Donald Trump’s no-class Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner appearance in 2016 reminded me that I actually thought his joke about Hillary Clinton attending the hoary event to prove she didn’t hate Catholics was pretty sharp on its own terms.
The problem with the puerile pre-president, of course, was the context and the venue, and the reality-show Republican nominee couldn’t help himself that October night in New York in violating the basic lay of the land that guides the annual Smith dinner: the humor is generally of the self-deprecating variety, and the event is supposed to lend a sense of unity, if not basic decency, to a nation at the conclusion of a bitter campaign season.
By contrast, what is wrong with all these ridiculous high-tone Washington reporters and their outrage over a few pretty weak jokes made at the expense of horrible liars who work for Trump?
The outrage that followed the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner this weekend was directed mostly at Michelle Wolf’s jabs at White House shill Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Rather than being offensive, she was guilty of a worse crime: she wasn’t that funny.
Wolf was great at highlighting a basic truth about Trump, which is that he’s lied more than 3,000 times since he took office (according to a Washington Post tally this week), largely on the strength of his disdainful comments about Hillary Clinton’s ass and his flagrant mocking of a disabled reporter, aka “an enemy of the people.”
The jokes directed at Sanders weren’t especially funny, and definitely did not warrant the full-on outrage-machine treatment that the bully-victims running this country are expert at conjuring. Wolf’s dig at Rachel Maddow was delightfully biting, yet nobody’s paying attention to her mockery of the liberal Maddow and her habit of excessive meandering in search of a point.
Who needs the Correspondents’ dinner anyway? It’s just a chance for Beltway types to preen and schmooze. Nuke it, Kim Jong-un! And we’re not saying that just because we weren’t invited—again.
Actually, the funniest joke of the week has to go to California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, one of the more antic throne sniffers to have emerged in the Trump era. McCarthy joked this week that the GOP would retain the House in this year’s midterms! We’ll see who’s laughing come November.
Tom Gogola is the news editor of the ‘Bohemian.’
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