A COMIC GENIUS RUNS FOR PRESIDENT
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
There was Charlie Chaplin. The Marx Brothers. Moe, Larry and Curley. Jonathan Winters. Lucille Ball. Richard Pryor. George Carlin. And now, America has its next comic genius, Mitt Romney.
I don’t mean to discount some of the other luminaries that have graced our nightclubs and movie studios. Rodney D and Henny Y were great. Eddie Murphy in his prime was a riot. Buster Keaton definitely was a classic, as were Jackie Gleason and Andy Kaufman. But for sheer comic appeal, did they ever say anything half as funny as what was captured on tape at a Mitt Romney meet-and-greet?
What’s nearly as funny as Mitt’s comments are the responses to it on Fox News and right-wing talk radio. Those comedians may point out that what Mitt says wasn’t “artful,” but then they heap all sorts of praise on the thrust of his remarks – that this is a society in which self-entitled, lazy leeches abound and form the bedrock of the Democratic Party. If anything, these talking heads want Mitt to double down on his 47 percent gag. I’m telling you, when it comes to comedy, this new Republican Party is killin’ it!
Personally, I’m a big fan of Rickles. A big fan. I’d be honored to show up at one of his acts and have him make fun of my big Jewish nose. I’m not even offended by Rickles when he says things like this with respect to our President: “I shouldn’t make fun of the blacks, President Obama is a personal friend of mine. He was over to the house yesterday, but the mop broke.” If Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly said that, I’d be pissed. But Rickles? Nah, it’s different – he’s a comedian.
And so is Romney.
Seriously, Mitt is all about good fun. Unlike some of the crazy Christian Fundamentalists, he’s not creating videos that are sure to provoke violence. Unlike some of the crazy Muslim Fundamentalists, he’s not perpetrating violence against innocent people. In fact, Mitt isn’t hurting anybody. He’s just telling some innocent jokes.
When he deadpanned to a right-wing audience about Obama being born overseas, his handlers had an explanation – Mitt was just joking. And he was obviously just joking when he was taped making the following comments (to considerable audience laughter): “I’d like to staple a green card to every Ph.D. in the world and say, ‘Come to America, we want you here.’ Instead, we make it hard for people who get educated here or elsewhere to make this their home. Unless, of course, you have no skill or experience, in which case you’re welcome to cross the border and stay here for the rest of your life.”
Did you know that my grandfathers made their way over here more than a century ago and proceeded to sell life insurance and venetian blinds, respectively, “for the rest of their lives”? They didn’t have PhDs either. They didn’t even have college educations. But this country welcomed them anyway. I guess it’s all pretty hysterical that America let them come despite having “no skill or experience.” You got that right, Mitt old boy – we are one funny country!
Personally, I don’t feel threatened by Mitt Romney. I’m not worried that he’s going to detonate a bomb or shoot off a machine gun. I’m not worried that he’s going to command an army. I see him simply as a comic actor who doesn’t believe what he’s saying, can’t possibly expect anyone else to believe it either, and has mastered the deadpan delivery style. In that regard, he reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld. Frankly, though, I’d be surprised if Seinfeld ever said anything as ridiculous as that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims and won’t take personal responsibility for their lives. And I’d be surprised if even Seinfeld would joke that he planned to run for President while boasting that he wouldn’t worry about 47 percent of the population. Those don’t sound like Seinfeld lines. They’re outrageous enough to be worthy of George Costanza.
The truth is that the greatest comic characters, like the most brilliant comedians, don’t mind talking like complete buffoons. That’s what makes them great. And Mitt belongs in that category. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with next.