Obama Is America's Comedian in Chief

Monday, 29 Apr 2013 01:14 PM

By Jon Friedman

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President Barack Obama has worn many hats since taking office. Now, based on his bravura performance Saturday night at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the president should enjoy a new title: our comedian in chief.
Obama showed a flair for one-liners (which were, no doubt, written by professional satirists) and an impeccable comic timing. He had a lot of fun skewering the media, presenting himself as an equal-opportunity quipster when it came to the cable powers of Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.
Skeptics will inevitably carp that Obama looks less than serious in these instances, diminishing the gravity of his office. But I disagree. I think it is healthy for the president to show a willingness to poke fun at himself and remind his doubters that he has a strong sense of self and a vibrant sense of humor.
Remember, this is the quality that enabled President Ronald Reagan to achieve such widespread Republican popularity — and it's also how Reagan achieved such grudging admiration from his many political opponents. He intuitively understood how important it was to use wit and humor to make important points with the voters.
This is a lesson that the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio should grasp — and right away.
Rubio is the media's flavor of the month, the politician who every network and magazine wants to hear from. It doesn't matter what the political issue is, either. Rubio is The Man among journalists right now, based on his triumphant showing last summer at the Republican National Convention. He represents something new and is becoming a fixture on the crucial Sunday morning talk shows.
But can Rubio sustain his popularity? Charisma has a way of vanishing overnight when people suddenly get tired of you.
This is why it is essential for a presidential candidate to be known for having a sharp sense of humor. It shows humility. It is a mark of great self-confidence. And above all, most people like to be around someone who can make them laugh once in a while.
The comedian in chief gave a lesson in political shrewdness at the correspondents dinner. Was the GOP watching?
Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.


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