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Meditations - ta eis heauton

Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Because it is not funny.

In an editorial today Kathleen Parker spends her entire column ranting about the fact that Hillary didn't laugh at the President's joke last night.

Bush was discussing stresses to the Social Security system and mentioned that the first baby boomers were turning 60, including two of his father's favorite people. We're waiting to hear George and maybe Jeb Bush when he says, "Me and President Bill Clinton."

Badaboom! Pan to Hillary.

Nothing, nada, zip. Cheekbones bouncing light back to the fluorescent gods, her ruby lips a door slammed shut for all eternity to the minions of mirth. My mind immediately free-associates to the ancient vampires in Anne Rice's "Vampire Chronicles," who, cold and bloodless through the ages, had turned to stone. Clinton was the sphinx the joker couldn't budge. If eyes could emasculate, Hillary's would send a man into the high octaves.

First, I have seen video of the event and Hillary didn't laugh, but did give a mild smirk. You know the kind of bored smirk that someone who had access the speech long before the President gave it and knew the lame joke was coming? Yeah, that kind of smirk.

Second, who gives a crap whether or not Hillary smiles at a lame joke? Why should anyone care about this? Parker seems to suggest that this inability to laugh at lame jokes is a character defect that couldn't be tolerated in a President:

Truthfully, I'm pulling for everyone deep down. I have no bone to pick with Hillary Clinton, no wish to see her stumble. But I admit to being fascinated, and I watch her closely. I especially watch her when she's out of sight; listen when she's quiet. You learn a lot about people not just by what they say, but by what they don't say.

Or by what they don't do, where they don't show up. With a Clinton, no move is accidental. And she is, of course, considered the most likely Democratic candidate for president in 2008. Could she win?

... snip ....

I don't know what was going through Clinton's mind in that moment, but her expression said, "Bug off," or sentiments to that effect. What we do know is that Bill Clinton would have loved it. And laughed. And reminded Americans of his humanness and his ready sense of humor. His wife, by defining contrast, showed the world that she is something else. That thing -- what is it? It is what she isn't: human, gracious and humorous.

Is she serious? Clinton doesn't laugh at a mediocre scripted joke and suddenly she is inhuman, ungracious and humorless? Give me a break!

Conservatives hated Bill Clinton's affable charm. Liberals hate Bush's folksy friendliness. The other side always feels that the opposition leader is faking it. Maybe we should be thankful that Hillary isn't quite so fake?

To make a long commentary longer, my biggest problem with this column -- it was a giant waste of space. There are many much bigger problems in the world we should be worrying about. In response I wrote the following letter to the Statesman:

In Tuesday’s editorial “The night Hillary's funny bone went missing”, Parker spends 732 words on Hillary Clinton not laughing at the President’s joke that President Clinton and he are his father’s favorite people.

Over 2,250 US soldiers have died in a war that is projected to cost the country between 1 and 2 trillion dollars. The most recent CBO estimate says the budget deficit will climb to $423 billion this fiscal year, on top of the over $8,000,000,000,000 ($8,000 billion) national debt already earning interest. The President has basically admitted to breaking a law he didn’t like, Congressional statutes be damned. Muslims are rioting around the world about a cartoon. Nearly 46 million Americans live without health insurance. The hurricane ravaged gulf coast is being ignored. Kathleen Parker, however, felt the best use of her syndicated column’s 732 words was to quibble about Clinton’s reaction to a scripted joke.