The 2012 presidential campaign has largely been a nasty, uninspiring slog toward election day, but there have been moments of hilarity, wonderful absurdity and even a bit of hope – reminders that politics can be fun.
My cartoon today is in that spirit. When the starlet with the extra-messy life, Lindsay Lohan, announced she was likely voting for the ultra-straight-laced Mitt Romney, I just had to get the two together in a cartoon. And I could not resist tossing in a reference to women in binders. In the second presidential debate, Romney said that, in seeking more females for positions in his gubernatorial Cabinet in Massachusetts, he came up with “binders full of women.” It was the latest odd example of how the Republican nominee sometimes packages his thoughts, and it immediately went viral.
The funniest riffs on Romney’s comment came in a flurry of bogus product reviews on the Amazon Web page where binders and other office supplies are sold. Here is an excerpt from one: “Thank goodness for this binder. Now, each day when dinnertime rolls around, I’m able to select a stereotype-friendly woman from the binder to go home and cook. This leaves me free to fritter away the entire evening at work, while still collecting the full 72% paycheck. And my boss is none the wiser! Thanks to this binder, I’m on Easy Street!”
If Tuesday’s debate comment caused him some unintended grief, Romney was intentionally funny on Thursday at the Al Smith dinner in New York. It was a welcome respite from the brass-knuckled campaign. All the men were dressed in white tie and tails, and that was a relief for him, Romney said – after all the wardrobe changes required on the campaign trail, it was nice to “wear what Ann and I wear around the house.”
Earlier in the evening, President Obama had taped an appearance on Jon Stewart’s news satire program, "The Daily Show." With Stewart, he played it very straight and presidential. But when Obama took his turn at the microphone at the Al Smith event, he immediately went for the funny stuff, telling everyone to take their seats, “otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them.”
Alluding to his disparate performances in the two debates, Obama said the second go-round went much better because “I felt really well-rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate.”
Romney took some funny jabs at the president, who was sitting just a seat away, separated only by the imposing figure of Catholic Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan. The GOP nominee said the grueling campaign would be even more difficult without having someone to rely on, someone without whom a candidate could not go on another day: “I have my wife, Ann; he has Bill Clinton.”
The same night the two candidates were doing stand-up comedy at the Waldorf Astoria, super-surrogate Clinton was sharing a stage at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio, with Bruce Springsteen – and that had to have been fun.
Before introducing the working-class troubadour for a seven-song set, the ex-president told the crowd: “This is the first time in my life I ever got to be the warm-up act for Bruce Springsteen. I am qualified, because I was born in the USA and, unlike one of the candidates for president, I keep all my money here.”
Springsteen avoided comedy and mostly stuck with music. In brief remarks, though, he delivered a pointed, it’s-time-to-stop-whining-and-grow-up message to liberals and young people disappointed with Obama’s first term. He recalled election night 2008 as "an evening when you can feel the locked doors of the past finally being blown open to new possibilities. But then, then comes a hard daily struggle to make those possibilities real in a world that is brutally resistant to change.”
The Boss went on, saying, "I'm here today because I've lived long enough to know that despite those galvanizing moments in history, the future is rarely a tide rushing in. It's often a slow march, inch by inch, day after long day, and I believe we are in the midst of those long days right now. And I’m here today because I believe President Obama feels those days in his bones, for all the 100% of us."
No, politics does not have to be unrelentingly grim, though sometimes it takes a poet like Springsteen to provide a voice of inspiration.