Warmed-over talking points and stale partisan jokes are common at any political convention. When they’re presented with spicy accompanying comments, they digest well enough. But one of Tim Pawlenty’s quips during his Wednesday speech at the Republican National Convention went down like sour milk.
“But you know, President Obama isn’t as bad as people say, he’s actually worse,” deadpanned Pawlenty as he set up his joke. “The president takes more vacations than that guy on the Bizarre Foods show.” Cue some laughs — at 1:50 in the above clip — followed by a dig about giving the president “credit for creating jobs these last four years — for golf caddies.”
But, naturally, the “guy on the Bizarre Foods show” at the center of the Pawlenty joke wasn’t going to let it slide. That would be the Travel Channel host, chef Andrew Zimmern, who dished out a few polite but choice words for the Republican. “I loved the shout out,” he wrote in a blog post on his website, adding:
But [Pawlenty] where are you getting your facts? President Obama and I share a lot of passion and commitment to same issues, one of which is work ethic. I only take off a few days per month, I think I had 4 in August and only have 2 or 3 days off in September. And on those days I was sneaking work calls while my wife wasn’t looking and returning messages on my phone ’til the wee hours.
Food blog The Braiser noted the obvious about Pawlenty’s joke. Zimmern “is not vacationing, he’s making television, which is his job.” And while that’s a technicality, the fact that Pawlenty’s throwaway line during a convention speech is being parsed doesn’t speak wonders for the politician’s comedic skills. Such predictable scrutiny didn’t stop the former Minnesota governor from hammering home other one-liners, each time seeming to crack a bit of a self-congratulatory smile. In another colorful quip during his 10-minute speech, he likened President Obama to a tattoo (at 2:56 above):
Like a big tattoo, it seemed cool when you were young. But later on, that decision doesn’t look so good, and you wonder: what was I thinking? But the worst part is you’re still going to have to explain it to your kids.
As The Fix’s Chris Cillizza put it, “We’ll never understand why the former governor of Minnesota fashions himself as some sort of amateur comedian.” Pawlenty’s RNC jokes, he observed, “elicited as many groans as laughs” — and that was among the ranks of the party faithful. Perhaps it’s a good thing they didn’t allow fruit through the front gates in Tampa.