The closer we come to November, the more political observers and media watchers slowly turn into anger-fueled hate machines, trading insults and epithets under the guise of participating in dialogue. That, or we throw our hands up in the air, type out a post or two with our elbows, and then go home to cry while gently rocking back and forth. Because politics is absurd, and those who go into it are nearly impossible to understand and deal with in a way that can rise above the noise. Enter: Satire. At times, it’s the only means of providing a language and a platform to help create some sense out of the truly strange game of politics, and the players it attracts. Of course, satire is usually only as successful as the truth it seeks to convey.
Enter the The New York Times‘ David Brooks, a man who is no stranger to humor writing. Today, he provides us with a satirical look at Romney’s background, wealth, hair, and family, essentially combining the myth and the man into one terrifying Ken doll with great teeth and no central core. Here’s a taste:
Romney was a precocious and gifted child. He uttered his first words (“I like to fire people”) at age 14 months, made his first gaffe at 15 months and purchased his first nursery school at 24 months. The school, highly leveraged, went under, but Romney made 24 million Jujubes on the deal.
Mitt grew up in a modest family. His father had an auto body shop called the American Motors Corporation, and his mother owned a small piece of land, Brazil. He had several boyhood friends, many of whom owned Nascar franchises, and excelled at school, where his fourth-grade project, “Inspiring Actuaries I Have Known,” was widely admired.
The piece includes some genuinely funny jokes at the expense of the discussion surrounding Romney’s image (“Some have said that Romney’s lifestyle is overly privileged, pointing to the fact that he has an elevator for his cars in the garage of his San Diego home. This is not entirely fair. Romney owns many homes without garage elevators and the cars have to take the stairs.”), more than a few takes on the jabs aimed at Romney’s personality (“He had a pet rock, which ran away from home because it was starved of affection. He bought a mood ring, but it remained permanently transparent.”), and some less-than-stellar moments (“He left the Amish faith because of its ban on hair product, and bounced around before settling back in college.”)
Not unlike its subject, Brooks’ piece won’t earn any new converts, nor does it provide a fresh or illuminating view of either Romney or the same worn criticisms he’s received (ie, he waffles, he morphs, he’s bland, he really does have great hair). As a piece commenting-on-the-commentary, it’s not adding anything new so much as echoing that, yes, discussion of politicians often borders on the absurd and hyperbolic. More likely, the piece will turn many away while, ironically, inspiring several very thoughtful internet comments featuring such creative and original terms as “libtard” (or “libturd,” depending on the edginess of the writer), and complaints that no one would dare write a similar piece about “Godama.” (Although anecdotal evidence in the form of email forwards would prove this last point very much untrue.) A Democratic Underground thread called it “hysterical,” while Red Eye‘s Andy Levy felt it left something to be desired.
On the other hand, great punchline: “Joe Nocera is off today.”
Give it a read and let us know what you think.
UPDATE: Brooks’ response to the criticism of his column is now up on BuzzFeed.
[H]e was rueful and said he should have anticipated the incomprehension at a column that was “originally intended as a parody of the media storyline.”
The reaction, he said, was “regrettable but predictable.”
“Taste in humor is entirely partisan.”
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