Green Room

Obama is now trying out Seinfeld shtick?

posted at 5:10 pm on October 23, 2012 by

“Thank you, you’ve been a great audience!” That was not the president of the United States at the end of last night’s third and final presidential debate on Monday, but it could have been (and perhaps will be when he makes his fifth appearance—his third since taking the Oath of Office—on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno).

Granted, last night’s debate was not the most engaging of the four this campaign season, and you had to be either asleep or dead not to notice that was hurling one-liners all night, much to the delight of his base and (one is beginning to sense) befuddlement of everyone else.

But a line that escaped this viewer’s ken that is warming the cockles of liberal writers everywhere. It is this near-Seinfeld line: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” The actual line, which the president (not atypically) flubbed, is one that has been getting a lot of play in James Taranto’s Best of the Web Today column in The Wall Street Journal since after the first debate, when Obama went on what might be called a “jerk store fool’s errand.”

The idea that informs both the Seinfeld line (uttered by the character of George Costanza) and Obama’s real-life effort to square the circle is that you get only one chance at zingers. In George’s case, the line that got away after a colleague insulted him by proclaiming “The ocean called and they’re running out of shrimp” was “The jerk store called and they want you back!”

That was the line Obama was channeling when his tongue tripped over his teeth, but his delivery hardly matters. As John Cook, a self-avowed Obama enthusiast in 2008, wrote today at Gawker:

[Obama’s] inaugural address—a deeply depressing read in light of the last four years—contained a stern admonition to those who insisted on sweating the small stuff: ‘On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises…. [I]n the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.’

That’s the same guy who let loose last night, in the midst of a debate that was ostensibly about how many people we are going to kill over the next four years and under what circumstances, this little nugget: ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.’

It is one thing to stink at comedy and butcher jokes. It’s another thing altogether to know when jokes are appropriate. The fact that Barack Obama doesn’t ranks low among his many deficiencies as a head of state. But it reveals much about him as a man.

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Barry your base is so calling out to you… apparently your soups ready.

onomo on October 23, 2012 at 5:25 PM

A Presidency about nothing!

Bobby Maurice on October 23, 2012 at 5:29 PM

That’s okay. Right after that, Hawaii called and said they want their birth certificate back, and Connecticut called to say they want their SSN back. So many lame one-liners, so little time.

College Prof on October 23, 2012 at 5:29 PM

The sad thing is that Putin has been consolidating power for the last few years to recreate the “glory” of those earlier times… only for the President to be completely ignorant of those developments, and worse, make a joke of it. I’m sure the people in Georgia (the former USSR satellite, not the US state) are laughing along with you. [sigh]

dominigan on October 23, 2012 at 5:31 PM

“The jerk store called. They’re running out of you.”

Might as well correct the quote in your fourth paragraph.

I think this whole episode merely reinforces something that I’ve thought from the very beginning. The myth of the intelligent Obama was bound to collapse sooner or later. Guys like Krauthammer and Will were fooled. The folks on the left were eager to advance the narrative. And a lot of the American people were not curious enough to test it out. So that was that. Obama was a genius and anyone who said otherwise was a racist.

What you’re seeing now is that the president is a spoiled child without an intelligent thought to be found. After spending his whole life being told how special he is, and believing what he was being told, he’s now struggling with the idea that quite a bit of the country has figured out that he’s a moron.

vitocorleone99 on October 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM

That’s okay. Right after that, Hawaii called and said they want their birth certificate back, and Connecticut called to say they want their SSN back. So many lame one-liners, so little time.

College Prof on October 23, 2012 at 5:29 PM

“Mr. President, Sweden on line one. Something about ‘you didn’t earn that’ or something.”

onomo on October 23, 2012 at 5:53 PM

“The jerk store called. They’re running out of you.”

Might as well correct the quote in your fourth paragraph.

Yes, thank you. I noticed that after I hit the submit button. Talk about stepping on your own material!

Howard Portnoy on October 23, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Frasier had the best comeback on his show. “Copernicus called and it turns out you aren’t the center of the universe after all.”

Pecos on October 23, 2012 at 6:14 PM

I thought it was paraphrased from ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ (the remake with Clooney and Pitt), when Pitt shows up in some vaguely animal-like print shirt and Clooney says ‘Ted Nugent called. He wants his shirt back’.

Jack Slade on October 23, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Obama’s “zingers” from last night were something that a writer for Colbert or The Daily Show might have concocted. To the liberal base these days, your intelligence is directly proportional to the amount of anti-Republican snark you can deliver.

JimLennon on October 23, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Maybe Kenny Banya will let Obama have the “Ovaltine” bit.

Hat Trick on October 23, 2012 at 6:44 PM

JPeterman does not approve of King Obama’s antics.

JPeterman on October 23, 2012 at 7:42 PM

“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”

That’s gold, Jerry, GOLD!

tpitman on October 23, 2012 at 7:46 PM

Heh. The 1990s are calling and they want their Urkel back.

MichaelGabriel on October 23, 2012 at 8:28 PM

The key thing is you know Team Obama was fist-bumping each other in the back rooms at Boca Raton when The Golden Child slipped that Seinfeldian rip-off line into the debate, because they just knew all the people who really mattered would get the connection and just think it was a superbly witty put-down of Romney and all his suburban and rural yokels who would be clueless about the wordplay (never mind that the running joke since the Denver debate has been that Obama has desperately been looking for his Costanza comeback moment. The fact that he actually riffed on George’s pathetic line makes it even more cringe-worthy if your an Obama supporter with any shred of comedic dignity).

jon1979 on October 24, 2012 at 12:26 AM

Someone I was listening to on radio Tuesday reminded us that in the 1980′s the Cold War ended and the Wall came down in 1989, so maybe we could use some good old foreign policy from the 1980s. Oh yeah, and didn’t we have Republican presidents during the entire 1980s?

stukinIL4now on October 24, 2012 at 1:56 AM

“He is a loathsome, offensive brute, yet I can’t look away.”

ZK on October 24, 2012 at 8:47 AM