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Laughter, the best politics?

I've always believed that a good sense of humor is not only important in a president, but critical to a successful president. In fact, I think that humor played a major role in every presidential election since 1980, with the possible exception of 2000.

I've written about this before, in reference to the 2004 campaign. Humor in a leader humanizes them, makes them more likable, easier for the rest of us to identify with them.

Recently, I've noticed a decided dearth of humor among the Democrats running for president. There's a seriousness that borders on downright grimness among them.

On the Republicans, though, at least a couple of the candidates have decided to at least have some fun. Earlier this week, I wrote about John McCain cutting loose a little on the campaign trail. And yesterday, I heard about another lower-tier candidate having some fun.

One of the big news magazines -- I think it was Time, but it might have been Newsweek -- sent a list of questions to the candidates. They were the standard types of questions you might ask someone during a survey or a job application. But one candidate pulled a straight-man act worthy of Leslie Nielsen.

First, they asked "what is your dream job?" Teacher was high on the list of responses, while apparently John Edwards said "factory supervisor" or some such thing. But Tom Tancredo's response? "President of the United States of America." You know, the job he's currently running for.

Another question was the classic "if you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you take with you?" There was a host of stock answers -- the Bible, my wife, etc. etc.

And then there was Tancredo: "A boat."

I think that might violate the "stranded" part of the question, but it's a damned good answer nonetheless.

Yeah, I recognize that this is a pretty shallow reason to vote for a candidate, and it would never be my sole factor in casting my ballot. But it's a good insight into the character and personality of the person, and as such should be considered.


Comments (21)

The old saying asks with th... (Below threshold)
kim:

The old saying asks with the works of which author would you most like to be stranded on a desert island with, and the answer is, of course, anonymous.

On the blogs and on the airwaves leftists are grim and mean. Rightists are amused.
===============================

Agree. To have a good sense... (Below threshold)
GeminiChuck:

Agree. To have a good sense of humor - especially self-deprecating humor - shows a person is very comfortable in his own skin. Certainly a good quality for presidents since they must make so many mindboggling decisions on a regular basis.

Agree. To have a good sense... (Below threshold)
GeminiChuck:

Agree. To have a good sense of humor - especially self-deprecating humor - shows a person is very comfortable in his own skin. Certainly an important quality for presidents having to make so many mindboggling decisions on a regular basis.

Can anyone name a tyrant wh... (Below threshold)
Murphy:

Can anyone name a tyrant who had a good sense of humor?

Uncle Joe was genial; Sadda... (Below threshold)
kim:

Uncle Joe was genial; Saddam seems downright hilarious. Half the time he looked like he was about break out in laughter.

I have it on good authority that Genghis Khan's stand-up had them rolling in the aisles, and Alexander's parties are still legendary.
==================================

Its a shame Pat Paulsen isn... (Below threshold)
epador:

Its a shame Pat Paulsen isn't around to run anymore.

Look at all the lib trolls ... (Below threshold)

Look at all the lib trolls here. Not a single one of them I think has a sense of humor.

bD and mantis are both hila... (Below threshold)
kim:

bD and mantis are both hilarious. No one else, and there are only rare sightings of such birds elsewhere.
=====================

You didn't know you were in... (Below threshold)
kim:

You didn't know you were in a protected ecosystem, did you? You've got to be kept alive for when the right wing gets grim and mean again.
================================

Al Franken thinks he... (Below threshold)

Al Franken thinks he's funny. Does that count?

They're not extinct, they w... (Below threshold)
kim:

They're not extinct, they were pinin' for the fjords, and have migrated.
=========================

Another question was the... (Below threshold)

Another question was the classic "if you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you take with you?" There was a host of stock answers -- the Bible, my wife, etc. etc.

And then there was Tancredo: "A boat."

Reminds me of the (probably apocryphal) story about a famous Christian (I forget whom it was) who was asked at a dinner party what one book he'd want with him if he was stranded on a desert island. The other guests apparently expected him to answer with the Bible, which they'd then ridicule him for, no doubt.

His answer: "Brown's Book of Shipbuilding."

ccg: It was GK Chesterton.<... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

ccg: It was GK Chesterton.

kim: Don't forget Cromwell and company's famous ink fight after signing the death warrant of King Charles. A classic!

Aw, come on .................. (Below threshold)
La Mano:

Aw, come on ................ Reid, Murtha, Pelosi ................. they look like a bag full of laughs.

What better clown is there than Teddy 'the red-nosed' Kennedy?

That was my response, too: ... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

That was my response, too: a boat.

Why would you want to bring your wife into the misery of being stranded on an island. That is really bizarre once you think about it.

The question is stupid to begin with, so the boat answer doesn't really violate any "rules."

The real question is whethe... (Below threshold)
La Mano:

The real question is whether you would bring Ginger or Mary Ann.

ccg: It was GK Chesterto... (Below threshold)

ccg: It was GK Chesterton.

That's the guy! Thanks, Bryan.

For some reason I kept wanting to say CS Lewis, but I knew it wasn't him. The way the brain works sometimes... [shaking head]

The difference in 2004 was ... (Below threshold)
LenS:

The difference in 2004 was very obvious on the candidates' visits to the Letterman show. Bush made fun of himself and his administration. Kerry did the same -- making fun of Bush etal. He was just too full of himself to ever laugh at himself. What a lack of self confidence that lack of self humor shows.

This humor didn't help this... (Below threshold)
Jim C.:

This humor didn't help this candidate, but it was good.

"Gov. (Adlai) Stevenson ran into a rather hostile introduction that you would not wish on your worst enemy," [Gerald] Gardner recalled. "He was addressing a Houston Baptist convention, running against Gen. Eisenhower at the time. He was introduced in this fashion: `Gov. Stevenson, we want to make it clear you are here as a courtesy because Dr. Norman Vincent Peale has instructed us to vote for your opponent.' Gov. Stevenson strolled to the microphone and said, `Speaking as a Christian, I find the Apostle Paul appealing and the Apostle Peale appalling.' "

Adlai would not have made m... (Below threshold)
kim:

Adlai would not have made much of a tyrant, though.

The rule with food fights, bD, is that they must not start until everyone is full.
================================

I was REALLY bored last nig... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

I was REALLY bored last night and watched a good chunk of the SNL show rehashing what happened there in the '90's. I think Lorne Michaels himself brought up that the Republicans they skewered were always good-natured about it, and would even agree to come on and help SNL bash them. One of the examples was Gulliani playing a cab driver moaning about the mayor of NYC and another was the first President Bush taping a message about the abuse he recieved from the show, using about every tick that Dana Carvey used to characterize him.

He said the Dems usually just acted wounded.




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