Last night you all got to watch and chat in the open thread during the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. In addition to the usual list of suspects, the Comedian in Chief had his annual opportunity to show off his stand-up chops and practice delivering other people’s one liners. This is an area where I’ve tended to cut Barack Obama some slack in the past. His delivery is actually pretty good with the timing of a practiced comic, regardless of who writes the jokes. But we also expect a bit of humility and compassion from the leader of the free world, and that’s what seemed to be lacking this time. This from PJ Media.
Face it, Dems. Obama doesn’t do humor – at least the kind of self-deprecating humor that presidents like John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were famous for.
Obama’s humor is mean-spirited. His zingers aimed at others feel like twisting the knife rather than a good-natured nudge. While there is always some measure of exaggeration when it comes to zinging an opponent, Obama’s premise is usually false to begin with. This makes his humor self-serving and decidedly unfunny.
This is followed by a list of the five most mean-spirited jokes from the President. Here are a couple.
3. Anyway, while you guys focus on the horse race, I’m going to do what I do. I will be focused on everyday Americans. Just yesterday I read a heartbreaking letter. I get letters from folks around the country every day. I get 10 that I read. This one got me. A Virginia man who’s been stuck in the same part-time job for years. No respect from his boss. There was no chance to get ahead. I really wish Eric Cantor would stop writing me. You can just pick up the phone, Eric. [Laughter] [applause]
4. There is one thing that keeps Republicans busy. They have tried more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare. Despite that, 8 million people signed up for healthcare in the first open enrollment. [Applause] Which does lead one to ask, how well does Obamacare have to work before you don’t want to repeal it? What if everyone’s cholesterol drops to 120? What if your yearly checkup came with tickets to a Clippers’ game? Not the old Donald Sterling Clippers, the new Oprah Clippers. What if it gave Mitch McConnell a pulse? What is it going to take?
Was it mean-spirited? Over the line? Again, perhaps I’m being a bit too charitable here, but that all seems rather tame. Compared to the humor you get on The Daily Show, Colbert, or any of the late night talk show hosts when they regularly skewer conservatives, I thought this material was rather light fare. Also, the WHCD has taken on the same sort of tone as a roast over the years and there seems to be an expectation of some sharp elbows being thrown.
Exit question(s): Was any of Obama’s humor over the line? And are things like this beneath the dignity of the office, or do we want our leaders to get out and mix with the people in the trenches and get a little muddy?