When Silvio Berlusconi made a light-hearted joke last year about the new president's 'suntan' the Obama-besotted American press corps expressed outrage at what they tried to blow-up to be a racist remark from a right-wing politician.
Click to view image: '8c22894dcb46-barackobama.jpg' Yet last Saturday night, when Obama made a joke about the skin colour of John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives -- the president said it was 'not a colour that appears in the natural world' -- the journalists thought it was frightfully witty.
And when a performer called Wanda Sykes stood up at the dinner to do what was supposed to be a comedy turn, she attacked the Conservative radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh, one of Obama's most on-target critics. She said Limbaugh's opinions were treason and that he was no better than Osama bin Laden. There were big grins from the president through all of this. Then Sykes said she wished Limbaugh's kidneys would fail. The president laughed through it all.
Which only goes to show that Limbaugh's observation on this administration is correct: they don't want to debate, he says. They only want to destroy.
I should also mention something everyone at that dinner, including the president, would have known. Eight years ago Limbaugh suffered sudden hearing loss. Remember, this man makes his living on radio. After struggling with hearing aids and teleprompters in the studio that would let him know what callers were saying -- and still staying on top of his job -- he finally had a cochlear implant. Now he has part-hearing in one ear, but is still deaf in the other. And he is still on top of his job.
Limbaugh has overcome physical afflictions the like of which few journalists in that room have known, struggling to go on with his work. But the president and his court jester Sykes thought it was a hoot to wish him organ failure.
The White House correspondents thought so, too. Or at least, they laughed when the president laughed. It is what courtiers through the ages have done: when the king laughs, we laugh.
What a bunch of toadies. I'd say that White House correspondents dinner told us everything we need to know about Washington journalists.
The thing was a spaniel-fest. Remember, this is the press corps that was so 'objective' that it would not stand when George W Bush walked to the podium at the press briefing room. Now the same hacks jump to their feet the moment Obama arrives.
And laugh when he laughs. Let's wish organ failure on a deaf Republican! What a hoot!
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