Obama’s angry comedy routine: President jabs enemies, mocks symbols of patriotism
via Byron York
Self-deprecation has long been a hallmark of presidential appearances at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Whether riding high or struggling in the polls, a president’s surest way to score points with the press and the Washington political establishment is to make fun of himself. While he’s also expected to get in a few digs at his opponents, over the years the theme of the dinner has usually focused on a president who’s big enough to make jokes at his own expense.
In his remarks to the correspondents association dinner Saturday night, Barack Obama came up with a new formula: Cut the self-deprecation to a minimum and unleash a series of attacks on his adversaries — and start the performance in a way that seems to mock not just his enemies but the very idea of what it means to be an American.
Obama’s routine started not with his own words but with a White House-produced video that juxtaposed a pulsing image of his birth certificate with traditional patriotic symbols — the flag, an eagle, Uncle Sam, Mount Rushmore — all to a song called “Real American,” best known as part of World Wrestling Federation shows. The video seemed to jeer at conventional notions of patriotism; it was, as Politico’s Ben Smith wrote, “crafted in the spirit of ‘South Park’ and ‘Team America World Police’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ in what you could interpret either as an ironic, subversive send-up of American patriotism or as a kind of post-ironic homage.” In any event, it seemed almost aggressively non-presidential. “The presidency seems an odd vehicle, even at a roast, for mocking patriotism,” Smith concluded.