Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Life's Late-Night Nobel Comics

Those too mesmerized by baseball playoffs to watch Letterman, Conan et al last night did not miss much. All day long politicians had been doing stand-ups about Obama's Nobel Prize.

The President himself led off his Rose Garden turn with "Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, 'Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!' And then Sasha added, 'Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.' So it's good to have kids to keep things in perspective."

Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele came back to crack, "President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action” as Rush Limbaugh chimed in, "“Can you imagine, folks, how big Obama’s head is today? I think it’s getting so big that his ears actually fit.”

Poor taste was bipartisan as a State Department spokesman got off a one-liner about George W. Bush, "From our standpoint, you know, we think that this gives us a sense of momentum when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes."

Last year's short-term Republican star Mike Huckabee tried for dry humor:

"There will be an outcry from those on the right who will say that Obama's nomination, made two weeks into his Presidency, is impossible to justify but I think such an outcry will sound like right-wing whining. The better response is simply to allow those on the left to explain what he did in his first two weeks as President that merited such recognition."

William Kristol announced that the Weekly Standard would skip its usual "Parody Page" to publish news of Obama's prize, which was more ridiculous than anything his editors could make up.

In his cogent parsing of Obama's response, James Fallows alludes to a fellow former Jimmy Carter speechwriter's attempt at a Letterman Top Ten of Fox News' responses to the award, including "Besides, who cares what a bunch of geeks in Oslo think? The International Olympic Committee speaks for the whole world."

Old-time comic Jimmy Durante used to complain, "Everybody wants to get into da act!" Even former President of Poland Lech Waleska, who won the Nobel in 1983, came out of the wings to say, "“Who, Obama? So fast? Too fast--he hasn’t had the time to do anything yet.”

That wasn't as witty as some, but then again we all know about Polish jokes. Maybe something was lost in the translation.


Holte Ender said...

I think what Lech Weleska was trying to say was: "How many US presidents does it take to change a light bulb?"

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Some of the best (and most bewildered) comments came from the left.

I'd love to feel pride in the president of my country: I wish he had actually accomplished something that would warrant such an honor or had gracefully declined to accept it given his own admission that he'd accomplished nothing.

The Nobel Committee has clearly used this once-prestigious award to dictate American foreign policy, and that, to me, cheapens it significantly. It's not supposed to be an incentive or a bribe, it's supposed to honor someone who has made peace in the world. As you know, we are currently involved in two wars and likely, before it's all said and done, to enter a third.

I'm also embarrassed by the reaction overseas. This has prompted people around the world to rub the Messiah glow out of their eyes and to view him as many Americans the right do (myself included): as a puffed-up personality who does little more than talk. And talk. And talk.