Editorial: Why Can’t We Make Fun Of Presidents Anymore?

The walls of the new Let’s Go Brandon store in Toms River feature a variety of unique designs that can adorn T-shirts and other items. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  I’ve always liked political humor. Even when I was little, I watched “Not Necessarily The News” on HBO. I didn’t understand all the jokes, but I still watched it.

  Jokes about current events can be cathartic. Sometimes things are so bad that you have to laugh at them. Otherwise, you’ll cry.

  The president – any president – is someone who has their finger on the button, whose comments can make the stock market rise or fall, and they’re just…some guy. Take away the suit and the title and they’re just a human being full of foibles and eccentricities like the rest of us. If that’s not funny, I don’t know what is.  

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  I started thinking about this again when we ran the recent story about the controversial new store in Toms River. “Let’s Go Brandon” is a way of cursing at Biden without cursing at Biden. I think this is a lot more creative than just putting four letter words on your car or shirt. Do I think it’s juvenile? Yes. Do I think it’s funny? Also yes.

  I’m 45; Ronald Reagan was the first president I remember. He was ridiculed for having episodes where he seemed confused, years before he announced he had Alzheimer’s. These days, comedians would get lambasted for making fun of someone with cognitive decline.

  But back then, every comic took potshots at Reagan. That’s what comedians are supposed to do – punch up, speak truth to power, show everyone the emperor isn’t wearing clothes.

  How many times have you heard someone do the “Well, Nancy…” voice when doing a Reagan impersonation? We used to be all united, in that we all made fun of the president together. But when did that change?

  I don’t remember too many jokes about George Bush Sr., except about him being a warmonger.

  And then there was Bill Clinton. Monica, McDonald’s, “I didn’t inhale.” Plenty of material there, folks.

  Bush Jr. came around and comedians had their payday again. His slow-witted bumbling, with a lifetime of failing upwards due to being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, was rife for comedy.

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  Then came September 11, 2001. I think that was when the switch was pulled. I can completely understand why this happened. You shouldn’t joke about the war effort, and the president is the commander-in-chief. You certainly should never make fun of the soldiers putting themselves in harm’s way, but the politicians co-opted that. They said that if we supported the troops, we also had to support the president who was sending them into a warzone. People always say “September 11 made us all come together.” But a lot of that was forced. Plenty of people were critical of Bush, and even of what actions were taken in the Middle East, but that criticism got called unpatriotic. Remember Freedom Fries and the Dixie Chicks?

  Ever since then, it seems you can’t make fun of the president. If you made fun of Obama, you were labelled a racist. If you made fun of Trump, you were branded a liberal – or a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

  It’s not just about the other party; there should be nothing wrong with pointing out problems with your own candidate. There is plenty to make fun of both of them about!

  We should always make fun of the people in charge. It’s our only outlet. And really, what’s a joke from any of us nobodies actually going to do to the most powerful person in America?

  And in closing, for no particular reason, I’m going to paraphrase Joni Mitchell: I’ve laughed at clowns from both sides now, from left and right and still somehow, we’re the ones who take the fall, they don’t care about us at all.

Chris Lundy
News Editor