Mitt Romney: Send in the Clown


Having trolled the entire Intertubes earlier in the week, Politico’s Roger Simon offers some desperately needed advice to Mitt Romney:

Mitt Romney: King of comedy
... Jokes have power. When a politician makes a joke, he can make a point and also leave people with the impression that he is a regular guy and not some cardboard cutout.

Romney needs some jokes. And he needs them for his first presidential debate on Wednesday.

Eddie Scarry at the Blaze talks up what he describes as a recurring theme:

Both Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove have written columns this week on what they think Mitt Romney should do in the first debate with President Obama. Both of them threw in passing references to Romney using humor as a tool.

“Romney must … set the record straight in a presidential tone—firm, respectful, but not deferential. And a dash of humor is worth its weight in gold,” Rove wrote.

Gingrich said, “No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama.”

Mitt’s telegraphed intention is to factcheck President Obama on the fly during the first debate, so I expect him to bring a clown horn onstage, and each time he detects a mistruth, *HONK HONK* and a slap on the head with a pig’s bladder. “You were saying ...?”

Mitt loves to recycle material, so expect the reprise of such impromptu kneeslappers as:

• “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake.”
• “Corporations are people.”
• “I’m unemployed, gissa job.”
• “They should have let Detroit go down the tubes.”
• “It would be helpful to be Latino. For one thing I’d save a fortune on spray tan.”
• “The President’s a n-n-n-nice man, just a totally incompetent and lazy lyin’ liar.”
• “Romneycare was my biggest mistake.”
• “Those cookies look like dogmess and probably taste like it too, what were you thinking?”
• “The chief of MI6 is at this moment in 10 Downing Street, just sayin’, al Qaeda.”
• “The Soviet Union is America’s number one global threat. Sorry, did I say ‘Soviet Union’? I meant China. No, wait, Iran. Aw heck, all of them. I’ve got money in all of them.”
• “47 percent of the country are shiftless scrounging assholes fit only for fertilizer.”
• “I like being able to fire people. Unless they’re my campaign staff and know where the skeletons are buried, in which case they get hush money bonuses.”
• “I feel your pain, though obviously not in a literal nor metaphorical sense.”
• “I’m going to cut your taxes hahahaha no I’m not. My taxes. I’m going to cut my taxes. Not that I pay any. Oops. Too soon?”
• “Companies are Soylent Green, my friends.”
• “I am SO going to win this thing.”
• “Quit whining and get on the roof.”

You can probably do far better than me in trawling Mitt’s past utterances that the po-faced liberal media mistakenly took as serious statements, only to be punked yet again because Mitt was just pulling our legs.

As an incentive, during next week’s presidential debate, I’ll offer a sammitch to whoever’s the first to spot a Mittens quip. It may be a bit stale by the time it reaches you, as it could take from then till November to figure out whether he was kidding or not.

Posted by YAFB on 09/28/12 at 10:23 AM • Permalink

Categories: Knee SlappersPoliticsElection '12MittensNuttersOur Stupid MediaPolisnarkTo Poe Or Not To Poe?Skull Hampers

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Romney needs some jokes. And he needs them for his first presidential debate on Wednesday.

Well. Nothing like jokes produced under pressure and on a deadline by a humorless cyborg for some light-hearted laughs and chuckles with friends.

Laughter, the best medicine!

But Mitt, we’ll be laughing at you, not with you.

Actually, to be fair, he did utter a spontaneous quip that was also delivered pretty well when he was at the Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton introduced him by talking about Americorps, which Gov. Romney supported. He said:

“Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate the kind words and your invitation here today. If there’s one thing we’ve learned this election season, it’s that a few words from Bill Clinton can do any man a lot of good.”

He said it wryly and naturally and so it worked.

But, yes, otherwise, he’s just an unintentional and unfunny clown.

I think Mitt should pull a Ryan and just make quips about how awful government is and how it’s never helped anyone in the history of all anyones.

Comment by HumboldtBlue on 09/28/12 at 11:36 AM

Actually, to be fair, he did utter a spontaneous quip that was also delivered pretty well

I’m not going to quibble with you about the rest of it, but I’m not sure how spontaneous that was. I have seen Mitt come out with some self-deprecatory humor in the past, like way back in MA as governor when he made a joke about the widespread meme that his hair doesn’t move. He seems to have lost that facility.

Bearing in mind that McCain had a disastrous debate where he weirdly refused to look at Obama at all, having misheard aides’ advice not to look at him when he was speaking, I expect Mitt to take this current advice to heart and go full-bore and provide a laugh a minute, possibly with a pratfall or two to humanize his image.

Maybe something like, “My opponent had to show his tax returns and his birth certificate. What a piker! I was governor of Mass. while living in Utah, never been asked for my birth certificate and won’t reveal my tax returns. I’m the perfect candidate…oh, did I mention I’m rich, white and I’ve got nice hair?”

I watched pretty much all of the GOP debates (god help me), and one thing I noticed was that Romney had a tendency to stare fixedly at his opponents while they were speaking, as if trying to scramble their brains via death eye-rays. It seemed to work on Perry pretty well, but I don’t think it will rattle the president.

Another thing I noticed: Romney seemed mostly smooth and genial during the GOP debates until he felt cornered. After the pundits decided it was Romney’s race to lose but then Gingrich won SC, the yapping heads were all screeching that Romney had to really go after Gingrich in the FL debate to salvage his faltering campaign.

Romney dutifully turned up as Mr. Hyde. He was pretty effective in shooting the wide, slow-moving Gingrich-fish in that barrel, but he (Romney) came off as snippy as hell and completely unlikable. I don’t think that strategy will work with Obama, and Romney already has a glaring likability gap to overcome.

Another thing: The audience isn’t meant to applaud during the debates, but I haven’t heard any proscription on laughing, and presumably Rove et al. think it’ll be acceptable otherwise any joke’s going to fall flat.

So one tactic for the Dems in the crowd would be to laugh at absolutely everything Mitt says.

Peggy Noonan had an example of Mitt’s (intentional) humor:

’ Before the voting in Iowa, he wryly told a friend that the caucuses were like the LaBrea Tar Pits: “No one comes out the way they went in.” ‘

Does that joke make sense to anyone in any political party?

“Romney must … set the record straight in a presidential tone—firm, respectful, but not deferential. And a dash of humor is worth its weight in gold,” Rove wrote.

Gingrich said, “No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama.”

Gingrich said, “No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama.”

This could backfire badly.  The Pres is one cool-headed individual.  Plus, I imagine he had to put up with a lot of nonsense while growing up, so he’s inured to attempts to ridicule him.  Mitt, on the other hand, is thin-skinned… he can’t even shut up and graciously stand by when people cheer his running mate.  To use a boxing analogy, Mitt’s got a glass jaw.

I think Obama should hit him hard and get him off his game.  He’ll have Mitt stymied and stammering in no time.

“No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama.”

It’s Newt, so he probably pulled this out of his capacious ass in a fit of projection, but I’d like to see some evidence of this.

I can’t think of a “humorous” concerted public verbal attack that Obama and/or his scriptwriters haven’t been able to turn into a counterslam, from the birth certificate nonsense (which roasting Trump’s never recovered from) to the dog-eating thing (“What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? A pitbull is delicious.”)

If he’s referring to the various depictions of Obama on some of the RW blogs, I’m not sure that referring to him as “Obongo” or “Mr. Wookie” etc. etc. is going to carry the night, but I look forward to seeing Mitt try.

I did try to hunt down the context of Newt saying this, and the most I’ve been able to find was at HuffPo:

“Reagan and Kennedy both had this wonderful knack of using humor to make points,” Gingrich wrote. “President Obama is a detached, often stiff person who overestimates his competence (the next time you see a story on the Middle East remember he got a Nobel peace prize for having done nothing). No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama.”

Of course, Newt’s offered other advice recently:

“When he walks in to debate Obama, he’s got to be as tough with Obama as he was with me in Florida,” Gingrich said in an interview on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

After all, Gingrich said, Romney “is not in a competition to be likeable.”

“No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama.”

I haven’t noticed this.  Unless by “humor” he means “blatant racism” and by “vulnerable” he means “Well, I thought it was funny.”  Given that it’s Newt, anything’s possible, I guess.

While Poe’s in the air, there’s also this:

The Onion spoofs Iran news agency on Obama-Ahmadinejad story
A news agency in Iran has published a report by the satirical news website, The Onion, saying rural white Americans would rather vote for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than Barack Obama.

Quoting The Onion word-for-word, Fars states that an opinion poll also found 77% would rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Mr Ahmadinejad.

To any who are Arrested Development fans, this site is a gorgeous source of both Mitt quotes and lulz.

Comment by kcindenver on 09/28/12 at 11:22 PM

Mitt had a decent quip about expecting “that bounce” after being introduced by Clinton, but I don’t expect much of that in the debates.

I’ve been thinking about the difference between the two and what I’ve come up with is this: Obama speaks as though he respects your intelligence.  Mitt speaks as though he doesn’t respect your intelligence, but that doesn’t matter, because he’s nonetheless willing to give you what you want.

In earlier eras we called this “noblesse oblige.”  But it doesn’t play any more because the middle class has stopped buying it. 

The genial, “public servant” condescension of Romney simply reads as the cluelessness of an actor performing for an audience he has completely misjudged. 

The Tea Partiers can’t stand him. The real conservatives can’t stand him.  God knows the liberals can’t stand him.  He’s the “compromise candidate” for constituencies that don’t want to compromise.  No wonder he’s flailing.

He’s the “compromise candidate” for constituencies that don’t want to compromise.

Ding, ding, ding; we have a winner!

This will end well ...

Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy.

Hint to the President: If Romney shakes your hand at the beginning of the debate and whispers “Hey, is it OK if I call you Obozo?”, just say no.

Inevitably, this has spawned a hashtag: #MittZingers

Oh, silly pundits and politicos—don’t they realize that Mittens IS the joke?

But seriously—Governor R-Money should probably stay away from the joking. After all, “humor” to a conservative means wishing out loud for a liberal to be murdered, and that wouldn’t exactly help in the effort to “humanize” him.

This will end well . . .

Yes, because Obama will have no idea that this is what they’re planning since of course none of his campaign staff would every think to read the New York Times!  WINNING!!

has been practicing on aides since August

Those poor bastards certainly earn their bonuses

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