I think Molly Ball (“Mitt Romney’s Humor: An Appreciation,” The Atlantic) gives Mitt way too much credit and sees something that just isn’t there:
“For all the hype about his woodenness, Romney, I submit, actually has the most sophisticated — and under-appreciated — sense of humor of any presidential candidate. It is dry, self-deprecating and a bit dark, a far cry from the safely hokey laugh lines of most politicians on the stump. And it bespeaks a confidence and flair not often attributed to the much-maligned candidate.
“This is the man who famously went to Michigan, the state he grew up in and then left for good, and praised it thus: ‘The trees are the right height.’ You pretty much can’t get a better absurdist parody of politicians’ vapid sure-is-nice-to-be-here patter than that.”
But when you’re actually the candidate running a real campaign, as opposed to a satirical movie or SNL skit about presidential politics, you can’t do a parody of traditional stumping while you’re out campaigning, because you’re not just making fun of yourself, you’re making fun of the people who gave up their free time and spent precious gas money to come out and see you. If people go to that trouble, they expect and deserve to be taken and addressed seriously, and the touches of humor shouldn’t be Zen-like.
You can appreciate the tree stuff when you’re sitting on your couch watching Jason Sudeikis pretend to be Mitt Romney. From Romney himself? It’s just off-putting and bizarre.
As for the hype about Mitt’s woodenness, it’s not because we aren’t cool enough to get him, except for you, Molly. It’s because he is, in fact, wooden. Any absurdist parodies that come out of his mouth are entirely unintentional.
Molly can laugh with Mitt, I’ll keep laughing at him. And whether voters align with Molly or with me, President Obama is still going to win.