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My Turn
Other Views from Those in the Know
Marc J. Yacht, M.D.
former president, Florida Association of County Health Officials
To Engage Us, Help Us Laugh at Ourselves

Politics has lost its sense of humor. Every comment, lighthearted or not, will be dissected by either side of the political aisle. I’m not sure when humor was lost to our politicians.

Our second President John Adams quipped, “In my many years I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is Congress.”

Harry Truman gave us this, “Never kick a fresh cow pie on a hot day.”

Certainly, the Clinton years had some light moments. He once said, “Running the country is a lot like running a cemetery, you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”

G.W. Bush seemed so serious all the time. I can’t remember laughing once during his administration. The current congressional gridlock and outright political warfare leaves little to chortle about.

I doubt a society unable to laugh at itself can survive. Al Franken used to be a very funny guy until he went to Congress. Now he has a sour puss and rarely cracks a smile or tells a joke. He’s a stand-up comic. He can make you guffaw. The way politicians are currently behaving, there is plenty to cackle about, but nobody’s laughing.

As a physician, I can say, without doubt, humor is the best medicine. The late Will Rogers had plenty of one-liners to make us giggle. He once said, “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” Another of Will’s famous quips, “If you ever injected truth into politics, you’d have no politics.”

I really like this one by Will, “The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.” We need more humor. Our country is literally dying for a good laugh.

When Tareq and Michaele Salahi made a mockery of White House security and crashed a state dinner for the prime minister of India, the whole country started screaming that heads had to roll. The president was at risk, people could have been killed, and terrorists could have been on the loose.

Nonsense, it was masterful. Nighttime host David Letterman quipped, “Since 1980 there have been 91 breaches of security at the White House. Well, 92, if you count George Bush.” Now that’s funny -- let’s laugh. Congratulate the crashers.

I’ve crashed a few parties in my day. I ate, I drank; we laughed! On occasion I got thrown out. Now that’s funny. We’re just too serious. I blame both Republicans and Democrats for the loss of our national sense of humor.

No politician should speak without telling a joke first. Lighten up. It’s easier to solve problems after a good chuckle. Currently, all a politician can expect is a rap on the knuckles. Have fun. Life is too short!

Marc J. Yacht, M.D., is a former president of the Florida Association of County Health Officials. 

by Dr. Radut.