When Satire Goes Wrong: Paul Ryan is Not Calling Mitt Romney ‘The Stench’

It was fun while it lasted.

Yesterday, Roger Simon wrote an article for Politico in which he stated that Paul Ryan has deemed Mitt Romney “The Stench.” (I wrote about it here.) Today, Simon wants everyone to know that his article was satire:

Simon told BuzzFeed: “Some people always don’t get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.”

First of all, I’m not sure why contributors at Politico thinks anyone reads Politico for satire. Leave satire to The Onion and Christwire.

Second of all, when you’re dealing with a candidate as flat-out absurd as Mitt Romney, you can’t expect anyone to understand that your writings in an online political newspaper are satire. If you’re going to try to satirize anything about Mitt Romney, it needs to be palpably clear. In the case of Simon’s article, it wasn’t — at least not to me (and the multiple media outlets that reported it as fact.)

Get it together, Politico.

[via Buzzfeed]

[cross-posted at ABLC]

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94 replies
  1. 1
    Hal says:

    So Politico is as unfunny, and bad at delivering jokes as Mitt Romney, huh?

  2. 2

    What’s really annoying about watching MSNBC is listening to people like Lawrence O’Donnell fall for this stuff over and over and report it as fact every night, as he did with the “Stench” remark. Really, Maddow is getting to be the only watchable person on. Ezra’s all right when he subs for Ed, though it’s a bit creepy how _exactly_ he mimics Maddow’s diction and gestures…

  3. 3
    spudvol says:

    It’s Poe-litico’s Law.

  4. 4
    Hill Dweller says:

    Both Willard’s airplane window “joke” and Simon’s satirical take on “stench” are actually believable. It might not be true, but it’s plausible, which is why so many people believed it.

    The Willard campaign has become a punchline.

    “Teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime. Don’t feed fish.” –Paul Ryan earlier today in Ohio.

  5. 5
    Bort says:

    I didn’t take it as satire. I didn’t think it was true, but it didn’t come across as satire.

  6. 6
    Turgidson says:

    First of all, I’m not sure why contributors at Politico thinks anyone reads Politico for satire.

    A lot of people do. Difference is, the satire is usually unintentional.

    Considering that the real life Romney campaign resembles a clown car on roller skates in an iced-over parking lot full of banana peels, it was naive of Simon to think people would realize his piece was satire.

  7. 7
    Citizen Alan says:

    RE: the Romney airplane window “joke.” Even as a joke, I thought it was embarrassing for him. It was yet another reminder that the guy is so pathetic he can’t even tell a joke without people literally being completely unable to tell whether he’s joking or just stupid.

  8. 8
    Steve says:

    Simon isn’t very funny and this column was no exception. Having said that, I thought it was pretty obviously satire. But when a Nobel Prize winner gets fooled too you’re in good company.

  9. 9
    dmsilev says:

    Lost in all this is the original source for the ‘stench’ issue, from an Iowa Republican:

    If the Republican ticket loses in November, the rush by Mr. Ryan and other 2016 hopefuls to position themselves for the Iowa caucuses “is going to look like Best Buy the night after Thanksgiving,” said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa. “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.”

    (Link, and note that it was published two days before Simon’s column)

  10. 10
    Disco says:

    I like Roger Simon. He’s the one writer on Politico that I enjoy. I knew the article was satire; why didn’t everyone else? Good grief.

    Simon last week wrote possibly the best headline of this campaign: “Mitt down; out looms next.”

  11. 11
    azrev says:

    David Brooks wannabe.

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    It’s not a total loss. The Republican nominee for president now has a brand new nickname, Stench. And it is a lovely nickname, nicht wahr?

  13. 13
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    This whole story kind of passed me by, but I thought that a highly publicized story about Paul Ryan openly mocking and sneering at Mitt was too good to be true, and you know what they say about things too good to be true. (Also, “Stench” doesn’t seem like Ryan’s style. He seems more passive-aggressive.)

    I didn’t actually know that it was from the same article as the “used to kill cattle” line, which I thought was pretty funny, or that Roger Simon wrote it. And I hate to say it, but I think he’s right: if you can read a line like that and not realize the piece is satire, your snark receptors might need some adjustment.

    One of the great cringe-comedy moments of politics is when someone gets taken in by a joke about the other side and once they realize they’ve been had, it’s all “Well, it COULD have been true and it wasn’t a very FUNNY joke and harrumph harrumph I’M STILL RIGHT!” and other things windbags say after being embarrassed. I’ve seen it happen to NRO all the time. My plea to you all: Don’t be like them.

  14. 14
    Disco says:

    @azrev:

    David Brooks wannabe.

    Not even close. Simon is a liberal.

  15. 15
    Roger Moore says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    “Teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime. Don’t feed fish.”—Paul Ryan earlier today in Ohio.

    Build Paul Ryan a fire and he’ll be warm for a day. Set Paul Ryan on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. DIAF, Paul Ryan.

  16. 16
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Ha ha ha. So funny. I have a feeling that the nickname will stick to Romneybot anyways.

  17. 17
    @VividBlueDotty says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    The Willard campaign has become a punchline.

    Or maybe like a late night talk show with a new punchline (or two) daily.

    I have never watched Martin Bashir on MSNBC but somehow surfed to it today and saw him tell Ryan’s fish comment. Just about died laughing!! The hashtag #DontFeedFish hasn’t quite caught on but there are quite a few funnies there.

    I was kinda hoping for a video of it to see if he really is dissing the woman asking the question to the extent that it seems he is. The only “reporting” of the story I can find is at Charlie Pierce/Esquire.

  18. 18
    dmsilev says:

    Not satire, but it probably should be: In an effort to dispel the (accurate) perception that he’s a heartless jerk who only cares about rich people, Mitt Romney took to the airwaves to tout the Massachusetts health care law, which was of course the model for the national law which Romney has described as the root of all evil.

    Erick Erickson is probably cutting himself right now.

  19. 19
    JoyceH says:

    PLEASE tell me that we at least had the great good fortune to have a reporter ask Ryan if it was true before Simon came out calling it satire, because I’d SOOOO like to see video of Ryan denying that he calls Romney ‘Stench’.

  20. 20
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Disco:

    Roger L Simon? No he’s not. By his own words, he says he used to be, but he was disgusted by the “racial politics” in the OJ Simpson trial and the “excesses of the Left” after 9/11.

  21. 21

    @dmsilev:

    Mitt Romney took to the airwaves to tout the Massachusetts health care law, which was of course the model for the national law which Romney has described as the root of all evil.

    _*Again??*_

    That’s it. He really is throwing this election.

  22. 22

    @JoyceH:

    I’d SOOOO like to see video of Ryan denying that he calls Romney ‘Stench’.

    “I’m not saying he _actually_ fucks pigs…”

  23. 23
    👽 Martin says:

    @Disco:

    Not even close. Simon is a liberal.

    Yeah, but the publishers of Politico want the whole site to be a Brooks wannabe. That’s the problem. Nobody would get Colbert’s satire if published on RedState, either.

  24. 24
    Ruckus says:

    @Citizen Alan:
    I can tell.
    He’s not funny. Not in the least bit.
    He is fucking stupid though, that part is for sure.

  25. 25
    presquevu says:

    What’s worse? Finding something like this unbelievable, or finding the truth unbelievable on a daily basis?

  26. 26
    dmsilev says:

    @The Other Chuck: I’m half-way convinced that the Romney campaign’s message-generation unit is simply a random-number generator. Either that, or is being run by some Obama campaign moles.

    The latter brings to mind the mental image of Mitt Romney as Daffy Duck in Duck Amuck.

  27. 27
    Emily says:

    Even if Romney knew that Ryan doesn’t really call him Stench, I bet the didn’t think the joke was too funny. Romney doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would find much humor in being the butt of satire

  28. 28
    Joel says:

    @Disco: I’m not a Simon fan, but otherwise agree.

  29. 29
    JPL says:

    @The Other Chuck: gotta say it remind me of this picture

    http://i48.tinypic.com/kykpj.jpg

  30. 30
    Randy P says:

    @dmsilev: I suppose it’s naive of me to expect that as the election gets closer, Romney might try for some consistency in his positions day to day.

    Isn’t he still promising to repeal ACA?

  31. 31
    MikeBoyScout says:

    The “satire” is “skewed”!

  32. 32
    1badbaba3 says:

    Does this mean we have to take back all the terrible things we said about the Stench, er the Mittbot, um, Governor Romney? Because I, for one, am very sorry.

  33. 33
    JPL says:

    @MikeBoyScout: Satire has a liberal bias.

  34. 34
    MaximusNYC says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    What’s really annoying about watching MSNBC is listening to people like Lawrence O’Donnell fall for this stuff over and over and report it as fact every night, as he did with the “Stench” remark.

    ABL fell for it too.

    It didn’t, uh, smell right to me, and I said so in the comments.

  35. 35
    dmsilev says:

    @1badbaba3: No, it’s OK. By tomorrow morning, he’ll have said something else repulsive.

  36. 36
    gogol's wife says:

    These people like Simon and Brooks don’t seem to realize that in order to do satire or parody you have to actually have some writing talent.

  37. 37
    hep kitty says:

    It’s impossible to distinguish between satire and reality with the Romney campaign. Unless it’s from The Onion or another known satire site, a disclaimer is necessary.

    However, it does seem that the Romney campaign would have some kind of reaction by now which is confusing.

  38. 38
    JPL says:

    @MaximusNYC: they were in good company.

    @hep kitty: The Onion, really! Now a days the Onion is better than Fox.

  39. 39
    scav says:

    Turns out the snark font we nearly had during the last re-build (aka installation of new and different FYWP features) could have had a larger market.

  40. 40
    wrb says:

    I think it is a bit lame to criticize its artfulness if it hooked you.

    It was funny.

    And those are great nicknames that should endure.

    The essay should be on every chain email.

  41. 41
    wrb says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Set Gilligan on fire, he’ll just fall in the lagoon.

  42. 42
    wrb says:

    Paul Ryan is Not Calling Mitt Romney ‘The Stench’

    Proof?!!

    Inside dirt disguised as satire I say!!

    And they’ve gotta be calling Ryan “Gilligan”
    Now that it has been thunk, who could resist?

  43. 43
    different-church-lady says:

    Wait a minute… The Onion is satire?!?

  44. 44
    SFAW says:

    @wrb:

    Agreed. I thought it was pretty obvious that is was BS. Although, given the Romney campaign’s Motto (“Gaffe a week day! Gaffe a week day! Gaffe a week day onward! Into the Valley of ‘Meh’ rode the Big Blunder!”), I can see that it might be confusing to some.

    @Disco:
    Roger Simon is a “liberal” like David Brooks is “insightful.”

    @dmsilev:
    Thanks for Duck Amuck. It’s almost like Bugs is playing eleventy-seven dimensional chess with Gaffy Daffy

  45. 45
    JoyfulA says:

    @Bort: Exactly. I didn’t think it was true—Ryan is more a “stinky” guy than a “stench” guy—but it sure wasn’t satire.

  46. 46
    hep kitty says:

    @wrb: I did think it was rather funny. And yeh, I believed it because Roger Simon wrote it. Not that I think Roger Simon is hot shit or anything, but when has he or Politico ever done satire? I’m actually shocked to learn that Simon is capable of satire at any level.

    So I’m pissed at him b/c I sent the article to my bf.

  47. 47
    hep kitty says:

    Hmm, I’m seeing on Ed that there is additional Elizabeth Warren race-baiting footage, coming up.

  48. 48
    different-church-lady says:

    “I guess people hate PowerPoint Romney more than I thought.”

    Fixed that for him.

  49. 49
    JoyfulA says:

    @Disco: Simon used to call himself a liberal a decade or two ago, when he also called himself a novelist. He’s one of those who was somehow radically transformed by 9/11 into a neocon and who knows what else.

  50. 50
    Roger Moore says:

    @SFAW:

    It’s almost like Bugs is playing eleventy-seven dimensional chess with Gaffy Daffy

    I think you’ve just found Mitt’s new nickname.

  51. 51
    low-tech cyclist says:

    I have what I call a Too-Good-To-Be-True-ometer in the back of my head. (And IMHO, everyone needs one.) All I can tell you is, this made my Too-Good-To-Be-True-ometer ping like crazy, even at 6am this morning when I first read the story.

    It was simply Too Good To Be True. It confirmed my prejudices too well, it was like a spectacular early Christmas present, watching the Romney-Ryan ticket go off the rails way faster than I would have expected.

    And there was a lot of ‘reportedly’ and ‘rumor has it’ attributions of the ‘Stench’ and ‘Gilligan’ stuff. Not even an anonymous source, just ‘reportedly.’ I mean, come on. Anyone with a brain should have at least done a wait-and-see on this one.

  52. 52
    WaterGirl says:

    @Randy P: Repeal ACA, that’s Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    I’m the guy who gave health care to everyone in MA, that’s every other Wednesday.

    It’s easy to get your days confused when you’re on the campaign trail day after day every few days.

  53. 53
    catclub says:

    @different-church-lady: “Nation’s long nightmare of peace and prosperity ends.” That was published about Jan 2001.
    The Onion is factual before the fact.

  54. 54
    hep kitty says:

    Oh, that’s another rally. I heard some Injun style “woo woo woos” in the background when he’s up there beating the whole Native American thing to death.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    This whole thing is making me re-evaluate the birther thing, though. Did some poor bastard originally come up with the “Obama’s real daddy was a communist organizer!” thing as satire only to see it made into a “documentary” and distributed around the country as fact?

    I mean, there’s no such person as Orly Taitz, right? That can’t possibly be real.

  56. 56

    I agreed with assessments in the first thread that this was a satirical story and we shouldn’t be claiming it’s real. Romney and Ryan have plenty to laugh at already. IS the fish quote real?

    That said, I listened to Romney’s delivery of the airplane window line, and yes it’s obviously a joke, but it’s obviously a joke in the ‘ho ho ho opening a window wouldn’t help in a fire’ sense, not in a ‘opening a window in an airplane is dangerous’ sense. There’s no indication he knows it’s stupid rather than witty.

  57. 57
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Paul Ryan is Not Calling Mitt Romney ‘The Stench’

    That doesn’t stop the rest of us from doing so.

  58. 58
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Test

  59. 59
    1badbaba3 says:

    See? The librul media lies. Here is the proof. What else are they lying about? The polls for sure. The birth certificate also too. We have to reevaluate everything. Shakespeare was French. The Queen is a man. And the Sun definitely revolves around the flat Earth.

    This changes EVERYTHING! ! ! !

  60. 60
    Alex says:

    I’m not sure why that stupid motherfucker would think that “using powerpoint presentations” to euthanize cattle constitutes obvious satire. It is painfully close to the truth.

  61. 61
    SFAW says:

    @Roger Moore:
    OK, but which one?

    Continuing on the Chuck Jones stream-of-unconsciousness that dms started: If Mittens’s new handle becomes “Daffy”, then he could have picked a more appropriate Looney Tunes running mate. (Not that Ryan isn’t a Looney Tune, of course.) I speak, of course, of Marvin the Martian, a/k/a Condi Rice.

    Daffy and Marvin, a match made in heaven.

    Of course, if you meant “Gaffy” – well, I gotta regroup.

    ETA: And before anyone gets all in my face about Condi/Marvin: it ain’t original with me – I think it was either Sadly, No or The Poor Man where I saw the two juxtaposed. If you’d seen the picture, you’d know what I mean, etc.

  62. 62
    Porco Rosso says:

    It’s funny because its true.

  63. 63
    1badbaba3 says:

    Well at least we can admit our mistakes. Unlike the double down triple down no apologies crowd. Not perfect. Not pretending to be. It’s like that wise man once said “fool me twice, uh…uh…. won’t get fooled again. Heh, Heh, Heh”.

  64. 64

    […] When Satire Goes Wrong: Paul Ryan is Not Calling Mitt Romney ‘The Stench’ (balloon-juice.com) […]

  65. 65
    Rand Careaga says:

    Sorry, but delighted as I was to follow the link, the satirical intent was clear to me halfway down the first screen. C’mon, Peggy Noonan?

  66. 66
    WaterGirl says:

    @Alex: That powerpoint stuff was the best part of the whole article.

  67. 67
    halteclere says:

    but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear

    Modern “cashless” toll roads came about in the ’80’s as a result of a manufacture of a cattle tracking products looking for another use for its technology. So every time you use your toll tag to fly through a tolling zone, remember that you are utilizing technology that was designed to track cattle for determining how much they ate at the feed trough.

    So as implausible as it may seem that Powerpoint was invented to euthanize cattle, a lot of other technologies have as strange of starting points.

  68. 68
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Well, damn, I guess I’ll have to stop calling Romney “The Stench” now.

    Next you’re going to tell me that only his closest friends call Ryan “butt-chugger”.

  69. 69
    Djur says:

    I can’t believe people actually quoted that line about “finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan” and thought it was for real. I’d say yez are dumb, but Paul Krugman did the same thing.

    Your first mistake was believing anything Politico published at all. Don’t read that piece of shit rag, don’t quote it, don’t link to it, don’t link to people who are linking to it. Ignore it and maybe it will go away.

  70. 70
    redshirt says:

    I think “The Stench” has legs as a tag that will stick to Mitt.

    “The Stench!” It’s so perfect it might actually upding Romney’s popularity numbers.

    Out of Liberal empathy, mind you. You almost have to feel sorry for the guy! Almost, mind you. And not really. Fuck him.

  71. 71
    Lawnguylander says:

    The article was not recognizable as satire because it was a poor attempt at satire, but come on now, it was easily recognizable as not serious.

  72. 72
    Roy G. says:

    The old saw that you never want to be the Kid who’s nicknamed ‘Stinky’ is true. It’s going to stick to Romney like glue, and his asshole buddy Pauly too.

  73. 73
    SatanicPanic says:

    Let it be known that I was skeptical from the beginning. I pat myself on the back.

  74. 74
    Rome Again says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    That might have been true, before Sarah Palin.

  75. 75
    Rome Again says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Sadly, that is not a fantasy.

  76. 76
    moops says:

    There seems to be a lot of ABL posts that turn out to be “oops”.

    The other front-pagers are not having this problem.

  77. 77
    mclaren says:

    But how can we tell the difference twixt satire and reality when it comes to Mitt Romney?

    Or the Republican party, for that matter?

    If Daily Kos comes out tomorrow with a headline saying the Republican Party has changed its platform to “biting the heads off live kittens,” how can we know whether it’s not true?

  78. 78
    ABL says:

    @Steve: I think Rebecca Schoenkopf may be the only — as she put it — libtard blogger who got it.

    So hats off to her and Wonkette.

    She’s a gem.

  79. 79
    ABL says:

    @moops: Name one.

    Oh never mind, I don’t care.

  80. 80
    ABL says:

    @Mnemosyne: But she’s an Israeli dentist, lawyer, real estate agent. That makes total sense.

  81. 81
    1badbaba3 says:

    @moops: Sod off, sad troll.

  82. 82
  83. 83
    wonkie says:

    I did not say, “Moops”! I wrote that ABL got the Mitt video right and lots of us commenters got it wrong.

  84. 84
    Radio One says:

    The thing that tipped me off was the whole Ryan snubbing Romney’s calls in order to eat finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan. That sounded too much like something that only Roger Simon would think up as a “funny joke” for his Politico pals, especially since Peggy has been very critical of the Romney campaign for the past couple of weeks.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Rome Again:

    I’m just saying, have you ever seen Lady Gaga and Orly Taitz in the same room?

    I rest my case.

  86. 86
    JustRuss says:

    Satire or not, “Stench Romney” rolls off the tongue rather nicely. I can’t wait til some talking head lets that slip accidentally.

  87. 87
    iLarynx says:

    I think it’s time we apply Poe’s Law to the GOP’s extreme stupidity now:

    Without a clear indication of the Republican speaker’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between genuine stupidity and an exaggerated parody of stupidity.

  88. 88
    nemesis says:

    If your position is that your snark/satire meter shoulda pegged on “PowerPoint is used to euthenize cattle”, then a serious problem exists here. I found that line hilarious, mainly because Im considered a PowerPoint guru round these parts and, well, euthenizing cattle is what happens during most PP presentations. That line in no way turns up the satire meter to 11.

  89. 89
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @dmsilev:

    Erick Erickson is probably cutting himself right now.

    Tease.

  90. 90
    xian says:

    @JoyfulA: 9/11 made him reconsider Chappaquiddick

  91. 91
    Steve Crickmore says:

    Like many of the liberal journalist punditry, abl get’s her ass handed to her-there must have ten obvious clues, from the opening premise; yet, abl with no mea culpa, claims she was victimized, punked because the satire wasn’t palpably clear to her, and Mitt Romney’s absurdity as a candidate, is the reason. I think as someone who prides herself on her political smarts, some reflection on abl’s part, might be in order, as to how she could have been fooled, so easily and a little too willingly.

  92. 92
    iLarynx says:

    @Steve Crickmore:

    Actually, when Homer Simpson manages to do something correctly, given his history of getting 99% of things wrong, it’s fair to initially assume his actions from the 1% are also wrong. It’s generally a safe bet that whatever he’s doing, Homer Simpson is screwing something up even if that’s not the case absolutely 100% of the time. Same goes for Mitt Romney. Two peas in a pod.

  93. 93
    patrick says:

    That said, I listened to Romney’s delivery of the airplane window line, and yes it’s obviously a joke, but it’s obviously a joke in the ‘ho ho ho opening a window wouldn’t help in a fire’ sense, not in a ‘opening a window in an airplane is dangerous’ sense. There’s no indication he knows it’s stupid rather than witty.

    I watched the video, too…and I didn’t get the impression at all that it was obviously a joke….if it was, then he has the worst comedic delivery of all history.

    I first heard this on Lawrence O’donnel, and that’s what gave it an air of credibility to me, that “man, this is hard to believe, but if L.O. is reporting it, it must have some truth to it” even though my BS meter was registering. So I give ABL a pass…heck Krugman even thought it was legit, and later posted an edit/retraction

  94. 94
    xian says:

    I thought the airplane line was an obvious witty aside, but the perception of Romney as a humorless stiff has taken hold and now that works against him.

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