Nothing Funny About Congressional Democrats - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Nothing Funny About Congressional Democrats

Why Obama's overlooking Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in his comedy routine says a lot.

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    Nothing Funny About Congressional Democrats
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    Obama's omission of the Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi from his White House Correspondents' Dinner routine may suggest annoyance on the part of White House with congressional leadership.

    President Obama's comedy performance at Saturday's White House Correspondent's Dinner has been rightly applauded by all sides.  Heck, even Pat Buchanan likened it to John F. Kennedy

    But, what wasn't in it?  Keep in mind, this is Washington, DC:  In Babylon-on-the-Potomac, there are at least as many daily intrigues as can be found in a Hollywood blockbuster.  The old line, "It doesn't matter what they're saying about you -- just as long as they are talking about you," is ingrained in most people's souls (those that still have them). 

    In his crisp delivery, Obama poked fun at his administration's stumbling on commerce secretary appointments, the Air Force One flyover, Rahm Emanuel's profane mouth, etc.  He went after Rush Limbaugh, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, House Republican Leader John Boehner, he (of the George Hamiltion-like tan), Fox News, etc. And, yes, there was even a Hillary Clinton/swine flu joke.  

    In the DC world, that means all of these people -- even the GOPers Obama probably can't stand -- "matter."  They have to be accounted for politically or strategically. 

    White House Correspondent's Ball

    [NEWSC] White House Correspondent's Ball
    President Obama got laughs at the annual White House Correspondent's gathering.
    (Published Tuesday, May 12, 2009)

    But, then there are other people -- those that technically matter, but who are so annoying and frustrating to the White House that they are left out of the material. It's the joke-writing version of being snubbed for a spot at a big dinner.  In other words, in the upside-down world of DC, a certain old adage is turned on its head:  "It's better to have the president say something nasty about you -- even in a joking manner -- than for him to say nothing at all."

    So, who did he say nothing at all about -- thus showing that they are on the Obama "outs" list?  That would be the congressional un-dynamic duo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

    The dogs that didn't bark -- or laugh -- were jokes centered on those two.   

    It's not surprising either.

    Look what the president has gotten from those two in the last week or so -- very little but headaches: 

    In Pelosi's House, the Appropriations Committee turned down the administration $81 million request to pay for the relocation of Guantanamo detainees -- partly because members don't want potential terrorists being housed in their backyards.  However, that action has emboldened congressional Republicans to push for legislation that would keep Gitmo open permanently. 

    Meanwhile, Pelosi has been less than fully candid on exactly what she knew about Bush administration "enhanced interrogation techniques", i.e. torture policy.  Anyway, Pelosi's statements have also given Republicans new life on just that narrow measure. Neither of these developments could be said to please the president.  

    And then there's Harry Reid.  After the initial big welcome of Arlen Specter into the Democratic Party, it appears he won't have anything close to the seniority he had when he was a Republican -- contrary to what Specter believes Reid promised him. With less power and influence and a history of voting against many Democratic priorities, the odds are high that Specter will have a  tough primary challenge in Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak.

    By exerting a bit more force in the Democratic caucus, Reid could have put Specter in a stronger position.  But, he's showing no inclination to do that.  This puts Obama in a tough spot:  He's already  promised Specter that he will campaign for him next year.  

    The last thing he wants to do is find himself in the middle of Democratic primary fight -- with a former Republican on one side and a candidate of the lefty Democratic "netroots" on the other. 

    In brief, Pelosi and Reid -- currently annoying thorns in Obama's side -- don't exactly elicit humorous thoughts -- which explains why there was not one precious word about either of them Saturday night.    

    Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.