The New York Times has a front page story today on the kid gloves approach late night television hosts have been using on Barack Obama, explaining it away as a natural product of Obama's lack of "buffonish" qualities. Hence, the absurd headline, "Want Obama in a Punch Line? First, Find a Joke."
Why? The reason cited by most of those involved in the shows is that a fundamental factor is so far missing in Mr. Obama: There is no comedic "take" on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh, like allegations of Bill Clinton's womanizing, or President Bush's goofy bumbling or Al Gore's robotic persona.
Really, New York Times? That's your honest assessment? Or would you like to try again in, say, a few paragraphs?
There is no doubt, several representatives of the late-night shows said, that so far their audiences (and at least some of the shows' writers) seem to be favorably disposed toward Mr. Obama, to a degree that perhaps leaves them more resistant to jokes about him than those about most previous candidates.
Yes, perhaps. Perhaps also grass is green and Saturday Night Live was onto something. Alas, it seems even the New York Times does not fully understand the phenomenon it strives to explain. After noting John McCain punch lines frequently end with some variation of "He's old," the article adds, "But there has been little humor about Mr. Obama: about his age, his speaking ability, his intelligence, his family, his physique."
I suppose the dig the New York Times is waiting for is not a knock at the senator's demigod view of himself, but bits beginning with something along the lines of "Barack Obama is so buff..." or "Barack Obama is so eloquent..." or "Barack Obama is so young and vital..." Which, in a strange way, makes this the treatment for the never-launched sitcom based on Obama's life.