In Julie Mason’s Poltico article “Joke is no longer on President Obama,” Mason wonders how the death of Osama bin Laden will change how late night hosts will depict Obama, and how a potentially more positive image will influence the public’s opinion of the political climate. “When Leno decides something is ridiculous, like Donald Trump has gone too far and we can’t take him seriously now, people hear it and nod along,” says sociologist Larry Lyon.
Mason hypothesizes that late night’s treatment of Obama has so far focused on the issue of his indecisiveness, in large part because POTUS doesn’t have any particular quirks to riff off of, like Gerald Ford’s alleged clumsiness, or George W. Bush’s inability to speak full sentences without humiliating himself. Of course, if Obama doesn’t have any glaring personal flaws to poke fun at, hosts could always joke about the actual issues, though the question of how they to do that without feeling like they’re dancing Seventh Seal-style on the crumbling infrastructure of Western civilization remains. Makes Michelle Obama’s bare arms look pretty hilarious right now.