It felt like I went to a comedy club on Saturday. But it wasn’t really a club; it was a dreary hotel banquet hall right off I-94. And the event wasn’t billed as comedy. It was billed as the Wisconsin Faith and Freedom Coalition Presidential Kick-Off. I infiltrated it, but as a middle-aged white male it was very easy to blend in. And let me tell you, it was a hoot.
Did you hear the one about the guy who was lecturing over 1,000 people about morality? “It is immoral to crush our children and grandchildren with debt”, that sort of thing. Turns out the morality-upholding guy was none other than the cancer-victim-wife betraying Newt Gingrich.
Did you hear about the guy telling us we must push back against the elites? “There’s an entire elitist collection of people who believe that they know better than us.” This was the same guy with the six-figure revolving credit plan at Tiffany’s. Yep, Newt again.
Okay, it’s almost too easy to laugh at Newt. Anymore he’s like the Buddy Hackett of the GOP. But what about Paul Ryan? He attended the event to endorse Mitt Romney. And he’s so intellectual and stuff!
To be honest, even in person, what I saw was laughable. In Washington, D.C., Paul Ryan is a guy who drinks $350 bottles of wine with economists. But in front of the group in Waukesha he talked of his youth detasselling corn and flipping burgers, or of his sticker shock the other day when he went to fill up his truck with gas.
It was funny how Ryan described this ominous America where a battle is being won by the takers at the expense of us makers (Ryan has only ever made a paycheck working as a staffer or politician in the U.S. Capitol), where there’s all these people who don’t even pay income tax. Then, immediately after, Ryan says it is Obama who is trying to divide us here in America with all this talk about class warfare.
Intellectually, Paul Ryan is a mess. But as comedy it was gold.
My favorite act was Freedom and Family Coalition state chairman Tony Nasvig. He opened the show just after they piped in music for the Christian crowd, including the Rolling Stones and their “Start Me Up” – which is a song with lyrics about dead men that don’t seem very Christian.
As the music faded, Tony preceded to warm up the crowd with a quip at the expense of the Walker recall effort. He was sending around petitions among the audience, Tony said, to recall the New York Giants since we don’t like that they won instead of the Packers. “So sign up and sign as many times as you want to,” Nasvig said, adding that you can make up names too.
That earned a lot of guffaws because these Republicans got the joke: Radio hosts and MacIver “news” had been telling them for weeks that the recall Walker petitions were overflowing with fallacious signatures. I asked my event neighbor to explain and he said that yes, there were lots and lots of bogus signatures on the recall petitions, including Adolph Hitler and Donald Duck.
The state Government Accountability Board staff would no doubt fail to get Tony’s joke. The staff got their information from the petitions themselves – not Charlie Sykes – and certified Friday that the petitions contained a negligible 3% of errors. Funny thing is, that’s less bogus content than what you find on the MacIver website.
Mitt Romney, of course, was not that funny because he’s not much of anything. He said the right stuff, but with a look and delivery so pretty and so unreal that it seemed robotic. In fact, Romney could have easily been the most android-like of the event if not for Callista Gingrich, whose circuits were powered up before it was positioned next to the lectern during Newt’s routine.
In comedy, you want to close with a zinger. The Family and Freedom Coalition did that. The closing benediction was not a prayer, it was a joke. Did God really put Scott Walker in the governor’s mansion? Is the attempt to recall Walker a kind of sin, counter to the will of God? And the Bible tells us we should not re-elect Obama, does it?
You don’t know whether to end something like that with an amen or with a rim shot.