presidency, and then answer back about the same topic, during a Press Conference.

You know, Jack Kennedy was a very special guy. Obama is no Jack Kennedy.

George said...

One thing that made Laugh-In wild was its fast pace. Some bits lasted only 5-10 seconds. No one did that then.

It was beyond hip—naughty, but silly, making the shocking changes of the '60s palatable to Middle America by means of pretty girls in micro-minis.

Plus, Tiny Tim's first appearance was the freakiest thing anybody had ever seen. Absolute overnite sensation.

AJ Lynch said...

Genuine humor connotes self-confidence Ann.

Kirby Olson said...

President Garfield had a wonderful sense of humor and it was said that he could have made his living as a vaudeville star.

Calvin Coolidge had some memorable bits of humor. He used to call his secretary into the Oval Office and then hide, and then jump out.

Humor is probably a necessary but not a sufficient ingredient for presidential greatness.

I think Lincoln's ability to be deeply serious was a nice trait. That Gettysburg Address was something else.

vbspurs said...

I think Lincoln's ability to be deeply serious was a nice trait.

His political career was "launched" when he realised he could hold an audience of rail-splitters spell-bound with simple homespun tales of the prairies.

Basically, he was the original Will Rogers, which America used to produce by the bushel.

Not so much anymore.

What happened? Has America lost her charm, the humour of the prairies?

Yes. Stand-up killed the Presidency.

Cheers,
Victoria

Simon said...

Eli Blake said...
"John Kerry's attempt at a joke 'stuck in Iraq' which for all intensive purposes ended his try...."

For all intents and purposes. When is that corruption going to die?!

walter neff said...

His college buddies always said that Barry was a funny guy. When he was pledging his frat they had this big costume party. He was struggling to decide what to wear to be cool and ironic and impress the pledge master. Then he had a bright idea. When the pledge master answered the door, he found Barry standing there with no shirt and no socks on. "What the hell are you supposed to be?" he asked.. "A premature ejaculation," said young Barry Obama, "I just came in my pants!"

former law student said...

for all intensive purposes ended his try...."

For all intents and purposes. When is that corruption going to die?!


Oh really? I would of thought they were one-in-the-same.

It's a different sort of mondegreen.

Cedarford said...

In his later years Nixon grew more spiritual - and according to the Democrats and Republicans and think-tankers that consulted him - more out of his introverted shell, quite funny and self-deprecating. Not with stand-up jokes, but with full anecdotes from memory that made fun of himself and the politicians and fellow statesmen he met over the years.

*************
In the comments on the Obama cartoon, one thing I saw no mention of in my reading was Barack's head swollen 5 times the size of his wife's. And in Stalinist side profile. I thought that was an obvious riff on his swollen ego.
*************
I do hold him capable of good humor...a far better prospect than that moralistic prig Jimmy Carter. Althouse is right - his taunt about emulating the insincere smarminess of Edwards and Hillary on a personal fault...was perfect.

From Obama shill Matthew Yglesias -

I keep reading people debunking the idea that Obama is a messianic, saint-like figure and people criticizing the idea that Obama is a messianic, saint-like figure. Indeed, I've read so much commentary on the subject of how people shouldn't believe that Obama is a messianic, saint-like figure that I've become convinced that nobody actually believes that he is.

Yeah, right! Pity Team Axelrod doesn't believe it isn't true. The Grand Seal of Obama. Surrogates saying wisdom, peace, and life alteration comes from experiencing the impact of the Obama - if people only listen.
Obama himself saying future generations would mark the day he clinched the nomination as "the moment the sick began to be cured, the oceans rise slowed, the Planet started healing".

Latest stunt of course by Team Axelrod is saying their vessel is so big, so important, so saintlike and messianic that unlike all past Presidents and candidates...a Convention Hall is just too small. It confines his "rock star" Greatness, and causes too much pain in the deep spiritual yearning of young women to see him, breath the same air - and the need in liberal Jews and Gentiles to be morally absolved of their sins by a Black Messiah.

Thus the planned 3-hour long Obamagasm at Mile High Stadium. His Greatness can expand to the rafters, he is too big, too potent a redeemer to be considered on a par with smaller men content to little convention halls like JFK, FDR, Reagan..

He will start with a a surrogate black making tribute to Holy Saint Martin, another messianic saint-like figure, on the 45th anniversary of his plagarized "I have a Dream" speech. Then his celebrity supporters will be trotted out, and inspiring poems to honor Obamessiah will be read. Then it is planned he "Come Forth" to adulation and read what the Team Axelrod writers have prepared for him on Teleprompter in his unique, honey-dripping black preacher oratorical style.

Chris Matthews will pronounce it "soaring" a "true inheritor of America's Greatest Man (MLK)" and announce that the tingling in his legs has progressed to a full raging hard-on and that he will pray to both God and Obama to give thanks for his "life-altering speech".

Shale Nelson said...

This:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rhPxSm9Es0w

is one of the funniest political smack downs I've ever seen. And it was totally off-the-cuff.

bearbee said...

Some Obama humor. He sure had his audience yukking it up.

Barack Obama humour

Senator Barack Obama Waterloo, Iowa 12-15-07 Humor
Barack Obama Talks About His Cousin

blake said...

Prediction: He'll be invited on SNL and afterwards we'll discuss his funniness of his performance, whether or not it was scripted funniness (therefore fake, and unbelievable).

I think scripted humor should count, if it works. Telling a joke well is at least as hard as writing a joke. Lotsa standups have writing help. And lotsa standups do funny bits where there are no jokes at all.

Whatever--I do desire to see all my political candidates on SNL. In drag, if at all possible. (Happy to have not gone there w/ Hillary.)

How could one tell if Hil(l)ary's in drag?

blake said...

I don't think "You're likable enough, Hillary" was a joke, by the way.

I think, at that point, Obama was the initial wave of popularity and the Clinton attack was, "Well, it's just because he so gosh-darned likable, and not because he's got the chops."

So I think he was trying to downplay that his success was due to his charisma.

William said...

Kennedy had a sense of humor because early on he recognized and accepted the absurdity of his own life. Later on we discovered how many contradictions his life contained and how deftly that wry expression was used to cover a grimace....There is much in Obama's life that does not make sense but the absurdity at the core of his existence is too frightening to kid about. The Furies will not be disarmed with a wisecrack. It is necessary for him not to stray from his narrow path, nor even reflect about his inability to stray from a narrow path. Obama the faultless family man and candidate is a creature of his own creation. If he starts poking at it, it might pop like an over puffed balloon.

shadow said...

During one of the debates Obama was asked about the statement that Bill Clinton was the first black president. He said that "Bill Clinton did have an enormous affinity with the African-American community" that was "well-earned." And then added that he would have to "investigate more of Bill's dancing ability, you know, and some of this other stuff before I can accurately judge whether he was in fact a brother." He got a big laugh from Hillary, Edwards, and the audience.

If you watch him in a casual setting, like the Daily Show, it's easy to see he has a good sense of humor.

Mister Snitch! said...

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.

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.

Kirby Olson said...

Going head to head, I think McCain will have the self-confidence, and hence the humor. Obama will come off as squeamish and prissy and easily alarmed. McCain will pound him into a pulp with jibes.

And every punch will be above the belt.

Obama will turn and try to kick MCcain with agist jokes, or something along those lines.

We should have 15 rounds every night untl November. Throw in Ralph Nader and the new Green Candidate.

McCain will have no problem with this, and will wipe them all off the map.

fcai said...

Yule sea alot of intensive misteaks if your reeding the interwebs. Sum people can knot rite sew good. But irregardless, we kepe reeding. Thin we get stoopid...

I hear Spiro Agnew was a real laugh riot. And Obama, you are no Agnew.

matthew said...

Maybe it's just me, but something about not being humorous, strikes me as phlegmatic.

And Obama's already had a SNL skit, and it was entirely unfunny. (This isn't exactly unique though. Most SNL skits since Norm McDonald did Bob Dole have seemed to lack 'jokes.') McCain did quite well.

fcai said...

Cedarford - it is good to see you writing here - I enjoyed your work on the Duke Hoax case, and you have lost none of your ability to cut to the truch of these stories. Keep writing, dude, it's good stuff...

Aw crap, I am going all Chris Matthews here - please disregard this comment.

Helen Cadogan said...

Obama has no trouble at all laughing at other people. He has no trouble tossing off zingers designed to make mock of others, but he's the Obamessiah, and it is against the laws of Barack and Michelle for the Obamessiah to be laughed at or to laugh at himself.

Given his delusions of grandeur, it's a dangerous thing in him that he can't laugh at himself. That NYer cover, he could've done a fantastic riff on it that would have endeared him to a lot of people. Lots of folks could've wound up saying, "y' know, he's all right." Instead, Obama winds up looking like the self-important moron that he is.

Or, perhaps he's just insecure. It takes a great deal of self-confidence to laugh at oneself. Ask Dubya and Cheney.

George said...

O, America, the drug-toking and heroin-addict-in-the-deli-refrigerated-meat-locker befriending, Allah worshipping and to Mekka bending, surfboarding, private school going, Iraqi billionaire befriending, humorless, Rezko-loving, shystery Blair Underwoody, half-breed, dictator talking-to-without-preconditions, atheistic mothered, two-fathered bigamistic into-America sneaking, condescending, secretly Jew hating, grandeur delusioning, prissy, Petraeus disrespecting, community "organizing," scripted, ball-less, dress-and-sandal-and-turban-and-brassiere wearing, not wearing a flag lapel pin and burning it, our holiest of holies, in the Oval Office fireplace, Gitanes sucking and Nicorette nibbling, Afrocentric church attending, messanic, saint-like, sticking a fork in it, sleeper agent of the Red Skull and Baron Zemo, imperfectly vesseled, Scarlett Johanssen white women lusting secretly for and e-mailing, eagle choking, Osama spying, Deadhead and Dave Matthews Band iPod playlisting, 100 percent ADA rated, present voting, doomed soon-to-be-giving-a-heartbreaking-speech-at-the-Democratic-convention Teddy Kennedy ass kissing, back seat of limo downlowing and Peruvian speed bump sniffing, hot tempered, Caroline hiring, pacifistic, SpongeBob enjoying, under-the-bus throwing, stuffing kittens in a burlap sack and knotting it tight and tossing it off a bridge past midnight, terrorist bomb in the Pentagon ladies room enjoying, married to a Jackie O-imitatin' bitch, mentored by a negro Communist poet, with the middle-name of-a-WMD-using-dictator-and-Shia-martyr B. Hussein Obama is at our door.

O, America.

Why will no one listen?

Guess I'll just have to pray to Jesus.

Patm said...

I've noticed,also, that Obama has lost his sense of humor in the campaign. He also said recently, "I'm not allowed to have fun anymore."

Perhaps he's simply not cut out for the job. A president can't wear the pressure of it all on his sleeve, and a self-effacing sense of humor is not only desirable, it could be essential.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Althouse isn't just a ditz, she's a ditz who keeps on being a ditz while the house is on fire.

vbspurs said...

Kennedy had a sense of humor because early on he recognized and accepted the absurdity of his own life. Later on we discovered how many contradictions his life contained and how deftly that wry expression was used to cover a grimace....

What a perfect psychohistory reading of a man's life, William, if I may say.

A few add-ons:

Kennedy didn't take himself seriously (he wasn't allowed to in that boisterous Irish macho culture), though he had a hidden fund of iron inside that I think surprised even himself, at times.

He didn't realise that it didn't come from the toughening up doled out by his taskmaster dad (who loved his children fiercely and affectionately). It came from his steely but undemonstrative mother, who he resented for this lack of affection.

This is a subversive recipe for a deep yearning to be loved, aligned to a deep need to show you don't care.

And as we all know, subversiveness is the starting point of all good comedy.

If you notice in the Youtube clip I showed, the very first segment shows JFK with Sarge Shriver, flying by the seat of their pants at an awards event.

Instead of becoming touchy or pompous, the young President makes a quip about his amateurishness, whilst tugging his shirt collar in a wonderful vaudevillian gesture.

Try as I might, I can never imagine Obama that raw, that vulnerable, that public in his self-deprecation.

There is much in Obama's life that does not make sense but the absurdity at the core of his existence is too frightening to kid about. The Furies will not be disarmed with a wisecrack. It is necessary for him not to stray from his narrow path, nor even reflect about his inability to stray from a narrow path. Obama the faultless family man and candidate is a creature of his own creation. If he starts poking at it, it might pop like an over puffed balloon.

Beautiful.

Cheers,
Victoria

Patrick said...

Waaaaaaay harsh!

If he were to do a Fort Worthless Jim effort on either of his memoirs, he's have an Encyclopaedia Obamica of his own.

vbspurs said...

Mister Snitch wrote:

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".

EXACTLY.

Just once be "normal", a regular guy, not the perpetual Harvard Law Review president tryint to prove he belongs.

Do you remember during Hillary Clinton's Senatorial run, when she donned a Yankees cap and claimed she had been a lifelong fan?

That was so phoney.

I recall a Conservative commentator saying he would've respected her a lot more if she had said naturally,

"I'm not used to this cap, but I'll tell you, I feel more at home in it every minute"

Why lie? Why be touchy? There is a fine line between being honest and knowing it's going to be a Gotcha moment for enemy pundits, so you don't give them the opening to mock you.

But you can also choose to just being honest but natural.

Politicians fail because they are always thinking of the first, whilst not trusting the public just want the second.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

/PIMFs galore in my post above...sorry about that.

From Inwood said...

Prof A

"Intensive purposes", of course a malaprop as used here, nevertheless makes sense in a Yogi Berra kind of way: I mean could it be that the reason Obamessiah has no sense of humor is that his purposes are so intensive?

From Inwood said...

Cedarford

I’m surprised that you didn’t suggest that the reason we’ve had so few Presidents with a sense of humor is because there have been no Jewish Presidents! Are your “transnational Jews” funny?

MadisonMan said...

The McCain SNL bit was funny -- well written funny. The presentation was lacking. Whenever McCain gets that creepy half-grin -- (shudder).

vbspurs said...

McCain gets that creepy half-grin

He's always had that. When he was young, he looked like a conceited asshole.

But after he endured beatings where his front teeth were knocked off with rifle butts by his torturers, he had to rework the facial muscles to resemble something like a smile.

So you know, I cut him and his cheepmunk cheeks some slack.

Rick said...

"intensive purposes" I used that phrase that way writing something when I was in 8th grade.

I was so embarrassed. It only took 35 years for someone else to do it too. Now that someone else did it I finally feel free somehow.

Hey maybe that phrase means something.

Revenant said...

The younger McCain looks like he could be Tom Cruise's brother.

blake said...

That's actually pretty sound advice, there, Victoria. Can't we just have candidates be gracious guests rather than pretending to be born-and-raised whatever.

blake said...

The McCain SNL bit was funny -- well written funny. The presentation was lacking. Whenever McCain gets that creepy half-grin -- (shudder).

Actually, I thought that helped.

blake said...

Though the prospect of looking at that for four years ... feh.

vbspurs said...

That's actually pretty sound advice, there, Victoria. Can't we just have candidates be gracious guests rather than pretending to be born-and-raised whatever.

Thanks, Blake!

I actually count it a point in Obama's favour that he hasn't gone the rout of Kerry, with the duck-hunting stunts, etc.

I think we're all waiting for the "Dukakis in the Tank Moment" for either candidate, because there's always one.

Frankly, Obama stands more to lose. There's not much an old white dude can do, to lose street cred.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Though the prospect of looking at that for four years ... feh.

Althouse Poll!

"Most Annoying Politician Ticks?"

- Nixon's hands in the air "victory" sign

- Hillary's Cackle

- Bush Jr's chafing thighs cowboy swagger

- Dick Cheney's stroke victim evil smile

- Obama's snobby turned-up nose glare

- Insert Your Choice Here

Ann Althouse said...

Ticks! Full body check!

MadisonMan said...

Most entertaining politician tics:

(1) Gerald Ford falling down.

There is no #2.

Michael McNeil said...

“Intensive purposes” sounds like a lot of the typos I produce in my own writing; which often, I find, go beyond mere letter interchanges, to alter the word (or sometimes several words) typed into other word(s) which sound phonetically like the intended string. I attribute it to a typical malfunction (or insufficient error correction) in one’s own speech-writing programs. Moreover, it’s the sort of thing that external spelling checkers oftentimes can’t catch (though grammatical analysis might help) — thus, proofread!

Michael McNeil said...

Great post, Ann. It’s certainly grown since I first encountered it. Love that Seinfeld skit (which I hadn’t seen before; I’m not much of a Seinfeld fan) in the context — so naturally I had to do a search on “Vorshtein”, only to stumble upon this entry by Chris Selley on the Macleans blog, which well illustrates, I think, the point about New Yorker-style cartoons (even though it appeared in the Globe and Mail).

Chris writes that they “have agonized over this editorial cartoon from Saturday’s Globe and Mail (click to enlarge), and we have no idea what it’s supposed to mean. Is this Quebec’s present? Its future? By what mischance did this friendly merchant find himself with his multiethnic panoply-on-wheels in Hérouxville, of all places? What has this unimpressed-looking man been served, and why did he order it if he didn’t want it?”

Yet, I think the cartoon is hilarious and perfectly comprehensible — though I also love that comment from the Seinfeld skit: “Cartoons are like gossamer and one doesn't dissect gossamer…”, which seems quite appropos to the situation, and perhaps reflects the problem Chris and the Macleans staff are having with it.

Michael McNeil said...

Well, perhaps some of the subtext of that cartoon isn’t perfectly or fully comprehensible to a non-local, but still in the main I think it is.

Baron Zemo said...

George is a very smart man.

Ann Althouse said...

MadisonMan said..."Most entertaining politician tics: (1) Gerald Ford falling down. There is no #2."

Jimmy Carter, attacked by a rabbit.

Oh, the 70s!

WMBP said...

I don't care if the president cracks jokes. If he's a natural wit, like Lincoln or JFK or Reagan, it's okay. Otherwise, I'd prefer that he didn't. I don't recall Washington making any jokes, or Adams, and I don't recall Jefferson cracking wise, either.

And I wish they'd stay off the comedy talk shows, too.

blake said...

I don't care if the president cracks jokes. If he's a natural wit, like Lincoln or JFK or Reagan, it's okay. Otherwise, I'd prefer that he didn't. I don't recall Washington making any jokes, or Adams, and I don't recall Jefferson cracking wise, either.

Well, it was a while ago, but I seem to recall that Washington was very fond of bawdy humor, and wasn't above making "lobsterback" jokes--an early form of "clap humor" similar to Jon Stewart's.

And I wish they'd stay off the comedy talk shows, too.

Well, really, the Internet was hardly viable in the early days of the Republic, so they had to go on those classic ol' shows like "Poor Richard Tonight" and "Locke & Hobbes".

How else could the American people get to know them?