Remembering Pat Paulsen

I haven’t thought about the late comedian Pat Paulsen in a long time. He started running for president in 1968 and kept at it on a quadrennial basis, more or less like a comic version of Minnesota’s own boy wonder Harold Stassen (although Stassen himself became a punch line). See the history set forth in “Pat Paulsen for president!” The Library of Congress has even found a place in its archives for a 1968 “Pat Paulsen for president” poster. Below is a video of Paulsen making his pitch on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that year.

Teaching us the uses of rhetorical formulas in one of his English classes — he wrote speeches for Reagan and then for Nixon in 1968 — Professor Jeffrey Hart gave us an example that combined the rhetoric of the candidate introductions at a party convention with anti-climax: “He is a man who…a man who…a man who…Harold Stassen!” It still makes me laugh.

Bruce Chapman is the chairman of the Discovery Institute. He now declares his candidacy for the presidency in the New York Post column “I’m running for president — you could do worse (and probably will).” Reviving the spirit of Pat Paulsen, Chapman himself draws on a legendary element of Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign in making his announcement.

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