There’s one small conceptual flaw with this article on John McCain’s sense of humor. Everything.
Let us clear up a few things about John McCain’s sense of humor. First, he’s an asshole. And not a funny, Lewis Black or George Carlin kind of asshole that ends up touching on truths about things, but the kind of asshole who’s already figured out how he’d kick your ass. Second, he’s not actually funny. Watching John McCain deliver a joke is like watching your boss regale you with the story of how he was at the movies and some Mexican guy was kicking his seat and then he solved it by telling the guy he must have strong legs from running over the border. He’s got a very Old White Guy sense of humor – it’s funny that things are different, so let’s mock them before they become threatening or the parents of my grandchildren.
McCain’s humor, by contrast, makes him the political counterpart of the radio host Don Imus (whom he has defended): It’s sharp, unrehearsed and, at times, way, way over the line. This cycle, he’s drawn winces, and worse, for everything from a joking reference to domestic violence to a now-notorious little ditty about bombing Iran. Earlier in his political career, the Arizona press reported that he’d cracked a rape joke that would now probably end any politician’s career, a joke his aides then and now say he doesn’t recall making.
To McCain’s friends and supporters, the humor is a mark of his authenticity. To his detractors, some of the jokes are offensive and out of touch with contemporary mores. What’s undeniable, though, is that the humor, with its political risks and, to some, its charm, is intrinsic to John McCain. He is a man of a certain generation, with a machismo forged from his experience as a Navy pilot and an aviator, a candidate who is more comfortable in his own skin than with a teleprompter.
While understandable that you seek to excuse the proclivities of any man who smells so strongly of aged redwood forests and the smoke of the battlefield (the secret: burning a mixture of equal parts A1 and wood chips as you get dressed), it seems rather awkward to excuse a man who advocates at various junctures battery, rape, indirect genocide, misogyny and abject stupidity, because he’s a war hero from way back. Again, the regular people gap comes into play – lacking any knowledge of how people in the real world operate, the media is left to assume that anyone who acts differently than their accepted norm will, largely based on political affiliation, either enrage the proles or cause them to engage in the heartwarming reminiscence of simpler times when men were men and women weren’t men. Or talking back like hussies. The article goes over some of McCain’s greatest hits, including his joke about Janet Reno being Chelsea Clinton’s father. What’s odd about all the jokes they reference is that none of them are what you’d generally call “funny”. He gets credit for sailing bravely past the mores of political correctness, directly into the soft, safe laps of supporters who I suppose laugh uproariously about his Francophobia and disdain for 17-year-old girls. In fact, it’s actually a strength that McCain does this, according to his campaign:
And McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said McCain’s humor is, more broadly, central to his appeal.
“He’s long said that he’s said and done things in the past that he regrets,” Rogers said. “You’ve just got to move on and be yourself — that’s what people want. They want somebody who’s authentic, and this kind of stuff is a good example of McCain being McCain.”
McCain’s veneer of authenticity seems to revolve around him learning bad jokes and then delivering them haltingly. It really seems like a bad sales pitch – I’m going to try really, authentically hard and really, authentically fail like a total dickweed, then really, authentically not get it at all. When the inner workings of your mind seem to always settle back to how cunty and whorish and rapeable things are, maybe it’s time to start lying to people.