The American media was stunned last night to see the first Obama jokes ever performed on National TV.
After Clint Eastwood left the stage, media people across the country were mystified. A shell-shocked Andrea Mitchell stammered, “This was exceedingly strange …”
It was. Because we saw something that has been absent from television for the past four years: real satire. Aside from the gentle jabs the late night hosts have been dishing up (always followed by a John Boehner orange joke, or a reference to Mitt Romney’s uneaten dog –for balance) this is the first time most Americans have ever heard a routine putting the most incompetent president in history in his rightful place.
It was reminiscent of a Bob Newhart telephone routine, where Clint became the straight man talking to an invisible president.
“I think if you just kinda stepped aside and Mr. Romney can kinda take over. You can still use the plane. Though, though maybe a smaller one. Not that big gas guzzler you’ve been driving around, when you’re going around to colleges. and talking about student loans and stuff like that,” Eastwood says. “You’re an ecological man. Why would you want to drive that truck around ? … No… I can’t do that to myself either.”
It’s not that the jokes were so clever that made them funny, it was that for the first time in four years we were allowed to laugh at the president. The harder you try to suppress a laugh, the more violent the eventual release. We’ve been holding it in for four years, and last night we finally got to let it out. We laughed. And it felt good.
There were rumors circulating around the convention that there was to be a hologram of Ronald Reagan, and that’s what we got. Whereas the other speakers refrained for doing the kind of jabs the Gipper was legendary for, the RNC brought in a hired gun from out West, to say exactly the kind of things that made the others hesitant. Whether it was his status of Hollywood legend that gave him a comfortable immunity from his industry, or just that he’s fed up and won’t take it anymore, he gave a wickedly delicious performance that earned him a standing ovation from coast to coast (minus the actual coasts).
Perhaps if Eastwood decides that he’s tired of winning Oscars, he might want to take it on the road. We’re dying for satire out here. (And I’d be happy to open…)