Commentary from the weekend

The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner took place this past weekend. The dinner is a huge gathering of the entire press corps and many other important people in Washington, including President Barack Obama. Usually, a comedian isthe headliner at the event and is invited to roast and crack jokes about the president. It is all in good fun and nobody’s feelings get hurt too badly. Comedian Steven Colbert gained fame for his brilliant roast of George W. Bush and his administration. Colbert used truth to make his jokes but kept it classy, relaxed and refused to make personal attacks against anyone, keeping the jokes only on political matters.

Of course, it had to be expected that when Wanda Sykes was invited to be the headliner at this year’s event, there would be no roasting of the president. Sykes is a black, gay comedian and of course decided to take out her “comedy” on, you guessed, white Republicans and Rush Limbaugh. For some reason, everyone is just terrified to make any jokes about our first African-American president, assuredly because they don’t want to cross the line and be accused of being a racist by over zealous defenders of Obama. It isn’t that Obama hasn’t given people material. His Special Olympics remark on the Tonight Show, his comment about not knowing a term in the Austrian language (Austrian isn’t a language), his inability to make a speech without a teleprompter and his unexplainable incident of allowing administration officials to green light Air Force One buzzing frighteningly low over Manhattan are all things that could be joked about. And then there was his tacky gift of a DVD collection to British PM Gordon Brown, as well as bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Obama took the stage first and actually showed a decent sense of humor, something we haven’t seen too much of so far. Whether or not he wrote the jokes, who knows, but he said them, so I will give it to him. His ribbing of GOP chairman Michael Steele and refusing to give him a bailout because Rush Limbaugh was a toxic asset was funny. One of his comments to open things up in front of the press was, “I know many of you here covered me and all of you voted for me,” was priceless, although too close to the truth.

Sykes, however, managed to take things way over the line. She made some pretty questionable remarks directed towards waterboarding, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney and others and got quite a few groans from the crowd. Many of her jokes were tinged with race, isolating white conservatives as racists. The most disgusting and shocking joke was aimed at Rush Limbaugh, clearly one of the few people Democrats are afraid of. Sykes accused Limbaugh of being the missing 20th hijacker on the planes that were used to kill 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, and said that he missed the flight because he was too strung out on an Oxycontin haze. While Limbaugh hoped that Obama fails, Sykes announced that she hopes Limbaugh’s kidneys fail.


In case you didn’t know, in 2003, Limbaugh told his listeners on The Rush Limbaugh Show that he had developed an addiction to painkillers, stemming from a back injury. Limbaugh took full responsibility for his actions and explained in detail how it happened. He checked himself into rehab immediately after the show to get his addiction fixed and announced to his listeners that he was embarrassed for his personal mistakes and was not trying to come out of rehab as a hero or a role model. He made no excuses for his problem, refused to portray himself as a victim and quickly got his life back together. Limbaugh has gone on to win his battle with addiction and help others with painkiller addictions. Painkiller addictions are a serious problem that many people in America face. It has never been funny and never will be funny. That was the first line Sykes crossed.

The second line was her attempt to bring comedy from 9/11. It is an event that tragically changed the lives of thousands of Americans. Thousands of innocent civilians died. There is absolutely no reason to ever make light of 9/11 in a comedic manner. Sykes should be ashamed and embarrassed in her attempts to ridicule Obama’s biggest critic.

The biggest tell-tale sign that Sykes had not only crossed the line but flown a thousand miles past it was that MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann, a far-left commentator and Limbaugh critic, said the joke was “probably in bad taste”. If you can even offend Keith Olbermann with a Rush Limbaugh joke, you know you have made a completely inappropriate joke. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attempted to distance the White House from Sykes’s humor, but Sykes came out and said that Obama had told her she did a great job.

It appears as though comedians have strayed away from President Obama for fear of being accused of racism. Instead, it seems as though comedians would rather continue to crack cheap, old jokes about George W. Bush or other white republicans. Yes, it might be a little easier to make fun of Dubya, but shouldn’t comedians want to challenge themselves? Are they so pathetic that they dare not crack a joke about the Barack the Messiah? Wanda Sykes stayed completely away from President Obama during her stand up routine, breaking that long standing tradition of roasting the president. Sykes chose to take cruel, disgusting cheap shots at one of the only people that dares question what Barack Obama has done so far. Maybe others believe that if they decide to challenge a policy of Obama, they too will be compared to the 9/11 hijackers. Considering that, I guess I can understand why Barack is off limits. With a president that has promised to bring unity to a country, I could not feel any more isolated as a young, white conservative.

Here are some videos of material that comedians could have used to poke fun at President Obama. Ask yourself if President Bush would be made fun of ruthlessly for doing the same things:


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