September 14, 2008

A TAD SLOW ON THE UPTAKE, TED:

Grand Old Wit: Since when are Republicans better at humor than Democrats? (Ted Widmer, Sept. 12, 2008, Slate)

When did the Republicans become the party of wit? Liberals don't like to admit it, but George W. Bush deserves some credit—the man can be funny, and making sardonic fun of "elites" has been a core part of his routine since he entered politics. As a candidate in 2000, he went on Letterman and did well, making fun of his talent for mangled syntax: "A lot of folks don't think I can string a sentence together, so when I was able to do so, it, uh—Expectations were so low, all I had to do was say, 'Hi, I'm George W. Bush.' " Ronald Reagan is remembered as a sincere, emotive kind of speaker, but he, too, had a cornball genius. He would hear a good joke, write it out on one of his cards, and deliver it again and again and again until it was perfect. For example: "Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I've come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." Or: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " Invariably, Reagan's jokes were about overspending Democrats, or clueless politicians, or people who tried to cut themselves off from the mainstream—exactly the kinds of people Palin was trying to throw to the pit bulls.

Rather than complaining about Palin's cruel barbs and W's smirking put-downs of "the angry left," liberals should reclaim laughter.


Except that the key to reclaiming it is shucking liberalism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2008 9:27 AM
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