UPDATE: White House weighs in on Sykes-Limbaugh: 9/11 jokes aren't funny.
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It's a fact of life that sometimes, events unfold in such a way that you can smell a White House Press Corps obsession coming from a mile away. And while this Sunday's morning chat made me feel like a whole lot of new attention should be given to our regional partners in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, I can tell you for certain that today's press cycle shall be given over to the subject of laughter.
Specifically, the topic of Wanda Sykes, and the laughter of President Barack Obama at this weekend's White House Press Correspondents' Dinner, and specifically a joke, made at Rush "I Hope He Fails" Limbaugh's expense. "I hope his kidneys fail." (You can watch her full speech HERE.)
Oh, and the joke? I don't much go in for humor based in ultra-personal, real-life death fantasies, and renal failure, on top of that, has always struck me as a particularly sad way to die. Jokes about it, and this one in particular, approach the same level of unfunniness as say, jokes about armed forces members gunning down Congressional leaders. (By the way, go out and make note of all those David Feherty defenders who've suddenly discovered outrage this morning. I bet you they are out there.)
This whole incident drew the hot-blooded attention of Matt Drudge, and sure enough, we wake up today in a world where this terrible crisis is about to bloom with a perilous intensity.
The question percolating in Washington as a new week starts is whether comedian Wanda Sykes's shots at conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner were the former, the latter or somewhere in between.
"Maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight. . . . I hope his kidneys fail."
"Too much?" Sykes asked, when the lines drew a mixture of laughter and boos.
That was the question debated throughout Washington on Sunday -- whether Sykes had crossed an imaginary line with her attacks on Limbaugh, turning a fun night into a harder-edged partisan affair.
And on the Today show, David Gregory and Meredith Vieira have already taken up the issue:
You can expect the White House Press Corps to pepper Robert Gibbs with questions today about how could Obama have laughed at something so terrible. Obviously, it would be unwise and impolitic of Robert Gibbs to reply this way, but one almost wishes he would respond by saying, "It was your party. And all of you laughed, too."