The Obama administration: Where seldom is heard a discouraging word about the president, and anyone who mocks him is automatically racist. If you doubt it, consider reaction to the Missouri State Fair rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask.
The clown quipped, “Hey, I know I'm a clown. He's just running around acting like one. Doesn't know he is one.” The stunt may not have been that funny, but it hardly represented an unprecedented attack on a U.S. president.
Free speech empowers citizens to freely mock those in power. Presidents routinely get skewered: Gerald Ford (klutzy), Ronald Reagan (old), George W. Bush (cocky), Bill Clinton (... well, this is a family newspaper). Yet Obama supporters insist Obama should be exempted.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest condemned the clown's routine. The Missouri State Fair plans to require clown sensitivity training. (That's not a joke, but sounds like one). Mary Ratliff, president of the Missouri Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called the clown's act “a hate crime” in a radio interview, decrying the use of “a person's race to depict who they are and to make degrading comments, gestures, et cetera, against them.”
But the Obama mask wasn't a racial caricature; it was similar to George W. Bush masks that still sell at Halloween. And calling a president a “clown” isn't a racial attack; it's a joke made at the expense of every president in living memory.
Obama should condemn the equation of mockery with racial bigotry. This is still a free country. Those who disagree with Obama or any politician are allowed to make fun of them. Continually playing the race card degrades public discourse far more than any half-baked effort at comedy.
People aren't making Obama jokes because he's black. They're making Obama jokes because he is president.