Can You Tell The Comedy From The News?

I am having an evermore difficult time deciding if President Obama is a comedian pulling our collective leg, or he really has as much arrogant disdain for the people paying all the bills he’s printing as his silly statements suggest.

The most recent funny episode I’ve chronicled came on May 21 when, in one of his gazillion speeches a day, the president was sharply critical of past Bush Administration policies he characterized as based on ends-justify-the-means logic. I burst out laughing, and was surprised none of the pundits I saw discussing it afterward were amused. This guy is Mr. Ends Justify the Means. And he should be wearing a T-shirt that reads: “Irony Are Us.”

Let’s see … he has merrily taken control of privately held companies, dictated to and disenfranchised shareholders and bondholders, ignored rule of law, threatened and bullied and arguably even endangered the safety of corporate CEOs, and blithely created more debt than all other administrations before him combined. He and his minions justify every outrageous act with the same argument: the urgency of the desperate circumstances we face and the long-term, future benefits of the radical New Society we are creating justify the means employed, however bizarre, un-American, non-transparent and secretive and hurried they may be. Then, with a straight face, he rails against end-justifies-the-means thinking. Remarkable.

Now as famous as Dan Quayle’s spelling gaffe with the fruit of Idaho, Governor Palin is relentlessly pursued by her mention that she can see Russia from her state (she never said “from my house.”) Is it really possible that Obama can’t see the end-justifies-the-means dogma spread wall to wall and knee deep inside his own house?  Is he a silly man? Or is this his real national, universal health care plan? After all, laughter is the best medicine.

But on that same day cable TV provided something even more hilarious than even the President might conjure. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” they discussed the cover of the next TIME Magazine, devoted to, “The Meaning of Michelle.” The justification for yet another magazine cover given over to Michelle Obama? (After all, it seems the only magazine she hasn’t been used on is Guns & Ammo.)  Well, Michelle is of unprecedented significance and importance, according to TIME’s spokesperson. His evidence – proffered admiringly, gushingly – was that “when Michelle wears a dress from J. Crew or a sweater from Talbot’s, people run out and buy them.”

Yes, honest, that’s nearly a verbatim quote; he really did say this. Proof of Michelle’s enormous, never before witnessed importance as a First Lady is her ability to move merchandise off retailers’ shelves. Like Joan Rivers selling jewelry on QVC. But. 

This has, in fact, been seen on an even grander scale not all that long ago, with another woman of the White House. I recall that the day after Monica Lewinsky was interviewed by Barbara Walters, department store cosmetic counters nationwide faced a stampede of customers demanding the brand and color of the lipstick Monica displayed on that show, its sales skyrocketed, and stores were sold out that same day. Unprecedented indeed.

If we let the president and the press continue committing such comedy, we may put all the professional satirists and comedians out of work, and I don’t think Maher, Stewart, Colbert, the SNL cast, Leno and Letterman are going to be very happy donning those jump-suits and hard hats to work on all those shovel ready projects we keep hearing about.

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur, adviser to business owners, sought-after speaker and author of 13 books. More information about Dan can be found at, and a free collection of his business resources including newsletters and webinars at