Friday, October 17, 2008

The jokes were on McCain and Obama

The 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner was held in New York Thursday night, and those of us who saw parts of it on television were in for a treat. Dressed in tuxes, both presidential candidates got a chance to publicly and goodnaturedly crack jokes about each other, themselves and others at the charity event. And they each got in some good ones, giving us a refreshing view of their human side, and their humanity.

GOP Sen. John McCain might have been the most surprising. At this event away from the campaign trail, he wasn't stiff or forboding but funny, relaxed and genuine. Some of his zingers: "Where's Bill, by the way?" he asked of Hillary Clinton, who attended. "Can't he take one night off from his tireless quest to make the man who defeated his wife the next president?" And this: "Events are moving fast in my campaign. And, yes, it's true that this morning I dismissed my entire team of senior advisers. All of their positions will now be held by a man named 'Joe the Plumber.'" And this joke: "This campaign needed the common touch of a working man. After all, it began so long ago with the heralded arrival of a man known to Oprah Winfrey as 'The One.' Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him that one."

Sen. Barack Obama got in some good ones too. They were so funny to him that he couldn't resist snickering as he told them. There was this joke: "I do love the Waldorf-Astoria," he said of the place where the dinner was held. "You know, I hear that from the doorstep you can see all the way to the Russian tearoom." And then there was this joke: "The mayor of this great city, Michael Bloomberg, is here. The mayor recently announced some news - made some news by announcing he's going to be rewriting the rules and running for a third term, which caused Bill Clinton to say, you can do that?" And this one: "Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jorel to save the Planet Earth."

They both also chucked the partisanship, and sincerely praised each other. They sounded a lot like good decent men, who were friends. Three weeks before the election, it was a wonder to watch. To read, their entire comments go to