The Duck of Minerva

When Mavericks Go Rogue


3 November 2008

This, SNL’s cold-open with John McCain from this past Saturday, was quite funny. As I mentioned earlier, SNL has done a really good job pointing out the fundamental flaw in the McCain campaign

Its not just that McCain is so tied to Bush, or that he’s a true Maverick–a Republican without money–but that he’s allowed himself to become such an object of satire, so open to ridicule. All of the punch-lines in that sketch are points that McCain has emphasized on his campaign. Indeed, at one point or another, things he’s put as the centerpiece of his message, substituting for substance. And, in every case, the more we learn about each of McCain’s gimmicks–from Sarah Palin to Joe the Plumber–the less appealing they become. When sold on QVC, they seem vacuous and empty and invite the comedy that SNL has been able to produce. At this point, McCain seems to be playing a caricature of himself, and all it took was him on SNL to break the way between farce and reality, merging the two in something looks like a Frank Rich column.

Obama, by contrast, is much more difficult to mock in satire–in part because he’s solid, solid as Barack. In displaying a calm, cool, and collected demeanor, he has seemed less energetic at times, but has also not provided the openings for satire, the point where a small exaggeration, a small quirk, a known penchant, can be turned into a devastating critique. I’m sure, in time, someone will figure out how to do Obama in comedy, but it is telling that in the nearly 2 years of this campaign so far, no one has produced a cutting, insightful, and funny send-up of Obama.

One only hopes that a pending Obama Administration would be as productive as a Gore administration might have been…