Know Your Candidates: More Teeth Than Anne Hathaway, Elmer Fudd

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10/17/2008 1:25 PM |

This thing is like that thing, sometimes! Hendrick Hertzberg wrote a great post-debate analysis on his New Yorker blog. Instead of freaking out over John McCain’s lizard-demon face, he focuses, first, on Barack Obama’s semi-gloaty smile of bemusement, which he compares to someone who starred in a little film called The Princess Diaries:

I’m beginning to suspect that "the people" approach these debates more
seriously than do "the pundits," including yours truly. Last night, I
fretted that McCain was doing better and Obama worse than—well, better
and worse, respectively, than I had hoped, even expected, they’d do.
Obama too often smiled broadly during McCain’s answers, which I yelled
at the screen to tell him to quit doing. Obama has an amazing smile—he
shows more teeth than Anne Hathaway—but his is a smile that should be
deployed sparingly, and never sarcastically.

After some more intellectually thoughtful blahblah, Hertzberg throws in, ever-so-casually, the following observation:

My eyes were pretty much riveted on Obama during the debate, so I
missed McCain’s bizarro repertoire of Elmer Fudd-like facial
expressions—which, I now realize after reviewing the video clips, were
a lot more unpleasant than the Democrat’s arguably smug smiles. But I
like to think that McCain’s real problem, especially during the last
half, was substance.

I think Hertzberg has figured out the mystery that has captivated this nation. Maybe McCain isn’t a horrible child-eating death clown or a demonic shit-monster after all. Perhaps he’s just a really moody egg-headed Looney Tunes character with a babbling speech impediment who can never quite seem to outwit his nemesis. Says the Wikipedia:

Elmer’s role in these two films, that of would-be hunter, dupe and foil
for Bugs, would remain his main role forever after, and although Bugs
Bunny was called upon to outwit many more worthy opponents, Elmer
somehow remained Bugs’ classic nemesis, despite (or because of) his
legendary gullibility, small size, short temper, and shorter attention
span. Somehow knowing not only that Elmer would lose, but knowing how he would lose, made the confrontation, counterintuitively, more delicious. Despite being the antagonist, Elmer lacked the malice of a true villain.


One episode where Bugs “lost” in the hunting was Hare Brush (1956). Here, Elmer has been committed to an insane asylum because he believes he is a rabbit. Bugs Bunny enters Fudd’s room and Elmer bribes him with carrots,
then leaves the way the real rabbit entered. Bugs acts surprisingly
(for him) naïve, assuming Elmer just wanted to go outside for a while.
Elmer’s psychiatrist arrives, and thinking Fudd’s delusion has affected
his appearance, drugs Bugs and conditions him into believing that he is Elmer Fudd (“I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht”)
after which Bugs starts wearing hunting clothes and acting like Elmer,
hunting the rabbit-costumed Fudd, who is in turn acting like Bugs.
Their hunt is cut short when Bugs is arrested, as Elmer Fudd is wanted
for tax evasion.
After Bugs is hauled away, Fudd breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience, “I may be a scwewy wabbit, but I’m not going to Alcatwaz.”

Oh, Christ, it’s just too good.

One Comment

  • Good work on the Fudd-McCain connection. I’ve long been of the opinion that Joe Biden is the Daffy Duck of this election — overheated, oblivious, self-impressed, logorrheic, easily tripped up. (Of all prominent American politicians, Joe Biden is perhaps the easiest to imagine getting tripped up with the old duck season/rabbit season trick.)