April 30, 2005

Surprisingly risqué comedy material for Laura Bush.

Laura Bush took over for her husband doing the comedy at the White House Correspondents Dinner tonight. I was surprised by how risqué it was. She talked about her frustration that Bush goes to bed early, while she stays up and watches "Desperate Housewives." She portrayed herself going out to Chippendale's with Lynne Cheney and Condoleezza Rice and running into Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg there. And she described Bush's ineptitude in his early days of ranching with the old joke that he "tried to milk a horse ... and it was a male horse." So, thanks, Laura, for leaving us with that picture of George with a horse's penis in his hand!

But I don't have a problem with this because I'm tired of the recent upsurge of social conservatism. Was Laura's routine a sign that we're entering a libertarian conservative phase? I hope so. And is it too much to imagine that the appearance of those two Roe-upholding Justices in that Chippendale's scenario is Laura's way of assuring us that Bush is not planning to nominate a social conservative Justice to the Supreme Court?

UPDATE: Ambivablog connects Laura's routine to Frank Rich's column about "South Park Conservatives." There's also some discussion along these lines in the comments. And I'll just say that horse joke reminded me of this "South Park" episode. Oh, and that I also thought that Frank Rich column was too dull to talk about. Obviously, there are social conservatives and libertarian conservatives. Who thought "South Park" was promoting socially conservative ideas? No one who likes "South Park" could have been surprised by the way it treated the Terri Schiavo case (in the "Best Friends Forever" episode). Rich acts like Republicans were taken by surprise after thinking "South Park" was on their side. What a straw man!

25 comments:

Stephen said...

Oh, Ann. Such wishful thinking...

Well, it is at least more fun to read an optimists blog than to listen to the multitude of Eeyores out there.

David Manus said...

I think the problem is, as much as I like and respect the entire Bush family, they suffer from 'trying to be cool when they are hopeless squares'. There's nothing wrong with being uncool, unless you try to be cool. The Bush girls tried the same thing at the RNC, and fell flat. They are young and pretty, but they aren't cool. One facet of being cool is being effortlessly funny even when your humor is somewhat inappropriate for the context. Laura knows she is loved by the country, but is seen as a bit out-of-it culturally, so she overcompensates with embarrassing stuff like those jokes. Hillary has been caught out in somewhat similar circumstances, telling ethnic jokes trying to seem hip, instead merely appearing offensive and lame.

The Bush family should be what it is and leave the risque material to Whoopie. Bush and family are cool when they are authentic, that's why the public buys George in a cowboy hat clearing brush and not Kerry duck-hunting. You are what you is, as Zappa said.

Birkel said...

I thought Laura was quite funny and charming, as usual. Also, it's harder for the press to criticize her because she's incredibly popular so it makes sense for the President to sit this one out. He's gotten enough press recently and most of its been bad-ish so this will offer a brief respite for the Sunday morning talk shows, IMO.

And I don't doubt for a minute that it was an attempted signalling by the WH to the more centric Republicans out there who've been drifting a bit recently. Having Laura deliver those jokes gives the Administration some distance from the comments but still offer a less conservative view of the WH. Very little of that stuff goes unplanned, or do people so quickly forget how disciplined this Administration was in its reelection campaign?

Pancho said...

Interesting questions. We'll try and ask Laura's mother, Mrs. Jenna Welch, to shed light on the matter. she goes to our church...or more aptly we go to hers.

amba said...

It's a new trend. Apparently they call themselves "South Park conservatives." There's a new book out by that name. Frank Rich (whom I hate) has a column about it in today's Times. Some conservatives are out to prove they're not prudes or ninnies with their own form of bowdlerizing PC.

Ann Althouse said...
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Ann Althouse said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Annie: I linked to that book in a post yesterday. And now that you mention it, there is a "South Park" episode with that milking-a-male-horse (donkey?) as a central joke.

Doc: I liked the Bush girls at the RNC & posted about that. I agree the Bushes are basically square (don't really know about the girls).

Birkel: I really wonder what genuine social conservatives -- the kind who are actually upset about "Desperate Housewives" -- thought of all that coming from sweet Laura.

Stephen: If they were as conservative as some people think, she could not have said those things. And I think we know she supports abortion rights. I think she has some say.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Interesting that the professional comedian, Cedric the Entertainer, wasn't even mentioned in that news report. He had a few funny moments [especially the "Conny"/"Do-Leeza" Rice comparison, which Condi herself laughed at heartily]. So maybe Laura's clips will be all over the Sunday chat shows, not Cedric's. And, if nothing else, that's a refreshing change from year's past.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth: I saw some clips from Cedric on Fox News this morning. As to Condi laughing, what choice did she have? Still, it looked genuine.

(The comments of mine deleted here were accidental repetitions -- all including the phrase "horse penis.")

Wade_Garrett said...

Annie: I don't see what's so wrong about Frank Rich. I admit that he's a little smug at times, and he doesn't claim to be fair and balanced by any means, but that doesn't mean that he's not insightful. That's why he's on the editorial page. Rather, I think he just has a more finely tuned bullcr*p-detector than most other writers, and less reluctance to call people out.

Rich started off as a media critic; his positive reviews helped popularize, among other plays, Angels in America and Rent. He gets subtext, which is more than can be said for most people. South Park isn't about politics, it just makes fun of the absurd and the hypocritical. South Park wasn't ridiculing Michael Moore because he was a liberal, but rather because he is annoying, pandering and sanctimonious. When the Schiavo controversy exposed Frist and DeLay as annoying, pandering, and sanctimonious, South Park made fun of them. Its so fair and balanced it belongs on Fox News.

Birkel said...

Professor Althouse,

The whole point of the First Lady saying those things is that it insulates the Administration from "genuine social conservatives" (an odd turn of phrase). But I expect Karl Rove understands that if the townspeople from "Footloose" don't vote Republicans will still win Kansas, or wherever that movie was set. So by reaching for the center Laura Bush made a subtle push toward the middle (note too President Bush's comments about faith being a personal matter) where most of the voters are.

It's simple electoral calculus. More voters are in the middle than are likely to be offended by her comments.

And the First Lady is less likely to offend those on the fringes, IMO.

*******************
Terrence,

As for South Park not being political--It is to laugh. It may not be a partisan show but that doesn't mean it's not explicitly political. Confusing non-partisan with non-political is a bit much, I think.

Ann Althouse said...

Laura is perhaps considered so sweet that socially conservative types would say it's just us with a dirty mind if we pictured George anywhere near that horse's penis.

David Manus said...

Jeez why do we have to focus on the horse's penis :p
Male horses do have nipples right? They may be as useless as tits on a boarhog, but they have them. Maybe you could picture in your mind George going for horse nipples (which would be an excellent name for a band)

Ann Althouse said...

Doc: You focus on the horse's penis because that's what makes the joke's punchline funny.

amba said...

FWIW, "horse penis" is a favored cussword in Hungarian. I don't know how to spell it, but it sounds like "Lofos." Where we would say "We're up shit's creek," Hungarians say "the Lofos is in our ass."

Drethelin said...

The beauty of south park is that it helps illustrate that you can have a reasonable point of view that isn't neccesarily conservative or liberal, or democrat or republican, and it also points out the unreasonabless of many groups on both sides.

Of course the problem with south park is that it mixes this in with fart and shit jokes.

Now I think of it, this may be an interesting attempt to get otherwise uninterested teenagers and others to watch something with political meaning.

MD said...

How is a south park conservative different from a libertarian-conservative? I guess I'll have to buy the darn book and find out. So many labels, so little time.

A few weeks ago I saw a trendy shop that had the following posted on the wall: that it was a business 'free of the corporate right and the politically correct left'. I wish I'd had my camera with me. It was filled with twenty somethings wearing track-suits and all manner of hats in all manner of angles (pushed back, tilted to one side or the other). It also had creepy seventies magazine covers on the walls, even near the baby clothes! Trendy t's, track-suits and baby clothes. The oddest store. Can't remember the name....

Wade_Garrett said...

Of course there are libertarian conservatives and cultural conservatives; they are two of the biggest braches on the Republican party. For instance, Andrew Sullivan, a prototypical libertarian conservative, is a long-time fan of South Park and regularly comments on it in his blog. However, when Bill Bennett -- everybody's idea of a cultural conservative and just about nobody's idea of a libertarian conservative -- embraces South Park on the grounds that it is some sort of conservative response to the Daily Show, its clear that he is missing the point entirely.

For all of its good qualities, the Republican Party isn't particularly good at appreciating art. Ronald Reagan didn't understand "Born in the U.S.A." He also thought that Ilsa should have stayed with Humphrey Bogart at the end of Casablanca. Bob Dole, who in other respects seemed much more tuned-in than Reagan, also tried to use protest songs at campaign stops (was it John Mellencamp? I forget). Anyway, something tells me that the cultural conservatives who are embracing South Park are similarly missing the point.

Wade_Garrett said...
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Cabbage said...

"For all of its good qualities, the Republican Party isn't particularly good at appreciating art. Ronald Reagan didn't understand "Born in the U.S.A.""

Oh, Terrence, what a maroon! And I don't mean Reagan. Reagan was an actor and completely plugged into that culture. That he didn't share all the "values" of the Hollywood/Music Industry crowd doesn't mean he didn't understand them. In fact, an argument could be made that it was a rather shrewd move to co-opt the song for the right!

"Anyway, something tells me that the cultural conservatives who are embracing South Park are similarly missing the point."

What a surprise, condescension from a Lefty! Keep it up, we still need another handful of votes in the Senate!

Dean said...

Haven't most First Ladies (Republican anyway) said things that made us think they were to the left of their husbands? Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan--especially recently, and now Laura.

Ann Althouse said...

Dean: I can think of wives of Democratic Presidents who were famously to their left: Hillary Clinton (back then), Eleanor Roosevelt.

David Manus said...

Well, the Dems are the "Mommy" party, after all. Maybe the first ladies want to seem closer to "Mommy" values, while the prez (male) handles the "Daddy" stuff like defense. First ladies usually focus on something innocuous like underpriveleged kids of drug prevention or literacy or being mildly pro-choice etc. The bottom line is its pretty meaningless unless your S.O. is really obnoxious. I seriously think Teresa Heinz Kerry cost John more negative votes than any candidate's wife in recent memory, including Hillary (if you didn't like Bill you didn't like Hillary and visa versa, but I talked to _many_ Dem women last summer/fall who couldn't stand TerAYza with a blind bloody passion, who didn't like Bush, but didn't want her for first lady).

Dean said...

This is not limited to presidents. A Milwaukee blogger took a quiz on "Are you a Republican?" He scored 0%; his wife score -6%!