Milking the horse: The funny vote
: Laura Bush’s stand-up routine was a notable political moment:
It was about trying to recapture the funny vote: the vast voting public with a sense of humor. It was about trying to be real people (not self-righteous prigs).
Last week, Glenn Reynolds said that the Republicans try to fight down the image of being the party of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson while the Democrats try to fight down the image of being the party of Jane Fonda.
In other words, they try to distance themselves from self-righteous prigs. I do believe that Americans are are sick and tired of the prig fringe.
This was a message to both sides: It was a message to Kerry voters that “we have more fun.” And, with horse dick jokes, I do think it was a message to the religious right: “We need to lighten up.”
In his Times column today, John Tierney says the Bushes — and, they hope, their backers — are coming out as real people:
Mrs. Bush’s performance, and her husband’s reaction, wasn’t a shock to the reporters who cover the White House. For years they have tried to convince their friends outside Washington that Mr. Bush is actually not a close-minded dolt, and Mrs. Bush is no Stepford Wife or Church Lady. Yes, they’re Texans who go to church and preach family values, but they’re not yahoos or religious zealots…
The favorite Democratic explanation is that the red staters are hicks who have been blinded by righteousness, as Thomas Frank argues in “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” He laments that middle-class Kansans are so bamboozled by moral issues like abortion and school prayer that they vote for Republicans even though the Republican tax-cutting policies are against their self-interest….
One of the main reasons they like him is that he gets bashed so often. When Jon Stewart sneers at him, they empathize because they’re used to being sneered at themselves.
They know what their image is in Manhattan and Hollywood, and they know they’re not all that different from the Democrats in those places. They, too, watch “Desperate Housewives,” and they’re not surprised to hear Laura Bush doing Chippendales jokes. They’ve spent their own dollar bills there. They don’t see anything the matter with that – or with themselves.
It’s a clever political move, for it’s a lot easier to get people to like you — and vote for you — when you’re laughing along than when you’re trying to duck spit.