John McCormack probed the Republican presidential field in search of funny bones last week and Jim Antle got an earful from the humorless whilst exploring Herman Cain’s Pizza Doctrine, but apparently neither had it as tough as Albert Brooks who recently described his own humor-precipitated political disillusionment during a visit to the New York Times to talk about his new dystopian novel, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America:
I’ve always been politically interested. I haven’t always been involved. I haven’t always found people to support. I went on the road with Dukakis. I went with him trying to write jokes. They asked me to come and I have to tell you after four days with him I took his people aside and said, ‘I won’t be able to vote for him.’ I watched a guy who I didn’t think would be a good president. I was up close. You know, I liked his principles, ‘Sure I’ll come help,’ but it’s hard to find someone to love just because you believe that things should go a certain way. It’s hard to find a leader to love.
At this point in the podcast I thought Brooks might be on the verge of making the case against the cult of the presidency to Sam Tanenhaus. Alas, he quickly recovered his credulity and fell back into the warm embrace of cliche politics and predictability:
There was much about Obama to love. Being talked to as if you had read a book was such a relief after, you know, the Bush years. So I like people that I believe know more than I do. Or at least have thought it through. That’s who I enjoy listening to when I’m being spoken to by a politician.
Yes, it’s nice to have a real smart fella around who can explain to us how bombing the hell out of Libya isn’t an act of war, who translates “tax increase” for we dolts into the more esteemed phrase “reduce spending in the tax code,” who helped the American left understand the Patriot Act is really nothing to worry about after all, so long as a robot signs it. None of this makes sense to me yet, but I’m sure it will once I read the right books!
Look, I love Brooks work and will definitely check out his fiction debut, but he’s smart enough to know that taking for granted the wisdom of those promulgating the rules we live by–or those enabling the promulgators, often undemocratically, as is more often the case–is a very slippery slope.