Sunday, November 4, 2012

Presidential Humor

Okay, everybody take a break from angry partisan politics for a few minutes.  The other night on Jay Leno the President was asked "what's this thing with you and Trump?"  The President responded with "well it goes way back when we were growing up in Kenya...Trump was just a lousy soccer player".

Okay, we now have learned that the joke was scripted.  But it was funny, and it got me to thinking about how humor has eased political tension on many occasions, and how it can sometimes take the wind out of the sails of critical attack.

John Kennedy was my favorite.  Once at a Gridiron Dinner, Kennedy was roasted all night, by friends and foe alike, about his family's immense wealth.  After John had been jabbed all night about his billionaire father's financing his political campaign, he soon took his turn at the podium.  He then pretended to take a message out of his pocket and said "I've just received a cable from my father...he says I am not to spend one dime more than necessary to win...says he'll be damned if he'll pay for a landslide.

Kennedy and Reagan both had great press conferences.  Without fail, sometime during the discussion of serious world and national events, both never failed to offer a little nugget of humor to ease the tension so prevalent between politician and press.

I can still remember a bit of one of the Kennedy press conferences in which a very young White House reporter Helen Thomas was giving Kennedy hell about some national problem.  Thomas has always been known to be abrasive at these conferences.  When Helen had finally laid out her long indictment of the President, she asked Kennedy "what are you doing about it!"...Kennedy laughed, paused, then said, "well Helen, I'm sure not enough".

Kennedy and Reagan were the ultimate charmers.  They were able to deflect anger with humor, which often was the key to achieving agreements with their political adversaries.

Bill Clinton wasn't bad either; one lady once asked Clinton in public forum "how can you have the nerve to walk into church on Sunday morning toting a bible after your actions with Monica Lewinski?"  Clinton replied, "well, ma'am, with what I've done,  I don't know anyone more in need of attending church toting a bible".

I miss the times when political humor was funny, and not solely based on anger and hate and sarcasm.  I tire of arrogant politicians with haughty attitudes, who feel they must always be right, always be all knowing, and afraid to be just "human".

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