The worst story I ever heard about Jack Kennedy was that he sat on his boat one day eating chicken and threw the half-chewed bones into the sea.
Norman Mailer (PP, p. 101)
The worst joke I ever heard Barry Obama tell was the one about Rahm Emanuel teaching poor kids how to swear. He didn't say it like that, of course. What he said was:
This whole myth of Rahm being this "tough guy" mean is just not true. At least once a week he spends time teaching profanity to underprivileged children.
And he really did put the word "profanity" in italics (watch the video). There was nowhere to go with the joke after he had used such a sanitized term for swearing. He delivered the two key facts in the wrong order. But my complaint is not about his knack for standup; it's about his sense of humour. The joke used "underprivileged" in the most patronizing way possible, i.e., as a simple backdrop for an act of charity. Hi guys, I just got off Airforce One ("it's niiiice!") and now I'm making a poor joke. But he didn't even have decency to call them poor. A poor joke, indeed. Then again, he was on TV, so what do you expect? But these are the things one was worried about.
Throwing a chicken bone into the sea is bad because it shows no feeling for the root of death, which is burial. Of course Kennedy might have muttered, "Sorry, old man," as he tossed the bone. That is the difficulty with anecdotes. One cannot determine the nuance. (PP, p. 102)
I don't know what Obama might have muttered to restore our hope in his nuances. But we'll be watching.