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March 26, 2004
Ha. Ha. And ha.

Regardless of the (in my opinion*) overreaction to Bush's WMD (ahem) jokes at the Radio and Television News Correspondents Association dinner, some people think Democrats are developing a sense of humor. Well, young ones, anyhow.

* Yes, I think some of us are overreacting, okay? I know people have died. I'm one of the ones who has been screaming about that fact for a year.

But self-roasting is a feature of this dinner and aside from mocking his own verbal ineptitude, something Bush often does, what did you expect him to talk about?

He's not likely to make jokes out of his promised to push corporate reforms with corporate scandals still hitting the news weekly.

He's not likely to make jokes about his promise to 'bring a new era' to Washington, or whatever it is he said, after it's been shown that his new era is as corrupt or more corrupt than any other we've seen in the last twenty years.

What other issues did you expect him to mine for humor?

"No Child Left Behind" isn't suitable, not with states and cities threatening to opt out, Congress having to go in and re-write the provisions, and teachers all over the country still on edge about that "terrorist" accusation.

"Medicare reform" isn't suitable, not with the recent revelation that the White House deliberately suppressed the true cost of the bill and with more and more reports coming out saying that privatization is only going to make the funding problems worse.

Gay marriage? With cities, counties, and states all over the country fighting about it? Surely even his advisors understood that's an issue too hot, and too divisive.

What else is there?

The only conceivable topic, which the White House, for some inexplicable reason chose to avoid, was to make fun of the reputations of most of Bush's major advisors.

Face it, people. There's not much that's funny in the Bush Administration.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:07 PM


Yes, but even so, he probably could have used a better writer. "That's My Bush" found enough comedy to mine, after all.

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at March 26, 2004 02:31 PM

Yes, but the same thing could be said of 99% of his speeches. This White House seems to have the worst speech writers in living memory. It's a source of constant amazement to me.

Posted by: Anne at March 26, 2004 04:27 PM

Actually it would depend on the definition of "funny" being used.

Re: writers, with so many good people available it is beyond comprehension that he is allowed to read the scripts he has used lately. I seriously question the abilities of Rove based on recent history.

Posted by: Bryan at March 26, 2004 07:05 PM

Hmm. I usually find his speeches to be political slippery, but pretty well-written. I don't watch as many as I used to, though: my stomach can't take as much live political theater as it used to.

Certainly every time he has to give a major speech the media falls all over themselves talking about how well-written it was. But I stopped listening to the overspun talking heads a while back, too.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 27, 2004 11:55 PM

Maybe I have an unnaturally high standard when it comes to rhetoric, but I don't think so.

When I'm listening to a speech, I don't expect to be hearing the writers' struggle with phrasing and metaphor and I certainly don't expect to see neon signs flashing around every passage the writers' hoped would catch the public's imagination.

When I listen(ed) to Bush, that's what I heard. The bones. The effort behind it all.

I don't fault them because he doesn't speak well, and because he seems to insist on going off the teleprompter (what else could explain the repetitions and awkward pauses?), but I do think I can point a finger at them over the places where Bush is clearly reading the lines written for him and they're still clumsy and obvious.

Bad dialogue drives me nuts. :)

Posted by: Anne at March 29, 2004 08:36 AM

On the other hand, you have to give them credit. If you listen to the whole speech, statement, whatever, it sounds bad. But the media picks up the lines they're supposed to pick up ('bring them on') and the soundbites, though they're clearly intended as soundbites, are immensely effective.

If I were being really non-partisan, I might suggest that it's a new form of rhetoric, uncomfortably blended with the older speechifying form, but much better suited to the media of transmission.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 29, 2004 02:06 PM

I'd have to disagree with that, Jonathan.

The habit of speaking in "sound bites" started in the early 80s, with Reagan, and yet his speeches as a whole still held together, as speeches. Whatever it is the Bush Administration is doing...it doesn't strike me as "new" rhetoric. Just, as I said before, really, really bad writing.

The media problem, the way each outlet picks out whatever quotes or sound bites they feel like focusing on...that's a different thing. I've always thought that if each outlet broadcast/printed each speech in its entirety, as well as writing their commentary and articles on it. that would be a much more "fair" way of covering the topic. I think many would be surprised how many people would read the entire text.

Posted by: Anne at March 30, 2004 07:58 AM