The White House Correspondents Dinner has been a decades-long tradition of self-deprecation, opponent-skewering, and commingling the power elite and the media watchdogs. It’s about as meaningful as a White House press release, or these days, an MS-NBC report on the Obama administration. It only really matters to the people who attend, and I’d bet half of them would probably concede it doesn’t matter much at all.
Comedians like Wanda Sykes are almost literally a dime a dozen. They like to make headlines by being outrageous, but otherwise have as little relevance to everyday life as Baywatch does to Shakespeare. She belongs in the same category as Janeane Garofalo, who apparently can’t gain attention any other way than to play the race card by yelling “White Power” on stage at conservatives. Neither that nor calling Rush Limbaugh the 20th hijacker is witty, funny, or incisive. It’s at the same level of intellect as babies playing with their soiled diapers, and about as meaningful.
I’m not particularly exercised by it, although it did lead to an interesting Twitter exchange today between myself, Patterico, Steven Den Beste [see update below], Atrios, and a few others. About halfway into it I grew bored and watched Night at the Museum with my granddaughters. It was a much better use of my time.
I’ll stipulate that anyone who calls their political opponents “terrorists” have violated the Godwin’s Law of the post-9/11 world, regardless of which side they’re defending or attacking and have surrendered the argument. Terrorists blow up innocent civilians; radio commentators, pundits, and comedians exercise their First Amendment rights to criticize people. Those who can’t tell the difference between the two indict themselves with their idiocy, not anyone else.
I find it fascinating, though, that the media world and the White House shrieked when Rush said he hoped Obama would fail, but laughed at Sykes’ calling Rush a terrorist last night, including the President who felt so threatened by Rush that he criticized him by name in the first days of his presidency. If Rush had called Sykes the “20th terrorist” and wished kidney disease on her, I doubt that Obama would be laughing, and the media would fall all over themselves to rip him to shreds. But honestly, does the news of a double standard for conservatives really surprise anyone?
Sykes, who can be funny in movies, said something stupid. If we’re still talking about it tomorrow, the only person that benefits is Sykes. It makes the WHCD a lot more newsworthy than it should be, and perhaps by tomorrow we’ll all realize that nothing much happened there that affects anyone’s life a single iota.
Update: Apparently, the Steven Den Beste that was in the Twitter feed was not the real Steven Den Beste. My apologies, Steven, for getting fooled on that one. By the way, I forgot to mention that Jake Tapper was also in on that series of exchanges, and that it was pleasant, I believe, for everyone.