Bob Franken

Parody and the Clueless

“I don’t get it.” We all know someone who utters that with a blank expression just after we’ve said something funny. Truth be known we know scads of them.

We could put just about anyone in politics in that category, and certainly those of us who cover the campaigns.

Case in point: Mike Huckabee has a new commercial out that features an endorsement by super-macho symbol Chuck Norris.

When Norris starts by saying Mike Huckabee champions gun rights, Huckabee responds, “There’s no chin behind Chuck Norris’s beard, only another fist.”

On and on it goes. Karate hero Norris and Huckabee getting laughs as they outline some of the candidate’s conservative positions.

Dopey? Maybe. But what’s even dopier is all the clamor it’s causing among those who analyze the campaign. “What is the meaning of this?” they ask with furrowed brow.

Let me help with the meaning. It’s FUNNY. A JOKE. People will laugh. Or at least they’ll take notice.

It’s simply Huckabee taking advantage of a sense of humor, which makes him almost unique in the barren world of politics. Actually, Joe Biden has one too, but so far he hasn’t done TV commercials with any action heroes. Maybe he should.

How could this all be so glum, particularly when campaigning has become so obviously, so ridiculously absurd? Maybe it’s because all the spontaneity has been squeezed out by the consultants and pollsters who parse every word and stifle any quip that hasn’t been market-researched.

Remember Jesse Ventura, the wrestler who became governor? He got there by running a campaign that was so uproariously offbeat that he completely overshadowed the two drab established candidates. Never mind the fact that he was a disaster in office — he won, didn’t he? We all know elections have little to do with governing.

So now we have Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris doing a satire on the whole process. The regular folks watching these ads will laugh and pay more attention to him. They’ll also be laughing at us, all of us in the worried world of political journalism, who hope no one hears us when we each say, “I don’t get it.”

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