Politics, humor, and gender

I was amused by the MIT website this morning and the featuring of a conference on gender and the politics of humor.  Of course, at the time the words got all mangled up in my brain and I thought they were talking about gender and political humor.  It is an amusing and interesting idea nonetheless, but I was more intrigued by my original misconception.

Why is it that Hilary Clinton is not funny?  Or most of our presidents, really.  I mean, there are jokes made about them, but it’s rare for a president to crack a joke.  Especially while campaigning.  But crusty old presidents enmeshed in their own seriousness like Nixon and Grant let out crazy jokes once and awhile.  Even W has let out a joke or two in these ending days.  So what keeps them so serious most of the time?  And why do they think it’s to their benefit? I mean, even Ross Perot’s political career might not have been sunk if he’d been able to laugh at himself.

I’m not saying that our presidents should be mere performers, or that the seriousness of their office does not impose its own rigor.  But it’s important to realize that all public office is just that – an office.  It’s something that you walk away from after your term.  It’s something you do, not necessarily who you are.  Now that we’ve had females in many major political positions, it’s time for some not-so-serious reform.  If bush and Clinton can loosen up enough to hang out together in casual togs, then Hilary should be able to wear something other than a suit.  Maybe even a flower summery dress that reminds us she’s a woman, using it as a strength.  After all, most of us females are caught wanting it all – a great home life, a great professional career, and both the respect and love of our peers.  If our President can’t manage it, how can we?

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