Republicans just don’t get it. They aren’t funny. Even folks like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh who find themselves endlessly amusing aren’t funny, unless a trip down memory lane to the days of tittering teen-age girls gossiping about perceived rivals rates high on people’s laughometer. The difference between the new Fox parody show “The half-Hour News Show”, and “The Daily Show” it seeks to mimic is that its loud laugh track and its stiff anchors make for dull TV and just more of the same old, same old propagandizing that characterizes Fox Cable ‘News’.
Whether one finds Jon Stewart and his crew amusing or not may depend on one’s political orientation to a large extent. However, The Daily Show relies on real news clips and commentary and obvious satire, not goofy made-up montages that represent tasteless partisan twaddle. Is it supposed to be hilarious, for example, that the show pretends there is a magazine about Barak Obama called BO? Doesn’t this sort of humor stir up memories of grade school where during recess the stupidest jokes about students’ names or background found their way onto the playground? And the magazine’s cover listing an article called “It’s about the Hussein thing”; isn’t this just the Fox News approach to undermining Obama’s candidacy – – not satire at all but partisan politicking of the obvious, low-brow variety?
As a come-on for the new show Rush Limbaugh played president in the Oval Office saying that his opponent, Howard Dean, was at last getting the medical help he so desperately needs. Wow! What chutzpah given the Limbaugh proclivity to excesses of various sorts. Even his adoring and ever-so-gullible fans must occasionally find themselves whistling past the graveyard as it were, hurrying on. Few of them, however, are likely to take the time to fact check Limbaugh’s remarks. Before the last election, for example, he quipped that the NY Times didn’t bother to mention the fact that Ohio candidate Sherrod Brown was black, as if the paper was afraid to acknowledge Brown’s ethnicity. The fact was of course that Brown was and remains white, leaving one to wonder when, if ever, Limbaugh corrected his error.
To top off this supposedly side-splitting segment, Mr. Limbaugh as president calls in his vice president, and it’s Ann Coulter – – howls of laughter. They converse, with the Rush referring to a “Democrat” Congress, a verbal blip that seems to have become less popular with Republicans perhaps out of embarrassment as people have increasingly noted that it is grammatically incorrect and a lame attempt to demean Democrats. In her final moments Ms. Coulter makes what is apparently meant to be taken as a humorous threat that foreign nations better watch out or we’ll “invade your countries, kill your leaders and convert you to Christianity.” Oddly enough, this was exactly how she concluded a column after 911. No-one was laughing then, least of all “The National Review” who, when she refused to make changes, decided she could publish elsewhere.
It has become painfully obvious that there is some sort of intellectual deficit among these folks. And it isn’t about whether they have gone to institutions of higher learning or occasionally read something more complicated than Republican talking points; it’s about intellectual laziness. The Hannitys, O’Reillys, Limbaughs et al sit in smug self adulation trying to corner guests into responding to loaded if meaningless questions and then characterizing them in ways that represent their own personal wish fulfillment.
Thus O’Reilly laughingly tells Senator Schumer that he’s read his book and decided that Schumer’s a conservative after all. While Mr. O’Reilly’s own steamy soft-porn novel provokes unintended laughter his mind-numbing treatises, like those of Ann Coulter, often make it to bestseller lists – – a disturbing sign that people are far too willing to accept pedestrian sniping and superficial analysis as reasonable discourse in the quest for solutions to incredibly complicated issues.
As the conflict in Iraq rages on the president still offers up quick retorts at his press conferences to create what he must assume are humorous moments. The press corps seems content, for the most part, to go along with this conceit chuckling away at the lamest of comments. The fact is though, that when you’re talking about a war you probably shouldn’t have a smirk on your face.
What it all seems to boil down to is not so much that the president and so many of the pundits on his side aren’t funny although they mostly aren’t. What they seem to lack is a sense of balance and appropriateness which is what can make them a genuinely funny target in a sad, sardonic sort of way. Self-styled Republican humorists often resort to just making stuff up, instead of relying on real situations. They haven’t quite gotten it straight that from a comedic point of view, as Democrats have learned, it isn’t necessary to sling mud when one’s opponent is covered with it. All you need to do is take a picture and write a caption.

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