Most have of you have no doubt already heard about the choice of Rich Little to headline the White House Correspondents Association dinner this year. Clearly they are engaging in a bit of over-compensation for the delicious disaster delivered last year by Stephen Colbert.
But here are a few lesser known items on the event and some new gristle to chew.
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The lasting legacy of Colbert’s performance may be that the WHCA may never have another poignant and provocative guest speaker. But not only did they book Little this year, they have also instructed him to layoff of the President. Says Little:
"They don’t want anyone knocking the president. He’s really over the coals right now, and he’s worried about his legacy."
The latest salvo in this feud has Steve Scully. president of the WHCA, denying that any conditions were imposed on Little. If true, that would make Little a liar. But Scully’s statements have there own inconsistencies. After explaining to Little that the dinner is attended by, "people who live and eat politics," he later critiques Colbert as being, "very sophisticated and if you’ve not seen his show you may not get it." With Little, Scully added, "you don’t have to explain his humor."
So Scully’s opinion of his White House press colleagues is that they are immersed in politics but incapable of understanding sophisticated political humor without an explanation. His opinion suggests that, despite going to all of the right congressional hearings and cocktail parties, they still don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.
Come to think of it, that’s my opinion of them too.
Little now tells the New Yorker that he is, "basically a Republican." His career, however, is on fire. The article discloses that he next appears at the Soboba Casino, in San Jacinto, California, and then at the North Iowa Community Auditorium. Even so, he still has strong opinions about his comic colleagues:
"Little said that he does not find [Bill] Maher and his ilk terribly funny. When asked to name a young comedian he admired, he responded, "Robin Williams." [Williams is 55 years old]
And when asked if he has a funny joke about Iraq, he slipped into his W impression and said...
"George W. Bush here. I tell you, I’m between I-raq and a hard place."
Boy, with material like, these will be the hottest tickets in Washington.
Now it may seem like I'm making too much of this. After all it is just a social gathering for the DC media crowd; an opportunity to mingle with celebrities and one another. But when you think of the pressure that must have been brought to bear in order to make such a drastic change in direction from last year's fare, it reveals something about these folks.
Whether the pressure came from the White House or the WHCA members, the bottom line is this: None of these people can take a joke. The cliche about comedy, that it is funny because it's true, is, like most cliches, rooted in reality. Truth is something that is in scarce supply in Washington. The White House isn't dispensing much of it, and the press, too often, doesn't go looking for it. They seem, sometimes, to be running from it. And as they run from the honesty of Colbert, they slam face first into a wall a truthiness. Ironic, isn't it?
The fact that they cannot laugh at themselves when a mirror is held up to them just further confirms their aversion to the truth. So they settle for a safe, toothless, has-been Republican clown to provide entertainment that they know will not get stuck in their bridgework. And that's the perfect analogy for a press corpse that feeds the rest of us that same Truthiness Brand© of pablum.