The Fine Art of Ridicule
President William Howard Taft once confided to the actor Francis X. Bushman: “All the people love you and I can’t have even the love of half the people.” Like actors, political humorists have tried to appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences. Early on, Bob Hope decided not to let his own political views intrude on his comedy: “My sponsor was Pepsodent and when I was going to speak for Roosevelt, the sponsor pointed out that Republicans brush their teeth, too.” Hope’s humor, like that of Will Rogers, was intended to be cutting but not spiteful. Despite their jibes, many presidents sought out political humorists and relished their light satire.
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