Face it, Dems. Obama doesn’t do humor – at least the kind of self-deprecating humor that presidents like John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were famous for.
Obama’s humor is mean-spirited. His zingers aimed at others feel like twisting the knife rather than a good-natured nudge. While there is always some measure of exaggeration when it comes to zinging an opponent, Obama’s premise is usually false to begin with. This makes his humor self-serving and decidedly unfunny.
Here, in my opinion, are the top 5 least funny jokes told by President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last night.
1. I admit it — last year was rough. Sheesh. [Laughter] At one point, things got so bad, the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize. [Laughter]
Politicians are a fair target. But the American people? Sheesh!
2. Sometimes I do feel disrespected by you reporters. But that’s OK. Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman is here tonight, and he gave me some great tips on how to handle it. Jake Tapper, don’t you ever talk about me like that! I am the best president in the game! What do you think, Richard, was that good? [Laughter] A little more feeling next time. [Laughter]
3. Anyway, while you guys focus on the horse race, I’m going to do what I do. I will be focused on everyday Americans. Just yesterday I read a heartbreaking letter. I get letters from folks around the country every day. I get 10 that I read. This one got me. A Virginia man who’s been stuck in the same part-time job for years. No respect from his boss. There was no chance to get ahead. I really wish Eric Cantor would stop writing me. You can just pick up the phone, Eric. [Laughter] [applause]
See what I mean about “mean-spirited”?
4. There is one thing that keeps Republicans busy. They have tried more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare. Despite that, 8 million people signed up for healthcare in the first open enrollment. [Applause] Which does lead one to ask, how well does Obamacare have to work before you don’t want to repeal it? What if everyone’s cholesterol drops to 120? What if your yearly checkup came with tickets to a Clippers’ game? Not the old Donald Sterling Clippers, the new Oprah Clippers. What if it gave Mitch McConnell a pulse? What is it going to take?
This is just bizarre. Note the absence of laughter — even from liberals.
5. You would think they would appreciate a more assertive approach, considering that the new conservative darling is non other than Vladimir Putin. Last year, Pat Buchanan said Putin’s headed straight for the Nobel Peace Prize. He said this. Now I know it sounds crazy but to be fair they give those to just about anybody these days. It could happen. [Laughter] [applause]
But it’s not just Pat, Rudy Giuliani said, “Putin is what you would call a leader. Mike Huckabee and Shawn Hannity keep talking about his bare chest, which is kind of weird. [Laughter] [applause] Look it up. They talk about it a lot. [Laughter]
What would an Obama speech be — even one that purports to be funny — without a gross exaggeration directed against his opponents? The exaggeration is not done for humor. It’s done to injure.
No, Putin is not the “new conservative darling.” He has come in for withering criticism from the vast majority of the right. What conservatives — and some liberals — have been pointing out is that Obama suffers by comparison with Putin when it comes to leadership ability. Putin is dominating the crisis in Ukraine — no one disputes this. At this point, Obama isn’t even in the game.
To point out Obama’s deficiencies in leadership when it comes to every major crisis around the world is perfectly legitimate and is a viewpoint shared by many experts from both sides of the aisle. Instead of skewering conservatives, Obama would have done better to make fun of his own inadequacies than create a straw man about conservative support for Putin.