I distinctly remember the moment when I heard The Late Show’s David Letterman say, regarding then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, how he couldn’t think of anything about the guy he could make fun of. (I know, it’s not exactly the magnitude of Kennedy’s assassination, but I didn’t exist in 1963.) It was when I was just about to reflexively spit-take my orange juice and yell “ARE YOU #*@% KIDDING ME?!” with enough decibels to register with deaf people in Sicily.
With the possible exception of the six people who still thought the talk show host was cutting-edge, any honest American witnessing him declare a politician like Obama razz-proof had to have been surprised out of his/her jockeys. What in hell happened to the guy? My theory is that for years he has shed a few brain cells through the gap in his teeth every time Anton Fig hit a cymbal.
He (Letterman) was but one specimen in a flock of self-muzzled, gelded sheep. Obama was quite possibly the ripest target for jokes in history, and it became more and more evident as he battled the former First Battle Axe for the Democrat nomination. That never occurred to liberal commentators and comedians—they were so pathetically enchanted they were incapable of commentation and comedifying. What did they have to say about a man launching his public career in the home of a proud terrorist? Nada. How about his extremely tiny resume? Crickets. Making idiotic statements during his campaign? Braille library. It was all so ridiculous. If Obama were any better a subject for roasting, he’d be a Thanksgiving entree.
Of course, it was no surprise he didn’t make fun of himself at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on May 3rd. On the few occasions he has made anything resembling a self-effacing quip, he didn’t stick the landing. This president takes himself really, really seriously, to the point that for him to parody himself would be downright unnatural.
I’m not a doctor, but I played it as a child with Ginny Mellman, and if Barack Obama isn’t a textbook narcissist, he sure as hell plays one in real life. If he weren’t so humility-challenged, he might’ve tried jabs like “I still get kidded about the size of my ears, and I’m partly to blame. If you were dragged off to bed by them every time you were caught staying up late watching TV, you’d look like this too. Thankfully, Michelle quit doing it” and “if any reporters are wondering what it takes to handle a long, stressful day as president, it’s simpler than you think—just a cup of coffee, nothing more. And if any historians are trying to come up with a good description of my career in the Senate, same thing.” Perhaps even “it’s too bad presidents are limited to two terms. By the time I finish my second, I’ll finally have enough experience to run for the job.”
It might surprise you a smidglet, but all this talk about a person born without the self-mock gene has suddenly brought Hillary Clinton to mind. Can you honestly imagine the former Secretary of State/Senator/First Lady/Travel Office Abuser/Whitewater Residents Screwer making cracks at her own expense? Even her fans, the people whose loins smolder at the idea of her in the Oval Office, couldn’t picture that without whiffing aquarium sealant first. Lee Strasberg and Rodney Dangerfield could rise from the dead and coach Clinton, and she still wouldn’t be able to convincingly act self-deprecating.
Well, whether they’re capable of it or not, Obama and Clinton could use a good roasting. Channeling my inner Greg Giraldo (God bless his soul):
Mr. Obama, you’re good at speeches, but do you think you could try going two sentences without complaining about something? I mean, if a speech mentions House Republicans, you bitch about them. If it mentions Republican politicians in general, you bitch about them. If it’s the NRA, you bitch. Constitutional limits? You bitch. Fox News, conservative voters, Rush Limbaugh, bitch, bitch, bitch.
Boring as this has become, don’t think for a minute I’m unsympathetic. Sure, it must be absolute hell, being forced to live in the lap of taxpayer-funded luxury for the rest of your natural life. And the way you’re treated by the media? Phew! How do you put up with the horror of all that widespread adoration? Even your dead predecessors must be sighing in relief every hour on the hour that they didn’t have to endure being worshipped by only 95% of the press.
Okay, seriously, I know the real reason you’re so upset, and I can assure you there’s nothing to worry about. What’s happening to you is completely natural, and is an important step in your maturation process. The bleeding only lasts for about a week, and there are many helpful over-the-counter medications if you experience any cramps.
Speaking of bitching, how about a nice hand for Hillary Clinton? It’s nice to see you & your husband are doing well, Mrs. Clinton. Sure, you sat back while Bill did more screwing than an 18-volt Makita. I’m sure most wives in your position would’ve kept him on a leash at some point, at least if he hadn’t already been using it on other women. But hey, you eventually got him to see the error of his ways, and even better, the lamp marks on his skull are barely noticeable now.
It’s great news for all of us that you’re still running for president; having a ruthless, power-hungry pit viper for a candidate is a nice change of pace. And I’m not alone in saying what a shame it was that you weren’t elected president in 2008. Not because of the guy we wound up with (ahem), but because the White House needed a new doormat.
You’ll be a tough cookie to beat in 2016, because as they say, nothing screams executive experience like having two X chromosomes. You might even win over the majority in all three major parties. Think about it: Democrat voters like your politics, Independants admire your pluck, and Republicans tend to go for the less-charismatic candidates.
Hey everybody, look who just arrived late to the column: Newsweek contributing editor and cause of death-masseuse Eleanor Clift! Hey, I heard that your appearance on The McLaughlin Group was edited for time, and what a terrible waste. The producers haven’t really talked about what’s in the excess footage, but word on the street is you were describing Abraham Lincoln’s cause of death as “ammunition exposure,” Mary Jo Kopechne’s as “di-hydrogen monoxide overdose,” and Nicole Brown Simpson’s as “blood loss from insufficient cranial attachment.” Yeah, that cutting-room floor’s a bitch.
Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a great crowd. Drive safely, and be sure to tip Ms. Clift on your way out; getting her face extracted from Hillary’s butt ain’t gonna be cheap.