... is that it has to be funny. Unfunny satire just makes you sound mean or stupid or both.
Take, for example, Deb Jordahl (please!). Not content to merely butcher the truth, she has to try her hand at teh funny. In a recent, misbegotten attempt at satire, Jordahl, a Scott Walker devotee, tries to get a larf at Mark Neumann's expense. "Neumann Endorses Barrett," blares the headline. The rest of it is just exactly as funny as the headline.
The second rule of satire is that it must have a significant grain of truth. "A Modest Proposal" is not successful because the idea of eating Irish children is a hoot by itself, but rather because the ruling class's neglect of the Irish working class was so bad that being dinner would be a step up from kids' real life. Jordahl violates this rule, as well.
The premise of her post is that Neumann's crashing of the state Democratic convention last weekend was not, as his earlier crashing of the Republicans' hoe-down was, a sad publicity stunt staged by an insurgent on the outs with the power-brokers in his own party. No, Neumann was there to show just how identical he is to Tom Barrett, the presumed* Democratic nominee. Yes, because Neumann, the anti-choice, anti-union, anti-gay rights, anti-public schools, anti-working class, anti-environment, endorsed by something called the "liberty council," religious extremist whacko might reasonably be mistaken for the Democrat in the race.
Jordahl's supposed grain of truth falls in this made-up quote from Neumann:
“My companies have made a killing off of President Obama’s stimulus package," [she has Neumann saying]. "Between the eight thousand dollar homeowner tax credit and the tax credits for solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and wind energy systems, the taxpayers have put hundreds of thousands into my homes. Heck, the taxpayers even paid for radio ads to promote my company.”The Onion, it ain't.
Neumann said Tom Barrett is the only other candidate in the race who believes that government should pick the winners and losers when it comes to helping businesses succeed.
But the illogic and the fallacy behind the piece is worse than its unfunniness. If you click on the link at "made a killing," it takes you to a Dan Bice story (no, not that one! or that one! or that one! or even that one!) about the success of the homebuyer tax credit and how it helped as many as 16 or 17 Wisconsin families buy a home last year from one particular company. Sure, that company is part-owned by Mark Neumann; but it is hardly reasonable to suggest that anyone in government "picked" Neumann's company to be a "winner," when a) any homebuilder or real-estate firm was equally eligible to take advantage of the tax credits that in fact were given to homebuyers, not homebuilders, and 2) the current government would have no incentive whatsoever to make a credible Republican candidate for governor any more of a "winner."
But I did laugh out loud, once I clicked through and read the link. First, at the notion that Walker supporters are explicitly trashing a successful small-businessman, supposedly the backbone of their capitalist utopia and friend to the teapartier everywhere. Second, because the Bice story contains such nuggets as " 'So he's OK with the part that makes him money so he can run for office,' said Walker adviser R.J. Johnson," long before another Johnson, Ron, marshalled his earned millions to run for Senate as a Republican.
In the end, Jordhal violates the rules of satire so badly that they are at the emergency room filling out a police report as we speak. Give it a rest, Deb.
* presumed, because his most formidable likely opponent recently re-iterated his not-runningness ... but you never know