Oct. 14, 2004


Send home the clown
by Rhiannon Ross

That George can be one funny guy. He just needs to hold a microphone.

Ergo, the difference between George Bush's grumpy performance in the first presidential debate when he gripped the podium and glared at John Kerry and the second where, clutching a microphone, he sometimes worked the crowd like a standup comic quipping one liners.

Granted, he still managed to slip in one comment on how "hard" it is to be president. And he stuck to his imaginary guns that he still would have declared war on Iraq, despite the findings of the Charles Duelfer report that Saddam didn't produce weapons of mass destruction after 1991 and that the United Nations' sanctions were indeed working.

But in the Friday, Oct. 8 debate, George also exhibited his ability to make people laugh, whether with him or at him, while he defended his presidential record in Texas-sized proportions.

Methinks he missed his true-life calling.

Born into privilege, George was doomed to Yale and political office when all the while, gosh darn it, he just wanted to make people laugh.

Too bad his daddy didn't use his influence to pave his way to an internship with Second City. If so, instead of "Hail to the chief," perhaps today we would be saying, "Hail to the comedian."

But help is on the way. The country could give George his pink slip in the upcoming election so he, like the millions of Americans who have lost jobs on his watch, can launch a career change.

Just think of the potential. George could portray himself as an inept U.S. President on Saturday Night Live, make a cameo appearance as a straw-chewing hayseed on Hee-Haw, or do a WASP impersonation of God's son.

And he'd get a lot of comical mileage reenacting the time he choked on a pretzel, tripped and injured his face. He could sport a 10-gallon hat, spurred boots, a holster with a real cap gun, and ride a mechanical bull at future Republican national conventions. Best of all, he could replace the elephant as the party's official mascot. They could call him the Yuk-up.

Being of Irish ancestry, I realize a sense of humor is a thing of value even, if not especially, in the worst of times. Many a therapist acknowledges that humor is a viable coping mechanism in times of great challenge and stress.

But there is such a thing as inappropriate humor, like when one is in the middle of debating topics of international and domestic importance in a presidential debate. Humor also can serve as a tool of distraction when the integrity or substance of what one has to say is noticeably lacking.

Studies have shown that a funny person is often perceived as more likeable than a serious person. This perception could potentially sidetrack an otherwise cautious voter from scrutinizing a presidential candidate's track record, which may not prove as laughable.

Because all of the jokes in the world won't balance the budget, protect us from terrorists, create good jobs, provide quality health care, educate our children, improve the environment, or raise the dead from a preventable war.

Rhiannon Ross lives in Kansas. She can be contacted at or



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