A Presidency Without Laughs?


One of the only pleasures of the past eight years has been the great fun it is to make fun of President Bush. His malapropos, his goofy expressions, and his inability to form a complete sentence: these are everything that a humorist could hope for.

Now we have this upcoming First Family that is the youngest, brightest, most well spoken bunch seen in ages. And to top it off: they’re African-American.

The dignity, the profundity, the honor, the grace, the articulateness and powerful prose: all the Obama qualities are so comedically dismal.

And because the new President has a black father, we are all painfully self-conscious in our reaction to him. We must not rob the man of his dignity before he gets into office. We must give him a chance. He is the very embodiment of the American dream.

This nation defines pigmentation as the essence of one’s personhood. And is now eager to experiment with allowing an individual to be an individual and not a cog in the color wheel. So why are there hushed voices and sanctimoniousness?

Some of the funniest observers of the political scene in Washington, like the writer Maureen Dowd, are now suddenly the strictest and most reverent protectors of President Elect Obama. One must say nothing off-color about the man.

Dowd writes in the NY Times: “I had been astonished by the overt willingness of some people who didn’t mind being quoted by name in The New York Times saying vile stuff, that a President Obama would turn the Rose Garden into a watermelon patch, that he’d have barbeques on the front lawn, that he’d make the White House the Black House.”

He’d make the White House the Black House? What is so horrible about that? Isn’t it slightly funny? How about the fact that we will have a Black First Lady in a White House? Is that vile too? Dowd never backed away from her poison pen in attacking Mr. Bush. But Obama elicits mystical worship from a media that should be intelligently skeptical.

Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer,  Reagan an actor, George HW Bush a “patrician”, and Clinton was a serial adulterer along with his public accomplishments and leadership. But all of these men were subjected to skits, cartoons, mockery, and criticism. And nobody held back because they were afraid of offending those supporters who backed these aforementioned Presidents.

I hope that we are mature enough to allow ourselves to laugh at Obama without the inhibiting p.c. that risk turning the leader of our democracy into a personality cult worthy of the rulers of North Korea, Iran or Cuba.

One thought on “A Presidency Without Laughs?

  1. They featured this exact topic on “All Things Considered” on KCRW this afternoon and interviewed the editors of The Onion. The consensus was that it will be a funny presidency, but the humor will have to be more complex and subtler than the “He’s so stupid” bit we’ve had going for the last 8 years.

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