I missed the introductory video (below) shown just before Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last night, because the cable networks did not cut in until he began to speak.
The video was called to my attention by Ben Smith’s column, in which Smith made the following observations (emphasis mine):
Perhaps the most striking element, culturally speaking, of last night’s White House Correspondents Dinner was President Obama’s introductory video, crafted in the spirit of South Park and Team America World Police and the Colbert Report in what you could interpret either as a ironic, subversive send-up of American patriotism or as a kind of post-ironic homage.
The humor is intensely generational: If you didn’t grow up with those references, the montage of American flags, monster truck rallies, and eagles, all to the beat of Rick Derringer’s “Real American,” formerly Hulk Hogan’s WWF theme song, isn’t funny, and actually doesn’t make much sense. If you did, it it’s effective partly because it edges so close to real political risk: The presidency seems an odd vehicle, even at a roast, for mocking patriotism. But as with South Park, the video — assembled by young White House speechwriters — leaves the interpretation up to the viewer: Some viewers can sneer at over-the-top patriotism, and marvel at White House subversion; but maybe it’s just joyful, hyperbolic patriotism.
No, this presidency does not seem an odd vehicle, even at a roast, for mocking patriotism. At least no more so than in a private fundraiser in San Francisco, or at the U.N., or in Cairo, or in Europe.
Mocking patriotism is Team Obama’s vehicle of choice, and reflects an attitude which is too smug by half.