As we have seen, repeatedly, rightbloggers don’t need much to set them off. This week, for example, they got a lot of mileage out of Obama asking for dijon mustard on his hamburger. When rightwing talking heads made a big deal of the President’s condiment choice, lefties made mock of them. Rightbloggers decided that they were the real victims here.
When Legal Insurrection‘s post on the incident — complete with 10 updates! — drew unflattering attention, he declared liberals were the ones having an “out-sized reaction,” proving that leftbloggers “seek to impose a new commandment, ‘thou shall not mock Obama.’ And if that means ‘thou shall not mock Obama’s mustard,’ then so it is written, so it is done.” His buddies rallied ‘round him (“Far Left Outraged That Hannity Mocked Dear Leader’s Mustard”), and agreed that conservative outrage over Obama’s mustard was a big win for their movement.
Alas, they had only a few days to enjoy this victory.
This weekend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was held in Washington. Obama told anodyne jokes, including some on himself — e.g., ostentatiously raising two teleprompters (get it?) for his remarks, then announcing, “Good evening, pause for laughter” — as well as on Democrats and Republicans. It was a pleasant but unremarkable routine; as the Wall Street Journal put it, Obama “largely played it safe.” But comedian Wanda Sykes brought more caustic material, suggesting that Rush Limbaugh “was the 20th hijacker [on 9/11] but he was just so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight.” Both she and Obama got lots of laughs from the friendly media crowd.
Suddenly rightbloggers lost interest in the overreaction of others — because they were too busy overreacting themselves.
Sykes’ routine naturally drew the harshest criticism. The laugh-riot Weekly Standard pronounced Sykes “unfunny” and “utterly vile.” Gateway Pundit took one of her Limbaugh gags — “Rush Limbaugh, ‘I hope the country fails,’ I hope his kidneys fail, how about that?” — very seriously. “Boy, there’s nothing funnier to these libs than a dead Republican,” he said. “Sick.”
NewsBusters, while admitting that Sykes “did give a lighthearted whack or two to The One,” complained because ABC radio news ran her Cheney joke in their brief summary of the event. “Why is ABC Radio still looking backward?” they demanded. “Why else but that ABC doesn’t see anything funny about Barack Obama. Not even his jug ears are ripe for poking, I guess. But, har, har, them thar Bush guys are a scream!” This analysis went on longer than the radio recap. Another NewsBusters scribe was outraged that Sykes “attacked Republicans, conservative pundits, and white people” — gasp! — and closed, “So this is the picture of a more united and tolerant America? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt more isolated.” Someone should warn the poor man away from comedy clubs, especially when black comedians are working.
But if you think Obama’s milder material protected him from rightblogger wrath, you don’t know them like we know them.
First of all, most of these comedy critics were outraged that Obama actually laughed at Wanda Sykes! “I don’t know which I found more disgusting,” railed Freedom Eden. “Wanda Sykes’ material or Obama laughing at it.” “Keep grinning, Barry!” roared Patterico. “He looks almost as pleased as when he was shaking the hand of Hugo Chavez.” “Barack Obama himself laughed at the thought of Rush Limbaugh dead,” said Race42008.
Carol Platt Liebau saw in Obama’s treasonous laughter the death of freedom: “But don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone to disagree with Sykes approach (or Obama’s reaction) on the left; dissent has, apparently, gone out of fashion and lockstep conformity is in.”
Getting to the actual material, the laugh-a-minute rightbloggers declared Obama double-plus unfunny as well. “His delivery was lame and his jokes were insulting,” said Gateway Pundit. “But the media sure loved him…” Maybe they were forced to laugh at gunpoint. “Obama received the most applause from the media and Hollywood elites when he said: ‘Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.'” It’s Not Funny because it’s true!
“Here is another piece of advice for President Obama,” said Scared Monkeys, “humor has to have a bit of truth in it” — which makes the President unfunny by definition, because everything he says is a lie. Also: “Mean is not funny no matter if the LEFT wants to call it ‘edgy’. Sorry, I must have missed it in my ‘humor’ in the media courses in college.” Oh, so he’s a trained analyst; let’s give him extra attention, then.
Though insisting Obama is unfunny, Scared Monkeys admitted he heard laughter at the event, but said it mainly came “when Obama made jokes referencing that he was named Auto Industries Executive of the Year and that in his next 100 days Obama will learn to go off the prompter, while Joe Biden will learn to stay on the teleprompter.” So even when Obama is funny, it’s only his anti-Obama humor that accomplishes it — and the audience’s reaction is proof, we suppose, that they thought as little of Obama as Scared Monkeys does. Except he refers to them as “media suck ups” who “gush over every word he says and laughs at his lame jokes.” But these parasites laughed more at Bush’s Correspondents Dinner routine last year, even though “they could not stand GWB.” Presumably that was genuine laughter, not the suck-up kind. Maybe we err in trying to find a logical point here; analysis is famously deadly to comedy.
Everything Not Liberal didn’t hear the self-deprecating material at all. “One thing is painfully evident,” he says. “This is a very arrogant man who knows only how to campaign. His speech is a series of jokes made at the expense of the people who may run against him in 3 years. Hillary Clinton, Micheal Bloomberg, Sarah Palin, and several others are the focus of his ‘jokes.’ They will say these are all jokes but I don’t think the man does anything that isn’t planned to benefit his popularity.” That bastard!
Six Meat Buffet thought the Obama-on-Obama jokes were illegitimate. “I hate to tell you this guys,” he said, “but jokes about how Barack Obama is just too perfect isn’t in keeping with the roast-like nature of the event.” And neither is actual roasting! “The rest of it was nothing more than straight insults of people on the Right,” which was Not Funny. Then Six Meat showed us how it’s done: “Wanda then rushed to the foyer of the Hilton to finish munching on the red carpet.” ‘Cause she’s gay, get it? Also: “She was like a bulldagger in a China closet.” He took time out from the comedy clinic to notify us, “Oh, and Obama didn’t put his hand over his heart during the playing of the national anthem again.”
“Hate speech was on display last night at that dinner,” said Smart Girl Politics, “and that’s okay with me. If they want to talk trash against Republicans I’m okay with it. Just don’t try to shut me up when I want to disagree with what they are doing and saying.” Okay. “The next time anyone brings up The Fairness Doctrine, Localism, or anything the Democrats want to call their cloaked version of censorship, WE MUST ALL RISE UP to preserve our freedom of speech and freedom of the press…” Um, okay. “Spew your hate, slant your news, twist your facts. That’s your right. That’s your free speech on display. But don’t you dare try to shut the rest of us up.” Even if you’re extremely annoying?
Our very favorite bit of analysis came from Reliapundit. Taking his cue from commenters at Hot Air, he took Obama’s mild joke about RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s well-known use of street slang (“Michael Steele is in the house tonight. Or as he would say, ‘in the heezy'”) and ran with it — right off a cliff. He quoted the Hot Air people: “Is a 1/2 white guy allowed to make fun of a authentic AA?” and “White man (he is as much white as he is black) making fun of the way a black man talks. Unbelievable what he gets away with” — and, to our astonishment (yes, they surprise even us sometimes), agreed with them: “THE DOUBLE STANDARDS (LEFTIES CAN SAY ANYTHING) MAKE ME SICK.”
So, to recap, Wanda Sykes’ routine was a hate crime abetted by Obama’s hateful laughter, and Obama’s routine was Not Funny except to the liberal media (which in its heart of hearts knows George Bush is actually funnier), as well as an assault on free speech. Plus Obama is prejudiced against black people. Oh, and by noting these rightblogger reactions to the event, we are overreacting, which is an automatic win for conservatism. Given all that good news, you’d think they’d be more cheerful. As they say in the biz: tough crowd!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 11, 2009