Okay, so maybe some of the jokes were canned, but looking over the transcript, there were a heck of a lot of times the GOP candidates tried to use humor to illustrate their points.
But I thought the contrast with the previous Democratic debate was striking. I could remember maybe two or three lines the audience laughed at – Hillary’s “well, I’ll talk to him later” response to Russert and Dodd’s invoking of “heck of a job Brownie” line. Joe Biden’s usually good for some sarcasm, but beyond that, Democratic debates are relatively dour affairs. I guess it’s because making their case for change implicitly requires them to paint a gloomy picture of America today, and to recite their usual laundry list of outrages and tales of woe: “no-bid contracts to Halliburton,” “our troops stuck in a civil war,” John Edwards’ little girl who has lost her coat, the twin monsters of Cynicism and Division that Obama pledges to slay, the “invisible people” that Hillary laments the administration ignores…
By comparison, the GOP debates are laugh-a-minute. (Okay, laugh-every-five-minutes.) I realize these candidates aren’t running for Comedian-in-Chief, but a sense of humor is a useful communications tool, and think of where Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, or just about any president would be without the ability to laugh and to make us laugh. Heck, any politician; think of Bob Dole’s sometimes dark one-liners.
The jokes, below the fold: #more#
Romney: Jennifer Granholm has made a big mistake by raising taxes. I was, frankly, a little nervous to — about being here tonight. I figured she was going to put a tax on the debate before we got finished.
Huckabee: [To Chris Matthews] You know Americans better than that. Nothing’s going to discourage them from spending money.
Giuliani: And I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have a Republican presidential candidate who actually has beat President Clinton at something.
McCain: We’ve got to tell them, we’ve stopped spending $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don’t know if that’s a paternity issue or a criminal issue.
Huckabee: We can’t wait until another generation [for fuel-efficient cars]. Instead of running it like Nascar, we’ve been running it like taking the family station wagon in for letting Goober and Gomer take a look at it when they get time, under the shade tree.
Thompson: I want to explain for my friends here who Goober and Gomer are.
Tancredo: When unions, I think, get off track is when they start to influence public policy, especially with regard to, need I say it, illegal immigration…
.. allowing illegal immigration into the country because they want to fill up their ranks.
Brownback: My mother is not an illegal immigrant.
Romney: Is this our sixth debate, I think — something like that? And this has a lot — this is a lot like “Law & Order,” Senator. It has a huge cast, the series seems to go on forever and Fred Thompson shows up at the end.
Thompson: And to think I thought I was going to be the best actor on the stage.
Thompson: Well, I’ve never met him [Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper], but our relationship is fine.
McCain: The president of France is a pro-American; I’m glad he’s doing what he’s doing and it shows that if you live long enough, anything is possible.
Giuliani: And I think there’s a looming problem with Canada that you missed. If we do Hillary care or socialized medicine, Canadians will have no place to go to get their health care.
Thompson: I’ve enjoyed watching these fellas. I’ve got to admit, it was getting a little boring without me,