Sword & Shield

How to make fun of Obama (in an apparently sanctioned, 2008-sensibility sort of way)? As we all know, comedy, whether from Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, Colbert, or even the late-to-the-party Leno, is a powerful political tool. Humor helps measure and mobilize political opinion and speech. WIth Obama and his Jedi Mind Tricks, any good comedic stuff initially likely will come from betrayed and petulant progressives; rightist humor arises more slowly in our experience and tends to be more overtly clumsy — necessary to insure meme transmission.

Imagine this interview with NBC:

Andrea Mitchell (re-dyed blonde verging on orange): Senator, Rush Limbaugh repeated that joke circulating about your tennis game and John Kerry . . .

[Obama grin and slight hand gesture]: “You didn’t hear that from Rush. Rush has never been on the air . . .”

Mitchell tonelessly: “NBC News can now report that Rush has never been on the air . . .”

Obama: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.”

Mitchell: “I am not looking for my husband . . . let’s move along, Senator.”

Far fetched? We don’t think so. Eliot Ness, cede the trademark to the Untouchables. But who knows? In politics, anything is possible. Both Bushes rose to unassailable peaks on war hysteria only to end in disgrace, irrelevance and embarrassments to their parties (the Warlord’s litany of sins naturally more venal, criminal and destructive, as an apprentice to his Sith Lord (keeping the whole ILM thing going).

The effort should ignore lash back from the Crowned One’s intoxicated minions. Nothing will reach them until they want to seek help. A cure begins from within as Arthur Koestler made clear. Those aside, someone someday will discover something that works — without falling into insular New Yorker territory. Good comedy works when the edge of truth is widely recognized. It’s hard to pulll off for just an audience clapping with one hand (the other holding a vodka tonic) while summering in the Hamptons. A comedian must find broad Obama characteristics that strike a universal chord. Yet his very success has been to blur all facts, all traces of his past while blatantly declaring it is all out there. A deft Jedi Mind Trick indeed (third ILM reference).

And even if that opaque veil is lifted, who could throw the first brick? It’s hard to imagine. Even today, in so called “normal” comedy, Chris Rock is about the only performer permitted (tolerated) to venture into sensitive racial and relationship issues without a mau mau. It wasn’t always like this, but after the 1990s, it sure is now. Biting humor is in bad need of Extra Strength Dentucreme ™.

Case in point. 300 foreign affairs advisors. Who can possibly take this seriously? Or anything but risible? Ivo Daadler supervising *40* non-proliferation ‘experts’? Come on, people, there be comic gold im ther hills. 40? Daadler? Forget the specifics. You know Carrell and The Office crowd would win an Emmy even in these limpid times if they but spent a little work on the script.

Comedy itself is just another frequency in wavelengths competing for our attention and entertainment. SNL, boring and mediocre as all know it to be, should be able to do *something* with this. Their debate “sketches” were in truth more about misogyny and playing off of it rather than addressing the Crowned One. Can’t someone in 30 Rock (the place, not the show) see the whole Potemkin theater thing? It literally stares a Harvard grad seeking a future gig on the Simpsons in the face: 300, the heroics in the recent movie — does one need to spell it out literally? At least one participant in the Crowned One’s retinue candidly admitted the truth. This goes back to about every single political campaign since Humankind left caves. “I write the stuff and it disappears and I have no idea if anyone even read it.” Come on people, work with this! This is the stuff that keeps on giving.

Gushing about Obama Tour ’08 will render this all a footnote soon. In comedy, as in life and particular navigating traffic, timing is everything. Just by the laws of bio-physics, new opportunities will arise. One must seize the hem of history when she passes by. Otherwise, it is going to be a long and painfully dull four years.


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    State, the other post, title, and then the graphic, indeed it all does makes sense. On the literal and metaphorical level: deliberately so. If opaque, a hazard of surfing the Internets.

    We write this blog primarily to entertain ourselves. There are plenty of blogs that rant, offer the traditional analytical long form stuff, or do the standard opinion op ed form. This ain’t one of ’em.

    As to whether we suck or not, we make no claim either way; your feedback does keep a site on its game. Please continue to post here. 5 year old sensibilities could use the encouragement.

  2. says

    What? No god-awful picture in the post, something that looks to be produced by a 5 year old and has nothing to do with the post’s content?

    Strauss you suck!

  3. A Random Quote says

    “U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes […] The Americans have found it difficult to agree on a concrete timetable for the exit because it seems like an admission of defeat to them. But it isn’t.”
    Nouri al Maliki (1/19/08)

  4. A Random Quote says

    “Barack Obama expressed support for Afghanistan and especially for Nangarhar province – He said he will support reconstruction, development and security all over the country, especially in Nangarhar. He thanked Sherzai for good leadership and good administration of the province.”
    ~Massoud Ahmad Azizi
    (Chief of Staff to “no nonsense,” Nangahar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai – a “bullish” “former warlord”)
    AP (7/19/08)

    NB – Leo, put that quote in your Obama humor file for use down the road – Not sure how it will turn up funny or ironic in some way, but something tells us it will. Maybe the gratuitous compliment about administration skills …

    The Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants have continued to caused problems in Afghanistan’s east, especially near the border with Pakistan. Nangarhar’s governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, a no-nonsense, bullish former warlord, briefed Obama and other members of the delegation, according to Sherzai’s chief of staff.

    “Barack Obama expressed support for Afghanistan and especially for Nangarhar province,” Massoud Ahmad Azizi said. “He said he will support reconstruction, development and security all over the country, especially in Nangarhar. He thanked Sherzai for good leadership and good administration of the province.”

  5. Comment says

    Bloggingheads is good source material to find out the pundit zeitgeist since so many aspirational pundits just drone on and on. Occasionally there is tension – there is a funny pecking order too.

  6. Comment says

    The New Yorker cover would work if they re-printed the exact same cover this week, but just add some ironic quotation marks around the top of the picture.

  7. Comment says

    To see a new baseline in Obama humor – Go to bloggingheads and watch the chat between Michelle Goldberg and Rebecca Traister. It’s unintentionally funny as both alternate between left-panic at Obama’s centrist nods and mutual re-assurance that both must understand that they are both well to the left of the electorate to elected themselves.

    If Obama watched it, he would not be surprised – but somewhat re-assured to see both upset that some of things they nitpick at. It’s hard to explain — but it is funny

  8. Aldershot says

    When it breaks, it will come as a torrent of pent-up anxiety and political correctness.

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