Proving once again that she lacks a basic appreciation of traditional American culture and values, Michelle Malkin is outraged at Dana Milbank’s gentle ribbing of the Vice President on last night’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.
If you watch Countdown, you know that the program mixes humor with hard news. So it was not at all out of keeping with the show’s format for reporter Dana Milbank to appear dressed in an orange vest and hat. His current location was near the vice president’s residence, he said.
Cute, I thought.
But Michelle Malkin and others on the Right are on a rampage. Media bias! they scream. They want to know when Countdown will display a bumper sticker that says “I’d rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy.” Can they not tell the difference between good-natured kidding and hateful meanness? I’d hate to sit down to a family dinner with these folks.
In some ways its a sign of respect to be able to kid our leaders. It says we’re comfortable enough with them to tease them. And Americans have made fun of our leaders since the guys at Valley Forge sat around the campfire and badmouthed George Washington. Some of our most-beloved humorists — Mark Twain, Bob Hope and Will Rogers come to mind — showed how it was possible to poke fun at leaders — often in their presence — without being mean about it. Here’s an example from Will Rogers —
The fire at the Treasury Department started on the roof and burned down until it got the place where the money ought to be and there it stopped. The Harding Administration had beat the fire to it. A fire in the Treasury Building is nothing to get excited about during a Republican Administration.
Damn, that’s still funny.
Malkin et al. will argue that Dana Milbank is not a humorist, but a journalist. To which I might say, since news coverage is a joke, what’s the difference? (Ba-bump BUMP) But I think it could be argued (to anyone not a twit) that Milbank’s costume showed a pro-Cheney bias. It signalled the audience that this is not a serious story. Nothing to get fired up about. Let’s have a chuckle and forget about it.
Believe me, a reporter with a real anti-Cheney bias would have taken a more sober approach to this story. In fact, I bet the White House has a crack team of joke writers on the job right now …
Update update: Boy, was I right about the White House crack team of joke writers, or what? Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press reports:
The White House has decided that the best way to deal with Vice President Dick Cheney’s shooting accident is to joke about it.
President Bush’s spokesman quipped Tuesday that the burnt orange school colors of the University of Texas championship football team that was visiting the White House shouldn’t be confused for hunter’s safety wear.
“The orange that they’re wearing is not because they’re concerned that the vice president may be there,” joked White House press secretary Scott McClellan, following the lead of late-night television comedians. “That’s why I’m wearing it.”
The president’s brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, took a similar jab after slapping an orange sticker on his chest from the Florida Farm Bureau that read, “No Farmers, No Food.”
“I’m a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in,” the governor cracked during an appearance in Tampa Monday.