Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Take My President, Please...

Dana Stevens reports in Slate Magazine that "The first lady's speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner was so funny I forgot to laugh."

The only thing duller than watching the White House Correspondents Association Dinner on C-Span is actually attending it—take it from someone who's done both in one weekend. This year's event combined the stodgy bonhomie of a Masonic lodge meeting with the dinky pageantry of a junior-high pep rally. (It's hard to get loose at a party at which two versions of the Marine hymn are played before dinner.)

The big take-away meme from the event seems to be that Laura Bush stole the show with her unexpected takeover of her husband's speech, which turned into a roast written by conservative gag-writer Landon Parvin. One of the New York tabloids has a banner headline today proclaiming her "the First Lady ... of laughs!"

Laura Bush's delivery of Parvin's script was effectively sassy; she seemed to be enjoying her zingers about her husband's low-energy style ("I said to him the other day, 'George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later' ") and the crowd roared in appreciative delight (though let's face it, this particular crowd knew which side their bread was buttered on. Plus, as we saw during the Republican National Convention, Laura Bush could get a standing ovation for coming to the podium and belching).

Laura's image of Bush, fresh from Andover and Yale, beginning his ranching career by trying to milk a male horse made for a gratifyingly naughty giggle at an event whose sexiest moment up to then was when Alan Greenspan walked by chatting up Goldie Hawn.

But however charming her drawl, it was hard not to squirm at Laura's blithe assertion that "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." That comparison of the president's ranching style to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—one of her speech's better lines—was kind of cute, until you carried the analogy to its logical conclusion: The way Bush runs a ranch is similar to the way he conducts the business of state. The way Bush runs a ranch is clueless, absolutist, and wantonly destructive. Ergo ...

You've been a great crowd, ladies and gentlemen. The first lady will be here all week.

Dana Stevens is Slate's television critic. Write her at surfergirl@thehighsign.net


jbv's Competitive Edge 


Blogger oyster said...

What does she expect, Don Rickles?

12:11 AM  

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