Evidently, the pundits are already characterizing Wanda Sykes' routine at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner as having "gone over the line" or some such shit and playing too much to the "liberal media" and dredging up the last administration. Yeah, and Stephen Colbert's speech in 2006 was terrible.
President Obama's own remarks were about as transgressive as Ms. Sykes' (his best line was probably referring to Dick Cheney's memoir as "How To Shoot Friends and Interrogate People" - though telling Michael Steele that the Republican Party does not qualify for a bail-out - and that Rush Limbaugh didn't count as a troubled asset - wasn't bad, either), but about as balanced, as well (there was the usual self-deprecation - and Joe Biden, among others, came in for a bit of raillery). Sure, her jokes about Obama and the First Lady were generally good-natured and she was a bit sharper with people like Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity, but so what? People tend to like Barack and Michelle Obama - and this administration in general, compared to the last. The Obamas don't work as well as the butt of jokes. It's much easier to lampoon the corrupt, the incompetent, and the hypocritical than those with a modicum of charisma and an affably bland charm.
Besides, it's not like Sykes' targets were undeserving. And if her jokes were a bit mean-spirited, they were frequently enough hilarious. The two things that seem to have most twisted the knickers of conservative pundits were her references to Palin and Limbaugh. She mentioned that Sarah Palin had been planning to attend the dinner and pulled out at the last minute - and added, "You know, someone should really tell her that's not how you practice abstinence." Ha - fair enough, I say. And she didn't even have to mention Bristol.
Her few lines about Rush Limbaugh were a bit dodgier - and very refreshing. Okay, Limbaugh's remarks about hoping Obama would fail have been taken a bit out of context (he was referring, conditionally, to the Socialist Straw Man Obama, not the presidency in general), but Sykes suggested that his hope for Obama - and, presumably by extension, the country - to fail was tantamount to treason. Tepid start, but she had a good finish: "You know, I think he may have been the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on Oxycontin that he missed his flight. ... Rush Limbaugh. 'I hope the country fails.' I hope his kidneys fail. How about that?"
She also targeted Sean Hannity and his (so far unfulfilled) offer to be water-boarded for the troops. "Talking about he can take a water-boarding. Yeah, okay - maybe from someone you know and trust. But let someone from Pakistan water-board him. Or Keith Olbermann - let Keith Olbermann water-board him. He can't take a water-boarding. I could break Sean Hannity just by giving him a middle seat in coach."
Good. These people deserve ridicule. And no one should apologize when they get it.