Americans like funny.
I know there are times when their earnestness can appear to be greater than that of a non-profit CEO in Switzerland, but this simply isn’t the norm.
And never is this more clear than when they choose their Presidents.
If you don’t have a knowledge of the absurd, you cannot be President of the United States.
People simply will not feel related to you.
Even Jimmy Carter could inspire a laugh. Perhaps not always intentionally, but no matter.
Which is why Mike Huckabee has every chance of being nominated as the Republican Presidential candidate.
Mike can laugh at himself, at you, even at Rudy Giuliani, the last of which I know some people find harder than eating year-old, unrefrigerated cheese.
However, as he scans the various candidates who will suck up to him like Robot Dysons the minute he is nominated, I think Mike may want to consider that he does not need a running mate who possesses one iota of genuine humor.
Smart, funny presidents always make sure their running mates are, in essence, straight men or women. (Can you recall a Gerald Ford joke?)
Which is why one name came to me yesterday, very slightly out of left field.
Well, the bullpen, to be precise.
I have a dream. I have a dream ticket.
It is Huckabee-Clemens.
Before you allow guffaws to kidnap your reason, please think about this carefully.
Humor, like throwing a baseball to scare someone to extract their excreta, is an artform. It is just a different sort of artform.
And while Huckabee is one who has lived his life under the radar (gun), Roger Clemens has challenged it at every turn. With a scowl rather than a jape.
Why be amusing when you can throw half a broken bat at Mike Piazza?
Having watched Mr. Clemens hurl 95 mile-an-hour truthballs at CBS’s Mike Wallace last night, I think he was extremely statesmanlike.
When the heartless Mr. Wallace attempted to suggest that Mr. Clemens had enjoyed a little illegal butt-pricking at the hands of his former trainer, Brian McNamee, Mr. Clemens swatted the very thought of it as if it were a tsetse fly that had wandered into American airspace, bemused by global warming.
“Didn’t happen,” he said.
Can you not imagine the same Mr. Wallace in a couple of years’ time, aged 92, asking Mr. Clemens whether he had, indeed, tossed a nuclear mushroom cloud the way of, say, a recalcitrant Botswana?
“And is it true,” Mr. Wallace might continue, the lines on his face now resembling a London Underground map superimposed on the ones from Moscow, Paris and Washington, “that you shot your good friend, Andy Pettitte, on a recent hunting expedition?”
“Didn’t happen,” would be the stalwart reply.
Would that not be reassuring? Would that not make us all feel that here was a man who was not bothered with the enormous effort that lies behind the changeup that is doublespeak?
Would this not suggest a man whose veracity is so refined that he can dispense with artifices such as setups and punchlines?
I do not know Mr. Clemens personally.
But, if I ever doubted that his was a unique brand of non-humor, one that Lenny Bruce, David Letterman and every Secretary-General of the United Nations could all simultaneously worship, then it came very early on in last night’s 14-minute inning. Or, for some, outing.
When asked whether he was somewhat upset that his former trainer was now accusing him, or rather his performances, of being more artificial than Meg Ryan’s lips, Mr. Clemens found a line that no scriptwriter would have dared put in his mouth.
Stiffening his neck, a sign, perhaps, of impending Hulkian growth and greenness, Mr. Clemens offered impeccable reasoning for his innocence and his annoyance.
“After all I’ve done for baseball…” he declared.
Forgive me if I found the words “didn’t happen” creep up to my lips and request permission to go on leave. I forced them back into my mouth before they could even commence their windup.
For Mr. Clemens is clearly someone who has an acute appreciation of service.
His service to baseball has been so vast, so impeccable, so altruistic that it is simply inconceivable that he should be mentioned alongside such hideous self-centered plebeians as Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and, oh, yes, his friend and training partner, Andy Pettitte.
Surely we can all agree that the perfect Republican balance would be the genial, humorful, if somewhat religious, Mr. Huckabee and the man who understands selfless service and can dismiss falsities with two words: the spitbawl method.
Can’t happen? Stranger things have. Allegedly.
The Pond thanks Sister72 for her photographic skills.