Does Anybody Remember Laughter?

Jay Carney attempts to spin Obama’s smash-mouth self-promotional style as “campaigning for growth and jobs,” only to hear plenty of laughter from the White House press corps. Scroll to about the 50-second mark if you to minimize how much of Carney flailing  painfully about you need to listen to:


Ace notes that late night talk show hosts are finally having to do Obama jokes, if only to maintain more of a grasp on reality than the president himself.

Leno has a good one:

Leno: The NFL season kicks off Thursday night right here on NBC. We are all very excited. The game will be on right after the season finale of President Obama.

Some of these jokes aren’t even funny. Which is a good sign that Obama’s in trouble. Joblessness is so prominent in the public consciousness that they have to mention it, even when they don’t have a good joke about it. The jokes are made because they’re obligatory, not chosen because they’re riotously funny.

Like this Leno line:

Leno: Government statistics show the U.S. economy created zero jobs in August. President Obama now says he’s confident this month he can double that.

Not a good joke. But he felt he had to address the top political story, whether he had a good joke about it or not.

And Tom Maguire, the source of the headline above, along with a certain R. Plant, lead singer of a little-remembered group of British pub rockers from the 1970s spots this:

They are keeping their sense of humor at the White House, which provides a refreshingly candid transcript of Obama’s jobs speech to Congress, complete with audience reaction to Obama’s diatribe on taxes:

Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix.  (Laughter.)
And a bit later:
This isn’t political grandstanding.  This isn’t class warfare.  This is simple math.  (Laughter.)
That sort of undermines my praise of Congressional restraint and reinforces Dana Milbank’s point about the incredible shrinking President.

In early 2010, after a year of observing Obama mistaking condescension for gravitas, Jonah Goldberg wrote:

I think one of the great explanations for the mess the Obama administration is in — the whole cowbell dynamic — is that he, his advisers and many of his fans in the press cannot fully grasp or appreciate the fact that he is not as charming to everyone else as he is to them (or himself). Hence, they think that the more he talks, the more persuasive he will be. Every president faces a similar problem which is why, until Obama, every White House tried to economize the deployment of the president’s political capital. The Obama White House strategy is almost the rhetorical version of its Keynesianism, the more you spend, the bigger the payoff.

The hidden cost of this strategy is that the more he talks the more pronounced or noticeable this tendency becomes for the average American. Eventually, it could come to define him. Presidents — all presidents — get caricatured eventually because certain traits become more identifiable over time. That’s one reason why parodies of presidents on Saturday Night Live get more convincing and funnier at the end of their terms — everyone can recognize the traits and habits by then. The more instances where Obama grabs all of the attention while acting like an arrogant college professor — particularly as memories of Bush fade — the more opportunities the White House creates where people can say “Hey, I finally figured out what bugs me about this guy.” Not long after that, it becomes a journalistic convention, a staple of late night jokes and basis of SNL parodies.


This moment arrived a lot slower for Obama than it would if comedians and the press had a hapless President Kerry to mock, but Obama simply managed to slow the inevitable result of his policies. And it’s not like he wasn’t warned early on, either.


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