So What's the Punchline?

Being President - as Dub incessantly reminds us - is "hard work". They shuttle around the world attending endless boring meetings with other overbearingly dull diplomats. They're awakened at 2 am to hear that an obscure Third World country just invaded their even more obscure neighbor. Good news is a rare thing for a President. Is it any wonder that Presidents in the modern era have atrophied funny bones?

Many of them are funny, but that's not the same as having a sense of humor. Our Malaprop-in-Chief wows us with his "Bushisms" and his folksy, down-home homilies are frequently, but unintentionally, hilarious. Reagan told jokes, but the punch lines were never as funny as he thought they were. There's nothing less funny than a comedian laughing at his own jokes while crickets chirp loudly around the room. Carter had his "attack of the killer bunny". Bush the Elder did a lowbrow gig by puking in the Japanese Prime Minister's lap. Poor, blighted Gerry Ford made so many pratfalls he seemed like Moe, Larry, and Curly's long lost cousin. Chevy Chase is eternally grateful to him tough.

None of these men laughed much at themselves or told genuinely funny jokes. When Clinton said, "it depends on what the meaning of is is", he didn't find it nearly as funny as the rest of the country. Dubya didn't think Stephen Colbert's recent standup bit was very funny either. He and Laura shot daggers like a circus knife-thrower on crack.

Our society has become so concerned with Presidents "being Presidential" they leave little room for the occasional quip or flash of humanity. Presidential candidates who don't tow the "Presidential" line can suffer greatly for it.

For example, John Kerry couldn't see the punch line of a joke unless it was riding in a swift boat and firing the 50 cal. at him from point blank range. We see how his wooden candidacy fared. Bob Dole - who speaks about himself in the third person and looks uncannily like the Grinch - is known as a pretty jovial guy in private, but get him on the campaign trail and he responds to jokes with the gusto of your average pencil holder. Howard Dean accidentally killed his campaign when he channeled a high school cheerleader at a victory party. "Crazy Howard" laughed at the time, but his candidacy soon went down in flames. Like a real crash, his wasn't funny either.

The world is a scary and violent place. Granted, it's hard to find funny when you're the world's most powerful man, but a joke here and there wouldn't kill anyone. It'd be nice to see some humanity under the dark suit, power tie, and flag lapel pin.

I'd much rather see a President laugh at himself than lean over the edge of the podium and pretend to be a modest good ol' boy from Crawford when he's actually nothing of the sort. Acting like the common man is not the same as being the common man, and those annoying smirks and weak "heh, heh, hehs", don't substitute for humor in a man as craven as George. I almost prefer Dick "The Roastmiester" Cheney. Nope, there's no pretense with that man. What you see is what you get - greedy, mean, and stingy with a smile.

US Presidents are perhaps the most photographed objects on Earth and I'd sure like them a lot better if they told the occasional joke, attended the odd comedy roast, or simply laughed at some of the stupid things they do. We need that commitment because if you can't laugh you'll cry.

Boo frickin' hoo.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, May 03, 2006

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