I sacrificed the third inning of the Giants-Cards game Monday night in favor of the presidential debate. The next time I switched back to the game, it was 7 to 0. About the same score as the debate at that point by my reckoning.
According to the people or institutes that collect such data, the president’s ventures into snarky-land turned off women in general but not men so much. I thought the “horses and bayonets” line was great fun. The definition of an aircraft carrier and a submarine that followed weren’t as good but still pretty good.
I think a presidential debate is a fine platform for a bit of good-natured humor. Of course we want a load of gravitas in our incumbents and candidates, but we want some fun too. How about Reagan’s memorable “There you go again” taunt to Jimmy Carter? That was fun.
And Sarah Palin’s “Say it ain’t so, Joe” was a hoot as well.
The ads from both sides paint the opposition as dark and sinister, black and white photos and spooky voice-overs. Been there. Seen that. I guess it must work really well for a lot of people considering how much money gets spent on attack ads every election year, but it doesn’t work for me.
I’d rather see some kind of “joke-off” between candidates. They could keep the same debate topics, domestic issues, foreign policy, economics but add a “candidates’ choice” or stand-up ad-lib tournament. After all, the best lines seem to come during the annual “roasts” or correspondents’ dinners — which folks like you and me don’t get invited to — more’s the shame.
I’m so OK with candidates using a little self-deprecating humor as both did at their jokey black tie event the other night. And a solid dose of sarcasm and irony wouldn’t be amiss sitting around a debate table instead of only out on the campaign trail the day after a debate.
The debate format would work with a few “Obamanomics” or “Romnesias” thrown in for spice. Humor after all has to have at least one sharp edge or it wouldn’t be funny. If all the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote did was chase each other around for 18 minutes, it wouldn’t be very funny. If Elmer Fudd quit hunting Bugs Bunny in the first couple of minutes of every cartoon, well, you get it.
I’m not talking pie-in-the-face here. That wouldn’t be very funny either, but something like “I’ll call your Five-Point Plan and raise you Welfare to Work” or “Take my Vice President. Please!” or “The president staggers into a bar. Bartender says ‘You’ve had enough pal.’ President says, ‘Just gimme four more and I’ll go quietly.’”
A segment of just Twitter-type-talk would be a kick. You know, who can use the abbreviations the most appropriately or in the cleverest way?
“Ur not my BFF, so STFU. LOL.” And the other would respond in kind, but I’m not savvy enough to know what that would look like.
Most of us probably don’t go around like Eeyore on a bad day, so why must we only get what we mostly get from our leaders and would-be leaders on those few occasions when we’d kind of like to see if they really are who they say they are?
Feigned outrage can be pretty funny if done the right way. But about all we get is dead serious feigned outrage and “tsk, tsks” from both sides.
Donald Trump challenged the president Wednesday to produce his school records and passport application in return for which, Trump would donate $5 million to the charities of Mr. Obama’s choice. Hard to resist, but instead of feigned outrage, I’d like to see the president double-dog dare the Donald.
“Ok Donald, I’ll give your favorite charities $6 million and all you have to do is come down to Washington and be my assistant for 24 hours. You can fetch my coffee and New York Times first thing in the morning, take the dog for his walk, pick up his poop (bare-handed), you know, easy stuff. Oh, and I’ll have a special assistant’s uniform just for you. It will be really cute. What do you say?”
Gov. Romney could have turned the president’s funny-snarky submarine thing into a big moment if he’d done a double-take, looked at the audience with the old Alfred E. Newman grin and said something like, “Golly, who knew?” or just a big shrug and an even bigger “Duh!” How fun would that have been?
And the real value would have been seeing how quickly each recovered and moved on. Scripted as the president is most of the time, occasionally there are unusual, odd circumstances such as when Gerald Ford fell down walking off the airplane in Japan, I think it was. And didn’t Bush senior throw up at a state dinner in China one time? Those are human, everyday things that happen to the rest of us — and to them too. Have a little fun with it.
Deadly serious as this might seem, we’ll be doing it all over again four years from now — “Duh!”
Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday.