TPM captured the video of this weekend’s Saturday Night Live cold open, and it will probably come as a surprise to many readers for the reasons I’ll detail below. Their Obama impersonator, Jay Pharoah, was featured doing a fake presser on C-SPAN where he introduced Ebola czar Ron Klain, who took questions about his qualifications for the job. Rather than trying to scatter the smack talk across both parties, this was pretty much a mockery of Barack Obama’s entire second term, with the fake President himself doing the mocking.
“Some people want to criticize the way our administration has handled this crisis, and it’s true we made a few mistakes early on. But I assure you, that was nowhere near as bad as how we handled the ISIS situation, our varied Secret Service mishaps, or the scandals of the IRS and the NSA,” he said. “And I don’t know if you guys remember, but the Obamacare website had some pretty serious problems too.”
He said that considering the rest of the second term, “this whole Ebola thing is probably one of my greatest accomplishments.”
The fact that they took down the Obama administration is not that shocking in and of itself. There’s only so much material to go around, and while the overall arc of the show leans heavily to the left, they’ve taken jabs at Democrats in the past, much the same way that Jon Stewart does. But what I found most surprising about this was the timing.
Historically, these shows will demonstrate their allegedly bipartisan nature by smacking around liberals only in the “safe seasons” well away from elections. But when the chips are down and voting day is near, they seem to reliably focus their fire exclusively on Republicans. One of the best examples was the late summer and fall of 2008. when SNL was featuring Tina Fey on a nearly weekly basis as their personification of Sarah Palin. Yes, it’s true that they had a Hillary Clinton character as well, and she was shown as being self centered and nasty, but between the two she fared much better than the portrayal of Palin, who constantly came off as being stupid, vapid, clueless, and essentially a cheerleader puppet for McCain.
This episode is their second to last before the midterms and they’re currently enjoying something of a resurgence in their ratings. That’s why it’s startling to see such an unabashed take-down of nearly all of Obama’s second term scandals now. The video follows.