I didn’t get to watch ALL of the broadcast of last night’s Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner, but what I did see and hear was great! BOTH candidates were hysterical. I loved it when McCain said that, while Oprah referred to Obama as “The One”, he simply called him “That One”. He went on to say that Obama even had a pet name for him: George Bush. Obama cracked up. And then McCain said, “even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can’t shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me”… and then went on to say, “I’m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary”. She about fell out of her chair laughing, as did the entire room and Senator Obama. She laughed even harder when he went on to describe how ardently Bill Clinton had been campaigning for Obama, citing Clinton’s comments such as, “he’s over 35 and a U.S. citizen” when asked if Obama was qualified to be president, and attacking McCain with such comments as calling McCain “American hero, great man, and embracing him warmly”. He said the only reason it took President Clinton so long to actively support Obama was that he was constrained by the Jewish holidays, and that the only thing holding him back right now was that “he was constrained by his respect for any voters that might be observing the Zoroastrian new year.” That sent Hillary over the top. His entire speech was really great – self-deprecating, witty, truly funny. I especially loved his “setup” of Obama, saying that he had seen a copy of Obama’s speech in advance, and that “we should prepare ourselves for non-stop hilarity, the funniest 15 minutes of your life, or any other, and that anything short of that would mar the evening, insult our hosts, and probably cost him several swing states.” He also made some really terrific comments about race, which were really heartfelt and poignant. Honestly, I think that was the REAL McCain. He is a warm, self-deprecating man, and I don’t think he likes going on the attack, the way his campaign has gone lately. I am sure his campaign managers are encouraging him to do that, but it’s not his nature. He comes across to me as the kind of guy who basically says, “here’s my position, here’s my plan. I believe it’s better than my opponent’s for these reasons, but it’s up to you to decide.” He’s a nice man, the guy next-door.
Obama was equally funny. I loved it when he said “it has often been said that I share the politics of Alfred E. Smith, and the ears of Alfred E. Neuman”. Then he went on to make fun of himself by saying the venue wasn’t what he was used to, that he was told they’d “be able to move this outdoors to Yankee Stadium”, and asked where the Greek columns he’d ordered were. That was great. He was hysterical when he said, “I obviously never knew your great-grandfather, but from everything that Senator McCain has told me….” He didn’t even have to finish his sentence. His comment that Mayor Bloomberg announced he was going to rewrite the rules and run for a third term, which caused Bill Clinton to say “you can do that?” was great. I especially liked it when he said that the answer to the question, “who is Barack Obama?” is “right there on my Facebook page”. He went on to say that, contrary to the rumors, he was not born in a manger, but rather that he was born on Krypton, and he was sent here by his father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth. He joked that Barack is actually Swahili for “That One”, turning to look at McCain when he said that. McCain died laughing. He went on to say that he got his middle name from someone who obviously didn’t think he’d run for President. Classic. He went on to make fun of his lack of humility and awesomeness. A couple of his jokes fell a little flat, like when he made fun of Rudy Giuliani, but overall he was hilarious. By the way, he stated, his middle name is actually “Steve” – Barack Steve Obama. He made fun of his celebrity, talking about punching a paparazzi in the face when he was coming out of Spago’s, spilling a soy chai latte on his shih tzu. Really good stuff. He got serious for a bit, talking about the profound loss of Tim Russert, which was nice. He went on to talk about how we’re part of something greater than a political party – we’re part of a community, a country. All good stuff. But in this meeting of the two candidates, I think McCain won. He was really, really funny and real.
And just curious, did anyone else notice Katie Couric’s bling? Wow, kind of gaudy, dontcha think?