Today’s cover feature in Bus & Driver: Bernie Mac

posted at 11:40 am on July 12, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama today has distanced himself from comedian Bernie Mac after an appearance at an Obama fundraiser last night.  The comic performed a profanity-laced set at the function which ended with hecklers telling him to get off the stage after a joke that some deemed particularly offensive to women.  Obama joked about the fundraiser being a “family affair” when he followed Mac on stage, but the campaign got more serious about criticizing the comedian afterwards:

Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, the 50-year-old star of “The Bernie Mac Show” joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude language.

“My little nephew came to me and he said, ‘Uncle, what’s the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?’” Mac said. “I said, I don’t know, but I said, ‘Go upstairs and ask your mother if she’d make love to the mailman for $50,000.’”

As the joke continued, the punchline evoked an angry response from at least one person in the audience, who said it was offensive to women.

How did it get more offensive?  The Chicago Tribune gives a little more detail:

He promised to help Obama and ended his irreverent riff with a joke involving the women in the families and living with two “hoes.”

“Hoes”, eh?  That Bernie Mac — he’s such a rake!

On one hand, it’s hard to blame the campaign for tossing Bernie under the bus for this.  Jokes about “hoes” aren’t exactly the best way to reach out to disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters, especially given their resentment over how Obama treated Hillary and his supposedly demeaning attitude towards women in general.  Also, Obama has already gone on record with his criticism of the rap/hip-hop industry for using terms like “hoes” and worse:

Obama, the first presidential candidate to call for shock jock Don Imus to be fired for his racist comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, has said it’s troublesome to condemn Imus’ “nappy-headed hos” slur without addressing similar language used by rap and hip-hop musicians.

At a fundraising dinner for the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus in Columbia, S.C., Friday, Obama said, “We’ve got to admit to ourselves, that it was not the first time that we heard the word ‘ho.’ Turn on the radio station. There are a whole lot of songs that use the same language … We’ve been permitting it in our homes, and in our schools and on iPods.”

Obama added that “If it’s not good for Don Imus, I don’t know why it’s good for us. If we don’t like other people to degrade us, why are we degrading ourselves?”

Given that, why did Obama have Bernie Mac perform at a fundraiser at all?  Mac is hilarious, but his comedy is filled with similar references, outside of his television show.  If it’s not good for Don Imus and for rap, why is it good for Bernie Mac and Obama fundraisers?  Could it be that money trumps his principles yet again?

Maybe this isn’t the Bernie Mac Obama thought he knew ….

Update: Bruce Kesler caught this last night, and included this Bernie Mac line:

Mac said he is a Democrat “born and raised” but added that, “I’m a Republican at tax time.” He mimicked a mock warning from an imagined staffer: “Don’t kill the message.”

Wow …. even Obama’s surrogates think his tax plan stinks.


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