Visual Imagery Benjamin Franklin’s 1754 cartoon of a cut-up snake to represent the “un-United” States brought visual Imagery into American politics. Today, photography is enjoying a new role in political humor as shown in the analogies given below. 13
The Budster In 1979, Bud Clark, a bar owner in Portland, Oregon, posed facing a nude statue apparently wearing only a trench coat. 500,000 copies were sold to benefit a local fine arts group. In 1982, he was elected mayor of Portland and served until 1992. 22
23 JIMMY CARTER and RONALD REAGAN: In 1980 Mort Sahl said that people did not vote FOR Ronald Reagan as much as they voted AGAINST Jimmy Carter. Sahl concluded “If Reagan had been unopposed, he would have lost.” PARIS HILTON and JOHN McCAIN: In an attempt to inject some life into the 2008 campaign, McCain ran an ad mocking Barack Obama’s celebrity status by comparing him with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Hilton responded by posing in a swimming suit by the side of a pool and solemnly announcing that she would be happy to be considered for the Vice Presidency.
Tina Fey and Sarah Palin: Which is which? Time magazine wrote, “It’s hard to tell where Tina Fey ends and Sarah Palin begins…the updo, the wink, the syntax… Where Palin’s campaign projected a smart, tough, folksy reformer, Fey showed a posing, in-over-her-head maverick-bot. “It is a seamless blending of reality and parody.” 24
Tina Fey as Sarah Palin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr0_x2lxRdc 25
Tina Fey as Sarah Palin Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton 26
Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul-3JDAnqjI 27
28 REAL-LIFE RELIEF FROM STRESS In 1992, President Bush became ill at a televised state dinner in Tokyo. He vomited on the Japanese Prime Minister and then fainted. The dinner guests were both horrified and frightened. First lady Barbara Bush stood up and said that the incident was the fault of Emperor Akihito and Crown Prince Naruhito who that afternoon had beaten George in tennis When she explained, “We Bushes aren’t used to losing!” everyone knew she was joking. They relaxed because she would not have made a joke if she thought the President were in real danger.
Another Stress-Relieving Incident In 1981when President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley and was taken into the operating room of George Washington hospital for treatment, he quipped, “Please assure me that you are all Republicans.” The world relaxed when they realized that Reagan was probably not going to die because he could still make a joke. 29
The Juggling Politician https://www.youtube.com/embed/n6mbW-jMtrY?rel=0 30
32 INSULT HUMOR When William Gladstone attacked Disraeli in front of the British Parliament by saying that Disraeli would die “either on the gallows or of a horrible disease.” Disraeli responded, “That depends on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.” In the 1950s when Adlai Stevenson was running for President, a voter assured him that “Every thinking American will vote for you.” Stevenson replied, “That won’t be enough.”
33 Insult Humor Continued Mike Peters gained national attention with a cartoon that managed to insult three U. S. Presidents. It showed: –George Washington saying, “I cannot tell a lie,” –Richard Nixon saying, “I cannot tell the truth.” –and Jimmy Carter saying, “I cannot tell the difference.”
SELF-DEPRECATING HUMOR Ronald Reagan was the oldest person ever elected to serve as U. S. President. He joked about his age at a Gridiron Club dinner noting that the club had been founded in 1885. He quipped that he felt bad at not being invited…“It seems like only yesterday.” His most famous quip came in a televised debate with his opponent Walter Mondale. With a twinkle in his eye, he said that age should not be an issue, and then added, “I will not exploit, for political purposes the youth and inexperience of my opponent.” 35
Mondale laughed at Reagan’s joke, but his heart was broken. He knew at that point he had lost the election. 36
Reagan-Mondale Debate: The Age Issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoPu1UIBkBc 37
Gerald Ford was Unexpectedly Appointed Vice- President, and then President Nixon Resigned. One of his best lines was that when he was first invited to speak he was “then America’s first instant Vice- President, and then I became America’s first instant President. The Marine Corps Band is so confused they don’t know whether to play, ‘Hail to the Chief,’ or ‘You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.’” Chevy Chase used to do a popular parody of Gerald Ford, including his tripping on the stairs of Air Force One. In 1986, Ford hosted a “Humor and the Presidency” symposium at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ford turned the tables by tripping Chevy Case who had come as an honored guest. 38
39 GERALD FORD Continued Robert Orben was the Presidential speech writer for Gerald Ford. Sometimes Ford muffed the lines Orben had written. So Orben attached a 3 X 5 card on the inside cover of Ford’s speech binder, reading, “I told my wife I knew this speech backwards, and that’s how I’m delivering it.” This became one of Ford’s most successful lines. He sometimes bungled speeches just so he could use it.
40 JOHN F. KENNEDY Many of Kennedy’s critics felt that he had an unfair advantage because of his family’s wealth. So during one speech, he pulled a fake telegram from his father saying, “Don’t buy one vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’ll pay for a landslide.”
Mitt Romney and the Etch-A- Sketch Saga Have you ever played with an Etch- a-Sketch? What does it do? Do you think it was purposely or accidentally cited? Predict how many jokes cartoonists could make. 41
46 An Analogy At the Democratic National Convention in August of 2008, Hillary Clinton said that John McCain and George W. Bush had the same policies… –On the economy, –On supporting the oil companies, –On supporting big business, –On the war in Iraq. She added that it’s appropriate that the Republican National Convention is being held in the Twin Cities. “We can’t tell them apart either.”
47 Know Your Audience President Reagan made a joke to an inside group about bombing Russia, but his statement was broadcast internationally. Talking about Geraldine Ferraro, Vice President George Bush bragged that “We tried to kick a little ass last night.” It made the wire services. Even when microphones have been turned off, reporters in the room might overhear sub-rosa or joking comments and report them to wide audiences.
48 DEMOCRATS VS. REPUBLICANS : An Example of Stereotyping Democrats buy most of the books that have been banned somewhere. Republicans form censorship committees and read them as a group. Democrats name their children after popular sports figures, politicians, and entertainers. Republican children are named after their parents or grandparents, according to where the money is.
49 Republicans tend to keep their shades drawn, although there is seldom any reason why they should. Democrats ought to, but don’t. Republican boys date Democratic girls. They plan to marry Republican girls, but feel they’re entitled to a little fun first. Republicans sleep in twin beds—some even in separate rooms. That is why there are more Democrats. From the October 1, 1974, Congressional Record, submitted by Craig Hosmer
A Republican attacks Republicans: John Boehner: “Are you kidding me?” http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/53811843#53811843 50
International Politics: Russia, Germany & England 51
52 The Evolution of Political Correctness In the early 1990s, Richard Zoglin wrote in Time magazine that political correctness started out as the province of a small band of liberal reformers. But it has now become an establishment orthodoxy. So… “It is now p.c. to make fun of p.c.”
53 A Historical Example of the Power of Political Humor During the 1930s prior to WW II, many Americans were isolationists, and were strongly against any hints of anti- Nazi sentiments. On January 19, 1940, almost two years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and nine months before Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, the Three Stooges released a movie entitled You Nazi Spy. Because it was considered “just slapstick comedy” critics and politicians paid little attention to it, but it strongly influenced many Americans to rethink their isolationist attitudes.
A More Recent Example of Using Humor to Make a Serious Point George Carlin did a “comic” analysis of the changes in the words used to talk about soldiers suffering from their experiences. Shell Shock—two syllables from WWI “Simple, honest, direct language.” Battle Fatigue—four syllables from WWII “And ‘fatigue’ is a nicer word than ‘shock’.” Operational Exhaustion—eight syllables from the Korean War “the humanity has been squeezed out; it’s now totally sterile.” 54
The Language of War Continued Traumatic Stress-Disorder—still eight syllables, plus a hyphen from the Vietnam War. The pain is now buried under the jargon. 55