Political Animal


January 28, 2013 5:11 PM Knee-Slapper

By Ed Kilgore

This report from Al Kamen’s “In the Loop” column at WaPo shows either that Mitt Romney retains some affection from the people who helped finance his presidential campaign, or that their idea of humor is as scintillating as a Paul Ryan power point presentation:

[Romney] got a fine hand from the lunch crowd Friday at the JW Marriott hotel with a not-all-that-old joke. The lunch, to thank 150 or so mega-donors and including with various members of Congress and pals, was put on by Bill Marriott and Catherine Reynolds.
Romney started off by saying that people ask him all the time what, if he had won in November, he would be doing differently from Obama.
“That reminds me of a story,” he said, pitching a variant of a joke about someone asking a famous leader how world history would very different had Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev been assassinated in 1963 instead of John Kennedy.
(Various iterations have Richard Nixon asking this of Mao, someone asking this of Gore Vidal and a student asking this of the last head of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gobachev, or of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.)
The answer, always after much rumination, is that one can’t be sure, “But I don’t think Aristotle Onassis would have married Mrs. Khrushchev.”
We were told it brought down the house.

Maybe it’s just what George W. Bush referred to as the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • hells littlest angel on January 28, 2013 5:29 PM:

    I imagine the audience chanting in unison, "Ah ha ha ha. Ah ha ha ha."

  • martin on January 28, 2013 5:35 PM:

    When a multi-billionare makes a joke, everyone laughs.

  • LAC on January 28, 2013 5:38 PM:

    Gawd, that was funny. Har, har...mimsy got almost as many laughs when she stepped on the ball. We dined on that one for hours!

  • Barbara on January 28, 2013 5:56 PM:

    So as I understand it, this is mostly a joke about Mrs. Kruschev's attractiveness? Does anybody who is under the age of 60 really "get" this joke? Can you visualize Mrs. Kruschev? I think I did see a picture of her in a book my dad kept around about the Kennedys 40 years ago or so.

    So does this provide a little more insight into why Romney lost and the particular challenges Republicans face?

  • FlipYrWhig on January 28, 2013 5:57 PM:

    Holy God. What year is this? Who was the next act, Soupy Sales?

  • biggerbox on January 28, 2013 6:05 PM:

    So, then, which one is Kennedy and which is Kruschev? What's the analogy he's making? If Romney had won, wealthy GOP donors wouldn't have thrown a party for Michelle Obama? Or is Romney saying his loss is equivalent to JFK's death? I don't get it.

    Not only is this joke lame, but it doesn't even really have anything to do with the situation. Romney is one weird bird.

  • c u n d gulag on January 28, 2013 6:09 PM:

    'And then the alligator said, YOU get your OWN pair of shoes!"


    Don't ask me what the set-up to the joke was, I just remember the punchline.

    Thank you, Rodney Romney!*

    *My apologies if I offended the late, great, Rodney Dangerfield - whose dandruff was funnier than Mitt.

  • R on January 28, 2013 6:15 PM:

    FlpYrWhig, you made me laugh out loud.

  • exlibra on January 28, 2013 6:15 PM:

    He must have gotten this one from a binder full of jokes. A really, really, old binder. *And* he must have gotten it from the wrong page; like everyone up-thread, I'm flummoxed as to its relevance vis-a-vis the situation. The poor sap really doesn't handle humour well, does he?

  • evodevo on January 28, 2013 7:02 PM:

    Huh? Wait, let me think ... Rmoney, Obama ..... no, I still don't get it.

    I take it that conservative humor usually tends toward the waiter slipping and falling with a tray of dishes, and then being fired .... or ... something.

  • Crissa on January 28, 2013 7:04 PM:

    So, uhh, who would have held back the hardliners from starting WWIII after his assassination, exactly?and

  • Simon S. on January 28, 2013 10:11 PM:

    Mark Russell has been telling that joke. Yes, he's still around.

  • JM917 on January 29, 2013 8:28 AM:

    Yes, Willard's creaking, ancient "joke" was all about dumpy Mrs. Khrushchev.

    Somewhere in an account of JFK's disastrous Vienna summit meeting with Khrushchev in June 1961, I remember reading that the president had taken both Jackie and his own mother on the tour. At Paris (just before he got to Vienna and the showdown with Khrushchev), Jackie so wowed the French that JFK--who actually was not amused at all the publicity she was getting--famously introduced himself as "the gentleman who accompanied Mrs. Kennedy to Paris." Much less known is the account of how, at a state dinner in Vienna for the Kennedys (including Jackie and Old Rose) and the Khrushchevs, Rose is reported to have sneered at the dumpy, frowsy Nina Khrushchev, sitting across the table, as "looking like the kind of people we would hire as servants to clean the rooms."

    Actually, Nina Khrushchev, despite her peasant origin and the frumpy clothes that all Soviet citizens of that time (including her husband) wore, was a pretty smart woman. A graduate of Communist Party schooling, she spoke English fluently and was able to give Nikita some pretty shrewd advice about handling the Americans. I wonder whether she overheard Rose Kennedy's catty remarks.

    Just thought I'd toss that out as interesting context...

  • boatboy_srq on January 29, 2013 8:51 AM:

    @exlibra: Yes indeed, a tin ear to go with the silver spoon in his mouth.

    The joke explains a lot: the GOTea made (sad, misplaced) comparisons between Obama and Carter, and Romney thought it really was 1980.

  • MuddyLee on January 29, 2013 9:01 AM:

    More evidence that being a child of inherited wealth who makes even more money in corporate wheeling/dealing (George Romney made cars - what did Mitt make?) does NOT qualify you to become President of the United States. Also gives me another reason not to stay at a Marriot hotel when traveling. This type of humor probably plays well with republicans who preach family values but think Hugh Hefner has a cool lifestyle - they could have just played some video of Bob Hope making fun of Phyllis Diller or maybe just sent around that repub email with pictures of Hillary and Mikulski grimacing ("their women") while repub actresses like Bo Derek are shown smiling ("our women"). Romney should have been making jokes about Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann - that is, if he cared anything about America's future. The voters made the right decision in 2008 and 2012 (and with the popular vote in 2000).