Throughout her 2020 presidential campaign, Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar has tried to play up her relatable, Midwestern likability by deploying humor, to varying degrees of success. There’s her bit about raising $17,000 by calling up ex-boyfriends, which is pretty good. There was that time, on the debate stage, when she compared Russian meddling in the 2016 election with her meddling in her daughter’s life. It was … fine. There was the report of her once eating a salad with a comb. That wasn’t a joke, but it was very funny.
These jokes, and others, are the subject of a New York Times report, which posits that Klobuchar can use humor to “disarm an opponent, charm a voter and, she hopes, undercut President Trump on the debate stage.” Also, potentially heal the divided soul of our nation? All of this is fine, if a bit implausible for many reasons — but then the Times invokes a truly chilling moment when one one of Klobuchar’s jokes publicly fell flat, snapping us back into cold reality:
During a confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Ms. Klobuchar asked Ms. Kagan whether she was on team Jacob or Edward, a reference to the Twilight series that was popular with teenage girls at the time. Ms. Klobuchar was simply trying to lighten the mood, but Ms. Kagan looked at her blankly and replied, “I wish you wouldn’t.”
Oh my God.
A video of the incident in question, which took place in 2010, is not quite as painful to watch as the Times’ description sounds, although it does involve a laboriously long lead-up in which Klobuchar jokingly guesses the Supreme Court nominee probably missed the midnight premiere of the third Twilight movie the night before. “We did not miss it in our household, and it culminated in three 15-year-old-girls sleeping over,” Klobuchar grins. “So I keep wanting to ask you about the famous case of Edward vs. Jacob, or the vampire vs. the werewolf.”
“I wish you wouldn’t” feels apt! (Though Kagan’s expression isn’t totally blank; you can make out a strained smile if you’re able to not avert your eyes.)
Klobuchar manages to bounce back a little, joking, “I know you can’t comment on future cases, so I’ll leave that alone.” Kagan and others laugh, but alas, it was already too late. My spirit had already fled my corporeal form.