Poor Maureen Dowd doesn't know how to make fun of Barack Obama. It's actually pretty easy! Everyone misses Bill Clinton because he enjoyed extramarital sex with interns and oddly unattractive women, he had a southern accent, and he was kind of chubby. Everyone will miss George W. Bush because he's stupid. Those traits are so, so easy to mock! But the problem is jokes about those traits were and are and always have been terrible. Have another Big Mac, Bubba! Then put a cigar in someone's vagina! Hey George Bush you look like a chimp! And, like a chimp, your grasp of complex concepts like grammar is often lacking! Jesus. Stop already. Obama's a godsend, because he lacks those easy buttons. So everyone has to be more creative with their humor. Allow us to help you!
The Big Fuss The secret-the the thing that has so many literal-minded idiots terrified at things like that New Yorker cover-is simple: you don't need to mock the man, you can mock the aura surrounding him. Barack's messianic tendencies have been greatly exaggerated but there's no topping that Rolling Stone cover with the halo. So when The Onion put Obama on the cover of Tiger Beat, it was funny because it was an absurd exaggeration of the truth (see how that works?).
Filth & Fury Plus Obama's strongest supporters are showing themselves to be severely humorless, and that's funny! The gradual shift from constant outrage over matters that probably justify outrage-the mood of the Bush years-to this new era of outrage-for-the-sake of outrage is a scary omen for the future of liberalism in this country and also a great punchline.
Dos and Don'ts
Don't: Try to cleverly call him effete. Looking at you, Maureen! The guy dresses nice, sometimes, but he doesn't actually have those effeminate signifiers that everyone seems to think other male Democratic politicians possess. So stop fucking calling him "Butterfly" because that makes no sense.
Do: Call him "elite!" It's funny because he represents an aspirational black middle class and so we have to put him and his wife back in their place! Haha no, seriously, it's funny because making fun of Harvard is funny. Don't make latte jokes though, it's not 1997.
Don't: Make fun of his funny name. It's painful when Slate does it, yes, but even the reliable Daily Show writers fall into the trap. "Baracknophobia" is not the level of punmanship we've come to expect from you guys. It is funny to call him "Barry," though.
Do: Make fun of how people are terrified of his funny name and his foreign background. When faced with polls that suggest Americans do truly believe that Barack Obama was raised by The Iron Sheikh and spent his school years snorting the remains of 9/11 victims, all you can do is laugh and contemplate a life a sea.
Special Cases: Black comedians. Can they make fun of Barack Obama? Sure! But other black people will get even angrier about it, depending on the material and the audience. Of course, you knew that already.
Note to Cartoonists: Yes, his ears stick out. Good work catching that one.
In Short: Yes, so far, there is nothing "buffoonish" about Barack Obama. And that is a good thing, for people who enjoy laughing at things that are actually funny! But please, please, please, white people-don't whine about not being allowed to make fun of him because everyone will get mad at you. Just think about it for a minute! If your joke is funny, make it! If it is not funny, make one (1) different joke.
[Note: We forgot the credit the illustrator! Lukas Ketner drew this for Willamette Week.]