Thursday, May 05, 2005

"How Dumb Is He?...."

Being a real geek about this kind of stuff, I actually watched the White House Correspondents' dinner Saturday night on C-Span. I even watched the "rope line" on the way into the dinner. Sad, I know.

Anyway, much is being made of Laura Bush's performance at the dinner making fun of the president's early bedtime and declaring herself a "Desperate Housewife" who goes to Chippendales with other Washington wives.

Being a big boy, I can't really say I was particularly scandalized or something. Mrs. Bush's shtick was pretty standard after-dinner roast fare. In other words, I observed what seemed to me to be fairly typical for one of these deals, yawned, and turned it off. Just the usual tired, rubber-chicken circuit one-liners.

She didn't trip over any of the lines, and she got a decent reaction from the crowd. But anything even mildly funny at one of these dinners gets a huge laugh because:

A). Nobody expects anything to be all that funny, and
B). Everyone's loaded.

So I am a bit confused by the enraptured raves coming from many conservative (and perhaps not coincidentally, mostly female) columnists. To read some of these columnists, you'd think it was the greatest bravura moment in the history of the comedic arts.

Kathleen Parker, who calls the event "Laura Bush's show-stealing debut as a comedienne" saw it all as a momentous analogy of human freedom:
Laura Bush, who declared herself a "desperate housewife," who said she recently went to a Chippendales male striptease show, who made fun of her husband's early bedtime and compared her mother-in-law to Don Corleone, would not have lasted long among some of our friends and foes in foreign lands. Yet here, she was free to drop bunker busters on her husband's dinner plate to laughter and applause.
Suzanne Fields, hopefully using some intentional overstatement, says the First Lady should consider heading into show business:
The president now calls his mate "Laura 'Leno' Bush." If Laura doesn't want to go back to Crawford and Prairie Chapel Ranch, she might consider a career in comedy in the tradition of Lucille Ball. But she has to face the fact that George W. won't be able to stay up late enough to be Desi Arnaz.
Peter Roff (whose name sounds like the punchline to one of Laura's jokes) of the conservative United Press International, says that conservatives enjoyed the First Lady's routine, and in an odd turn of reasoning worries that it's a plot of the Left to drive a wedge through the Republican Party:
Her remarks were, by MTV or Fox or even CBS standards, tame. Most of my acquaintances on the right did not seem to mind at all. To them, it is perhaps the over-the-top nature of what the left is saying the right should be thinking that is cause for concern.
Here's one simple, unavoidable fact: if it had been Hillary Clinton or Barbara Boxer delivering these mildly risqué lines, most of these bedazzled conservative reviewers would be having kittens over it right now. We'd be hearing about "the coarsening of our culture" and the damage done to "the dignity of the presidency." You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.

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