Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The wit, it sparkles like lead

The federal NDP has issued a report card grading the various members of Stephen Harper's cabinet. It will perhaps not come as a surprise that the highest mark anyone gets is a C-. It was also unsurprising, for me at any rate, that the whole thing is about as funny as a root canal. The concept is unpromising to begin with, and the wordsmiths in the NDP's press office ride it into the ground faster than I would have believed possible.

Why is it that political parties tell such terrible jokes? There's a bit in Paul Wells' book Right Side Up where Conservative operatives discuss the virtues of unprofessionalism in political communications; apparently, the most effective fund-raising letters are ones that look terrible. The low level of imagination in political commercials is pretty well known as well. And I can't remember the last time I laughed at an official party joke at their opponents expense. They're all terrible. And yet, everyone plods along, inflicting more forgettable pap on the public every year.

Obviously, the desire not to offend constrains the humour to a certain degree. What I don't understand is why they persist in trying to tell jokes in a straitjacket. Sure, a reputation as a funny guy is a good thing for a politician to have-no one who tells the sort of jokes most politicians tell is going to get a reputation as a funny guy.


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