Sunday, May 24, 2009
Some News Analyses Are Made Totally of Straw
Like Helene Cooper’s in today’s New York Times, “Some Obama Enemies Are Made Totally of Straw”:
Mr. Obama continued on the offensive against straw men that day in Los Angeles, pointing out that critics told him not to go on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on NBC because “I can’t handle that and the economy at the same time.” Then, his audience primed, he delivered his standard kill line: “Listen, here’s what I say. I say our challenges are too big to ignore.”
And who can argue with that? Like most straw men, Mr. Obama’s are not complete fabrications. White House officials correctly pointed out that Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, took a crack at Mr. Obama for appearing on the Leno show, saying that his “suggestion is that he come back, since he’s taken full responsibility, and get his people together” to confer on the budget.
But that is still a ways from the tortuous construct which Mr. Obama ended up with, that turned Mr. Kyl’s remark into one that somehow needed the “our challenges are too big to ignore” rebuttal, since it suggests that one of those challenges was apparently appearing on Leno.
That “tortuous construct,” Ms. Cooper, in which one suggests that appearing on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” is a big challenge that cannot be ignored, is what is colloquially known as a “joke.” Because, as you correctly point out in your “analysis,” going on Leno is not really a big challenge. In fact, it is totally not any kind of challenge at all! And that is what makes the “joke” so “funny,” you see.
I look forward to future analyses in this vein, in which we will learn that Obama totally lied about Sasha and Malia flying Air Force One over Manhattan.