David Letterman, who ended his hilarious “Great Moments in Presidential Speeches” feature with the close of the Bush Administration, is taking aim at a new, old target: former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Noting that the ex-veep has been publicly critical of President Obama, Letterman unveiled a new segment this week, called, “Dick Cheney: How’d He Do?” The bit inserts game show-like wrong-answer buzzers as Cheney spouts dubious boasts like “The Bush tax cuts are working” and “There will be no more spreading of fear and panic.” (Check it out here, courtesy of The Huffington Post).
It’s great to see some hard-edged political comedy from Letterman, who is still late night’s angry dad, even if he’s grown mellower in handling guests (save for Bill O’Reilly).
But is Letterman looking backwards? Shouldn’t he and the rest of the late-night set be hurling more barbs at Obama, who, some would say, is getting a free pass from the entertainment-industry types?
The truth is Cheney remains fair game – especially as he continues to play attack dog for an administration that went out with a whimper. Bush jokes are dwindling, mostly because the former president so far has steered clear of the spotlight.
Comics have griped, only half jokingly, that there’s little or nothing funny about Obama. But that’s a product of his lack of time in the White House (less than four months – though at least we’re done counting in days), and perhaps a softening of creative muscle during the easy-to-knock-him final Bush years.
Obama was fortunate to run in a primary and presidential field that included the likes of Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, who provided plenty of material for the joke writers.
Now Vice President (“Stay off the subways!”) Biden is giving Obama some comic cover with his loose lips. Still, with time and inevitable gaffes, Obama will get his due from the comedians. The fright-inducing Air Force Dumb New York flyover seemed to earn the president a low-temperature roasting, particularly from Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.”
But for now, outspoken second bananas like Cheney and Biden are drawing most of the heat.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.