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What's so funny Mr. President?

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(Article changed on April 30, 2013 at 02:53)

by Screen shot from White House video

The president and the mainstream media, along with the capital in-crowd, celebrate their wonderfulness each year at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. The format consists of an invited comedian who pokes fun at the president and press with some shtick from the current leader of the free world.  The event is by invitation only, no common folk allowed.

After watching the dinner on C-Span, I have just one question.  What's so funny Mr. President?

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The president will never be asked that question.  But if just one of those White House correspondents hosting the event had the courage, the answer would be in two parts.

How can the president and the press get together and yuck it up when we're in such a dreadful state of affairs.  The nation is in an economic dead calm.  Millions of jobs left the country in the past decade, probably for good.  Many more jobs were lost due to the ongoing recession.  Not many were created to take their place, unless we count minimum wage jobs at Walmart (with benefits from Medicaid).

The United States is starting to look like the movie The Hunger Games.  The capital region prospering with the rest of the country in bad shape.  Trillions of dollars of personal wealth for tens of millions of citizens were lost through the real estate and stock market crash (the folks who caused it are doing just fine).  The civilian labor force is up only 1.6 million workers since 2008.  Real unemployment is shocking.  For the strong of heart, look here.

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The administration is meddling with the internal affairs of countries all over the world.  The Obama administration and their congressional supporters still have  troops in Afghanistan, just deployed an initial contingent to Jordan along the Syrian border, and are debating the cover story for direct intervention in the Syrian civil war.  Every day, U.S. drones fly over several nations shooting at people  personally approved by the president.

What's funny about any of this?  Harry Truman called off the dinner in 1951 due to the intensity of world events.  We're broke, sinking deeper, and poised to start some new wars and the people responsible for all of this think it's all right to get together to laugh it up.  This is what used to be called sick humor.

The other part of what's funny answer concerns the event itself.  The invited comedian generally tones down his or her remarks with the very occasional breakthrough of vulgarity.  With one exception, these events are a set piece consisting of wimpy jokes about the president that go nowhere near the robust tradition of American political humor.

Just imagine what would have happened with the late George Carlin as court jester (Image).  On gridlock in Congress, Carlin might have used this line:

"Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out."

With regard to U.S. aid to the Syrian rebels, Carlin had a line:

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"Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?"

And on the global policy of shooting first and asking questions later, Carlin knew the answer:

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity."

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