In defense of Laura

Why shouldn’t the First Lady tell some home truths, even under the cover of humor?

I have to agree with Eugene Volokh; I’m not sure I see why my liberal friends are making such a fuss about Laura Bush’s stand-up comedy routine.

If she wants to use the cover of humor to point out that George W. Bush is too stupid and lazy to be President, why should we object? And she delivered the best one-line critique of Bushite foreign policy I’ve seen to date:

George’s answer to any problem at the ranch is to cut it down with a chainsaw. Which I think is why he and Cheney and Rumsfeld get along so well.

I just wish she’d said some of this stuff before the election.

Perhaps it was over the top for her to point out while she was at it that Mr. Bush is also sexually inadequate, but presumably she knows what she’s talking about.

Yes, it’s true that a similar “roast” by Theresa Heinz Kerry would have received much worse treatment from the mainstream press — the folks you see giving GWB a standing ovation when he gets up to speak — but that double standard is old news by now.

Footnote: I have to differ with Eugene on one point. The talk was not, in fact, delivered to an audience consisting only of adults. It was televised live on C-SPAN, and thus available to everyone, even putting aside its predictable appearance on the Web.

The talk was no dirtier than the average sitcom, but it wasn’t any cleaner, either. (Mainly it was funnier.) So the social conservatives who go on and on about how dirty jokes on sitcoms are corrupting the youth ought to have been offended when the First Lady told a story about the President’s attempt to milk a male horse and suggested that watching the male strippers at Chippendale’s was normal and respectable activity for married women.

Update Either the post above is over-subtle, or some of my fellow reality-based bloggers (*) and (**) are a little bit irony-impaired. You be the judge.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com