Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I like Obama...

because he's like me.

Any two human beings are likely to have something in common, even if it's superficial. I'm like John McCain and Joe Biden and Sarah Palin because we are all Caucasian. I have another genetic trait in common with McCain in that we're both left handed.

I'm like Barack Hussein Obama because we're both nerds. In fact, we are both alpha nerds, nerds that other non-nerds just don't mess with much, and other nerds look to us as the go-to nerd in many situations.

Talking to a friend from New York City on the phone this weekend, we both commented on Obama's nerdiness. The common phrase in politics for nerd is policy wonk, and most certainly both Clintons and Gore would be so described, but for me, I think Obama is more like two failed Democratic presidents of the past Adlai Stevenson and Michael Dukakis. Stevenson wasn't a bad candidate, really, but he ran twice against Eisenhower, the greatest war hero of the 20th Century. Dukakis, though he had a Mediterranean background, was not like a character from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In fact, he was more like Ian's parents, the cold fish whose son was marrying into the Greek family. Many people attribute his loss to the work of scummy Bush operative Lee Atwater, but Dukakis was held back by his funny name, his short stature and passionless character, best caricatured by Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live, who in one skit outed Dukakis as an alien from a planet where emotions are unknown.

Barack isn't cold. Barack is cool. His smile and his family give him a great likability, but when he talks, it's clear that he thinks like a nerd. Unlike Adlai, he's not running against an unbeatable hero. Unlike Dukakis, he's significantly taller than his opponent. In U.S. presidential campaigns, the taller candidate usually wins. The main exceptions to this rule are that George W. Bush beat taller candidates twice, or should we say, when the dust cleared, he had more electoral votes.

Who but a nerd like me would remember such trivia?

At the Al Smith dinner this year, both candidates donned tuxedos and told jokes, as is the tradition. This should have favored McCain, since he actually tells jokes more readily, though the press is hounding him for some of the bad jokes he's told. Obama's writers gave him a perfect line, both self deprecating and self aggrandizing, but most especially nerdy. "Contrary to popular belief, I wasn't born in a manger." Obama said. "I was sent here from the planet Krypton by my father Jor-El."

To get the joke, you need to know some origin myths. I'm not Jesus, I'm Superman is what he said, but he said it in funny nerd talk. Intentionally funny nerd talk.

Do we know anyone else who talks in intentionally funny nerd-ese?

Yes, we do, hypothetical question asker. Matty Boy talks that way. And that is just one reason why this blog supports Barack Hussein Obama for president.

I certainly wouldn't want the job myself, but of the choices we have today, only one of candidates looks like he can get it done.


FranIAm said...

Oh so well done, this is great.

And I too loves me some nerds.

Like Obama, like you!

Olo said...

While the photographic evidence is scant, I suspect Michelle Obama is somehow more remniscent of Elizabeth Kucinich than either Kitty Dukakis or Ellen Borden Stevenson.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I like Ba-rack and I can not lie, you other brother's can't deny....

Matty Boy said...

Hi, olo, welcome to the comments. If I were casting for Michelle Obama in a racially colorblind way, I'd go with Sigourney Weaver. They are both tall, they have some facial similarities, and they both have a "don't mess with me" face that I, for one, wouldn't mess with.

Anonymous said...

"Go to Nerd." Nice one.

Your post brings to mind a Sara Vowell essay that talked about Gore and the nerd factor, and how if he would have enthusiastically embraced it like Buffy's Willow, instead of trying to run from it, the election wouldn't have even been close.

CDP said...

I'm like Fran, I love a nerd.

dguzman said...

Well played, my nerdy hero!

namastenancy said...

You GO! Mr. Great-Nurd-Guy. I like nurds too - in fact, I called in some nerds on Monday when my computer died. They came, they saw and they fixed. Let's hope that Obama can do the same (although the problems he faces are a lot worse than my dead monitor).

Jane R said...

I LOVE this explanation.

The manger and Jor-El thing was great. It was literate and self-deprecating at the same time - and picked up on his opponents' criticisms while zapping them nicely.

I must say, having met Michael Dukakis, that he is much, much warmer and funnier in person than as a campaigner. But the short thing probably doomed him :-/.

Like Fran, I loves me some nerds. Nerdy men rock. Forget the buff guys with smooth moves. Gimme some brain and humor.

Good manners are nice too, and you know Barack Obama has those.

As for Michelle Obama, she rocks also. Smart, sexy, warm, savvy. Plus, she loves alpha nerds. :-)

Anonymous said...

Matty Boy, I didn't think his joke was nerdy. Funnier said the way he said it than "I'm not Jesus, I'm Superman" that would have bombed. And I think most of his audience got it. I did. IT was a good line.

Matty Boy said...

Hey, z&m. You are right that "I'm not Jesus, I'm Superman" isn't funny. Comedy is about the reveal, it's about the "set 'em up, knock 'em down". I had some idea about funny for some time, but I was watching Cheers long ago with someone who pointed out the set up, knock down nature, and it opened my eyes in ways I had previously been blind.

I also learned long ago. Explaining funny... not funny.

Here endeth the lesson.