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Sunday, October 24, 2004

Humor and the presidency 

David Gelernter has a little essay in the Los Angeles Times on the role of humor in a presidential campaign, and why his belief that a sense of humor is essential in a president compels him to vote for Bush. While he agrees that Bush is rarely laugh-out-loud funny on purpose, he has a gentle sense of humor ("Want some wood?") that Americans virtually require in their presidents. Why? Because we always regret it when we elect stiffs:
In modern times, we have occasionally elected a massively humorless president, and have always regretted it. It is no accident that Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter are the two (a) least funny and (b) most embarrassing presidents of modern history.

And if you don't think Jimmy Carter was, and is, embarrassing, you are almost certainly going to vote for John Kerry. Go ahead, nothing you see here will change your mind.

Gelernter's most illuminating paragraphs, though, tell us what we have learned about George W. Bush by watching John Kerry:
Granted: Sen. John F. Kerry is the perfect matte-black background for a man like Bush. Kerry brings out sterling qualities you never knew Bush had.

Bush is not pompous. Bush is not mean. Bush is not wooden. Bush could not be replaced by a humanoid robot without his friends ever noticing. Bush has friends. Bush is never patronizing. Until he ran for president against Kerry, Bush never used to beat people around the head with phony, meaningless, unverifiable statistics instead of speaking to the point. (Admittedly, he has now learned how, from Kerry.)

There are many on the Left, of course, who would object strenuously to this characterization of Bush -- they would say that his positions on various issues prove he's mean, for example -- but as a matter of personal reaction to individuals Bush seems as Gelernter describes him. And to me the most telling is the simple implication that George Bush has friends and John Kerry does not. Is this implication fair? I have no idea, but if John Kerry does not have old friends -- people who he keeps in touch with and steps up for even when he has no current need of them -- then he probably does not have the capacity to earn the respect of the average American.

2 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Oct 24, 10:32:00 AM:

Humor is always a key ingredient - in every aspect of life and in almost every situation. Bush adds humor when it is appropriate, but more importantly, Bush also has the ability to laugh at himself - I don't see that in Kerry. Kerry just isn't genuine; he is a "plastic man".

Being able to laugh at yourself while mixing in the appropriate amount of humor is characteristic of the people in this world who do have friends (both old and new), the people in this world who excel, and the people in this world who are very capable of leading. It's also a sign that these "leaders with friends" are very comfortable with themselves - they are secure. This comfort leads to solid decision making, something that I look for in my President.

I'd stand a pint with George any day. Genuine people always win in my book. What scares me is the inability of so many Americans to not see these character flaws in Kerry.

- Crusader  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Sun Oct 24, 12:31:00 PM:

Howdy! I wanted to direct you to the latest screed from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson - It neatly encapsulates many of my own feelings while being savage enough to bear Gonzo's name.

Fear and Loathing: Campaign 2004, or just come to Scrutiny Hooligans and read excerpts.  

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