Twenty years ago, Bob Kerrey told a joke to Bill Clinton; the butt of the joke was (clearly) then-former-Governor Jerry Brown, but the joke involved lesbians, and was therefore — honestly, if the logic was any tighter than that, I missed it — offensive to the homosexual community. Kerrey, who is better than most politicians at allowing common sense to trump the standard political rituals, failed in this case, apologizing (and not to Jerry Brown), and it became a bizarrely important political point, at least for a brief period of time, that Clinton reportedly didn't laugh at the joke.
Sunday, September 02, 2012 :::
A week ago or so, Governor Romney made a small joke that, not quite so clearly, but certainly clearly enough if it were a non-political context, lightly mocked the birthers. I would have thought it inadvisable to even refer to them or allow them to be brought up, but it doesn't seem in and of itself a huge deal. What ensued, though, reminded me of the previous episode; people with political-induced mental impairments insisted that this amounted to pandering to the birthers, or even expressing agreement with them, which, as when Romney says "and" or "the", led in some quarters to accusations of racism.
The joke was slightly funnier this time, if only because it slightly better hit the target; neither is threatening "quit your day job" territory. The ability to act as though one is misunderstanding a joke in a political context, though, is probably an immutable part of the human condition.
::: posted by dWj at 5:11 PM