Lead: Faced with an image problem, politicians often use humor to win over the electorate. Few public servants were as adept at diffusing their critics with humor as John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: “Humor is a form of voter seduction that is more insidious than dirty tricks and much more amusing.” Clever politicians wield humor as a weapon to make fun of their opponents or as a means of giving themselves a more sympathetic and down-to-earth image. Since the 1960s when television first began to dominate the political arena, qualities such as wit and charm began to play a much more important role in the electoral process. No longer could a successful politician rely on political contacts, personal character and executive skill, he or she had to possess at least a measure of telegenic charisma.