Monday, August 10, 2009

Banana-Peel Humor from Amused Cynic - Why is it Funny?

If It's Sunday, Maureen Dowd Must Be Writing About Sarah Palin, Again . . .

The columnist who no longer matters writes yet again about the ex-Alaskan governor who allegedly no longer matters, and she can’t even figure out why. For good measure, she opens with a riff about the Harvard African-American Studies professor who no longer matters. And people wonder why the NYT no longer matters.
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As a columnist, analyst or politician, there are basically two roads to travel:
  • analyze facts and draw conclusions
  • draw the conclusions that you are paid or have chosen to draw and then work backward.
When one appraises news, politics and opinion in the U.S., it is shocking to what extent they fall into that second category. The New York Times is the extreme case of reporting news to support the opinions of its designated readers.

Banana-peel humor is funny (to the extent that it is funny, but banana-peel humor has been a staple of theater since at least Roman times) because someone thinks he know what's happening and then is surprised by something the audience can see but he can't or doesn't. The audience is in on the joke.

Amused Cynic's paragraph is funny because the audience (the reader) is in on the joke. Maureen Dowd thinks she's being clever about Sarah Palin (but Sarah Palin isn't going away, no matter how catty Maureen Dowd is). Professor Gates thinks that the world still buys his racial posturing (but no one does after his behavior with the police). The New York Times thinks it can survive with the same old attitude (while it losses readers, advertising and money).

In politics, I suspect that the general pattern is the politicians laughing (up their sleeves and in private) while the mob slips on the banana peels. The Republic's Congressmen and Senators are spending this August recess encountering a revolution. The mob has begun to see the banana peels - in bank rescue, in general economic policy, in transparency, in strong-arm Chicago politics, in energy policy (cap & trade), in medical reform, in Congressional and Presidential perquisites.

What happens next, I wonder.

As an example of the first road - analyzing facts and drawing conclusions - I recommend Charles Krauthammer's Washington Post column of August 7 on Medical Care Reform.

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