- - Monday, July 14, 2014

Some Democrats just can’t take a joke. They’ve summoned a torrent of outrage over a float in a Fourth of July parade in Norfolk, Neb., because it featured an outhouse labeled “Obama Presidential Library.” The “head librarian” was portrayed by a zombie doll. Everyone else had a good laugh about it. (Bathroom humor always works.)

But not the Department of Justice. The department dispatched investigators to the town of 24,000 to meet with the mayor and the local chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which hosted the parade.

In Norfolk and surrounding Madison County, it’s hard to find a Democrat. President Obama couldn’t break 25 percent of the vote for his re-election. So it was up to the state party to take up the outrage with a fevered statement calling the float one of the “worst shows of racism and disrespect for the office of the presidency that Nebraska has ever seen.”

Dale Remmich, the man behind the float, says it’s all nonsense and that his display had nothing to do with race. He merely wanted to portray his disgust at the way the administration has been mishandling the care of fellow veterans. “I tried to use political satire as best I could,” he told a Norfolk radio station, “but to be honest with you, it’s mostly political disgust, simply no more or no less.”

The fevered left says the mannequin in the float “looks like” Mr. Obama, but whoever says that obviously has a low opinion of the president’s good looks. The doll wore overalls and used a walker. The always-dapper president wouldn’t be caught dead — or even undead — in overalls, and he’s got quite a few years left in him before he’ll need a walker. Anyone with even a mild sense of humor would see in the doll a man grown old waiting for an appointment at a Veterans Affairs hospital.

Mr. Holder should wait for a real offense. America has a rich history of both ridicule and outhouses. Bill Clinton recalled the outhouse of his youth. The Rev. Jesse Jackson ran for president with a slogan “from the outhouse to the White House.” Americans have made fun of its leaders in imaginatively offensive ways, stretching back to the Founding Fathers. Jefferson in particular took hard knocks. Even George Washington. Upset over America’s first trade treaty with recent enemy Great Britain, angry mobs from Boston to Philadelphia strung up, guillotined and burned the effigy of John Jay, President Washington’s chief negotiator.

In 1841, agitated members of the Whig Party marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to burn the likeness of President John Tyler outside the White House. The unruly assembly hurled bricks and fired guns into the air (this was back in the day when the District respected the Second Amendment) to emphasize how angry they were that Tyler vetoed a bill establishing a national bank.

George W. Bush has been burned in effigy so many times that he bears scorch marks. He had a laugh line at the ready whenever he saw such a display. “I believe in free speech,” he would say, “except not today.” It was delivered as a joke and taken that way.

President Obama and his administration do not have such an appreciation of tasteless wit. Mr. Holder can’t seem to find time to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate actual wrongdoing at the Internal Revenue Service, even though the House of Representatives sent him a formal criminal referral in May. It’s obvious now that the only independent counsel Mr. Holder will appoint is one to investigate Independence Day parades.