An article on Politico by Todd S. Purdum two days ago, written in anticipation of the Saturday night Correspondent’s dinner, described President Obama’s style of humor as laughing at but not with people. We’d go one step further at the Sentinel and say that his humor is meant to divide the country. If he has to step on an ordinary citizen to do it, so be it.
Before we get to last night’s heralded speech, we’d like to talk briefly about the Politico article. Check these two paragraphs out:
“Sure, Obama makes fun of himself: for his big ears, his graying hair, his sagging approval ratings, even his bad bowling (though he stepped on a joke about the last subject with Jay Leno in 2009 by adding an ill-considered ad lib about his Special Olympics-level skill, for which he was forced to apologize). And the president has proved himself a good sport, enduring Zach Galifianakis’ absurdist insults on “Between Two Ferns,” where he went to promote his health care plan.”
“But Obama is much more likely to reserve his sharpest flashes of wit for his adversaries, antagonists and even (in a kind of throwback Henny Youngmanesque style) for the wife he invariably portrays as hectoring.”
The author of the piece said that Obama seems to deliver his jokes with the disembodied distance of someone observing his own performance.
That’s so true. In fact, Obama’s entire presidency is marked by his disembodiment from his own actions. He continually blames others and takes no responsibility for his failed presidency.
Obama’s self-deprecating jokes are aimed at making fun of his opponents not himself. The Politico article pointed out that Obama’s own former chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, had trouble coming up with Obama’s so-called self-deprecating lines.
That point was emphasized by Politico in these paragraphs taken from a past dinner:
But those jokes are in fact about others — Obama’s most fervent, starry-eyed supporters, or the virulent “birthers” who questioned his American citizenship — and not really about himself. The most lethal example of Obama’s ripostes to such critics came at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011, with his extended riff on Donald Trump, who was in the room and decidedly not amused.
“Now, I know he’s taken some flak lately,” Obama said of the man who had waged a vigorous media campaign questioning the president’s citizenship, “but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
Those remarks landed squarely, and scored big, but Obama went on with another taunt about “Celebrity Apprentice” and Trump’s “credentials and breadth of experience” — an exercise that struck Landon Parvin, a longtime humor writer for both Republicans and Democrats dating back to Ronald Reagan, as a bit of overkill.
“I’m no big fan of Donald Trump,” Parvin said. “But I don’t think a president, just because of his power, should go after people that way. I don’t know why he sometimes is a little harsher than he needs to be.”
This year’s dinner was no different. The media claimed he lambasted MSNBC and CNN but his jokes about them were harmless. The people he skewered were Fox News, Republicans, Conservatives, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Eric Cantor, and a common citizen – Cliven Bundy.
President Obama got the correspondents’ dinner off to a start with a few not very self-deprecating jokes and some mild slaps at CNN for their endless coverage of MH370 and MSNBC for their small audience, but he reserved his nastiest jokes for Fox, Republicans, and Cliven Bundy.
He started off his comic routine with potted ferns being placed next to him, referencing his lame appearance on the juvenile show, “Between Two Ferns”. He excused himself for that appearance by saying that’s what the young people watch. Obama’s self-deprecating jokes aren’t very self-deprecating.
Then he said he wasn’t the first to do it.
A picture of the Fox & Friends cast with Elisabeth Hasselbeck sitting between Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade on the couch flashed on the screen.
l. to r. Doocy, Hasselbeck, Kilmeade
Obama then said he’s (Obama’s) not the first person to appear on TV between two potted plants. In other words, Kilmeade and Doocy are potted plants.
The media present at the dinner loved it.
Obama buttered up Jake Tapper and a couple others who are on his good side. He made hollow jokes about being a Kenyan as he complimented winners of the Boston marathon and the Olympics. He waylaid that into a crack at Rand Paul doing a 180 from the embattled rancher Cliven Bundy.
Picking on U.S. citizen Cliven Bundy, who was not present to defend himself, was the highlight of the speech. Someone must tell me how it is acceptable for a president with the powers of the presidency to attack an old cowboy.
He said of Bundy, Generally things don’t go well if the sentence starts ‘Let me tell you something I know about the negro.’ You don’t need to hear the rest of it. Just a tip for ya. Don’t start your sentence that way.
His voice dripped in sarcasm. That is fairly intimidating and it was meant to be. Obama is a bully.
Why does Obama have to weigh in on these petty issues and yet he never weighs in on major issues such as the pogrom against Christians throughout the world or the growing tide of anti-Semitism throughout the world?
Here is the ex-drugged out hippie – Barack Obama – waylaying the unlawful legalization of marijuana into a plus for him and a negative for Rand Paul, the Koch brothers, and Fox News:
“Speaking of Rand Paul, Colorado legalized marijuana this year…an interesting social experiment. I hope it doesn’t lead to a whole lot a paranoid people who think the federal government’s out to get them and listening to their phone calls. That would be a problem. And speaking of conservative heroes. Koch brothers bought a table here tonight but as usual they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello Fox News. [applause] I’m just kidding. Let’s face it Fox, you’ll miss me when I’m gone. It will be harder to convince the people that Hillary was born in Kenya. [applause, shouts of agreement – this is what the media thinks of conservatives].”
If you think the NSA is listening to your conversations, which they are, you must be a paranoid right-wing loon.
He then went on to demonize the Citizen’s United case.
He said Republicans are bringing in people to teach them how to speak to women. This is true.
He of course is focused on everyday Americans. He said he read a heartbreaking letter about a Virginia man who has been stuck in the same part-time job for years, no respect from his boss, no chance to get ahead…I really wish Eric Cantor would stop writing me. You can just pick up the phone Eric.
He said Republicans give John Boehner a harder time than they give me which means orange really is the new book. [applause and cheers from the media – do you really think these people will give Republicans a fair shot?]
Obama said he hasn’t given up working with Congress though he never has worked with congress. He mocked Ted Cruz, complained about DC gridlock and wondered, unprofessionally using the language of the street, what he did to piss off Chris Christie so bad.
Bringing up unemployment insurance, he said if people want to get paid while not working you should have to run for congress just like everyone else.
Republicans are still trying to get Obamacare repealed, Obama said, despite the 8 million enrollment figure [which is questionable]. His usual rhetoric of its alleged success filled up a couple minutes.
What if it [Obamacare] gave Mitch McConnell a pulse, he said talking about the power of the Obamacare law.
Obama brought up his pen and phone dictatorial strategy and said his critics call it an imperial presidency. He said that you’d think they’d appreciate his firm approach since their new darling is Vlaidmir Putin. [Really?] He made fun of comments made by Republicans, comments he took out of context. He managed to mock Rick Perry.
There were harmless jokes but the fact is they were aimed at himself and his friends. His cruel and divisive jokes are reserved for his critics and Republicans. He is dividing the country and that is being done purposefully. He will do anything to win elections and uniting people is the last thing on his mind because it doesn’t bring out his base on election day.
You can listen to it on this link.