The Tactical Humorist

02.15.12

Analyzing the Political Humor of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney

For candidates at CPAC, use of humor is true to form: Mitt is moderate, Santorum is conservative, and Newt is erratic.

The Tin Man’s Ear: Also Made of Tin

Here’s a second helping of umbrage to anyone offended by Romney’s “not concerned about the poor” remark. At CPAC, Mitt opened up with a Republican standby from 2008: community organizing as punch line.

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Derisive comments about grassroots democracy are always good for a loud laugh in this crowd, but it didn’t take long for Mitt to reveal his congenital tone-deafness. Watch as he attempts to reimagine his tenure as Massachusetts governor in ways he imagines the audience would prefer to hear:

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Severely conservative?  What adjectives did Mitt pencil into his draft before landing on that one? Savagely? Brutally? Cruelly? Pitilessly? He might have elicited a smile rather than a cringe had he gone to that reliable standby, “to the right of Attila the Hun.” “Severely conservative” wasn’t exactly a gaffe, but it prompted head shakes of the severe variety from Republicans while providing material for Santorum’s campaign and David Axelrod.

Just another example of Mitt Romney having memorized the conservative prayer book but unable to sing the hymns in tune

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Rick Santorum: Richie Santorum’s Happy Days

Arriving at CPAC upon the winds of his stunning three-state sweep, the two-term Pennsylvania senator did not need to convince anyone in the room of his conservative credentials. His speech was the most focused and the most “conservative,” and unlike Mitt and Newt, Rick had no time for laughs. But David Gregory forced him into levity on Meet the Press. Check out Rick comparing himself to Happy Days’s Richie Cunningham while Gregory waxes rhapsodic (or perhaps, sarcastic?) over Santorum’s signature sweater vest.

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To Democrats, Santorum might look like a wolf in Lands’ End clothing, but more and more Republicans are falling under the spell of his Richie Cunningham-esque charisma. He’s already edging out Newt Gingrich-as-Archie Bunker, so if Rick can really sell his “wholesome” persona in Ohio and Michigan, he just might be able to defeat his TV Land nemesis, Thurston Howell III.

Here’s Looking at You, Newt.

If poor turnout and yesterday’s National Review are any indicators, Gingrich’s “Newtmentum” is swiftly “newtceding” or, if you prefer, “newteriorating.” Newt, however, remains steadfast in his approach. Despite the shifting political climate, the former House speaker delivered a typically Gingrichian speech at CPAC last weekend. Here’s a choice cut:

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Newt’s approach to speechifying, replete with snark-speckled history lectures which admonish bureaucratic inefficiencies, has served him well until now, earning laughter that reminds audiences that agree with the speaker’s low opinion of “Washington-imposed solutions.” But as the clock ticks down on his campaign, it has become apparent that while he can still get GOP audiences to laugh along with him, he is failing to convince them to take him seriously.