Speaking at a town hall gathering in Nashville, Tennessee, Tuesday, President Barack Obama poked a little fun at his conservative haters in the midst of a lengthy, serious discussion on his new immigration policy, by saying they essentially view him as an illegal immigrant, as well.
They’re pretty sure that I’m an illegal immigrant.
The president quickly followed that line up with:
That was a joke.
You know you’re killing it when you have to follow a joke with, “That was a joke.”
While the President may not be quitting his day job anytime soon, it’s nice to see a sense of humor from him. It’s human, and it’s good to know the President retains his humanity to some regard, even in his political role.
The joke is a reference to the notorious birthers – a small, ludicrous “movement” of people who insisted the president is not an American citizen and hence not eligible legally to hold the office of the presidency.
Rather than believe the folks who started that nutty rumor actually believe(d) it, it seems much more likely akin to an old political tactic Hunter S. Thompson wrote about in Fear & Loathing On The Campaign Trail ’72:
This is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in politics. Every hack in the business has used it in times of trouble, and it has even been elevated to the level of political mythology in a story about one of Lyndon Johnson’s early campaigns in Texas. The race was close and Johnson was getting worried. Finally he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent’s life-long habit of enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows.
‘Christ, we can’t get away calling him a pig-f*cker,’ the campaign manager protested. ‘Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.’
‘I know,’ Johnson replied. ‘But let’s make the sonofab*tch deny it.’
You see what I’m getting at there, I’m sure. The sad part, however, is how many gullible Americans fall for such tactics and take them as gospel, which is the whole reason for launching such dirty politics.
And that’s what President Obama’s been fighting against his entire presidency – dirty politics.
In the face of it all, he’s maintained a respectable composure and even jokes around about it. That’s one good sign of leadership, regardless of what one thinks about his policies and presidency as a whole.
Of course, the president’s joke also nods to his recent immigration reform issued last month, which helped shield millions of undocumented citizens from deportation. For that action, the president has been fiercely criticized, but for the most part he seems to be taking it with a grain of salt. After all, he’s been criticized from both sides of the aisle for everything he’s done after inheriting perhaps the biggest political mess in American history. Some critical of the president even go so far as calling him an emperor, but Obama has attempted to redirect the conversation by pointing out that, while both sides of the aisle may be able to find aspects of his decision that they don’t care for, both parties can also find points that uphold their key principles.
Obama offered this regarding his critics:
The bottom line of what I say to folks on the other side of this debate is: Work with me to reflect the wisdom of the American people. And I think that the American people’s wisdom is: People who are already here, let’s give them a shot, let’s get them out of the shadows. Does that mean everybody is going to listen to me on the other side? Not necessarily.
No, of course they won’t, but let’s hope the president maintains the same sense of humor in the process that prompted him to quip through laughter at an event in NYC earlier this year:
Just to be clear, I know where my birth certificate is. . . You remember that? That was crazy.
It sure was, Mr. President, but that’s politics, now isn’t it?