Who dare he that doth chuckle in the visage of the economic turmoil?---Shakespeare Amato -1687
It's the Faux Outrage of the Week -- cooked up, as always, by the right-wingers and Media Villagers: President Obama's laugh on 60 Minutes. How dare he try to be a little lighthearted when going over the tremendous challenges that he inherited from George Bush and his court of merry neocons and CEO's? Steve Croft of 60 Minutes was dutifully upset:
STEVE KROFT: You're sitting here. And you're -- you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, "I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about (LAUGHTER) money--” How do you deal with-- I mean, wh-- explain -
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well--
STEVE KROFT: --the mood and your laughter.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah, I mean, there's got to be--
STEVE KROFT: Are you punch drunk?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, no. There's gotta be a little gallows humor to (LAUGHS) get you through the day. You know, sometimes my team-- talks about the fact that if-- if you had said to us a year ago that-- the least of my problems would be Iraq, which is still a pretty serious problem-- I don't think anybody would have believed it. But-- but we've got a lot on our plate. And-- a lot of difficult decisions that we're going to have to make.
I'm surprised Don King isn't complaining whenever the phrase "punch drunk" phrase is used. I mean, he never bamboozled his boxers, right? No sooner does Memeorandum have the "punch drunk" line posted when, sure enough, a right wingnutosphere party breaks out.
First, if Croft was surprised by his laughter, then the question was OK at first, but the "punch drunk" comment was out of line. He was cooler to George Bush back in 2007. No "punch drunk" comments there. And Croft laughed himself. Was he "punch drunk" too? And it's not as if President Obama was yucking it up throughout the entire interview. And Croft would never have asked a Republican President if he was "punch drunk." You can take that to the bank. President Obama handled it fine.
Andrea Mitchell brought this latest Faux Outrage up today and on MSNBC:
Mitchell: You watch him day in and day out, does he have to worry about seeming a little too cavalier or is this us nitpicking him to death. He's laughing, it's a normal human being instinct.
Chuck Todd's instant response:
Todd: Republicans sit there and look and say, if George Bush had done that, he would have been roasted....When you're at a 30-35% job approval rating, yea, that's what happens. When you're at a 55-65% job approval there seems to be more forgiveness there. President Bush saw that in '01 and 02, where no matter what he said, if he made a gaffe, nobody cared. He was the popular guy and that never happened so that's where some of the Republican-conservative criticism is coming. This is who he is. Everybody comments, he seems like a cool customer. He doesn't seem to get too high or too low.
Mitchell: Yeah, and George Bush in the first year or two could do nothing wrong so --
Todd: That's right.
Mitchell: I think this is going a little overboard. Who knows.
Andrea knows, and that's why she said it. It's amazin' to see this sitting President, at this early stage of his term, with these problems, being ridiculed at every turn by the press. The Villagers were saying that the honeymoon was over as soon as he took the oath. It's media hype.
After all, Todd's point, predictably, misses a crucial factor: There is a reason why George W. Bush was at a 30% approval rating. Bush was caught lying America into war, tortured people, and allowed the survivors of Hurricane Katrina to fend for themselves. That was just a warmup, of course, to the economic collapse. And it wasn't until the latter stages of his disastrous presidency that he was even questioned by the press with any vigor. This was a President who was handed his office by the Supreme Court and not by the people. And yes, the press certainly gave him more than a two-month honeymoon.
But Todd misses the most critical point of all, which Mitchell seems to be leaning toward: There was nothing inappropriate about Obama's laughter, particularly not for anyone who watched the longer interview, during which he was sober and serious throughout. The light sprinkling of a smile only told us he was a human being who managed to keep his sense of humor in the midst of a difficult job. Making it out to be anything more than that tells us much more about his critics than it does Obama.
Hey, I thought it was liberals who were supposed to be the humorless ones, right?