Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 29, 2008

HIT 'EM WITH HUMOR.... Barack Obama campaigned earlier in Raleigh, North Carolina, principally relying on the closing-statement speech he unveiled in Ohio on Monday. Today, however, he added a new paragraph.

"[B]ecause he knows his economic theories don't work, he's been spending these last few days calling me every name in the book," Obama said. "Lately, he's called me a 'socialist' for wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class. I don't know what's next. By the end of the week, he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

From time to time, over the course of the 20 or so months, Obama has demonstrated an ability to use humor very effectively. Greg Sargent noted earlier, "[This] kind of unforced mockery, even levity, tends to be a good indicator of genuine confidence in the outcome."

I think that's true, but I'd add that Obama seems to use humor, light mockery, and the occasional sarcasm even when he's less confident in the outcome. For months, regardless of circumstance, even during the primaries, when given a choice between delivering an angry response and a humorous one, Obama almost always prefers the latter.

One gets the sense that Obama's not mad at the Republicans; he just thinks they're ridiculous.

Steve Benen 2:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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My favorite Obama joke of the year was at a rally in Dallas in the spring. He was talking about being related to Cheney and said he was really disappointed. He was hoping he'd be related to someone who was cool. The crowd went wild....

Posted by: Paul on October 29, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I've noticed this as well, and I've always felt that it's one of Obama's underreported strengths. His use of humor is a great way to fight back against the right-wing smear machine without getting defensive or falling into the "angry black man" stereotype. No politician has used humor as effectively since Reagan.

Posted by: Darius on October 29, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

"It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant."

Barack Obama, August 6, 2008

Posted by: Vermonter on October 29, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Humour works much better than anger in a situation like this. Had Obama come back with, "Dammit, I am not a socialist and I am angry at being called a socialist," it would make it appear that he doth protest too much. By using humour, he turns the absurdity back to the attacker.

Good job, Obama.

Posted by: (((Billy))) The Atheist on October 29, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Humour works much better than anger in a situation like this. Had Obama come back with, "Dammit, I am not a socialist and I am angry at being called a socialist," it would make it appear that he doth protest too much. By using humour, he turns the absurdity back to the attacker.

Good job, Obama.

(((Billy))) The Atheist
http://iambilly.wordpress.com

Posted by: (((Billy))) The Atheist on October 29, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

As a life long democrat, I pretty much decided to vote for Obama a while back, simply because I didn't think Hillary was progressive enough, and I'm still pissed at Slick Willie over NAFTA and the telecommunications act.

At any rate, the one instance that really solidified my support for Obama, in that he struck me as a guy kind of like myself, was when a 90 year old black man at a campaign rally presented Obama with a walking stick; something this old timer had taken great lengths of time to create.

Obama grabbed the stick, remarked on it's craftsmanship, then said something along the lines of "If the Congress doesn't pass my healthcare program, I'll take this stick and give 'em a whoopin"

I got a great laugh at that one, and it was at that precise moment that I felt very comfortable giving my full fledged support to Obama.

Posted by: citizen_pain on October 29, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Show, don't tell.

Don't say they are ridiculous (which they are), show they are ridiculous, by ridiculing them.

It's effective because it's true.

Posted by: biggerbox on October 29, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

One gets the sense that Obama's not mad at the Republicans; he just thinks they're ridiculous.

Since movement conservatives are ridiculous, this approach is exactly the correct one to take.

Wingnuttery shouldn't be socially acceptable, but we also shouldn't use the angry tactics conservatives used to demonize liberals. Mockery has the multiple advantages of being gentler, more effective and oh so satisfying.

Posted by: Gregory on October 29, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

One gets the sense that Obama's not mad at the Republicans; he just thinks they're ridiculous.

Sun-Tzu said: 'know your enemy'.

Posted by: thorin-1 on October 29, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

This is yet another way that Republicans suffer badly when compared to Obama. Obama has a wonderful sense of irony, whereas Republicans only seem to find humor in dark skinned people being killed:

"We've found yet another way to kill Iranians."
(referring to increased cigarette exports)

"Bomb bomb bomb bomb-bomb Iran"

Posted by: SteveT on October 29, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

I couldn't help but notice that nowhere in his closing statement speech, or even here in his lighthearted jab, has Obama called McCain or Palin or their supporters or republicans anything they are not. With little exception, he has run the honorable campaign he said he would. He has not sought to demonize anyone or turn the election into an "us against them" slugfest.

And now, he has taken the last arrow from the Palin/McCain quiver, snapped it over his knee and then held each piece on either side of his head, a la Steve Martin, just to keep things friendly.

That scared-shitless 20% can call Obama a socialist all they want. They can't touch him. They just make themselves look more and more ridiculous, scared, hateful and unhinged.

Posted by: chrenson on October 29, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Yea, I always find Obama as funny as a road trip across Siberia in a Yugo! What a hoot!

Posted by: DF on October 29, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Senator McCain, what economy are you talking about?"

Posted by: Rosali on October 29, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

This ties in with his last two week's message: "I can take X more days of McCain's attacks on me, but Americans can't take another four years..."

Of course it is just a fine tuned message that has existed for 20 months.

The attacks on him are part of what he needs to win, he just points and laughs.

Posted by: tomj on October 29, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

But what does Elisabeth Hasselbeck, contestant in the reality series Survivor: The Australian Outback, think of what Obama said? Isn't that the gut-wrenching question here? Why isn't some republican hack shoving a microphone in her sycophantic face so she can espouse more of her scintillating wisdom?

You go, Obama! So many rats have jumped off that other ship that they're having to rely on the droppings they left behind for sound bites and advice. The situation just *begs* for humorous ridicule.

Posted by: Limbaugh's Diabetes on October 29, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

as funny as a road trip across Siberia in a Yugo! What a hoot!

Borat II?

Posted by: henry lewis on October 29, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Having a sense of humour is the best self-defense there is (I know; I had to develop it early in life). It's one of the reasons I've felt "in tune" with Obama from the start. My favourite line was when he was reported to describe himself (early on, in his Senatorial race, maybe?) to some Jewish voters as "Baruch Obama"

Posted by: exlibra on October 29, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I always find Obama as funny as a road trip across Siberia in a Yugo!

Any chance you saw Putin's disembodied head floating around while you were there?

Posted by: Bob Loblaw on October 29, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Borat II?"

Sounds like DF may be volunteering. But, does he have a bright lime-green bathing suit that makes his taint look like Bozo the Clown sans the red hair ?

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on October 29, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is a DAILY SHOW DEMOCRAT!!!

That image of him getting a chuckle after he mentioned his PB&J was priceless. I really think he is truly tickled with how ridiculous his opponents campaign has become.

Posted by: myrtle parker on October 29, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Today on the radio I heard some McCain apologist say that Obama's "spread the wealth" plan was straight out of Karl Marx's playbook and the liberal talking head said how awful that was.

I dunno....

First they said he was the Anti-Christ. The devil himself.
Then he was compared with Adolf Hitler.
Now, it's Karl Marx...


Heck, at this rate, with the epithets getting less and less unflattering, the Republicans will actually LIKE Obama by the time he's sworn in!

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 29, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Yea, I always find Obama as funny as a road trip across Siberia in a Yugo! What a hoot!

Aw, c'mon, can't you take a joke? What's wrong with you? Don't you have a sense of humor?

Geez, these humorless conservatives and their tight-lipped insistence that anything that mocks them is just not funny. Lighten up, Francis.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on October 29, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Remember Obama's take on Hillary and Annie Oakley? That was pitch-perfect at the time.

He tends to hit his mock his opponents when they're completely full of shit. In doing so, he exposes them. Obama is skilled at this because, while there can be no doubt he's a politician, he's got to be one of the most genuine ones we've seen in a long, long time. He's incredibly comfortable in his own skin.

Posted by: Jake on October 29, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ridiculous attacks are best deflected with ridicule. I thought Obama should have done something like this a few days ago. It's pretty good!

Posted by: ColoZ on October 29, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Remember, Obama's a White Sox fan -- which inherently requires having a sense of humor. (Think of Sox fan Jean Shepherd's famous "storm a pillbox" comment.)

Posted by: Vincent on October 29, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

What about the part where he made a complete idiot out of himself by say "I'm comin', Weezie'?

Convenient how you overlook that monster gaffe.

http://jammiewearingfool.blogspot.com/2008/10/im-comin-weezie.html

Posted by: JWF on October 29, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

The best part about humor is that only "intellectualoids"* get it.

I'd like to hear the MSM say something like:

You know, the difference between Obama and John is that Obama speaks to you like you're an adult. John, on the other hand, speaks to you as if you were a dolt.

The humor angle is powerful because it doesn't stretch the truth too much.

In a race that's been so long, so pathetic (from one side) a little levity is in order.

John says he'll change washington. ? He's already had 26 years to do so.


*(Thanks, Rush)

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 29, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Straight out of the JFK press manual. He style was more self deprecating, but funny none the less. People like to laugh and they really like to laugh at republicans in 2008.

Posted by: ScottW on October 29, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

MONSTER GAFFE!! HE MIXED UP A SITCOM!!!!

Does Drudge have this in 50 pt. font with sirens on the side? Is this seriously all you are left with? And Michell Malkin is commenting on it as the election winds down?

"Conservatives" are pathetic. You people need to grow up and get out more often. Seriously.

Posted by: grinning cat on October 29, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

From a guy who is often angered by the rights ridiculousness I can attest it does no good. You think you're mad, just wait fifteen minutes.

Obama knew exactly what would be coming his way. Not just from the right or the GOP, but what challenges had lied ahead.

In September when the economy took that drastic nose dive, Obama was in prime position. He had came out of the convention determined to connect with the 'elusive white working class voter' which was predicted to condemn him. He was on the ground running when the economy tanked.

Posted by: TBone on October 29, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

My favorite Obama joke was before he announced his VP pick when he refused to name him but guaranteed that his VP wouldn't be one of those fourth branch of government vice presidents. I still peg that as the funniest line of the whole election so far.

Posted by: slag on October 29, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Another Sun-Tzu quote:

"If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him."

Posted by: tAwO 4 That 1 on October 29, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's not mad at the Republicans; he just thinks they're ridiculous

The whole thing is just a game and I suspect that behind the scenes with the select few, they find this stuff infinitely amusing.

I am still suspect of his presidency, I think he'll govern too pragmatically, wait for the openings and jump on opportunities insteadd of creating his own. To me it is obvious he has a long-term plan and seems to adjust on the fly, very subtly like no other campaign I've seen.

He shows what a great statesman he is and I didn't think he could touch Clinton on being a pure politician, but everyday he surprises me.

He plays the game heads and shoulders above the seasoned beltway folk and it is driving them crazy.

Posted by: Simp on October 29, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

So here's a question: can anyone remember Barack getting angry? I can't. The guy is the emotionally stable politician I can remember.

Posted by: fostert on October 29, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Should you laugh at your main argument against your opponent?

Today McCain called Obama "The Redistributionist in Chief", over his left shoulder was Charlie Christ. He turned to the other guy behind McCain and laughed.

Kind of takes the seriousness out of the charge. But it is still funny.

Posted by: tomj on October 29, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

So Republicans are emotionally six years old? "No, I won't share any of my money. That's MINE!"
"Don't wanna play with [people of color]!" "He who dies with the most toys wins!"

Posted by: sara on October 29, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

You can take the community organizer out of the hood, but...

Alinsky's Rules for Radicals No. 5 ) Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.

Posted by: Hector B. on October 29, 2008 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Likely it drives the Republicans buggy.

:)

Posted by: Scorpio on October 30, 2008 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

I found this amazing time line of Obama's life at capzles.com. Its really great who ever made it, made sure to grab everything they could about Sen. Obama. You can find it here... http://www.capzles.com/ff8fc5bc-de7c-40ee-bdbf-71ca61e120b3

Posted by: Greg Larson on October 30, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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