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Jewish World Review
May 15, 2009
/ 21 Iyar 5769
What Makes Obama Laugh
I've been accused of being grumpy. I don't feel grumpy. I don't try to be grumpy. I don't think I look grumpy. But every now and them something will happen in the news that will get my blood going. If I don't like that certain something then I'll say so. I'll say so loud and clear. Does that make me grumpy? I don't know. As the saying goes, I'll report and you decide.
Every week for variety I try to change the subject of my column. Last week I wrote about President Obama so this week I'm going to write about something different. No, wait…I have to write about Obama AGAIN. I can't help it because I can't believe what transpired at the White House Correspondents' Dinner this week. It's a new low for the office of president of the United States (and after Bill Clinton's Monica scandal, that's saying a lot). Here's what happened.
In the past, the annual press dinner usually makes good natured fun of a variety of prominent people, the president included. But this year, nobody was making jokes at the expense of Obama. Far from it. Being the media darling that he is, he is totally immune to being made fun of. Instead, nasty shots were taken at radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh.
Liberal Comedienne Wanda Sykes launched into a hateful diatribe, accusing Limbaugh of treason, comparing him to Osama bin Laden and wishing for his physical collapse as she roasted the favorite target of liberals Saturday night at the Washington Hilton. (Why do I think it's important to describe her as a liberal woman? Because of the double standard. If a conservative man had made the same comments against a liberal woman he would be run out of town on a rail.)
"Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails … to me, that's treason. He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying," Sykes said. Then she looked across the dais over at Obama and continued, "You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker….but he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight." The crowd groaned, Obama laughed.
"Rush Limbaugh, 'I hope the country fails' -- I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? ... He needs a good waterboarding, that's what he needs." Obama then threw his head back and joined the crowd in laughing at the crack about Limbaugh's "kidneys." Laughing at the idea of Limbaugh dying. Nice, huh? Who says this president doesn't have a sense of humor?
Wanda Sykes' comments were crude, not funny, and way over the line of good taste, but for me that wasn't the worst part of this story. The worst thing about it was the reaction of Obama - laughing along with the press when the woman says, "I hope Rush Limbaugh dies." It's bad enough for anyone to laugh at stuff like that, but for the president of the United States to think its real funny? How disgusting and low. And to top it off, he has no qualms about throwing his head back and displaying his approval over that "humor" in public. What a classy guy.
Toby Harnden, an editor with Britain's Daily Telegraph who was at the dinner wrote that liberals will undoubtedly give Sykes a pass, since her target was a right-wing talk show host. And he marveled at Obama's response. "That's way, way beyond reasoned debate or comedy and Obama's reaction to it was astonishing," he wrote. "Imagine if a comedian 'joked' that Obama was a terrorist who was guilty of treason and should be tortured and allowed to die. There would justifiably be an outcry."
If you think I'm making too big a deal out of this then think again. I believe the dignity and decorum of the office of president is worthy of making a big deal out of it. How Obama reacted that evening is very telling. An incident like this can give you insight into a person's true self.
So what was my column going to be about if I didn't write about this? I was going to write about what it feels like to be thought of as Grumpy when really down deep in my heart I'm really Happy, Bashful, and Sleepy. And if you ask my wife, she'll tell you that sometimes I can be a little Dopey too. And, yeah, okay, I can be Grumpy. Wow. Interesting how my entire persona can be summed up by a gang of fairytale cartoon characters. Heigh-Ho.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2008, Greg Crosby