Politcal humor a one-way street

When the evil in the fog of the left’s blogosphere seeped into mainstream commentary, effectively discounting the message of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, it taught political Internet tricksters a lesson.

Want to pre-emptively take down a GOP rising star? Slyly make fun of his mannerisms and speech. Compare him to an entertainment fop, in this case the nerdy Kenneth the Page in the “30 Rock” TV show. Post a snarky blog item with YouTube side-by-sides. Then wait for the “serious” mainstream pundits to pick up on the goof. Yuk-yuk.

Conservatives, of course, are not afforded the same leeway in dreaming up doppelgangers to make political hay, for political humor in America is a one-way street.

Skewer a conservative based on mannerisms or speech and it’s funny. Do the same to a liberal and it’s racist. Give the left a sip of its own cider and, lordy, look for cover. The stoning by the righteous shall begin shortly.

Consider conservative talk radio entertainer Rush Limbaugh. He once laughed when a caller said on the air that her daughter thought Barack Obama resembled Curious George, the character in a popular children’s book series. The liberal chattering class clucked their tongues, calling for apologies, the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine and advertiser boycotts. I didn’t find Limbaugh’s goof funny when I read about it. For me, it skirted too close to a demeaning racial stereotype.

Yet why is it that after Jindal gets lampooned for his speech and mannerisms that I feel strangely alone in my criticism? Look, I understand Jindal did a poor job of delivering the Republican response to Obama’s address to Congress, and that political humor ought be given wide berth. As a general rule, however, fair minds will agree that conservatives are fair game for political humor in ways that liberals simply are not.

In Jindal’s case, mainstream commentators hammered away not on what the governor had to say, but how he said it. Some of it was solid analysis. Some of it tagged on to the Kenneth the Page spoof. The point is, these same commentators would never — ever — do that to, say, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

I am sorry to say that ridicule is becoming standard issue for political soldiers on the left.

Last week, for example, one of my “fans” wrote to tell me that as he reads my “anti-Obama rhetoric” and looks closer at my picture, he thinks I look like the animated character Fievel sniffing for cheese.

Nice. I’m a rat for opposing Obama. If that’s the new standard for political discourse these days, can the favor be returned?

I happen to think Sen. Harry Reid resembles the bewildered Tom Poston character George Utley on the old “Newhart” sitcom. Harry is also a Mormon. Is it fair game to start a Harry Reid/George Utley/Big Love Facebook site, similar to what was done to Jindal with Kenneth the Page?

That’d be funny, right?

How about Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Nevada liberal Rep. Shelley Berkley, both prominent women in the House? Can they stand the same treatment dished to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who hit the national stage to almost nothing but ridicule, from her daughter’s pregnancy to her religion to her wardrobe?

Might we now poke fun at the face-lift induced blank stares of Nancy and Shelley in lieu of writing about the substance of what they say and do? That’d be funny, right?

Hey! I’m askin’ you, Mr. Liberal Makin’ Fun of People’s Looks Guy. That’d be funny, right?

I didn’t think so.

Sherman Frederick (sfrederick@reviewjournal.com) is publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and president of Stephens Media.

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