It’s really sort of pathetic how utterly humorless modern conservatives have become. Following Barack Obama’s interview last night on 60 Minutes, a torrent of indignation was released across the mediasphere that blew past Politico, Drudge, and countless right-wing blogs. What had Obama done to unleash such fury, even causing interviewer Steve Kroft to inquire if Obama was “punch drunk?” He laughed. Yep, that’s it. He laughed.
To any rational viewer, the moment merely demonstrated the President’s amusement of the relentless curiosity of media figures that don’t get it. At worst, he was just using laughter as a stress reliever. That’s something that many real people do during anxious times. For critics who have been hammering him for weeks about being too glum, it is absurd for them now to assert that a gentle laugh suggests that, all of a sudden, he is too flippant and detached.
All of this fits right in with the sorrowful character of conservatives. They were dismayed when they thought Obama did not do enough to assuage their grief. Now they are disturbed that he is not exhibiting enough grief of his own. Either way they are consumed by their incessant grieving and blaming it all on Obama.
The lack of humor on the part of the right is reaching epidemic proportions. Their comic heroes are Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. How sad is that? Last week Tucker Carlson presumed to lecture Jon Stewart on the art of comedy. This weekend, Bill O’Reilly’s column attempted to bring the funny, but missed miserably. The article is a collection of fake headlines (something O’Reilly and Fox News should be adept at), aimed at mocking the liberal media. But there are two significant problems with O’Reilly’s comic foray. First, it isn’t remotely funny. Second, the only thing he succeeds at making a mockery of is himself. In the first paragraph he says:
O’Reilly: The other day, left-wing muckraker Seymour Hersh went on MSNBC and said he had information, provided by the usual anonymous sources, that Dick Cheney was running an assassination squad out of the White House.
However, the Pulitzer Prize winning Hersh never went on MSNBC with this story. So in an article seeking to ridicule the liberal media for making up news stories, O’Reilly actually made up a story of his own in the part of the article that he presented as factual. Is there any part of his wretched reality that doesn’t put satire to shame?
So where are the funny conservatives? Where is the right’s Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock, Tina Fey, George Carlin (RIP), etc.? Is Rush going to have to be both the head of the Republican Party and the chief conservative comic? Or will it be the indecipherable Dennis Miller or Fox’s Greg Gutfield, who just got a few yucks at the expense of dead Canadian soldiers? There is, of course, the hysterical escapism of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, but if you don’t already suffer from acute paranoia, do you really want to assume that risk?
It really is pathetic how desperate and forlorn the right has become. They appear to have nothing left but to invent outrage where non exists, and to cling to leaders who offer only obstacles. And when the human spirit requires uplifting more than ever, they are stuck with clowns who have painted on permanent sneers. And even worse, their melancholy is magnified merely by witnessing the horror of a laughing President. It makes me sad just thinking about it.