Between Two Ferns, Rightbloggers Find Few Laughs, Much Concern-Trolling for Presidency

tomt200.jpgWhile the world waited for word on a referendum in Crimea and the whereabouts of a missing jet airliner, there was plenty of time last week to pick apart a comedy sketch starring Zach Galifianakis and the President of the United States. The brief Funny or Die "Between Two Ferns" segment, which Obama used to pimp Healthcare.gov, got a good deal of traffic, some of which, we were told, led to some Obamacare signups.

Rightbloggers may have been upset that the sketch did some good for Obamacare, which they still believe should be overturned. But mainly they complained that in making the video Obama, to whom they regularly refer as a tyrant (or a sissy, depending on the available news hooks), had demeaned the office of the Presidency.

Readers over a certain age will remember that in the 2008 Presidential campaign, one of the charges brought against Obama was that he was an empty suit propelled by mere celebrity, as an unfortunate McCain ad associating the Senator from Illinois with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton attempted to convey.

It didn't work, as the alleged empty suit was elected, and charges of unseriousness wear even less well against sitting Presidents -- though Karl Rove tried it again in 2012. In that same campaign season, Somebody at RedState listed all the TV shows on which Obama had appeared, e.g. "The View - Met with them instead of Benjamin Netanyahu who requested a meeting so he could be 'eye candy' for the female hosts," and "SportsCenter - Every year for March Madness." "Then think about whom some of his most ardent supporters have been, Hollywood celebrities," cried Somebody. "Americans are supposed to take political advice from people who can't articulate thoughts for themselves, but who choose to recite the words other people tell them to speak." (This paired nicely with the brethren's obsession with the teleprompter, a device used by previous Presidents but thought suggestive in Obama's case of vacuity.)

fernsurnswhut.jpg
We''ll be honest: We have no idea whether this is pro or anti. We just like the superannuated elephant sitting among various forms of human remains. (Via.)
Obama was nonetheless reelected, and continues to use his celebrity contacts as part of his communications, particularly in the White House counterattack on Obamacare. The Galifianakis interview was part of this, but seemed to provoke the brethren more than others. This may owe partly to the sluggish news week, but also to the President taking an active role in the comedy, trading ba-doom-booms with his comedian interlocutor. Even worse, people found it funny.

It must be said that some of the brethren took the sketch as a pleasant diversion rather than as yet another occasion for outrage. Glenn Beck's The Blaze at least enjoyed Galifianakis' zingers on Obama. Others, like Rare, just admitted it was funny. "Barack Obama and Zach Galifianakis just won the Internet," said Rare; "Collectivists assert that society is a creation of the legislator's genius and magically exists apart from the individuals who comprise it," replied its only commenter at this writing.

But that was the minority opinion. You probably heard the complaints of Rush Limbaugh ("if you wonder why people are losing respect for the president -- and I think people are. I think what's happening here is actually devastating to the office") and Bill O'Reilly ("All I can tell is you Abe Lincoln would not have done it"). This attitude disseminated further down the chain, sometime in more imaginative forms.

When the White House revealed that "http://FunnyorDie.com is the #1 source of referrals to http://HealthCare.gov right now," the Washington Examiner's Ashe Schow offered the co-stars career counseling: "Not sure that's something for the administration to brag about," he wrote. "But for Galifianakis, it's certainly brag-worthy, although maybe he won't want to play it up, considering the unpopularity of the law." Maybe follow up with an inspirational drama? It worked for Sandra Bullock!

At libertarian flagship Reason, Elizabeth Nolan Brown took a that's-not-funny-that's-sick approach.

Brown related one of the gags: "'Healthcare.gov works great now, and millions of Americans have already gotten health insurance plans,' says Obama (in one of the video's more humorous bits). Then Galifianakis, feigning boredom, asks, 'Is this what they mean by drones?' Zing! Get it? Because the Obama administration kills innocent people with drones? And now Obama is droning on? AHAHAHA--wait. That is not really very funny at all. In fact, it seems kind of sociopathic to joke about."

Now aren't you ashamed for laughing? Brown was similarly unamused when the President parried a Galifianakis gibe about the NSA ("Zach, nobody's interested in your texts"). "Of course, the National Security Agency is not only interested in Zach's texts but the text messages of millions of others, too," she sniffed. "...When you remember what kind of civil liberty abuses the Obama administration is perpetrating, it's kind of hard to be amused, even between two ferns." One can only imagine what Brown thinks of Springtime for Hitler.

Others were outraged that Obama took time out from his duties to do the sketch instead of clearing brush at a ranch like a real President.

"Crimea is on the brink of being annexed into the Russian federation, unemployment numbers showed an uptick in February," groused Independent Journal Review's Caroline Schaeffer, "and the President is appearing with celebrities and doing whatever he wants while still hung up on trying to promote - not fix - his signature program, Obamacare," Still, her headline showed something to be grateful for: "Doing the Job the Media Won't: Comedian Zach Galifianakis Hits Obama with Hardest Interview of the Year."

"The economy continues to sink, the world burns, and Barack Obama has the perfect solution: he spends time shooting a comedy routine with 'Hangover' star Zach Galifianakis, to pimp the faltering ObamaCare on 'young Americans,'" hystericized Debbie Schlussel. "...Can this guy defile the Presidency anymore than he already has?"

"Health care is important, of course, but, I repeat, he's the leader of the free world, parts of which are under siege," bemoaned Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post before repeating some of the gags from the sketch which she affected not to understand: "I did find myself smiling, though probably at the wrong things. I'll never tell." (?) "But like most people older than 30, I also wondered whether this was an appropriate venue for the president, especially in consideration of current events." We wonder how many people in their thirties actually feel this way; maybe Parker has an old-fashioned idea of 30somethingness.

The Daily Caller's Giuseppe Macri took the trouble to fact-check the comedy sketch. Obama said Obamacare premiums are about the same as your cell phone bill. Aha! "The cheapest bronze plan on the D.C. health insurance exchange has a $124.05 monthly premium -- still almost 70 percent more expensive than the average wireless service bill," reported Macri. We expect Darrell Issa to make a filing to the Internet Crime Complaint Center next. Who's laughing now, funny man?


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