Obama's toadies

The Washington press corps laps up his cheap shots

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Does he even know who ... I am?" the petulant young woman asked her companions, throwing in an expletive, when a security guard briefly denied her entrance to the event because she had just two tickets for three people.

She was Meghan McCain, the not-especially-bright daughter of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The event was the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner May 9.

"The security guard sent her to talk to someone to sort out the situation, but Meghan got bratty and nastily told him 'We'll just stand here then,' " the New York Daily News reported.

"Those tickets were harder to get than gold dust and Meghan blatantly only had two and thought she didn't have to follow the same rules as everyone else," the News' gossip columnists quoted their source as saying.

Why would a woman of no discernible accomplishment think other people ought to know who she is, or care?

Mostly, of course, because Meghan is a spoiled brat. Her father became a hero because he believed in service to his country. She thinks that for no other reason than that she is a blood relation she ought to be served.

But many of those at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner have contributed to Ms. McCain's grossly exaggerated sense of self worth. Meghan has been a frequent guest on cable news shows because she can be counted on to say critical things about Republicans who've actually accomplished something. Meghan thinks these journalists respect her, when in fact they think of her the way a carpenter thinks of a hammer, or a saw. A tool.

The entertainment at the dinner was provided chiefly by Wanda Sykes, a "comedian." Her routine, and the audience's response to it, says much about Washington's glitterati.

Typically at these dinners, the incumbent president is lampooned. But Ms. Sykes directed her fire at conservatives. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is a "traitor." He would have been the 20th hijacker on 9/11, but was too strung out on Oxycontin to make the flight. She hoped Mr. Limbaugh would die of kidney failure.

Most in attendance -- including President Barack Obama -- evidently thought this was funny. But two British journalists were appalled.

"That's way, way beyond reasoned debate or comedy and Obama's reaction to it was astonishing," said Toby Harnden of the London Telegraph. "Imagine if a comedian 'joked' that Obama was a terrorist who was guilty of treason and should be tortured and allowed to die. There would justifiably be an outcry."

Mary Ellen Synon of the Daily Mail noted that Mr. Limbaugh is nearly deaf as a result of ear infections. He "has overcome physical afflictions the like of which few journalists in that room have known, struggling to go on with his work. But the president and his court jester Sykes thought it was a hoot to wish him organ failure."

Though Mr. Obama smiled throughout Ms. Sykes' routine, he or his aides evidently have thought better of it. "I think there are a lot of topics better left for serious reflection than for comedy," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "I think there's no doubt 9/11 is part of that."

The flap over Ms. Sykes' vile remarks diverted attention from the cheap shots the president took in his. He remarked on the whiteness of House Republican leader John Boehner and the blackness of Republican National Chairman Michael Steele. Mr. Obama said former Vice President Dick Cheney is working on his memoirs, tentatively titled: "How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People."

"We know that Obama has an incredibly thin skin," said Web logger Scott Johnson (Power Line). "We can conclude that Vice President Cheney has gotten under it."

But his audience ate it up. The truest words the president said that night were: "Most of you have covered me. All of you voted for me."

"What a bunch of toadies," Ms. Synon said. "I'd say the White House correspondents dinner told us everything we need to know about Washington journalists."

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette and The (Toledo) Blade ( jkelly@post-gazette.com , 412 263-1476).


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