Hardball Politics . . . and Humour
Ana Marie Cox
Let’s talk about the intersection of politics and humour. A gentleman sent an email this morning about yesterday’s post, and unlike some who spew profanity, or insult my children, he asked a reasonable question:
The Wonkette piece about Roberts was obviously meant to be funny. Why did you take it to be serious?
And, he signed his name. Good on you, Gerald Barker.
I am interested, and surprised, that so many people have focused in their comments on Wonkette. Her post was an important piece of the story. But she wasn’t really my central point.
Look: The picture I posted — from the NYTimes; the Wonkette Peppermint Patty quote — was originally from the NYTimes.
The Grey Lady. All the News That’s Fit to Print. The Newspaper of Record.
Why did I take the gay “joke” seriously? Well, because Ann Althouse first caught my attention with her observation, about the NYTimes profile of Roberts, that:
I do think the NYT piece was subtly constructed to plant this idea [that Roberts is gay].
Well, was it? I’m sure we can all agree, even my visitors from Unfogged, that the NYTimes piece was not meant to be a joke in any way. Althouse made me wonder: Did the NYT intend to telegraph the idea that Roberts is gay with the picture montage and the Peppermint Patty nugget?
Live around hardball politics long enough. . .and one wonders.
Here’s Roberts, a guy at the pinnacle of his career, reaching a height few ever attain, and our friends on the Left climb into the Way Back Machine to resurrect his role in a play in a high school drama production? I played the Easter Bunny in first grade. . . is that relevant to my life now? What’s the point? Furthermore, in the NYTimes photo montage, not a single woman appears. Not his wife; not his three sisters.
The Wonkette quote seems to have distracted most people from this question raised about the NYTimes. However, one anonymous commenter did observe:
I’ve seen these subtle NY Times photo arrangements before — it’s a game they like to play. They once had five photos whose orchestrated point were that Orlando is a Mickey Mouse town. It was really quite funny.
What the NY Times is doing now, in a supposed news report, is **simply throwing stuff** at Roberts. The point is — whatever negativity comes of it.
This is precisely the point. The NYTimes piece made me start wondering. . . add Wonkette doing her
snarky little thing political analysis . . . add the Manhattan Offender riff on the Wikipedia entry . . . add comments on several other left-wing blogs that I didn’t cite. . .
But I don’t mean to completely write off Wonkette as backstory for the NYTimes piece. Let me restate: I know Wonkette is supposed to be funny. Right, right, I get it already.
Please. Wonkette’s brand of comedy is hardly higher-order humour. Not hard to “get.”
The real issue is: Does the fact that she’s “joking” mean I can’t criticize her? As Andy notes below, “we can say anything we want as long as we claim it’s a joke?”
Let’s clear something up. As Norm in the comments notes: “Wonkette is seriously humorous.” Wonkette’s schtick may be to make sexual jokes . . . but it’s in the context of politics. The top post on her site today is on Social Security. A real knee-slapper.
This is a critical point. Over at Corante — a business blog that I really like — they weighed in on this story with “Anatomy of a Rumor” and they include as one point that:
The story is leveled – details essential for understanding (such as the fact that Wonkette is a humorist) are removed.
Since when is Wonkette a “humorist?” She’s no Dave Barry. And she’s no Scrappleface, either. “Wonkette”, as in “policy wonk.” Check out her Bloggie award for “best political blog.” Go to IMAO for humor.
Spare me the “it’s just a joke” defense. I took her joke seriously because humour is a weapon in hardball politics. Serious people take it seriously. [And she ranks 12th in blog traffic, averaging 59,967 hits a day. (Ann Althouse is #60 and averages 7773 visits per day.)]
Having said all of that, I haven’t even addressed the substance of the “joke.” I’ll leave that for commenter Giacomo. I thought his pithy summary was brilliant: “If it’s serious it’s sad. If it’s a joke it’s hypocritical. You pick.”
And finally. It turns out some of you are a whole lot funnier than Wonkette. You want funny? This is funny:
Patch asked: “Plaid pants??? May I see the part of the Constitution that mentions anything about clothing styles.”
David replied: I think it is in the Declaration of Independence, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of plaid pants”. And who can forget the Boston Plaid Pants Party. And Patrick Henry’s stirring “No Plaid Pants without representation” speech before the Virginia House of Burgess.
Good one, guys.
* * *
Visit Smash and commenters at Indepundit.
Read Daleen’s Place Ye Shall know the extremist by the Necco wafer clothing ….
Go play in Mamamontezz’s Mental Rumpus Room and get more reactions.
More good reads at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Open Weekend
Kerfuffles has more (better!) humor at What Makes Jackie Dance?
Was adorable little Dancin’ Jackie another Karl Rove sly trick?…Perhaps it was simply a “dance of joy” at seeing his father selected for the highest court in the land. Needless to say, that explanation carries little weight with the Leftists. The Moonbats, in attempts to counteract the kid’s charm which they fear may rub off onto his father, Judge John Roberts, have been busy with their Operation Looney Research. They immediately proffered a number of explanations for Dancin’ Jack’s performance, some of which are unbelievably despicable…
Kerfuffles goes on to quote a Daily Kos commenter about Judge Roberts,
“He’s probably gay. Of course, this is how ridiculous rumors get started, but extreme conservatives seem to have a lot of homosexual children… .”
There are people who know very little about fashion-that-flatters, and style-with-chic, outside of what their high-level, Fashion Week, NYU amateur-designer friends, who spend wekends in the hamptons, prefer thong-showing jeans, worship prolific junk-mongers and half naked androgenous models with post-modern makeup to the timeless style of Christain Dior and CoCo Chanel, understand about the current trends. My inclination is that Robin Givhan, of the Washington Post style department is one of those people.