Finding Humor in the Presidential Primaries

May 24, 2016

I’ve followed American politics since I was a kid.  I teach classes in it at Columbia College.  I talk to you occasionally about it.

Last fall and winter I was telling people, with a fair amount of confidence, that Hillary Clinton was on a glide path to a coronation and with only slightly less confidence that she would beat Jeb Bush in the general election.

When asked about this Donald Trump fellow I said, again with confidence, that he will not be the Republican nominee.  Because he was such a curiosity I did a couple of commentaries comparing him to a flamboyant former Italian prime minister and to a radical rabble-rouser named Huey Long who in the 1930s brought American politics to a boil.  Not in a million years did I think Donald Trump would be a major party’s nominee for president of the United State.

Good grief.  Wiley Coyote has a better record against The Roadrunner than I have predicting politics this season.

So when faced with predictions so off the rails, there is only one thing to do: Go to someone who actually understands politics.  This person is Steven Wright.

Steven Wright is the droll comedian from Boston who is best known for his clever insights into the human condition.  Some of his classics include:

·         The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

·         The colder the X-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.

·         A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Wright does Murphy’s Laws for grown-ups.  And just as there is a Beatles’ song for every politician and for every political situation, so there is Steven Wright wisdom for politics – especially in this campaign.

Any of the candidates with half-baked ideas?  Wright says: A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking.

When Jeb Bush was trying to fix his forlorn campaign?  Wright says: His mechanic must have told him “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”

Hillary Clinton’s email?  Wright says: If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

And any of the candidates who claim they have the background and know-how to be president?  Wright says: Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

Presidential politics is serious business, so we got have some fun sometimes.  Steven Wright leaves us you with a physics problem: If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

Dr. Terry Smith is a political science professor at Columbia College, and a regular commentator for KBIA’s Talking Politics