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Biden Tests Obama's Limits on Taking a Joke

March 23, 2009
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Barack Obama is the first president since Grover Cleveland to skip the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner.

Somehow Joe Biden was sent instead to the formal press event where politicians essentially roast each other.

True to form, the vice president hit a big nerve. He set up a joke by pointing out that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a speaker at the event, was born in Austria. He then explained that Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, also a featured speaker, was born in Canada.

Biden’s preliminary punch line was, “This is going to be Lou Dobbs' worst nightmare.”

Having broached the citizenship subject, he proceeded to allude to the Obama birth certificate controversy.

“I never realized just how much power Dick Cheney had until my first day on the job,” Biden said.

“I walked into my office, and you know how the outgoing president always leaves the incoming president a note in his desk?” he said. “I opened my drawer, and Dick Cheney had left me Barack Obama’s birth certificate.”

The president’s birth certificate has been the subject of citizen lawsuits, alleging that Obama hasn’t established the citizenship by birth prerequisite necessary to hold the office.

Biden also made fun of the president’s ample ego.

Obama “can't be here tonight, because he's busy getting ready for Easter,” the vice prez stated matter of factly.

Whispering a secret to the audience, Biden divulged, “He thinks it's about him.”

If you’re like me, you’re wondering how long it’ll be before the administration sends the veep on a permanent mission to Uzbekistan.

Oddly enough, an equation in the making is the prez minus his teleprompter equals Biden.

The easiest TV spot for a liberal politician to do other than “Larry King Live” is “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.

Obama lost some of his presidential luster when he appeared on the late night comedy show last week to answer vapid questions like, “So, how cool is it to fly in Air Force One?”

Too bad the prez forgot to bring his trusted teleprompter.

In referring to the banks that his administration is bailing out, Obama said, “It’s almost like they’ve got — they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger.”

Digging a deeper hole, he added, “You don’t want them to blow up. But you’ve got to kind of talk [to] them, ease that finger off the trigger.”

As bad as Biden’s gaffes may be, the president sometimes rivals his veep. Another of Obama’s remarks was comparing his bowling scores to “the Special Olympics or something.”

White House staffers knew the prez had stepped in it, so immediately following the show a statement was released indicating that Obama had “in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics . . . He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world.”

In contrast to what they did to his predecessor and his malaprops, the press pretty much ignored Obama’s booboos.

Larry King went as far as to say that Obama's bowling blooper actually helped focus attention on the Special Olympics.

Continuing on his glam tour, Obama’s scheduled stops include an interview with “60 Minutes” and a second prime-time news conference in which he’ll preempt “American Idol” for a second time.

As far as the White House is concerned, though, there’s only one American Idol and he’s not using his pipes in that way — yet.

At a time when broadcast TV networks’ earnings are plunging, the decision to have another prime-time event during sweeps month is infuriating television execs.

“Every time the president disrupts prime time, the networks lose another couple million dollars . . . In this economy, that's the last thing we need,” an industry insider told TV Week.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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