"That's not funny."
According to the New York Times, which rumor has it is a newspaper of some repute in New York City, professional comedians can find very little to joke about concerning Sen. Barack Obama.
Who are they kidding? Look, I know it's fashionable to pretend the little one-term senator from Illinois is the messiah, and Lord knows you just don't joke about the Hope and Savior of the World and All the Fullness Thereof, but if what the Times reports is true, then the nation's top humorists have a real big "Lighten up, Francis" coming their way.
Comedians perform a crucial civic service. They help us to laugh at politicians and ourselves. In doing so, they keep us all aware of our humanity. This is of prime importance in a government of the people, by the people, for the people. To be human is to be laughable sometimes; to know that is to have humility. As Mr. Bennett puts it in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?"
Late-night comics especially are known for their irreverence, but what is left when that fails them? Reverence? Perish the thought. Tyrannies outlaw humor to preserve the illusion that the Glorious Leader is glorious. What are we to do in a free nation when the comics get caught up in the quasi-religious ecstasy of a campaign and abandon their craft voluntarily?
We ease them back, that's what. Understand it's too soon for them to crack wise about Obama's "57 states." Or the whisper heard 'round the world, when Rev. Jesse Jackson introduced the concept of Obama's nuts — the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers jokes aren't writing themselves, not even the obvious ones about ACORN. And a riff on the candidate of change suddenly changing key positions faster than you can say "Hey, Hillary, wait a second"? Far too soon for that.
No, our comedians need to start with the basics. Try these. Do it for the country.
How many Barack Obamas does it take to change a light bulb? Just one. He holds the bulb, thinks the world revolves around him, and calls it change you can believe in.
Why did Barack Obama cross the road? To tax the other side.
A rabbi, a priest, and Barack Obama walked into a bar. The rabbi and priest both said "Ouch." Obama said nothing. See, messiahs don't get hurt walking smack into a bar.
Barack Obama dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates. "So this is heaven," Obama says. "What's it like, healthcare up here?" St. Peter misunderstands him as saying he'd like Hell and didn't care for it up here, so he shrugs and sends him down there. "Cool," Obama says upon arrival. "It really IS just like Canada's!"
Practice these, improve on them, and then move on to that rapidly filling "That's not the ___ I knew" bin for when Obama throws his next lifelong radical pal under the bus, tomorrow. When you can look back at the whole But-but-but we can't laugh at HIM stuff with a chuckle, you're cured. (And by the way, phony messiahs are easy, easy targets. As are their disciples.)
The fact is, we need you. As the late Tony Snow said in April, "Laughter is maybe the most important and underrated ingredients in politics. If you cannot laugh at politics, you are not alive, or you're not paying attention."
So please, send in the comics. The clowns are already there. You know about McCain, at least. But c'mon: There once was a doofus named Barack …