Washington Can't Take a Joke

Uproar over Sykes' routine shows we take things too literally
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 13, 2009 7:44 AM CDT
President Barack Obama reacts with laughter to comic Wanda Sykes, who entertained the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner Saturday, May 9, 2009.    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – Sure, Wanda Sykes’ controversial jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner were “over the top,” and they weren’t all that funny, writes Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post. But the uproar they sparked just shows “we take ourselves far too seriously—and literally.” Sykes is a comedian; of course she’s over the top. The brouhaha says more about us than it does about her.

“Washington buzz lately has become a buzz saw,” Parker writes: whether the president  “laughs, smiles, or frowns” is now a major political issue. “What dreary, sensitive wretches we've become,” with “our thin-skinned intolerance and our reflexive lurch to take offense,” she notes. “We might remind ourselves that it's always the fanatics who can't take a joke.”