Being pretentious enough to call myself a comedian, I think I can be trusted to weigh-in on the “outrage” over Hillary Clinton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s joke at a political dinner over the weekend. Despite what some — likely Sanders supporters and Republicans eager to foment anger against Clinton — would say, the joke wasn’t racist. It was just a bad joke that was terribly executed, and there’s a difference, and I say this as someone who will only vote for Hillary if she’s the only non-Republican douchebag option I have available.
Let’s be clear — had the punchline been “colored people time” instead of “cautious politician time,” then you might be able to make an argument that it was a racist joke, but since the punchline was supposed to put politicians’ as the butt of it, you can’t really get so pissed off, can you? Annoyed, sure. Perplexed? Absolutely. But outraged? C’mon.
Part of the problem is that neither Clinton or Mayor de Blasio are comedians. Why politicians feel the need to try and yuk it up when they are mostly good only at teleprompters and memorized talking points is beyond me. But nothing about Clinton screams “ha ha ha!” to me, does it to you? The kind of joke they attempted to tell on that stage might have worked if seasoned comedians with a sense of comedic timing had delivered it. Instead, you could tell that Clinton and de Blasio themselves weren’t entirely comfortable with the bit, and were therefore not entirely committed to it.
But so what, guys? I mean, it wasn’t maybe the smartest thing to do politically in the wake of Bill’s clash with Black Lives Matter protesters. It wasn’t a racist joke though, and frankly there are far more things in terms of American racial relationships and policies that you can criticize Ms. Clinton for than a hackneyed joke, which is ultimately all this was. A terrible joke delivered clumsily doesn’t make someone a racist, or tone deaf on race. Lecturing people impacted by your shitty policies about how their lives weren’t that terribly upturned because “drug dealers” and “Super Predators” though? Yeah…that kinda makes you tone deaf.
There are just so many more important issues than an ill-timed, bad joke, aren’t there? On some level, I understand liberal frustration over this. I can promise you that right-wingers will seize on this and use it to demonstrate THE GREAT LIBERAL HYPOCRISY and all that shit, but the truth is this is a tempest in a tea pot. Considering the fact that Republican candidates are proposing barring people from entering the country and patrolling neighborhoods based on religious beliefs, and with Donald Trump implying all Mexican immigrants are rapists, drug dealers, or murderers, can’t we point to enough examples of actual racism to where we don’t have to fixate on alleged racism?
I hate to play this card — but de Blasio is in a mixed-family. I suppose it’s entirely possible for a racist to be in a mixed-race relationship, but really? Hell, maybe in Mayor de Blasio’s home they do joke about “Colored People’s time,” and it’s okay in that context for them. That doesn’t mean it was a joke that should leave those auspices per se, but how about we agree to call the joke “in poor taste” and just move on from there? It’s these kinds of issues that drive people away from politics in general, and liberals specifically. Good people can mistakes, and any of my fellow Bernie supporters who forget this should just look at Sanders’ record on some key progressive issues and see that he too is not the messiah they’re looking for.
Bad jokes look and sound awful, and that’s just what we had here, not much more. Yes, the optics of two powerful white people in a sketch with a black guy wherein they trade on an oft-repeated stereotype of African-Americans for a chuckle is off-putting. But it’s not the end of the damn world, and nor does it disqualify Clinton from being president one day. She just needs to make damn sure she leaves the jokes to the comedians, because she has a bad enough time coming off as personable and human as it is, butchering jokes even a season pro would have to deliver just right, in just the right context to really nail is not her forté, and she should avoid it like the plague.
Now, next topic, yes?