"And We’ll Have Fun, Fun, Fun …"

Thursday, March 31, 2005

"And We’ll Have Fun, Fun, Fun …"

In this recent post, I took issue with columnist Nicholas Kristof’s analysis of what the Democrats should do to get back on the winning track. Kristof’s essay was one of many in a collection published right after the November election and entitled, What We Do Now.

One of those other essays was written by Cass Sunstein. As much as I wish it weren't so, Sunstein’s final suggestion makes a lot of sense. This suggestion carries a headline that isn’t quite what you’re expecting from a distinguished law school professor from the U. of Chicago: “Have fun.”

Sunstein writes:
"People are more likely to succeed in politics and elsewhere, if they enjoy what they're doing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the most successful president in American history, loved his jobs, had a tremendous sense of humor, and disarmed his sharpest critics with jokes.

"... President Bill Clinton obviously relished politics and running for president, and he liked to respond to harsh attacks with bemusement ("that dog won't hunt," he said to President George H.W. Bush); the same holds true for Reagan ("There you go again," he said to Jimmy Carter).

"George W. Bush obviously didn't like the (fall 2004) debates, and that hurt him; but he did seem to have a lot of fun at campaign events, and that helped him.

"Compare Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, George H.W. Bush, Al Gore, and John Kerry -- diverse and honorable people, to be sure, but a relatively humorless group and not the most fun crowd, at least not on the campaign trail.

"John Kerry did many things right, but he would have been a better candidate if he had appeared to enjoy what he was doing, or proved able to make a few jokes ... Why wasn't Teresa Heinz Kerry able to provide more help to her husband? Answer: She didn't like campaigning and it showed."

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