The Glib Factor - Segment 2: The Laughing Game
By A. D. Freudenheim

10 December 2000

Vice President Gore has yet another reason to concede the election, and as gracefully as possible at this late stage: a (second) Bush presidency may offer us a terrific new era in American political humor.

With Gore as president, his stiff demeanor would be an easy target, but it would also become stale quite quickly. Gore's lack of personality would result in a style of humor that would be similarly bland; it would probably find itself reduced to jokes about how much we all miss Clinton, once the initial novelty of a Gore presidency faded. At least Clinton slept around.

Dubya, though, is in a class all by himself, part of a proud, in-recovery tradition of sub-Animal House frat boys. With his unique Ivy League cum Texas good-old-boy demeanor, and having safely established himself as the intellectual progeny of Dan Quayle and Gerald Ford - not to mention being the son and namesake of a former president - American comedians will truly get to flex their muscles, giving us laughs a-plenty about our new president, or allowing us to double our pleasure with jokes about the father and son together.

That Bush makes it easy is no reason to back off. American political culture is predicated on the simple and highly democratic notion that if you screw up, we (the people) will laugh at you. Sure, it sounds silly to state it that way, but think about the psychological importance of the act of laughing. America has never sent any elected leader to the guillotine. We've had our moments of internal warfare, but even after the Civil War, the Union re-assimilated the South (or tried), and at worst the Confederacy leaders were jailed. (Of course, if Dubya had been in Lincoln's place, they'd have all gotten the death penalty.)

Other than that, we've had mostly political wars. It's true that if you screw up very badly, we might then vote you out of office, but those are the risks that come with the job - and it doesn't always work out that way, either. President Clinton managed to cheat on his wife while in the Oval Office; he maintained high public ratings, even throughout the worst moments of the scandal; survived a Congressional impeachment trial; and now his (humorless) wife is a Senator from New York. Isn't America great? With odds like that, George Bush is going to be a four-year fiesta! Clinton, after all, was a Rhodes Scholar, a Yale Law grad, someone who had everything going for him and still managed to seek out intentionally every pile of shit on the sidewalk and step right in it.

Governor Bush deserves a chance to show us his mettle. The web magazine Slate has already offered a collection of Bushisms from the campaign, and by the looks of them ("The great thing about America is everybody should vote." -Austin, Texas, Dec. 8, 2000, as quoted in Slate), he's off to a good start. There's a good mock-photo going around, that makes a crystal-clear point about the relationship between Little George and Big George. There's even a site that makes a stab at some kind of primate ethnography, showing the relationship between Bush and a chimpanzee. And there will be many more coming.

With this kind of talent - from the comedians, and from Mr. Bush - Mr. Gore doesn't stand a chance. He should concede now, before he steals Dubya's humorous thunder, and robs us of our right to great American satire.

Copyright 2000, by A. D. Freudenheim. May not be used in whole or part without written permission. However, you may link to this page as desired! This page is part of: The Truth As I See It.