For the past few years, comedians have had it pretty good. With his political blunders galore and unfortunate ineloquence, bashing former President Bush became somewhat of a national pastime.
I'm all for a little humor - a few good jokes at his expense can keep the president's ego in check. But when did it become acceptable to blatantly ridicule our nation's leader?
On satirical news shows, mockery of the presidency that would have been completely unacceptable a few decades ago has become the norm.
"One thing I like about those shows is that there's no limits on what they make fun of," said College senior Kate Long. "Some things they take a little too far, but that's kind of the point."
Political satire has been growing in popularity, especially with shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. And while these shows are most well-known for their ironic take on mainstream media, there's no denying that a lot of their jokes have been aimed at Bush and his administration.
John Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been especially popular among college-aged viewers because they cater to the more-liberal, younger generations. Most of us were in middle school when Bush was elected, and our news has come on a steady diet of truthiness and mockery. We don't take it seriously.
But in spite of the personal and political gaffes Bush had in office, there were a lot of things that happened during his presidency that were really not funny at all: 9/11, two wars, Hurricane Katrina and an unprecedented economic slump are just a few that come to mind.
While satire can help us critique our leaders, a little more constructive criticism and less derision might be in order. Furthermore, the lack of respect for our administration hurts American reputation abroad. How can we expect any other nation to respect our country when we're laughing so hard ourselves?
Luckily, times are changing. President Obama has brought a more somber tone to the presidency already. However, despite Obama's seriousness, he has a good sense of humor as well. Obama has shown that he can hold his own against humorous criticism. He doesn't take himself too seriously, but at the same time, the respect that he commands is a welcome throwback to the old-school days when making fun of the president was not a spectator sport.
In the words of Chris Rock, "Obama is a comedian's worst nightmare." But maybe it's time for a different type of comedy. As Political Science professor John Lapinski said, shows won't have "less political material under the new administration, but [they] may potentially be different in tone for a while. [They] might be a little less hard-edge, because times are different."
No more monkey caricatures, shoe-throwing video clips or Bushisms. Perhaps a little less laughter at the expense of our president isn't a bad thing. Satirical critique is funny, but the complete lack of respect for the presidency in Bush's final days of office was appalling.
Of course he made mistakes. At times he lacked poise and grace under pressure, and some of his decisions were certainly misguided. But respecting the president doesn't mean agreeing with him or his policies. In fact, perhaps the best way to show respect for the presidency is by disagreeing with him at times in recognition of the incredible power and responsibility he holds. However, the ridicule for someone who served the nation for eight years reflects poorly on our democratic system, because when it comes down to it, Americans chose him to lead, not once, but twice.
As Obama said in November, "There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem."
Obama will be different from Bush, but the change we need has to come from American citizens as well. It's time to move on from the potshots and demeaning jokes that were so prevalent during the last administration. If we really want to rebuild America, we need to start with restoring some respect for our commander in chief. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to move on from Jon Stewart's "Dubya" impression.
Katherine Rea is a College sophomore from Saratoga, Calif. Rea-lity Check appears on alternating Fridays. Her email address is email@example.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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