Dude? Was That You?

On a crowded elevator turn to the friend next to you and say “Dude! Really? On an elevator? Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to apologize for my friend. I want to assure you that I will be having a man to man conversation about his behavior. Oh man, this is just awful! It’s not funny!”

Now, naturally at this point one’s friend is totally frozen and shocked at the false outrage OR he is convulsively laughing which doubles down on the situational humor.

False accusations are rarely leveled at our twelve year old during her all too common flatulatorious moments because she instantly admits her reality. As such, she rarely gets in trouble because her joyous laughter fills the room so quickly that the victims are left shaking their heads with growing smiles.

One occasion, however, at the dinner table, she crossed the line of humor into the Land of Punishment. The sentence having been given, the dinner continued with a much quieter group of children. Order was restored after all and no one else wanted to be punished, right? I mean, if dad’s giving out money, everyone’s hands are out. If dad’s handing out punishments, everyone eats dinner. Quietly. Their heads drop and their eyes scan for the slightest movement to see just how dangerous the field has become.

Well, one time after such an occasion the silence was broken yet again by the twelve year old and she gently leaned in with the greatest sincerity said “Dad, I am SO sorry. That one had a mind of its own.”

Naturally, laughter and ease were restored. So it goes with situational humor in which everyone clearly understands what’s happening.

In politics and everyday life, brain flatulence occurs all the time and most people are given hall passes to correct the obvious error. Sometimes we speak before we think and sometimes we just speak. The words come out and it’s reality time. Foreheads burrow, eyes scan and slowly people start “did he/she just say that?”

Back in 2008, we arranged a press conference for Senator John McCain’s campaign with prominent military veterans and former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. (Eagleburger recently passed away – keep him in your prayers) We brought together this group to tout McCain’s foreign policy credentials and military experience. Things were going great until Eagleburger called Senator Hillary Clinton a Madame Laganza.

You are thinking right now, who in Hades is Madame Laganza? I was thinking all at one time – “Dude! Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. National and statewide press corps. Google! Stat! Get me Rex Cramer! Air! I need air! Is that sweat rolling off my hips? What did he just say? Is the campaign over just as we locked up the nomination?” But I couldn’t move and this elevator was hurtling downward….point 8…point 9….Sonic…BOOM!

Thankfully, Madame Laganza is an inordinately obscure character in a 1930s film NO ONE has ever heard of and she has no negative cultural references to brand the offender. Whew! We were clear of the Not So Silent and Potentially Deadly Mental Scud Missile just fired by what I thought was supposed to be a person schooled in the fine art of diplomacy. Eh….what are you going to do, right?

Eagleburger apologized profusely but the lack of harm equated to lack of a foul. So, there was no foul. Naturally, everyone was falling over themselves to say “No big deal, Mr Secretary….these things happen etc…”

But he claimed it. It was his brain flatulence. He owned it. The moment dissipated.

During 2012, there will be more than we count events where the candidates say something that will fall into the My Bad Category. That place where everyone, and I mean everyone, knows you screwed up and you now have about 10 seconds to say “My bad. That’s on me.”

Or that candidate is going to have the world unload on him with a level of attack that frankly can cost any candidate an election. Except Obama, because any criticism of him is clearly a racist and bigoted act worthy of scourging.

Enter Speaker Newt Gingrich trying to win the GOP Primary in the Sunshine State a.k.a Florida, a.k.a The Home of N.A.S.A.

With a national debt approaching $16,000,000,000,000.00, the Lecturer In Chief of the Conservatives posited that the United States of America should try to put a colony on the Moon. Jerry Brown…line two….Jerry Brown….line two….

Any single digit I.Q. idiot drawing breath knows that a project of that magnitude will cost a few gazillion dollars not counting federal incompetence, procurement padding, and undercoating. So, a few gazillion plus or minus an extra 35%.

Those moments are what comedy writers, campaign consultants and talking heads LIVE for…. “He said what? Oh that’s too good…check the context….of course, we’re going to kick him in the gut for this but we need to know what his response is going to be….Boss, you ain’t gonna believe this….he’s sticking with it. No, I’m serious…” Insert the 12 yr old’s (Like I’m TOTALLY Not Even Kidding!)

At the Campaign Alumni Dinner to be held just before the book tour, some former advisor will ask “Seriously, what were you thinking in Florida when you pitched the Moon Colony?” The answer will be brilliantly wrong and fundamentally irrelevant to the stunningly obvious reality that the campaign has been over since then.

Everyone knows that expression “Whoever smelt it, dealt it.” The assumption is a sense of smell – the one sense, other than common sense, every electorate has.

Mitt Romney took the moment and said “Dude, Was That You?” and then proceeded to say that he was not “concerned about the very poor” which drew Gingrich’s “Nah..dude that was YOU!” Romney took corrective action and Gingrich explained his position more thoroughly. Fabulous. Now we are off to Las Vegas! Viva Nevada Caucus!

What could go wrong there?

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Chris Saxman

About Chris Saxman

Father of four, small business leader, retired politician, and Executive Committee member and former Chairman of an international trade association, Chris Saxman delivers strategy and insight as a political coach and keynote speaker. Contact Chris.

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