I will miss George W. Bush and you will too

America stands poised to enter its first humour recession in more than a generation


In troubled times, the value of a laugh appreciates. Humour is worth more, because humour has the power to briefly distract us from unpleasant realities such as the distressing loss of a job and the even more distressing fact that Paula Abdul still has one.

George W. Bush has given the American people more unintentional comedy than any U.S. president since… well, since the one before him. Thanks to the selfless, innate hilarity of W. and Bill Clinton, the people of the world have enjoyed a spectacular 16-year run of character flaws, blatant lies and absurd spin – an unprecedented era of comedy prosperity.

But with Barack Obama’s inauguration, America stands poised to enter its first humour recession in more than a generation.

This isn’t about professional comedians, late-night talk show hosts and the like. They’ll find the funny as Obama makes mistakes.

This is about the rest of us.

Clinton and Bush democratized political comedy. They were humour populists. Everyone could make fun of them.

Clinton gave us the gift of fat jokes and horndog jokes – two of the easiest and most enjoyable genres in the humour pantheon. Generous to a fault, he also gave us a wooden vice-president, a scheming wife and the Lincoln Bedroom as Holiday Inn Express.

Truly, this was a time of plenty.

Clinton wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t an idiot – which made George W. Bush his ideal successor. Bush was every bit as generous a political target as Clinton but (and this is crucial) in a completely different way. He gave us braindead jokes, clueless patsy jokes, English-as-a-third-language jokes and a vice-president who actually shot an actual guy in the actual face.

Compared to these two giants of outrageousness, Obama is a potential-comedy pipsqueak. He has ears that lend themselves to easy caricature, but not behavourial traits. He is not lusty. He is not oblivious. He is not plump, not lazy, not dismissive, not old. His vice-president does not appear to be the walking undead. His wife seems nice.

In short, this is a disaster.

Do us a favour, George. Drop us a line from time to time. Maybe write a book defending your legacy. It will provide for us an oasis of laughter in a desert of silence.

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I will miss George W. Bush and you will too

  1. Hopefully you, and others like you, will take the blinkers off soon.

    Obama mis-speaks at least as much as Bush did, I wonder if anyone will do Obamaisms like they chronicled Bushisms?, and Obama is entirely arrogant and thin-skinned. Give it time, Obama will be gold.

    And if you can’t find something to mock, or make fun of, about Biden than you really aren’t trying very hard because the guy is a walking clown/blow hard.

    • “Obama mis-speaks at least as much as Bush did”

      Have you actually heard him speak, jwl? Even Bush Sr. says Obama sounds like Shakespeare. He does speak very slowly on TV interviews, a trait he probably picked up in the Senate.

      While the former editor of the Harvard Law Review may have other flaws, inarticulation or mis-speaking isn’t one of them.

      • “Have you actually heard him speak, jwl?”

        Yes, I have. Have you?

        I agree that Obama is fantastic when reading from teleprompter or riffing on the promise of declaration of independence but when he’s in a more uncontrolled setting, he says things like:

        “Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.”

        “So let me introduce to you the next president – the next vice president of the US of America, Joe Biden.”

        “I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps” – Russians liberated Auschwitz.

        “In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed.” In fact, 12 people died and no ‘entire’ town was destroyed.

        And what’s with this fascination with Harvard. Many liberals are starting to sound like Cons of old who thought who your family were, and where you went to school, was all that mattered.

        • So you came up with 4 mis-speaks.

          Only another 3,000 or so to go then you assertion that “Obama mis-speaks at least as much as Bush did” might be true.

          I do give Bush credit though – his are much funnier than Obama’s.

          • “Only another 3,000 or so to go” … Give him time.

            I only copied 4 mis-speaks, there are more if you care to look.

          • Yeah, jwl, these are great and it’s good to know mis-speaking isn’t dead.

            But Bush’s were funny, and these just . . . aren’t. Okay, that 57 state thing was pretty good. I guess he thought he was doing condiments?

          • Hey dipshht… Make fun of George W. all you want. He kept your butt safe for seven years so that you can sit behind your computer, drink kool-aid and blog all day. Thanks to Obama (any many other Dems in the past), I won’t be receiving Social Security and millions of other low-lifes are going to set a standard to their children that Uncle Sam will take care of them and working hard isn’t necessary. Just because you are sexually attracted to Obama does not make him God’s gift to president. Look at every burden that W had to deal with during his terms… all stem from Democratic initiatives. Take Obama off of the pedistool for a year and see how badly he’s screwed this country.

        • I’m just looking forward to eight years of a president (with his finger on the nuclear button) who pronounces it “nuc-lee-ur”.

          If I had to listen to that wannabe cowboy call it “nuc-yoo-lar” one more time I’d have thrown the remote through the tv.

        • ““Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.”

          This is another example of your penchant for establishing equivalences between things that are entirely not comparable. It’s been pretty well established that he meant 47 states, was thinking of America’s 57 states and territories and simply flubbed. This in no way compares to the mental incapacity manifested in Bush’s command of language, which was examined in The Bush Dyslexicon.

          • Pretty well established by who, exactly?

            How many States does Obama think there are, 48 or 58? Neither is correct.

            The point is that Obama mis-speaks, I don’t doubt he knows how many states there are.

        • Just curious – Do you have sources for any of those quotes?

        • Those are seriously lame “misspeaks.” Notice that we’re always laughing with Obama on the funny ones; on the liberator uncle, he did help liberate a death camp, it just wasn’t Auschwitz; and that Kansas thing is just strange.

          jwl, on Obama you’re simply pathetic.

          • You know who is simply pathetic, Jack M.

            All the people with Bush Derangement Syndrome that have convinced themselves that a guy who graduated from Yale/Harvard is an idiot for mis-speaking but a guy who graduated from Columbia/Harvard who mis-speaks is clearly a genius who’s going to stop the oceans from rising.

            Cognitive dissonance anyone?

          • Equally pathetic is the fact that Harvard/Yale graduated the guy, no?
            “Is our children learning?” G.W. Bush

    • “Obama mis-speaks at least as much as Bush did”

      Care to share an example, jwl?

      • How dare you? Only jwl can ask for evidence.

        • I think the bigger question is why “mis-speaking” is an indicator that somebody would be a good president, or that somebody is intelligent. You would think that the place to look for Bush’s worthiness or lack thereof for Harvard and Yale would be his grades. His academic performance leaves no doubt that Bush got in as a legacy student, but at the same time also shows that he is not an utter moron. He is a bad public communicator (he may have APD as he is good in one-on-one settings).

          Indeed, Bush’s grades were better than Kerry’s and his scores on military standardized tests were better. As for Obama, the presumed genius, I have my doubts.

          1. Obama graduated from Columbia WITHOUT honours, implying his GPA was less than 3.2.
          2. Obama had good enough grades at Occidental college to transfer to the very selective Columbia.
          Therefore if Obama had a GPA of 3.7 at Occidental (which probably wouldn’t get one into Columbia), then his GPA at Columbia – comparable to Harvard/Yale was no higher than 2.7, a B-.

          Is that still a great accomplishment for a poor kid raised by a single mom? Well, that story leaves out the fact that Obama’s grandmother, who played a large role in his raising, was a bank vice-president.

          What about Obama’s career/scholastic accomplishments – do they provide evidence that Obama is super-smart?

          1. Obama was a failure as a community organizer by his own admission.
          2. As editor of the Harvard law review (Obama won support in a racially charged environment by being the moderate candidate acceptable to both African American and white students) Obama wrote only one article.
          3. As a lawyer, Obama tried exactly zero cases. His boss said he wrote some “substantial memos”.
          4. As a “professor” he published no articles.
          5. As a state senator he voted “present” more than any other member.
          6. As a senator he never convened the sub-committee he headed, and spent his time largely running for president.

          Is Obama stupid? Probably not. Do I have evidence that he is a super-genius? No. All I really know is that he wrote (or ghost-wrote) two auto-biographies (before accomplishing anything in his life), is very good at reading off a tele-prompter (Obama is comparatively bad in unscripted situations like his debates with Clinton), and had a successful campaign managed for him by Plouffe and Axelrod.

          I think the dislike of Bush led a lot of people to strive for somebody who was unlike Bush. So if Bush was too quick to act (or spun positively, a decisive leader), Obama is ponderous and thoughful. A lot of the associations though are implied (if Bush was dumb, and Obama is the opposite of Bush then Obama is smart), and reinforced by a highly disciplined (read: tightly scripted and media unfriendly) campaign with few of the gaffes that the media circus makes such a big deal about.

          PS: is intelligence all that good a predictor of a president’s success anyway? “Dumb” Reagan, FDR (“first rate temperament, second rate intellect”) and Truman were effective leaders. “Smart” guys Nixon and Carter are not remembered fondly by history in contrast, and Bill Clinton’s rhodes scholarship didn’t prevent him from thinking twice before doing something stupid (Lewinsky was not an impeachable offence, but the effort required to combat the scandal made Clinton’s last years in office less effective than they could have been).

    • now let us see Jwl as In Just a White(as in KKk) Loser?

  2. That’s the truth. THe comedy skits wrote themselves. But Palin’s not going away. We still have her.

  3. Bush’s greatest legacy will have been Obama. Think about it.

    If it were not for the mind-numbing incompetence and incoherence of Dubya & Dick, Americans would never have turned to a one-term African American Senator whose experience outside of politics is rather thin.

    • Agreed! And if Obama’s incompetent or incoherent? What then? I shudder to think. Do i hear the faint strains of…North to Alaska, North the rush is on…?

  4. I think it’s far too soon to write Obie off … we could have the making of a virtual 3 stooges sort of thing going can you guess who are Larry, Curly and Mo are (The smooth talker Mo has to be Obie and larry fits GW to a fit with Bill C as Curly hmmmm … needs more work but has potentail. Then again GW could pull off a jerry lewis and BC a jerry seinfeld (what’s the issue with a BJ from an Intern in the whitehouse = you can get impeached for lying about it to your wife and a few senators! – what’s with that?) maybe just maybe now Obie with a little research and work could pull off a bill cosby if he loosened up a bit and started making faces and voices once in awhile for some reason I can could see him gaining a few pounds and going all fat albert on people – Hey Hey Hey – yes we can:)

  5. Bush himself wasn’t really the source of the best satire we’ve witnessed over the eight years, Mr. Feschuk. That was accomplished at the expense of all those “serious people” who desperately rationalised the actions of his criminally inept administration.

    Those people aren’t going anywhere (David Frum still has a career, after all). What worries me now is that we’ll stop savaging these people; with their reputations either intact or rehabilitated (or forgotten), they’ll come back to haunt us in another four to eight years, this time with a more sophisticated low cunning.

    • The Bush admin was top-heavy with clever people dreaming up all kinds of sophistry to rationalize and market one bullshit policy after another.

      The real fun began when the second- and third-stringers got into the act, polishing turds with endless enthusiasm and wildly varying degrees of skill.

      For me the nadir of this sorry spectacle came from John “Assrocket” Hinderaker on Powerlineblog:

      “It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.”

      Note: this wasn’t honeymoon fever, it was posted in 2005 when nobody had any excuse for failing to grasp the monumental failure that was the Cheney adminstration.

    • Just like Fife and his role in helping Harper and Day box Arar in as a ‘terrorist.’ We’ve seen how the media promptly swept that inconvenience under the carpet for their master, and Fife continues to spout party schtick as tho its from Olympus…
      Yes, the comeuppances to come. There better be a lot of KY in hell.

    • ” they’ll come back…with a more sophisticated low cunning.”
      you might want to be more careful Ti- GUY. Sarah knows how to shoot and skin a liberal [ read: any one outside the GOP] in under 30 seconds. She might find sophistication a challenge though, you think 8 yrs will do it?

  6. Race is one of the most sensitive topics in newsrooms and media. No newspaper editor or late night talk show host is going put himself in a position where something they say about Obama is going to get them labelled racist. Everything will be scrutinized.

    Feschuk can go on and on about Obama’s qualities, but he’s right…the comedy will dry up. But he’s missing the main reason.

    • “Race is one of the most sensitive topics in newsrooms and media. No newspaper editor or late night talk show host is going put himself in a position where something they say about Obama is going to get them labelled racist. Everything will be scrutinized.”

      You obviously didn’t hear about Radio-Canada’s Bye Bye 2008, huh?

      • There’s just no end to the eeevils of affirmative action, is there?

        *rolls eyes*

  7. Just for fun, and to see what the new man had to pitch, I signed up for Obama’s election email campaign. Result? A year’s worth of emails entirely devoid of any policy platform at all. Of course, it was amusing to read his take on Hillary B4 nomination versus today. Ol’ Hill’ was Beelzebubambina in B.O.’s B4 world, and now she’s just jake! But not a single policy issue was articulated clearly, without ambiguity or challenged by the liberal media. Oh this was clear; “You can ‘change’ the nation… you – the ‘ordinary’ American… the little guy, can change the world by just sending me $5.00”, and the drones of the nation sent millions of $5.00 donations in return for empty rhetoric.
    Never has an electorate been subjected to so little in way of substance, never has an electorate been so hoodwinked by a biased liberal media, and never has an electorate been so taken by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. America and beyond has been duped by a collective liberal lie – including Canada’s lockstep drooling media elite.
    However, I do not begrudge the Dems or Obama… in fact I wish them well and I hope they can deliver. It is a no lose proposition. If they deliver, everybody benefits. If they don’t, in four years the Dems will be gone… for a generation. The only sure thing is this; For the next four years, the liberal media will fall over themselves to hail every Obama achievement. And for every setback, or outright failure, the same media will blame the former administration. Obama is untouchable, and that is a shame.

  8. The fun part starts now…. watching a guy who never delivered anything in the President’s role and this is not an academic position.
    And if it doesn’t work, there are plenty of individuals to blame: Clinton, Gates, Bush, etc.

  9. Q. Why can’t Obama laugh at himself?

    A. Because it would be racist.

    • That’s racist!

  10. Feschuk, you are wrong. Everybody in a public place, being human, has failings which will provide fodder for media amusement sooner or later.

    Obama will have his foibles and we will laugh at them. Simple enough.

    • That’s true. Personally, I can’t wait to have a little chuckle over Barack. Ready Rick Mercer?

  11. The real humour of the Oboma presidency will be Scott’s take on the degree to which the celebrity nation can live up to the “new era of responsibilty, a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize glady, firm in the knowlege that there is nothing so satisifying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task”. An end to National Enquirer, perhaps?? Mothball the red carpets, garage the limos, dress down to reality, etc. Go for it, Scott!!

  12. I think it is a real problem that comedians are afraid to make fun of Obama for fear of being seen as racist. It is a problem because it suggests Obama is seen as “a black president” rather than “an American president”, and is being treated differently because the the colour of his skin, and not the content of his character. On the other hand I think this is a great opening for black comedians, who are less likely to be called racist.

    Of course the other problem is that the market for comedy is mostly youngish, and young people love Obama. Often when the Daily Show, for instance, makes fun of Obama, Jon Stewart is met with steely silence, or an awkward pause.

    So how do you make fun of Obama? I think there are some worthwhile templates, that unfortunately have not been employed. SNL, for instance, has a so-so impersonation but has not built anything into their caricature. That is a problem – Will Ferrel’s Bush, for instance, while an easy take, had some staying power. His successors did not because they were just doing generic impressions of Dubya. Here are some potential angles:

    -the messiah thing is very mockable, as John McCain found with his very successful summer ads (he pulled into a statistical tie – this was before the convention and Palin). Obama’s over-the-top rhetoric could be comically applied to situations where it is inappropriate. While SNL’s Clinton gorged on food at McDonald’s, it might be funny to see Obama in that situation – ordering fries replete with pauses and overstatement of the situation. Unfortunately it can’t beat Double Exposure’s Joe Clark singing “I’m too sexy…”

    -Another potential mode of caricature would be to suggest that Obama is secretly evil, cynical and doesn’t care about all that hope stuff. SNL did that with Reagan (suggesting he was actually an evil genius who just pretended to be a nice doddering old man). South Park and the Onion have both done bits that took this angle on Obama, suggesting that Obama had criminal ulterior motives behind running for president.

    Bush was not devoid of good qualities. He came across as nice, well-intentioned and folksy. The thing about Bush is that people had ready-made ways of making fun of somebody like that. With Obama it is a bit harder because he doesn’t fit a pre-existing mould. Is it really too much to ask of comedians that they must be creative for once?

  13. Speaking of George W. Bush:

    George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

    George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

    And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

    Many people know what Bush did.

    And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

    Bush was absolute evil.

    Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

    Bush is a psychological prisoner.

    Bush has a lot to worry about.

    Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

    In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

    Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
    B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

    I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it is a linguistically excellent statement, and it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memory so it never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think the quotation came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

  14. Personally, I miss George Bush dearly, and not for laughs either.