December 17, 2013
Great Joke!

Today's editorial in our local monopoly newspaper, the Seattle Times, included this sly joke:

President Obama is arguably the most tech-savvy politician in modern history.

Jokesters will appreciate several subtle touches in that short sentence.  The writer slipped in that qualifier, "arguably", which seems to soften the statement, but doesn't.   (And, in a world with more than seven billion people, there must be a few who would believe that argument — though they would be outnumbered by those who think Obama is Santa Claus, and heavily outnumbered by those who think Obama is the Antichrist.)

Jokesters will also appreciate another qualifier, "in modern history".  That implies that somewhere in the past, say in the 15th century, there was a politician who was more savvy about tech than Obama is now.

If you had to explain why this is funny — and every jokester has that unpleasant experience from time to time — how would you do it?

If your audience were not from this state, you might ask them to think about Obama's education, his job experience, and the books he says he has read.  None of them show any reason to expect him to be tech-savvy.

If the audience were from this state, I would just ask them to compare his work history with that of our junior senator, Maria Cantwell, or our newest congresswoman, Suzan DelBene. I'm not a big fan of either lady, but I would bet ten dollars to a doughnut that both of them are far more tech-savvy than President Obama.

And if both arguments failed?  Then you might have to go to the clincher, and ask them whether a man who was tech-savvy would not have realized how many big software projects, especially big government software projects, are late, flawed, or both.  I think almost anyone who knew anything about such projects would have recognized that there was a good chance that the ObamaCare site would be both late and flawed.

Although it is a great joke, it is hard to figure out why it is in the middle of that particular editorial.  Perhaps some dissident on the board slipped it in, in order to suggest that the readers not take the rest of the editorial seriously.

There is, of course, the possibility that whoever wrote that sentence does not realize just how funny it is, that it wasn't an intentional joke.  If it were still 2007 or 2008, when so many journalists were swooning over Obama, I could, just barely, believe that the joke was unintentional.  But anyone who has been paying attention since then must have noticed one or two flaws in our president's record, one or two reasons to think that he is not, after all, some mystical "lightbringer".  So, although we can't exclude that possibility entirely, I think we have to conclude that the sentence was, almost certainly, intended as a joke.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(If you would like an example of a tech-savvy modern politician from outside Washington state, you could try Harrison Schmitt, an astronaut with a Ph.D. in geology.)

Posted by Jim Miller at December 17, 2013 07:55 PM | Email This