Amazing how unfunny this year's Republican candidates are. US political history is brimming with great lines, but today the GOP contenders "give speech after speech and draw only a handful of chuckles, and the occasional wry smile," writes John Dickerson in Slate. So what gives? You may say our times are too serious for laughs, but humor can pinpoint hard truths, undermine opponents, and give voters something to talk about afterwards. It also "suggests an agile mind," writes Dickerson.
He quotes zingers from Ronald Reagan ("I hope you're all Republicans," he told surgeons before they operated on him) and Bob Dole ("Carter, Ford and Nixon—See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Evil") as prime examples of long-lost Republican humor. Dickerson does compliment Herman Cain, who "consistently drew a laugh," and Rick Santorum for a small quip (about a debate bell that "caught you not telling the truth, Ron"), but otherwise he considers the GOP debates painfully dry. "If there's going to be clownish behavior" in politics, "at least voters should get a few laughs out of it." (Read more Republican presidential primaries stories.)