2 thoughts on “Somebody Pinch Me

  1. Epic, Jude, epic.
    One of the things I found most interesting was McCain’s humor, or lack thereof. I have made something of a study of humor in this kind of setting–the situation where you’re talking to an audience about a variety of things, and want to use humor the win the audience’s good will. The humor in this kind of setting is not an end in itself, and as a result, it’s a rather different kind of humor than you would use as, say, a standup comedian.
    There are certain things I have learned. Self-deprecating humor–the kind Obama used when talking about what he doesn’t know, and how his wife could tell you a lot–can work well in these situations, but it must be used sparingly. Otherwise, the audience starts to feel uncomfortable–they want to like you, not feel better than you. Obama hit just the right note on that, IMHO.
    The opposite kind of humor, where you take jabs at the audience, is VERY risky. It has to be used very gently, and it has to be at only a portion of the audience, so the rest of the audience can feel like they’re in on the joke. This is where McCain really faltered last night. One of the CNN commentators called it towel-snapping humor, and that’s a good analogy. Towel-snapping humor is used by the Big Man On Campus, not by the guy who got snapped in high school. And as most of us were on the receiving end of such humor at some point in our lives, we don’t like it much. That’s why the jab at Tom Brokaw over who McCain would pick as Sec. Treas. didn’t go over well. For all his faults (and they were many last night) Brokaw was acting as our stand-in. So when McCain dismissed him, however good-humoredly, it was a jab at US. Ditto the line about people not knowing what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were. Dude, we’re just not that stupid.
    That’s part of why, I think, the audience, both in the theater and at home, found Obama more likable. McCain is used to people laughing at his jokes, but most of the time they laugh because they HAVE to, because they’re his peons, or because they WANT to, because they’re his fans. In this situation, they don’t have to laugh, and they don’t necessarily WANT to. He needed to win them over. And he failed. Miserably.

  2. Hear two folks talking loudly outside my door, while I’m sure they thought I wasn’t in:
    ONE: Yeah, the debate. Y’know I hate when they use the term “game changer” but McCain needs to just go get this guy and stop laying back.
    TWO: I don’t know why he’s so passive. I think he’s afraid of not being liked.
    Me? I got a different theory: I recall a story my grandfather once told about a friend of his who fought Jake LaMotta, of “Raging Bull” fame. The guy told grandpa, “I hit him with my best Sunday punch. Guy didn’t even flinch. I hit him with it again. Same deal. After that, I started looking around on the floor for a nice place to fall down.”
    Maybe this is it for the guy. Maybe he tried his best but he’s completely outclassed. He can’t fly under the cover of party loyalty (due in part to the fact the party is getting killed on everything and due also in part to the fact that he’s a “maverick” [everybody drink]). Maybe people want things to change so badly that they’re finally getting past all the BS hangups they’ve had about politicians for year. “He used drugs once” used to be the death knell of any politician. Now? Eh… Can he fix shit? (I don’t care if the guy towing my car off the 405 is piping a doobie at home on the weekends so long as he can get my car to the garage and get me back on my way.) We get past the “I’m not sure I’m comfortable” shit and get to the core of the story which is: Will this person do the job better than the other person?
    Maybe we saw McCain’s Sunday punch last night. Perhaps he’s now looking for a place to lie down.

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