News Flash: Candidates repeat jokes on the campaign trail

I feel compelled to defend Chris Dodd after reading this post on Radio Iowa. (Hat tip Deeth).

Radio Iowa notes that Dodd keeps telling the same joke at every campaign stop about being the only guy in the race who gets mailings from both the AARP and diaper services. After seeing Dodd speak before a group of young Democrats, Radio Iowa had a chance to ask a question:

As Dodd was walking out of the restaurant where he had just given his 20-minute speech, followed by about 20 minutes of answering questions, I began asking about the joke.  “You always tell that joke about the AARP and diaper services,” I started.

“They hadn’t heard it,” Dodd quickly interrupted, referencing his noon-time audience.

“But I’m wondering how a guy tells a joke like that, obviously exhibiting that he has the coin for a diaper service, and how he squares that with his discussion of how the middle class is being pinched,” I continued.

“It was a joke,” Dodd said.  He laughed and walked away.

Cut the guy some slack–every candidate gives basically the same stump speech, including the same jokes, at every campaign stop.

I must have heard Chet Culver’s joke about his daughter and the letter-carriers’ endorsement half a dozen times last year. (Short version: Chet is tucking in his daughter, going through the bedtime ritual of talking about something nice that happened that day. Chet mentions that he got endorsed by the Letter-Carriers’ association. Daughter asks what that means. Chet says it means the people who deliver the mail are going to vote for him. Daughter asks, “Even the guy who delivers Nussle’s mail?”)

John Edwards has talked about being the son of a mill worker so many times that he added a joke to his stump speech about how the audience may have heard once that he is the son of a mill worker.

Now, if Radio Iowa’s complaint is that people in Iowa don’t use diaper services and can’t relate to the joke, that’s partly true, at least concerning young voters. As a mom of two kids in cloth diapers, I can confirm that there are no cloth diaper laundry services in Iowa (only some cloth diaper sellers, like this one and this one).

If Radio Iowa’s complaint is that someone who can afford a diaper service may seem out of touch with middle-class concerns, I disagree. People who remember the days of diaper services could tell you that they were affordable for middle-class families. It wasn’t a luxury service that only the wealthy used.

On the contrary, wealthier people were among the first to start using disposable diapers when they became more widely available in the 1960s. Plenty of parents from an older generation have told me that they couldn’t afford disposable diapers when their kids were babies.

But I digress. Please don’t hassle candidates for telling the same jokes over and over this year.

And if you’ve got babies or are planning to have babies in the future, be aware of the environmental and health benefits, not to mention the cost savings, of using cloth diapers. If you want to learn more, click here for the Real Diaper Association website.

Or, if you live in central Iowa, e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT and I will tell you when and where the monthly “cloth diaper crowd” meets.

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