Lyons gets it right: Sometimes, the very good joke is the best, perhaps the only, viable form of rebuttal.
A very good joke goes straight to the brain. It bypasses the neural pathways where mere logic all too often gets hauled down from behind.
With that in mind, we think Gene Lyons has landed the very good joke. He does so in his current syndicated column:
LYONS (7/17/19): So anyway, that’s where I’m coming from as a direct descendant of refugees [from Ireland]. What we have here is a perfect storm of Trumpism: equal parts ignorance and bigotry. Only Trump (born in Queens) could tell Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (born in the Bronx) to go back where she came from.It isn't like the current challenge can be turned back by a good joke. At the end of roughly three decades of lunacy, we let a crazy person get into the White House—and our "press corps" has a sacred rule against discussing the fact that he's nuts!
One good joke can't turn that back. But only Trump could be that dumb? That isn't a bad place to start!
Hidden claim: "Dumb" is much more potent than "racist."
Anthropologically, "dumb" is a judgment that's hard to avoid. "Racist" triggers a fight.
Death by excellent joke: Ronald Reagan ended the 1984 campaign with the excellent joke about refusing to take advantage of Mondale's youth and inexperience.
Even Mondale had to laugh. The campaign ended right there.