Commentary Magazine


Topic: Correspondents’ Association

RE: The Nasty Presidential Comic

Jake Tapper follows up on a presidential joke from the Correspondents’ Association dinner that is raising eyebrows and hackles, especially among liberals:

At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night, President Obama noted that in the audience were the Jonas brothers.

“Sasha and Malia are huge fans,” he said, “but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

The audience laughed approvingly but in the following days the joke has been met with a rising chorus of criticism — mainly from the Left.

After all, unmanned predator drone strikes have killed innocent civilians in Pakistan.

A sample of the reaction:

“Let’s be honest, fellow progressives,” the Philadelphia Daily News’ Will Bunch tweeted, “we’d be all over Bush if he made the same ‘predator drone’ joke Obama told last night.”

Wrote Salon’s Alex Pareene: “It’s funny because predator drone strikes in Pakistan have killed literally hundreds of completely innocent civilians, and now the president is evincing a casual disregard for those lives he is responsible for ending by making a lighthearted joke about killing famous young celebrities for the crime of attempting to sleep with his young daughters.”

At the very least, it does suggest two things. First, the “don’t go there!” joke warning system (recall James Jones’s Jewish-merchant joke, for which he had to apologize) is apparently not in operation at this White House. In the atmosphere of smugness and general disdain for critics that pervades this administration, there are few voices, it seems, willing to raise a red flag when officials cross the boundaries of good taste. Second, the press no longer bothers to deny the double standard applied to Obama. “Oh gosh, yes, we’re giving him a free ride again” is now the order of the day.

Obama is unlikely to be moved by critics of his humor. He’s shown that he cares and reflects very little on adverse opinion. Perhaps if he cared more about what others think, his jokes would be funnier, his agenda would be less radical, and his poll numbers would be higher.

Jake Tapper follows up on a presidential joke from the Correspondents’ Association dinner that is raising eyebrows and hackles, especially among liberals:

At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night, President Obama noted that in the audience were the Jonas brothers.

“Sasha and Malia are huge fans,” he said, “but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

The audience laughed approvingly but in the following days the joke has been met with a rising chorus of criticism — mainly from the Left.

After all, unmanned predator drone strikes have killed innocent civilians in Pakistan.

A sample of the reaction:

“Let’s be honest, fellow progressives,” the Philadelphia Daily News’ Will Bunch tweeted, “we’d be all over Bush if he made the same ‘predator drone’ joke Obama told last night.”

Wrote Salon’s Alex Pareene: “It’s funny because predator drone strikes in Pakistan have killed literally hundreds of completely innocent civilians, and now the president is evincing a casual disregard for those lives he is responsible for ending by making a lighthearted joke about killing famous young celebrities for the crime of attempting to sleep with his young daughters.”

At the very least, it does suggest two things. First, the “don’t go there!” joke warning system (recall James Jones’s Jewish-merchant joke, for which he had to apologize) is apparently not in operation at this White House. In the atmosphere of smugness and general disdain for critics that pervades this administration, there are few voices, it seems, willing to raise a red flag when officials cross the boundaries of good taste. Second, the press no longer bothers to deny the double standard applied to Obama. “Oh gosh, yes, we’re giving him a free ride again” is now the order of the day.

Obama is unlikely to be moved by critics of his humor. He’s shown that he cares and reflects very little on adverse opinion. Perhaps if he cared more about what others think, his jokes would be funnier, his agenda would be less radical, and his poll numbers would be higher.

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