Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Humor for the Obama campaign

This has been making the rounds, to be sure, but The Borowitz Report has one of the best responses yet to the humorless response by the Obama campaign to the recent infamous New Yorker cover: a list of "jokes approved by the Obama campaign."

To be sure, that New Yorker cover wasn't very effective as satire, especially since even as a caricature of us righties it is so far off as to not land an effective blow. If those of us who enjoy good satire can't recognize ourselves, it isn't very good satire. Still, we are in for a very long, humorless, 4 years if even a liberal bastion like the New Yorker gets lambasted for accidentally hurting Sen. Obama's feelings while in the process of painting Obama's own opponents on the right with a very broad and unfair brush.

What will Sen. Obama do if he gets portrayed negatively in a cartoon -- with the dig aimed directly at him -- in ways such as Pres. Bush has been? Send the FBI to shut the magazine down?


The above post would have been more complete had this column by Maureen Dowd been worked into it, since it encapsulates so well the worrying question of whether Obama's campaign has a sense of humor.


Anonymous said...

I've noticed that the late night shows rarely do any jokes on Obama. Letterman in particular. In fact, our Montana "friend" seems to be trying to target McCain, and is constantly doing age "jokes" that seem more aimed at creating a negative image than in poking fun at the man.

On all these shows, when Obama comes up in jokes, it seems he's there as a vehicle for taking a shot at conservatives, not as the butt of any jokes.

The NY Times did a story today that noted this phenomenon. They quoted the comedy writers as claiming there was no good peg on Obama on which to do jokes, but sort of hinted that the real reason was that they were all rooting for Obama and didn't want to hurt his chances.

I've also noticed that Obama rarely shows up in cartoons on editorial pages. In the rare ones I've seen him in, he's not there as the butt of a joke, but as a victim.

If he's elected, the cartoonists and late night shows and Jon Stewart are going to be in a world of hurt. All will continue to try to make conservatives the butt of their jokes, but that's soon going to wear out if Dems control Congress and the presidency. With Clinton and Carter they could adjust, but they almost regard Obama as the Messiah. Moreover, their PC instincts would make it particularly painful for them to poke fun at Obama.

We could end up with some awfully boring cartoons and late night shows in a matter of weeks. (Of course, the years of incessant Bush bashing -- and Clinton sex jokes -- also got terribly boring, though probably not as fast as a talk show that refused to do any jokes about the president).

Ed Kemmick said...

I may have missed a news story or two, but did Obama say anything about the New Yorker cover on his own account, or only say a few mildly disparaging things after he was pressed by reporters? To take this as an example of a "humorless liberal" is very odd, to say the least. But then, if you're on the prowl for missteps, I guess everything is grist for the mill.

Hey, and how about that Cheney? That guy is more humorous than a barrel of monkeys.

Montana Headlines said...

Anonymous, I believe you are probably referring to Maureen Dowd's editorial, which was part of what prompted this post.

Ed, read Dowd's piece, and you'll see what I was referring to. I should have linked to it in the first place, and will add it now as an update to the post. Whether the lack of humor stems from Obama himself or from a campaign staff and volunteers who think he's some sort of messianic figure who is beyond ridicule (I would suspect the latter,) as Dowd points out, it won't be healthy for the Obama campaign.

And it sure will make watching Stewart, Colbert, and SNL less entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the NY Times story I was referring to was this one by Bill Carter. I think it is the original one that set off a lot of the discussion and prompted Dowd's column:

As for Ed's question, Obama's campaign released a pretty strongly worded blast of the cover, saying it was "tasteless and offensive."

”The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create,“ said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. ”But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.“

Jon Stewart, interestingly, last night on his show bopped Obama and his campaign for saying the cover was "tasteless and offensive." (One of the rare times he's poked fun at Obama). Stewart said: "Really? You know what your response should've been? It's very easy here, let me put the statement out for you: Barack Obama is in no way upset about the cartoon that depicts him as a Muslim extremist. Because you know who gets upset about cartoons? Muslim extremists! Of which Barack Obama is not. It's just a **** cartoon."

As for Cheney, he is pretty humorless, but that of course hasn't stopped any of the nation's comedians and cartoonists from ridiculing for the last 8 years.

Ed Kemmick said...

You're right, the Dowd column adds some weight to your thoughts. I couldn't help noticing, though, that even Dowd was a bit duller than usual. The biting sarcasm that comes so easily when she's writing about Bush just wasn't there when she was writing about Obama.

As for the comedians, you're just watching the marketplace at work. They are all mostly liberal and they know their audiences don't want to hear them seriously roasting Obama. What did anyone expect?