Without further ado, the column.
A long-held axiom of life holds that one should never discuss religion or politics in any situation, ever.
It’s a good rule, of course — people tend to lose their collective sense of humor when those two subjects were involved. And they certainly have no sense of humor regarding our nation’s most prominent politicians themselves.
Our current president is learning this the hard way. Recently, President Obama took a night off from the White House, traveling down the street to take in a basketball game between the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls.
“A basketball game?” you’ve no doubt already sneered. “Doesn’t he have MORE IMPORTANT THINGS to do?”
Our chief executive further angered everyone by going to a taping of Jay Leno’s talk show on NBC (“A talk show? Doesn’t he have MORE IMPORTANT THINGS to do?”) and suggesting he should bowl in the Special Olympics. It was an obvious joke, a reference to his own poor bowling acumen.
Did it stop our collective national outrage? Of course it didn’t — the masses in this country have about as much of a sense of humor as Britney Spears has good taste.
Very few presidents (or politicians of any stripe) understand our country’s (and the world’s) collective sense of outrage than former President George W. Bush, a man who repeatedly attempted to joke with the American public, only to see those jokes fall flat on their faces.
Most famously, Bush delivered an impromptu statement on a golf course (“Golf?! Doesn’t he have MORE IMPORTANT THINGS to do?!”) in which he damned terrorists and enemies of the United States.
Turning back to his golf game, he said, “Now … watch this drive.”
Once again, an attempt to be light-hearted in troubled times fell flat. The moment has since been immortalized in Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” created as a hatchet job against the Bush administration (made by a guy who makes a living by creating hatchet jobs against Republicans in general).
Not sure what happened, but at some point our society completely lost its ability to take a joke (personified by the terror of a few years ago when TV networks were so afraid of Muslim violence they cowed at the thought of showing the prophet Mohammed in a cartoon).
The ink-stained wretches and TV stations are partially to blame for this, obviously – in a world where we increasingly demand our news up to the minute, analysis of each word proceeding out the mouth of a politician (or sports figure) provides fodder for fervent discussion. Even in the last few months, so many Hollywood reporters have pursued Joaquin Phoenix with such passion, they haven’t even realized that he’s basically been pranking them the entire time.
Not that I’m much better — I once walked out of a church service in a huff because the pastor chose to talk politics from behind the pulpit.
I guess I figured we had more important things to do.