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An unfunny joke

August 26, 2012 - Harry Eagar
About now, I imagine Mitt Romney would trade some of those silver spoons he was born with for a sense of humor. It has been a while since an American politician strode the big stage with such a tin ear.

It isn't just that he doesn't know how to be funny, though. His clumsy crowd-warmer about nobody asking him to show his birth certificate reveals some serious problems.

First, it was just awkward, like saying the trees in Michigan are the right height.

Second, he could have gotten as much crowd empathy by just reminding the crowd that he and Ann were homefolks. The birther joke didn't add anything to that.

It did, however, third, raise questions about how independent Romney is of the crazier elements of his party. The convention is loaded up with birther speakers. A national, as opposed to a party, leader might be expected to want to curtail that, in the interest of drawing more people into the big tent.

Fourth, it raises questions about how far-seeing Romney is. If he wants to stick to economics, birther jokes are a strange way to show it.

Fifth, it was just stupid, because millions of Democrats shot back: Yeah, but lots or people have asked to see your tax returns and your foreign bank accounts.


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