Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 13 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

GOP Presidential Debates Are No Laughing Matter

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message Chris Lamb

             During one of the Republican presidential debates in 2008, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney referred to himself as "the candidate of change." When it was his turn to respond, U.S. Sen. John McCain referred to Romney's change of position on a number of issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage, and then added with a laugh, "I just want to say to Governor Romney, we disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree you are the candidate of change."


          The ability to fire off a sharp response that leaves a rival speechless requires a quick wit, good ear, and keen mind, which explains why there are so few really good ripostes in political. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once revealed the secret to the spontaneous putdown. "All the best off-the-cuff remarks," Churchill said, "are prepared days beforehand."

          McCain understood this. When asked to respond to one of Romney's attacks, McCain said, "Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty - and the pig likes it."


          McCain also understood the power of humor to win an argument and connect with voters, which, of course, helped him win the GOP presidential nomination four years ago.

          By contrast, the GOP presidential debates this year have had had all the wit and intellectual gravitas of professional wrestling without any of the athletic ability and entertainment value.

         Tonight's CNN debate in Mesa, Arizona, will be the 20th for the GOP presidential nomination.


          McCain, like many of us, has seen and heard enough.  According to a recent column by Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker, McCain says the "mudslinging" between Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in particular, have "driven up" the "unfavorabilities" of "our candidates, all of them."

        Or maybe it's just the candidates themselves are so unlikeable they've driven up their own "unfavorabilities. This is, in part, because the candidates--Romney, Gingrich. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum-are, or appear to be, humorless.

       Romney can buy all the ads and endorsements he wants but money can't buy a sense of humor. Rick Santorum perhaps opposes humor on religious grounds, Ron Paul on constitutional grounds, and Newt Gingrich on economic grounds. If Gingrich can't make money off something, he doesn't see much of a point to it.

       A sense of humor is one of the most underappreciated qualities in politics--behind only honesty and integrity. If you can get a voter to laugh with you, you can get their vote. If you get a voter to laugh at you, you end up like Dan Quayle.

       The GOP candidates like to compare themselves to President Ronald Reagan. But none have the Gipper's wit and warmth. The GOP candidates are more like second-rate talk-radio hosts. They have nothing in common with Reagan - unless they're instead referring to right-wing radio talk show host Michael Reagan.

       Ronald Reagan was so popular because of his sense of humor, which he used to win friends and disarm political enemies. He also found it to be a political weapon.

      When Reagan ran for a second term in 1984, he was in his 70s and critics questioned whether he had the vitality for the office. During a television debate between Reagan and his Democratic Party challenger Walter Mondale, a reporter raised the issue of age to Reagan.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Chris Lamb Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Chris Lamb is a professor of Communication at the College of Charleston, in Charleston, SC, he teaches courses in journalism and media studies. He has written hundreds of newspaper columns that have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

What Happens if There's a Fiscal Cliff?: "Human Sacrifice, Dogs and Cats Living Together ... Mass Hysteria!"

Who Needs a Democracy When You Have iVotronic Voting Machines?

The Boston Red Sox, Jackie Robinson, and a Legacy of Racism

Never Go Naked to Knife Fight in South Carolina

Truth Be Damned: Palin Revives 'Death Panels' Claim

When Do You Know If a Stranger Might Be a Pedophile?

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend