Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s mockery of the ObamaCare web site didn’t just ignite the crowd during Wednesday’s CMA Awards telecast. It represented a cultural nudge that could resonate long after the lyrics to ObamaCare by Morning fade from memory.
The ObamaCare Meltdown is Part of the Culture: Performers don’t tell jokes audiences won’t get. It’s now clear that the catastrophic failure of healthcare.gov is a comic meme to be resurrected at any time, any place. Lazy comics can lace into it at will. Late night hosts can summon it if another joke is bombing. And even those clinging to our biased press can’t escape the fact that the president’s health care legislation is officially a punch line.
Liberals Step into a Conservative’s Shoes: Red state types routinely find their politics and politicians mocked during awards telecasts. It’s simply part of the entertainment culture. Tina Fey torched Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) just last month during a tribute to Carol Burnett. The CMA spoof represents a reversal of that trend, one that might make liberal audience members think twice before snorting over the next George W. Bush joke uttered by a well-groomed host.
Country Music Isn’t Hostage to Ideology: Paisley is on the record saying he was inspired by Obama’s election, and the country crooner even sang for the president during Obama’s first term. He’s no angry right winger scoring partisan points. He still went ahead with the ObamaCare song because he knew it was funny and the timing was right. The audience reacted in kind, howling over the material without the kind of nervous hush that awards show crowds utter when one of their own gets ribbed.
Jokes Matter in Our 24/7 Information Age: There’s a very good reason why the vast majority of comedians and comedy institutions (The Onion, Saturday Night Live) have refrained from mocking Obama for the past five years. Political jokes sting. They get shared in social media circles, picked up by news outlets hungry for content and, eventually, label politicians against their will. Team Obama likely isn’t laughing about the CMA telecast, nor should it.