Through the benefit of fine films such as Journeys with George, it’s long been established that our current President is a jocular, fun-loving guy. We’ve even paid tribute to his chummy tenor ourselves on a few occasions using our tried-and-true Scientific Joke Assessment methodology. However, bestowing nicknames like “Scrappy” or “Shruggy” or whatnot on White House press correspondents or members of your cabinet only goes so far, and at some point a truly engaging president must rely on clever speechwriters to amuse a crowd.
Let’s get going, then. To wit, here are the opening quips from Bush 43’s remarks at his father’s 80th birthday tribute event this weekend.
“Thank you all. As you can see, I have been given the high honor to represent my three brothers, my sister, and our respective families at the 80th birthday party for our dad, our Gampy.”
OK, not a bad start. Cute, even. It cuts to the point, with the inclusion of “Gampy” gently invoking a bit of familial interplay. The president continues,
“You’re probably wondering how I got to be the family spokesman. (Laughter.)”
Again, pretty funny, all thins considered. He’s riffing on the fact that he’s the sitting President of the United States — the most powerful man in the world — and his father’s eldest son. It also bears noting that one of his brothers is merely a governor of some state that juts off from the continental United States, while another brother is an established crook and scam artist from the savings and loan bailouts of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Much like the “Gampy” line above, he’s delicately playing on issues of love and familiarity in a larger, broader context. Continuing,
“Well, we polled the family. And rumor has it, somewhere in our large family, the tiebreaking vote for tonight’s speaker was cast by a fourth cousin by the name of Chad. (Laughter and applause.)”
Hmm. Well, OK, we’ll give him this one as an act of good faith. He’s using the family angle again, which is good, given the setting, though obliquely embarking on this “Chad” tangent may be a bit dicey. After all, it’s not really relevant to his father’s 80th birthday in any direct form, and it seems ill-advised to reference an issue that many people consider a black mark upon his own supposed presidency, that is to say, that whole Katherine Harris/Jeb Bush/illegal removal of thousands of black voters from the election rolls fiasco. But, yeah, we’ll concede the point here. Seriously, it’s at least partially clever to go out and make up a fictitious family member in the act of telling a good joke. Continuing, then,
“While holding his son above the crib, Chad’s father reports that the lad burped, and it sounded like, “George W.” (Laughter.)”
Umm, yeah, he’s treading into some poorly-considered territory here. The recount joke/fictitious family member’s role has been elongated an extra beat, but now with the addition of a semi-juvenile burping gag. Ugh. Continuing, and really, maybe, he shouldn’t,
“Once again, my life was affected by a dangling chad. (Laughter and applause.)”
Oh, fuck! He actually did it! He went back and more or less made stark the otherwise subtler implications of his earlier lines. At this point, it’s a wonder he actually moved on in the speech and began to speak about the funeral for his surrogate papa, Ronald Reagan, rather than continue with even more painfully drawn-out jokes about the fictitious baby in the crib also being named Chad, just like his father, and having the cutest dimples this side of the twins’ baby photos, ad infinitum.
Here’s to you up in heaven, ol’ cowboy…Thank you, Ronnie, for enabling us to be spared any jokes about Jews for Buchanan.
RELATED: About.com’s Florida Recount Jokes website