How does the brain work, or the mouth and throat act?
These are perhaps interesting questions.
But they are irrelevant when you laugh yourself, or even better, see a three-year-old running barefoot on the grass laughing like there’s not a care in the world.
Often political campaigns seem to fall into the false importance of arguing about how a human laugh works, or some other trivia.
It’s not important.
A campaign should bring the emotion to the electorate of the three-year-old loving life.
For many Americans, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign touched them like that.
This year, not so much.
Perhaps the most difficult campaign to run is a within your own political party.
How do you tell fellow Republicans or Democrats that you are a more loyal party member, best to beat the opponent in the fall or uphold party values?
How much do you pound your party colleague just a little?
When does damage become too much damage?
These decisions are being made today by U.S. Senate GOP candidate Dan Liljenquist and his top campaign aides.
Liljenquist, a former state senator from Bountiful, surprised some Utahns by getting just enough state Republican delegate votes in convention to get into a closed June 26 GOP primary with 36-year incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Today, Hatch is clearly ahead in internal polls of likely primary Republican voters.
How do I know this?
Because Liljenquist is pounding Hatch for not agreeing to more public debates. And Hatch is just going about his campaign business, saying he won’t debate Liljenquist more than the one KSL Radio debate now agreed to.
If Hatch’s polling showed that Liljenquist was making gains on him – especially if Hatch seemed vulnerable to Liljenquist’s “debate me” issue – Hatch would agree to more debates.
The man isn’t stupid.
If the debate issue isn’t getting traction, why respond to it?
Liljenquist, with the no-debate campaign issue, seems to be wondering out loud what happens when people laugh.
He’s not getting people to just laugh and enjoy themselves – his messages aren’t hitting home.
With just over four weeks left in Utah’s truncated primary season, Liljenquist needs to make a move.
The best for him would be to have conservative Utahns start to enjoy this U.S. Senate GOP race. To catch some wind, to get some emotion in the contest.
Hatch clearly just wants to keep his head down. Have few public appearances, and when he does those events stay on script, look energetic for a 78-year-old, be the wise statesman instead of the squeaky upstart.
Just before the April 21 state GOP convention, Hatch promised that if re-elected he would serve only one more term. That would take him to 84, by far Utah’s oldest serving congressman in state history.
Because of Utah’s unique society, Liljenquist can’t directly go after Hatch because of his age. After all, leaders of the LDS Church are often in their 80s or 90s and still doing some of their best work.
Hatch has said that if he didn’t run this year, God would be disappointed in him.
Liljenquist has said his survival of a deadly small plane crash that killed some of his fellow travelers brought him to the realization that he needed to make a difference in the rest of his life.
In other states, if politicians hinted (or just said) that God wanted them to run for office, many voters would be turned off.
But in Utah that has almost become a given.
One Provo City mayoral candidate said his loss in the race was a message to him that he should go on an LDS Church mission, a more important calling than that of mayor.
The U.S. Senate primary race could get ugly, not so much because of Liljenquist, but through outside super PACs buying TV ads attacking Hatch.
Hatch’s campaign did a good job in demonizing FreedomWorks, an outside group that ran ads against him before the convention.
But other anti-incumbent PACs may see Hatch as vulnerable, especially if polling shows Liljenquist making a run at him.
Utahns historically don’t like negative advertising. And more than one candidate has been harmed by groups not associated with his campaign coming in with hard-hitting ads.
Remember Peter Corroon and 2010? He was thought of as one of the nicest guys in politics, a high approval rating as Democratic Salt Lake County mayor.
But Corroon went after GOP Gov. Gary Herbert hard two years ago, and Corroon got washed away. He even lost his own Salt Lake County vote.
So, Liljenquist has to make GOP voters like him; has to criticize Hatch, but not too much; can’t go after Hatch’s age; and has to worry about outside groups coming in and – by association – making voters feel sorry for Hatch and dislike Liljenquist.
All in four weeks time.
If only Liljenquist could bottle laughter and give it to voters.
Wouldn’t that be something.