According to The Telegraph’s report on last night’s Al Smith dinner:
The two candidates both raised riotous laughter at the fundraising gala in Manhattan, enjoying a few hours of political ceasefire as they sat on either side of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, America’s most senior Catholic.
Watching on TV, I didn’t see the event the way the UK newspaper’s reporter did.
Mitt Romney and President Obama did not by any stretch of the imagination, enjoy a few hours of political ceasefire. To me, their supposedly satirical gigs were warmed over versions of their stump speeches.
The Republican presidential candidate was his obnoxious, bullying self. And he was about as funny as a toothache.
What I saw and heard was reflected in the Reuters perception:
The combativeness of the campaign trail was ever-present as the two foes gave back-to-back speeches at the 67th annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner.
It’s true that Romney “skinned out his teeth,” as we Jamaicans might put it. But I wouldn’t call the Romney grimace a smile. And the tasteless way he needled Obama was far from funny.
And I cringed at the way he sucked up to the Roman Catholic hierarchy hosting the dinner, remarking that he shared their approach to abortion while the president is trying to force them to provide contraceptives for their employees. (It was a typical Romney misrepresentation. The healthcare reform law exempts religious organizations from the contraceptives provision. It affects only secular operations run by religious groups.)
As you might expect, the president was less ham handed than Romney, but I didn’t find him funny, either.
What’s so “riotous” about telling guests to take their seats before Clint Eastwood starts yelling at the chairs?
What’s so witty about ridiculing loyal Joe Biden?
That sounded awkward to me, not clever.
Of course the guests were laughing. Those fat cats have everything to laugh about. They’re America’s overfed, overindulged one percent.
They were stuffing their faces with culinary delights and lapping up vintage wine, while millions of their fellow-Americans were going to bed hungry.
They were laughing in the faces of the sufferers.
And the sufferers might say, “What is joke to you is death to me.”
Sure, the lavish dinner raised money for “charity.”
And charity is going to be sorely needed in America if President Obama loses this election.
If Romney and his pillagers take the White House, their policies will soak the earth with the tears of orphans and widows. The oppression of women will be beyond the imagination of any American born in the past half century. Unemployment lines will lengthen – and unemployment benefits will have disappeared (along with school lunches for poor kids and medical care for poor families, especially women).
Not to mention the ravaging of the environment by corporate barons let loose upon the land to plunder and pollute at will.
Past administrations may have chastised Americans with whips; a Romney administration would chastise Americans with scorpions.
Even as Romney “joked” with those George W. Bush once called “the haves and the have mores,” workers at an Illinois factory owned by Bain Capital (Romney’s former company, in which he still has millions of dollars invested) were training their Chinese replacements and preparing to close its doors – just one more example of Romney’s long history of outsourcing American jobs to China.
You might say, “Lighten up George; where’s your sense of humor?”
But believe me this election is just not funny.