Unlike many right-wing commentators, I had very high hopes for the Obama administration. Whereas most conservatives were wringing their hands about how Obama was likely to destroy the economy, I was confident that Ben Bernanke already had the task well in hand. Sure enough, Obama was content to continue where George W. Bush had left off, expanding the bank bailouts and quadrupling down on the $168 billion Bush stimulus package with his own $787 billion gambit.
Neoconservatives were afraid that Obama might not harbor sufficient enthusiasm for getting American troops killed in third-world hellholes of no possible national interest to Americans, especially when he failed to follow John McCain’s lead in vowing to get them killed in second-world hellholes of no possible national interest to Americans near the Russian border. But here, too, Obama did not disappoint. He not only managed to get more American troops killed in Afghanistan in his first year than Bush did in any of his eight years in office, but even hinted at his willingness to order Americans to die in Pakistan and Iran, too. Unless Obama builds a pyramid in the Rose Garden and personally carves out the hearts of American soldiers before offering them to the great god Demoquetzocoacracy, it is hard to imagine a more useless sacrifice of American lives. This could only please the neocons, given their view of American blood as an irreplaceable lubricant for the global economy.
Social conservatives were deeply concerned that Obama might fail to make meaningless statements about the desirability of limiting the amount of unborn children murdered in America while assiduously avoiding doing anything that might prevent a single unborn child from being vivisected in the womb. Here his record to date is mixed; while he hasn’t said much about abortion one way or another, he has, like every post-1973 Republican president before him, refused to make any use of the powers of the executive branch to save a single unborn human life.
Advocates of the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremists By Which We Mean Right-Wing American Christians With Guns were deeply concerned that Obama would rein in some of the more egregious encroachments on American liberties, such as domestic spying, warrantless wiretaps, and being held without trial. However, Obama vastly exceeded their expectations, not only defending the Bush administration’s attempt to bypass the U.S. Constitution, the common law and the American judicial system, but also expanding the government’s ability to interfere in the private lives of Americans by turning the Justice Department into the enforcement arm of the Recording Industry Association of America. And keeping everyone’s favorite offshore prison camp open, no less!
Being a libertarian and therefore not wishing for a president to do much of anything except in the event of a Japanese naval invasion of the West Coast, my only fear for the Obama administration was that it would fail to live up to the comedic potential suggested by its leading man’s hilarious performance during the campaign. Who can forget Obama throwing granny under the bus? And, uh, the, uh, adventures in teleprompting gave joy to, uh, millions. Around the world. Joy. Let me try this one more time. The hopetude, the changeosity, the Brandenburg Gate and the Temple of O in Denver all set a mark for unintentional comedy that it seemed no governing administration could possibly hope to surpass. My expectations were high and America’s need was great, because in economic hard times everyone can use a good laugh.
But Obama showed right from the very start that no mere oath of office could cause him to abandon his destiny as America’s comedian in chief. He managed to transform the gravitas imposed by the somber responsibilities of power with a wickedly subversive dry spin that makes even the most mundane executive action look like a pratfall. I had thought his sarcastic take on Bill Clinton’s runway appointment with a hairdresser would be the high point of the year; who but the most gifted parodist would dare to use a theater-commanding general as the straight man in a short bit that required nine months of non-communication to prepare? But no one foresaw, no one could possibly have foreseen, the brilliant one-two of the Olympic failure, followed in quick succession by the Nobel Prize committee’s hilarious announcement, and if anyone says they did, they’re lying. The great ones never let you see the joke coming. For years, Americans have wondered if it was Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock who was the legitimate heir to Richard Pryor’s comedy crown, but now it is clear that all three of them were doing little more than prepare the way for the greatest black comedian America will ever know: Barack H. Obama.
There is much ongoing discussion of what prizes Mr. Obama does or does not merit. All I can say is that if the man does not win the 2009 Grammy for best spoken comedy performance, they should stop giving out the award.