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Romney mocks Newt on Letterman, really

Romney mocks Newt on Letterman, really

Why do Republican politicians go on Letterman?  I know it’s good exposure, but it’s exposure that always comes with a price.

Letterman always makes the Republican look bad and weak.  I said it when Rick Perry went on Letterman, but at least in that circumstance Perry was poking fun at himself as a means of rehabilitating himself after his debate brain freeze.

Mitt Romney was on Letterman last night, and true to form Letterman made Romney look bad.  This clip doesn’t show it, but before Romney took the stage Letterman made fun of George W. Bush (calling Kim Jong Il’s son the “idiot son Kim W. Jong”), Michele Bachmann (showing a tape of her talking over an interviewer) and Newt (repeating the false claim that Newt wants to arrest judges he disagrees with).

When Romney took the stage, Letterman asked “how’d you do on the back 9,” mocking Romney’s country club look.

Romney then launched a Top 10 list, which was self-deprecating until he came to number 2, in which he said:

Newt Gingrich, really?

It was a cheap shot before a hostile liberal television host and crowd, who all laughed.  The joke was on Romney, who belittled himself as well as Newt.

Update:  This is part of a bigger problem I see with the Romney campaign and supporters.

They have so demonized Newt on such a personal level that they not only have left themselves no face-saving way to support Newt if he is the nominee, they also have given material to the Obama campaign.  I can see the clip of Romney saying “Newt Gingrich, really?” being run endlessly, perhaps alongside the National Review martian cover and some choice words from Ann Coulter calling Newt crazy.


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Stuff like this is why I won’t vote for Mitt. IMO he’s a nasty guy who acts like he’s above all the dirt & trash talking – sort of like Obama?

workingclass artist | December 20, 2011 at 9:35 am

I know why Perry did it as part of media strategy to defuse the famous oops moment in the debate & despite naysayers it worked for him. But Why is Romney doing it?

Did he manage, for even a second, to bring up what a disaster Barack Obama has been for the nation?

Has anyone on Letterman been allowed to legitimately take a poke at TOTUS?

David Letterman is a dried up old prune whose expiration date expired long ago. Why is he even relevant anymore? I wish he and his sneering cackle would just leave!

The entire bit struck me as awkward and embarrassing.

This clip doesn’t show it, but before Romney took the stage Letterman made fun of George W. Bush (calling Kim Jong Il’s son the “idiot son Kim W. Jong”)

Oh, really? That takes me back — specifically to October 14, 2005, when I stopped watching Letterman reflexively after twenty years or so. Why? After in the course of utilizing Kim Jong Il in a pre-recorded gag, he referred to President George W. Bush as “bitch.” Nobody should avoid lampooning the leader in a free country, but there should at the least be a modicum of respect. Dave doesn’t just disrespect Bush, he hates him.

Click here to read more about the ways in which Letterman, his writers, and other TV comics and their writers wailed away on Bush, McCain, and Palin while treating Obama with kid gloves (“It’s almost like: ‘Hey, don’t go after this guy. He’s a fresh face; cut him some slack.’”).

Slightly OT, but speaking of crappy comedy …

… tell me again the one about the race-card dealing Attorney General who called us a “nation of cowards” reluctant to talk about race.

I’m all in for Romney. I find Letterman is loathsome, but I disagree that going on Letterman, or other similar shows is a mistake.

Going on Letterman isn’t geared for anyone reading this blog. It’s for the politically-apathetic, independents and Democrats who will be told, if Romney gets the nomination, the Romney is a horrible, cold, mean Republican.

Moreover, you need to view these kind of appearances as a counterpoint to hard policy discussions and serious debate.

Okay professor (and many of the people commenting on this blog), two words are appropriate here: “Lighten Up”. 🙂

This was a silly little piece on a popular t.v. talk show, nothing more. Just fluff; something that all the Presidential candidates have to do from time to time. And it was almost entirely self-deprecating. But because he dared take a little jab at Newt, knickers are in a twist. A more reasonable and measured response would be for Newt to take a jab back.

I’ve always maintained that many on the left take themselves too seriously and have trouble with playful jokes at their own expense (of course they have no problem tearing down conservatives, be it playful or malicious). Barack Obama is a prime example of this thin skinned attitude. I’ve also maintained that Gingrich is much closer to the left in demeanor (aloof, self-absorbed, prone lecturing more than listening, full of interesting yet often absurd ideas) if not in policy. This provides a good example. It’s okay to be silly, Newt (and Newt’s supporters). You don’t have to take yourself so seriously.

    katiejane in reply to BurkeanBadger. | December 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Being silly at your own expense is one thing – mocking people who supposedly are on your side is another. I thought Romnhey’s big appeal was how “Prsidential” he was – going on a late night program making fun of yourself someone you will expect to support you if you’re the candidate is stupid and looks like pandering.

    Better to “lighten up” at Obama’s expense or Letterman’s.

DINORightMarie | December 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm

The Stupid Party strikes again.

Self-immolation is what Republicans seem to do best.

Help!! How can we defeat this enemy of the nation – Obama – with such hate and divide in the Republican Party??

Until Conservatism takes over the Republican Party, it is a useless party title. When “generic Republican” can beat the pants off Obama, but a named nominee can’t, then there is a HUGE problem, folks. NRSC, RNC, etc. – are you LISTENING?!

Please, Lord, please nominate someone soon – and let the splintering factions CLOSE RANKS and SUPPORT the nominee!!

A house divided against itself cannot stand. -A. Lincoln

As I recall, Bill O’Reilly went on Letterman and was explaining some political topic and when he was done, Letterman replied “I have no idea what you are talking about, but I am sure you are full of shit”.

Letterman is unaware, knowledgeable, and has an audience who are just like him. There is no upside to appearing on Letterman, only a downside.

Come now, Mitt’s just trying to shore up his base.

I remember a time – long, long ago – when Letterman was not only funny, but cutting edge. I stopped watching him shortly after he made the move to CBS.

I also remember a time – long, long ago – when late-night comedy poked fun at politicians instead of having them on as guests.

I hate to repeat myself, but “lighten up” is again appropriate. It was a silly bit on a late night talk show. Nothing more. As for looking “Presidential”, Obama went on Leno a few weeks ago. People want to see their President (or Presidential candidate) in less serious moments and able to laugh at themselves. Perry did the same thing on Letterman after the “oops” moment and I respected him more for having the guts to do it. If Gingrich followed suit, I’d be impressed. Go on a late night show (doesn’t have to be Letterman), but don’t pontificate about politics or policy. Just joke around at your own expense and take a playful shot back at Romney.

I still wouldn’t vote for him in the Iowa Caucus, but I’d be a little less concerned about him as the nominee if he could show he had a playful, silly sense of humor.

    I completely agree, BurkeanBadger. Time to lighten up! That was not a cheap shot at all . . . just banter.

    And, it was done in the midst of poking a bit of fun at himself — including several of the other “top ten” items.

I stopped watching Letterman about 30 years ago. A ballerina from the old Soviet Union had defected to the United States. He invited her on his show. He asked her if she planned to go and visit her family much. She stared at him in shock.

Here she was, an artist, a dancer, who had put her family at enormous risk when she defected. Family were killed, fired from their jobs, incarcerated, disappeared in the Soviet Union when someone defected, pour encourager les autres. She would probably never have seen them again, if the Soviet Union had survived. She was clearly devastated. She said, you sit here with all your power and he laughed in amazement. He didn’t know that in the Soviet Union, ony people who are politically approved get to be on television.

I thought at the time that either Letterman was so ignorant that he didn’t understand the staggering enormity of what her defection meant to her, or he was perhaps the most cruel person possible. In either case, I was finished with him.

Let Mitt Romney call Newt “zany,” and try to make fun of Newt on Letterman. But the joke with that audience is, as Professor Jacobson notes, always on the Republican. Romney didn’t help himself, I think. He made himself look small.

An amazing thing to watch: Letterman and his audience — all the smart-alecks — who are protected by our free markets and the strength of conservative values, and yet who apparently don’t stop to think about that.

I hope they are thinking about it now. I would love for us all to team up and make things better.

And because of that purpose, I support Newt.

BannedbytheGuardian | December 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm

That was most likely Natalia Makarova. Thank God she & others did defect. American ballet was truly awful . I am not surprised Portman passes herself off as a Principle Soloist .

The American women are better today but the male dancers are all hispanic & about 5’4″ tall. On pointe the ladies look like giants .

Oh & Leterman never recoveredfrom his disgusting locke room insult to Willow Palin AND the player.

He is just a dirty old man.

This is part of a bigger problem I see with the Romney campaign and supporters.

They have so demonized Newt on such a personal level that they not only have left themselves no face-saving way to support Newt if he is the nominee…

And this wont be a problem for the strident Gingrich supporter if Mitt gets the nod? /snark

Without question, there are some that have invested so much in a particular campaign (look at Coulter’s bleating about Christie and how that makes her support of Romney just a bit odd), but for the most part, people of the center and right just want the Obama agenda ended. For the honest conservative/libertarian/classical liberal, only Bachmann and Santorum have held on principles and therefore the better ideological choice. Both Gingrich and Romney have histories of, well selling out, but both seem to have the support necessary to win. Most folks of the right, and many of the center will vote for either.

[…] if I may be so bold. Mitt. Newt. The rest of you losers. Knock it off. Turn your sights on the White House and keep them there. You’ve let this guy off without so […]

My uncle called my Mom recently to remind her that Newt couldn’t be our guy due to his “baggage.” Seeing this reminds more and more of the “baggage” of Romney has which is so much worse. Really does he think all of this negative advertising is helping him in the long run. He is a RINO and surely thought that Letterman would give him some leeway.
NO WAY will I EVER VOTE for him if he gets the nomination. NEVER.

This entire thread is built on the profoundly false premise that one of ten silly jokes — a vague aside, if you will, but a jibe that somehow in context stood all akimbo from the obvious business at hand of a man largely poking fun at himself — has thereby became the final straw that broke the insult barrier . . . a gauntlet most cruelly heaved, and with such force and fire that the fight must now be joined, or forever lost!

. . . .
“Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honor’s at the stake.”
. . . .


. . . become, that is. I stand corrected. By me.

“When Romney took the stage, Letterman asked ‘how’d you do on the back 9,'”

Wouldn’t the logical comeback be something along the lines of, “Gee Dave, unlike your hero Obama, I don’t have time to play golf.”

    The the “logical comeback,” as you put it, is not necessarily something that would instantly occur to even the smartest of folks.

    And, I don’t think Mitt would want to risk turning golfers against him by suggesting that he’s somehow too busy or good for the game.

    It’s quite another thing, I think, to poke fun of the President for obsessively playing golf while the nation’s business is sitting on his plate, going undone. And that Mitt has done. But even that, some have suggested, risks a “man-law” violation.

    In addition, willy-nilly attempting to trade wit with a professional comedian — one who has survived peer wars and who you are quite certain despises what you stand for — seems to me like it might be a fools errand.

    The French have a lovely idiomatic expression — “l’esprit de l’escalier” literally meaning “the spirit of the staircase”, or “the ‘wit’ of the staircase,” accurately describing the feeling one gets of thinking of the perfect comeback, but alas, just too late — i.e., either as you are either descending the stairs of the place where the original remark was made to you, or perhaps while ascending your own stairs, just after the guests have left.

    According to Wikipedia, the phrase is originally derived from “French encyclopedist and philosopher Denis Diderot’s description of such a situation in his Paradoxe sur le comédien”.

    In the article they note that the “phenomenon” was played out in a Seinfeld, episode, entitled The Comeback. Though the Wiki article had no citation, here is a clip I found of the intro to the show. George becomes the butt of a joke at work, and only thinks of a comeback while driving home. He then goes to great lengths to recreate the circumstances of the insult in order to deliver what he perceives as the perfect “zinger.”

    Naturally, of course, it backfires badly on poor George.

Not exactly sure why the link to the intro to The Comeback — the Seinfeld episode about “l’esprit de l’escalier” [or, should I say “… de la maison disque” — “… of the drive home”] didn’t “take” correctly, but here it is again . . .