Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Obama isn't funny. There, I said it.

Regardless of political leanings, the prospect of spending four years trying to lampoon a president whose response to "Boxers or briefs?" is "I don't answer those humiliating questions" is not inviting.

Making fun of Obama is a serious challenge. He doesn't mispronounce his words; he shows no excessive interest in interns; he once gave his wife a fist-bump, but it wasn't a big deal. He spends most of his time being dignified and looking competent, neither of which are immediately hilarious attributes.

The Bush years weren't splendid times for many people - economic turmoil, wars, that incident with the pretzel - but they were comedy gold. Not since Dan Quayle has America had such a prominently placed source of continual gaffes.

During the 2000 campaign, when people based their presidential choices on whimsical criteria like "Someone I'd Like To Have A Beer With" or "I Couldn't Figure Out How the Ballot Worked," everyone laughed incredulously at the slow but steady stream of "Bushisms." Little did we know that gems like, "I know how hard it is to put food on your family," were only the beginning of an eight-year laugh riot.

After eight years of State of the Union addresses where nuclear was pronounced as an arbitrary sequence of three syllables, we have become accustomed to seeing the presidential office as part-king, part-jester. The idea of the U.S. president as a somewhat lovable buffoon remains firmly set in the public mind, both at home and abroad.

This makes Obama's job harder. In our entertainment-saturated age, when the winner of "American Idol" gets as much attention as the winner of the presidential election, personality counts for a great deal. In the Colonial era when everyone was dignified, a sense of humor in a major public figure was viewed as something along the lines of a congenital defect. George Washington didn't have to make us laugh; he just had to establish precedents and avoid chopping down more cherry trees.

Somewhere along the line, Americans began expecting their presidents to do more than just govern. They also had to make us laugh. As long as there have been Republican presidents, they have been kind of funny. Lincoln was a veritable wellspring of quips and anecdotes; Taft at least looked jolly; Reagan was a laugh a minute, whether it was his Star Wars missile defense systems or his side-splitting, trickle-down economics.

I don't think the magnitude of this change has registered with Americans thus far. All the young voters who flocked to Obama in droves grew up watching "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." As far back as we can remember, the presidency was a source of jokes, from those crazy complications with Monica to the time Dick Cheney actually shot a guy. All that is over now.

Instead of a president who waves at Stevie Wonder, says things like "Awesome speech" to the Pope and calls the Italian Prime Minister "Amigo," we will have a president who draws crowds of thousands to hear him deliver coherent speeches in which he pronounces the word "nuclear" as God intended it to be pronounced.

Before we mope from used-book store to used-book store, picking up dog-eared copies of "Bushisms: Volume Eight" and trying to relive old times, let's take comfort. Sure, we may not be laughing at the President of the U.S., but neither is anyone else.

Maybe that's a good thing.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

Alexandra A. Petri is a student at Harvard University.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.