by Gene Howington
South Carolina Senator and possible Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham has, at best, an odd sense of humor. Personally, I find him about as funny as red tide but apparently his audience at an all-male Irish Catholic Hibernian Society of Charleston meeting thought he was a hoot when he said, “I’m trying to help you with your tax status. I’m sorry the government’s so fucked up. If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.” Whether it appeals to your particular sense of humor or not, comedy has rules. One of those rules is that it must be grounded in truth. Why? Because a joke usually relies on exaggeration and/or contrast to provide the funny. So what is the underlying truth here?
That he’s catering to white male exclusionists? Or perhaps just Irish Catholic exclusionists?
That the government is fucked up? Which in itself is funny considering he is as a Senator – that most obstructionist part of the bicameral Legislature unless you’re a corporation or extremely wealthy – a part of government.
That white men who can afford to go to private club sponsored political events deserve special treatment under the tax code? The tax code is certainly broken, but only a fool, a teabagger, or a self-important venal rich white guy would argue that less taxes for wealthy white men is the pressing problem that needs to be fixed in order to address the inequities of the current system.
I don’t find any of that particularly funny considering in a democracy an elected official such as Graham is supposed to look out for the best interest of all of his constituents and not just the white men. And I say that as a white man. The core truth under this joke is essentially anti-democratic (note the small “d”) and demonstrative of the kind of special interest mindset that keeps Washington endlessly bound in a cycle of corruption and ineptitude whilst bringing this country not just to its knees but to an ever increasingly divided, disparate and dangerous political and social environment. A cycle which is perpetuated by representatives who spend all their time raising money and courting narrow special interest instead of working for the betterment of all their constituents.
Perhaps the real joke here is Graham considering a run at the Presidency when the demographics of the electorate are increasingly not all white men seeking tax avoidance from their seats at religiously segregated all-male clubs of privilege.
What do you think?