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EDITORIAL: Obama’s ‘Funny or Die’ gig is beneath dignity of presidency
President’s behavior, those he associates with demean the office
Question of the Day
President Obama’s recent appearance on “Funny or Die,” a comedy-video website co-founded by actor-comic Will Ferrell, gives new meaning to the concept of stooping to conquer.
The joke was on Mr. Obama, whose incredible shrinking presidency is fast becoming a laughingstock, as measured by the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News job-approval poll finding him at just 41 percent. The president invites misery with his jokes and there’s no scarcity of straight men to deliver it.
The president appeared Tuesday on the “Between Two Ferns” interview series hosted by actor Zach Galifianakis. The title describes the show’s barren set consisting of two chairs and two potted plants. Wit is missing, too.
After asking about pardoning turkeys at Thanksgiving, whether Mr. Obama would be sending Hulk Hogan as ambassador to Syria (“or is that a job for Tonya Harding?”) and whether he planned to build his presidential library “in Hawaii or in your home country of Kenya,” Mr. Galifianakis asked: “Let’s get this out of the way. What did you come here to plug?”
“Have you heard about the Affordable Care Act?” Mr. Obama replied, to which the star of the “Hangover” movie series said, “Yeah, that’s the thing that doesn’t work.” Indeed.
After reassuring Mr. Galifianakis that the Obamacare Web portal, Healthcare.gov, is now humming and that customers should sign up, the actor responded: “Is this what they mean by ‘drones’?” and later, “Is your plug finally over?”
Invited or not, such “repartee” offends the office. We can’t imagine what Harry Truman would have said.
This episode shouldn’t be a surprise coming from a president who told a NATO summit in France that America wasn’t really any better than any other country. “I believe in American exceptionalism,” he said, “just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, like FDR and Mr. Truman before them, understood the importance of presidential dignity. The Gipper never went into the Oval Office without a jacket and tie.
“Funny or Die” fits Mr. Obama’s pattern of demeaning the office. From having foul-mouthed rapper Cee-Lo Green perform at a 2012 fundraiser in Atlanta, hosting violence-advocate poet-rapper Common at the White House and “slow-jamming the news” on NBC’s “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” schmoozing with a major producer of pornography, and making a campaign appearance with “the pimp with a limp,” Mr. Obama is the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents, showing the office no respect — and expecting none himself.
This seems to be something of a peculiar pattern on the part of Democratic presidents. Beyond Bill Clinton’s discussion of his underwear on MTV, his sordid Oval Office tryst with Monica Lewinsky was immortalized in Beyonce’s vile “Partition.”
Richard Nixon’s four-word (“Sock it to me”) cameo appearance on NBC’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” was undignified, too, but that was in September 1968, before he was a president. It’s hardly comparable to anything Mr. Clinton or Mr. Obama has done.
The Republican presidential nominee in 2016, whoever he or she turns out to be, should promise to restore a little dignity to the post-Obama White House.
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