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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    Naked Emperor News

    By Kyle | April 25, 2012

    I’m speechless at Obama’s attempt to shoehorn a policy issue into a musical comedy sketch. This is the guy whose most unassailable attribute is that he’s supposedly cool? The man obviously cannot do comedy. He’s been a public figure for eight years and I’m not aware of him ever spontaneously being amusing or witty. Most of his one-liners (“I’m LeBron, baby, I got game, I can play at this level,” etc.) aren’t even close to being quips but are merely bizarre manifestations of his grandiosity. Every president is to some extent stiff when doing the musical-comedy chat-show rounds (and John Kerry was cringingly awful on “The Daily Show”) because their pomposity and self-regard makes it hard for them to lighten up, but Obama is so stiff and weird here that he makes Jimmy Carter look like a regular guy. He makes it sort of impossible for him to ever use the phrase “dignity of the office” and he trivializes his own student-loan proposal.
    I’d say this is as bad as Dukakis riding around in a tank. Obama’s coterie clearly is unaware of the fact that he isn’t good at everything or they would have vetoed this idea. Romney, by the way, should be wary of getting sucked into trying to be a comedian because he isn’t one either. There’s nothing wrong with sitting on a couch with Leno but high-concept stuff should be avoided for the same reason you don’t try on a silly hat.

    Topics: Barack Obama, Comedy | 27 Comments »

    27 Responses to “Naked Emperor News”

    1. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 25th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Negro fiddled while Rome burned.

    2. Rebecca B Says:
      April 25th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      typo? i hope……

    3. Hedge Says:
      April 25th, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      More like this Nero (g) is running about with a propane torch setting Rome alight….

    4. Christopher Says:
      April 25th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      Rebecca– I think you know that was no typo.

    5. kishke Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 10:20 am

      Of course it’s not a typo, it’s a cleverish pun. No reason to get bent out of shape.

    6. Rebecca B Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 11:12 am

      a cleverish pun? I am not bent out of shape at all. Maybe a little uncomfortable…..

    7. kishke Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 11:30 am

      I’m not.

    8. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      Is it something I said?

    9. yankeefan Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      OBB, I imagine you’re among the many who — not without justification — thinks we should “move past race” in America. I often have the same feeling myself. Yet I often find the same people who implore us to move past race, seem rather fixated on, even addicted to, the subject.

      So, what’s it gonna be? Move past race — perhaps even lead the way? Or take the first opportunity to make a negro joke?

    10. yankeefan Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      @Rebecca: Just taking a wild guess here, but I suspect you were, in fact, a bit “bent out of shape” by OBB’s “cleverish” pun. (Has there ever been a more generous, charitable application of “ish”?)

      There’s actually nothing wrong with that. You seem quite easily mau-maued. One need not be a badge-wearing member of the PC Police (a fraternity of which I have no interest in being a member, btw) to find such a “cleverish” use of the term Negro — especially as it’s used to describe the President of the United States and the nation’s Commander in Chief — distasteful, to say the very least.

    11. KS Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      “There’s nothing wrong with sitting on a couch with Leno” . . . if you can avoid a Special Olympics gaffe.

    12. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      There’s a fund where the slogan is “A Mind is a Terrible thing to Waste” but for the life of me I can’t put my finger on it.

    13. kishke Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      @YF: I actually did not mean the “ish” to be generous – quite the contrary – and I disagree as to whether this is a pun to be avoided for PC reasons. I see no hatefulness in the pun; Obama is black, he’s fiddling while the nation burns, and that’s it. “Moving past race” would allow the pun without discomfort or distaste. It is a problem only b/c of a heightened racial consciousness.

    14. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      ding, ding, ding!

    15. yankeefan Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      I’ve got a very simple solution. Go find some black folks that you know, and in conversation, casually refer to them, or their friends and family, as “negroes.” I mean, why not? No offense, right? The college fund, founded decades ago in another era, uses the word, right?

      Oh, and you’ll be doing this out in the open, with everyone aware of who you are, not boldly making “cleverish” remarks behind a web handle.

    16. yankeefan Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      >>>“Moving past race” would allow the pun without discomfort or distaste.

      Right, Kishke, exactly. The best way I can think of to “move past race” would be for you, starting right away, to call your black friends and acquaintances negroes. This would immediately remove the stigma. It would also afford the salutary, corrolary benefit of allowing cleverish puns like “Negro fiddles while Rome burns” to flourish in all their witty glory.

    17. kishke Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Is that the problem, that he used the word “negro?” I thought you were objecting to the idea of a pun that works off the president’s race.

      If the pun would substitute “black” for “negro” (pretending it would still work), would you be okay with it?

    18. kishke Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      The best way I can think of to “move past race” would be for you, starting right away, to call your black friends and acquaintances negroes.

      I didn’t say that was a method of moving past race. I said if we would move past race such a pun would no give umbrage.

    19. Christopher Says:
      April 26th, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      Within reason, I think it just makes sense to refer to a person’s race as they generally like to be referred to by people outside of that race. It’s quite clear that both “Black” and “African American” are pretty broadly accepted by that community as terms they prefer others to use in reference to them. Likewise, it’s pretty clear that “negro” is not such a term, likely in part because if was a common term in a period when Blacks suffered more severe mistreatment and prejudice than they do today (“Chinamen” and “Oriental” are not preferred by people of Chinese decent these days for similar reasons). I don’t think it makes OBB evil and immoral to have made that particular lame pun, but I do think it’s obnoxious and a bit racist. The point was obviously to make a connection to Obama’s race. Would it also be a bit racist to have written, “Now I’ve had black, and I’m ready to go back” in spite of the lack of a particular disfavored term? I personally think so, because again the connection is made with race. I have no problem, to put it mildly, to objecting to Obama’s policies, but personally I think one engages in a much lower and less admirable level of rhetoric when one brings race into it in this way. And just to save everyone some time, no need to point out the obvious fact that the left/Obama supports/etc. bring race into these discussions as well. I know that is the case but that’s hardly an argument for it being the right thing to do.

    20. kishke Says:
      April 27th, 2012 at 12:44 am

      I agree that a person’s race should be referred to as they wish. I would not call a black a negro b/c I have no desire to upset people or hurt their feelings. But that doesn’t mean we should turn “negro” into another n-word.

    21. Rebecca B Says:
      April 27th, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Actually I did think “Negro” was possibly a typo, Freudian slip, or whatever. It wasn’t, it was an attempt at humor. I’m not saying it was unsuccessful, I see that it could raise a smile or chuckle. I think maybe if I was talking to OBB and he said that out loud I might have smiled myself. But seeing it in print makes me uncomfortable. So the question is why? I guess because I don’t know OBB. I don’t know if he’s harboring thoughts that BO’s shortcomings are explained by 50% of his “racial” background. In other words if I knew he didn’t think that: I would laugh. But if I knew he thought black people were inferior I would not laugh. So it’s all about intent and I don’t know for sure what OBB’s was.

      Even assuming I knew OBB was not an anti-black racist if he made that joke in front of black people I would be horrified. So I don’t know what that means about me. My own thoughts on race are complicated; I am largely convinced there is no such thing as race. But there’s science, and then there’s politics and then there’s courtesy.

      I was (am?) a big fan of John Derbyshire’s writing, including his writing on the topic of race. He made me uncomfortable a lot. But I felt that I “knew” he was not a racist and was a person of good will. Of course I didn’t really know that. The article that got him fired from NR was shocking. So now I am wondering about all the other stuff he wrote on race and IQ.

    22. KS Says:
      April 27th, 2012 at 9:56 am

      …(”Chinamen” and “Oriental” are not preferred by people of Chinese decent these days for similar reasons).

      Maybe “Asian” has replaced “Oriental” in part because people talk about Asia and not “the Orient” now. “Oriental” is rather dated. I’m part Japanese, and I don’t think that “Oriental” is perjorative in the sense that “Jap” is. But I’ll take Christopher’s word on how the Chinese view this matter.

    23. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 27th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      If Comment 21 is not a joke, then I’m flattered that someone put so much thought and effort into it. My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.

    24. Rebecca B Says:
      April 27th, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Yeah, it’s not a joke. Bask in the flattery. Really

    25. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 27th, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      Perhaps Jennifer Melfi can help you through this ordeal.

    26. Christopher Says:
      April 28th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      KS– I agree with you about “Oriental” simply seeming more outdated than offensive. It is, after all, considered perfectly acceptable to talk about “oriental rugs,” “oriental decor,” and so forth.

    27. Obama bin Biden Says:
      April 29th, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      I love Oriental food.

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