Humor and Politics: A Crash Course

November, 20 2012

Sweater vest as contraception: the solution to the birth-control debate? At Moment’s symposium on the intersection of humor and politics Sunday night, comedian and honoree Paula Poundstone told the standing-room-only crowd her feelings on former presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s political agenda: “Someone like Santorum who wants to tell everyone what to do with their personal life, those kind of people kind of creep me out…He kept saying that he was against contraception, but he kept wearing that sweater vest. The hypocrisy there bothered me.”

Poundstone wasn’t the only one to weigh in on the issues of the day. New York Times columnist David Brooks recounted that the beleaguered David Petraeus “walks around in his pocket with these coins, these metal things, and they’re his Medals of Excellence, and he says, ‘I think you’re excellent, have a coin,’ and he hands me one. And on the one hand I’m thinking, ‘How manipulative.’ On the other hand I’m thinking, ‘This is so cool! I have a coin from David¬†Petraeus!'”

Nina Totenberg, Bob Mankoff and Robert Siegel

NPR’s Robert Siegel moderated the symposium, which also honored NPR’s American legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff and former Colbert Report head writer Allison Silverman. When asked if satire has made the American public more or less polarized, Silverman astutely noted, “Well, I think that generally it brings us together into two different groups.” Mankoff, meanwhile, pointed out that “when people actually have a lot of information they become more partisan, not less. They become more¬†polarized. So the only hope for compromise is actually less information.” A lofty goal, indeed.

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