The Barry O. Show
I just finished watching President Obama’s speech at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now—because that’s just the kind of hip-to-the-news, switched-on cat you are—but just in case someone not so clued-in should happen to pick up The Aquarian this week, every year, the sitting president hosts the media elite for one night. A famous comedian usually takes part, in this case, Conan O’Brien headlined, and the president gives a speech making fun of himself and the media, all very lighthearted. Basically everybody for an evening gets together, gets dressed up and laughs at the stuff they all pretend is really important the rest of the year.
So like I said, I just finished watching the Obama speech from this thing, and it’s a solid reminder of why I voted for him in 2008 in the first place. He’s charming, charismatic, relaxed, clear, poignant when he wants to be, suave when he wants to be. There’s nothing in it by way of hard-hitting news, but some well-timed jabs both at himself and at others make at very least for recommended viewing should you have 23 minutes to kill on YouTube (and who doesn’t?).
I recall watching a similar speech a few years back by George W. Bush and just being mad because he was a war criminal and war criminals shouldn’t be allowed to smile, but Barack Obama is a war criminal too, so if you’ve ever wondered how far charm goes, I guess that’s it. Incidentally, that’s what I voted for all those years ago: good speeches.
The way I saw and still see it is this: There was no way he was going to sweep into town and undo decades and indeed centuries of corruption, capitalist duggery and policy dogma to enact a liberal paradise, so at very least if we got some of the lip-service out of the deal, well, that was more than we’d gotten in the better part of a decade. Hell, even Al Gore—who went on to become the paragon of lefty virtue during those years—didn’t do that. It seemed like a winning deal.
And I suppose what this speech in particular confirms is that it was. President Obama is in his second and obviously last term of office, so it’s not like he’s got anything to lose in a future campaign, and it’s good to hear him let his hair down a bit, be relaxed and take off the “Obama Serious Face” he’s had on during each week’s new tragedy, blunder or policy failure. If you watch the video, you’ll notice that gun control isn’t mentioned once. You know why? Because that shit ain’t funny no matter how you frame it.
Aside from being a good speech though, it’s a decent reminder of how we all tend to get wrapped up in ourselves, in our own heads. At work, with family, in life in general. It’s so easy to lose yourself in yourself and forget how ridiculous absolutely everything is, all the time. I needed that, because I’m self-absorbed to start with, so when I go inward, I go deep, and as we’ve learned time and time again, the best comedy comes with timing.
Alright, enough of that. I’m sure next week I’ll have something else to bitch about.
Written in London, 04.29.13
PS: I have been out of the office for the last two weeks chasing a rock and roll dragon to festivals in Europe and the UK. In this time, the diligent efforts of Giorgio Mustica in the editorial department are to be noted and commended. The issue you’re holding in your hands, you’re holding because he busted his ass to put it together while fielding the BS band pitches that are usually my bread and butter. Much appreciated.