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A real bag of laughs

india Updated: Aug 19, 2012 22:40 IST

Hindustan Times
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It's obviously catching. The incumbents of the White House appear to be afflicted with a propensity for gaffes as soon as they are elevated to the position of top cat in the world. The latest to be struck by 'graffitis' is Barack Obama who has rated his mother-in-law's charisma as lower than that of his pet dog. Of course, he corrected himself but we don't think Marian Robinson is terribly amused. But when held up against the benchmark set by our beloved George W Bush, Mr Obama pales in comparison. He was truly in a class of his own. Let us refresh your memory with a few samples. "I know that human being and fish can co-exist peacefully," he once said to the utter bewilderment of his audience. Then he displayed his felicity with the language when he said, "Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning." Of course, his natters with the Almighty were perpetual fodder for cartoonists and talk show hosts. But you have to give it to American leaders, they do have a sense of humour.

Mr Bush was relentlessly pilloried but never seemed to get ratty about it. Quite a contrast to our political worthies who seem, barring very few exceptions, to take themselves very seriously. We once had a political luminary telling us that Aids is caused by aid but we kept a straight face on that one. But honestly, we should loosen up a bit. As a nation, we seem to lack the ability to laugh at ourselves. American presidents routinely make fun of themselves, but here any attempt at humour is seen as totally beneath our leaders.

But, before we cast aspersions on others, let us fess up that we journalists too are not a bag of laughs. So you rarely see a television anchor crack a joke or editorial writers like ourselves come up with any form of self-deprecating humour. We often find that our attempts at being funny are misunderstood as facile and flip. So, here we are indulging our funny bone by writing about Mr Obama and Mr Bush. Let’s hope that will get us a few laughs at least.