Being funny is difficult. Politicians trying their hands at comedy are taking a risk: if their comedy succeeds, they may become more likable, but if their sense of humor falls flat, they end up looking worse than if they hadn't tried at all.
Marco Rubio, for example, thinks
he's funny, but may need to work on his material. Last week's "Tonight Show" appearance didn't go particularly well
, and over the weekend, the Florida senator took his comedic chops to Iowa, where he tried a little topical humor
"Now I want to stop here for a moment and say that in Washington right now they are being buried in a snow blizzard. Which means that, like, federal agencies, were not able to work all day yesterday and issuing new regulations. Apparently Barack Obama's executive order pen has frozen. "So come to think of it, it's probably one of the best things to happen to the republic in quite a while."
Watching the video
, it's clear he was trying to be funny -- the audience laughed -- and I'm generally inclined to cut candidates some slack when they're obviously joking around.
But in this case, I'm not sure Rubio's rhetoric is quite so easy to dismiss. Celebrating a natural disaster while it's ongoing
-- we're talking about a blizzard that left at least 30 people dead
-- is bizarre, especially for a presidential candidate. As many actual comedians can attest, there is such a thing as "too soon."
For that matter, the nature of Rubio's pitch is absurd. The senator, an enthusiastic proponent
of his party's government-shutdown scheme in 2013, thinks it's fantastic when a disaster paralyzes federal operations -- which is part of his pitch as to why he should be president of the United States?
Even some Republicans took aim
at Rubio's tone-deaf comments.
Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday that rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)'s comment about the winter storm showed "a real immaturity." [...] "Well, that's a difference between a United States senator who has never been responsible for anything and a governor who is responsible for everything that goes on in your state. Fourteen people died across the country," Christie said. "And that shows a real immaturity from Senator Rubio to be joking as families were freezing in the cold, losing power, and some of them losing their loved ones."
Christie, it's worth noting for context, is Rubio's 2016 rival, who initially didn't want to return to New Jersey to oversee response to the storm, but who ultimately decided to leave the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Friday.