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The Wit of Mitt: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before (Revised)

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Message Paul Kibble

Another knee-slapper:  Mitt tells the story about Pa Romney closing down a factory in Michigan and moving operations to Wisconsin. Then Das Kapital Daddy decides to run for gov of MI, and, wouldnchaknow,  at one political rally in the Wolverine State he's lead by a high school band that doesn't know the Michigan fight song but does know the Wisconsin fight song. So of course Dad's handlers freak every time the band breaks into "On Wisconsin" cuz, you know, that's the state he moved production to. Awkward! When recounting this potentially Dickensian tale of dispossession and pauperization, Mitt does what he always does in situations like this: he laughs.

And then of course last week there was that maybe-homo back in prep school that Mitt and his posse felt obliged to give an impromptu tonsorial make-over to. Unlike his co-conspirators (who now express shame and regret for their roles in the incident), Mitt claims he can't remember a thing, darn it. But of course he does remember to do what he always does in situations like this: he laughs.

Of course, nothing is more subjective than a sense of humor. I will never understand why some of my friends find Dane Cook or Two and a Half Men funny; some of my friends will never understand why I find Lewis Black or Community funny.

What we do have in common, however, is a shared belief that things that make us laugh have an underlying core of humanity in all its glory and absurdity. The key word is "humanity." Even the darkest Swiftian satire has some recognizable connection with the ardors and asininities of our dear daft species. 

This is not to suggest that the laughter thus generated isn't cruel. In fact it contains, in Arthur Koestler's words, " a component of malice, of debasement of the other fellow, and of aggressive-defensive self-assertion . . . .a tendency diametrically opposed to sympathy, helpfulness, and identification of the self with others." 

The point is that such laughter knows that it is malicious.

Mitt has no such knowledge.  

In fairness, this may be a function of class, a constitutional absence of fellow-feeling endemic to the airless reaches of his "demographic." (But then how to explain George Soros or those decadent Hollywood Obamaphiles?) Romney's heartlessness, his deep-dish sociopathy, recalls another overpampered empty husk who aspired to high office:
I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with       [Karla Faye] Tucker, [a death-row inmate whose plea for clemency he denied]... He   asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor [George W.] Bush?' "
"What was her answer?" I  [the interviewer] wonder.
"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

Brahahahaha. What a gift for mimicry, that Dubya! Thus the Smirking Chimp and future "compassionate conservative" to Carlson Tucker in 1999. Damn, I miss the Texas chainsaw massacerer's comedy stylings.

We are, of course, a long way from Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain."  Dynastic moneybaggers like Bush and Romney, hiding behind titanium walls of hereditary privilege that protect them from the slings and arrows of ordinary misfortune, recall F. Scott Fitzgerald's description of a brace of megabucks glamorati: 

"they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made . . . .

That mess will get even messier should enough suckers decide to make Romney their Master of Revels come this November. If so, the last laugh will be on us. 


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Paul Kibble is a retired nurse/medical journalist/editor living in Southern California. He also used to make a decent living by writing advertising copy, political speeches, and assorted other hackwork. He is still trying to atone for this and finds (more...)
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The Wit of Mitt: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before (Revised)

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