Olbermann: Obama ‘predator drone’ joke was ‘over the edge’

By David Edwards
Tuesday, May 4, 2010 10:18 EDT
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President Barack Obama joked Saturday that he would use predator drones to kill the Jonas brothers if they tried to court his daughters. One newsman who is known for praising the president isn’t laughing. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann said Monday Obama’s joke went too far.

During his second appearance at the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner Saturday, Obama said:

“Jonas Brothers are here, they’re out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I’m joking?”

The quip has been compared to a joke by President George W. Bush a previous year making light of the fact that WMDs were never found in Iraq.

Philadelphia Daily News‘ Will Bunch tweeted. “Let’s be honest, fellow progressives, we’d be all over Bush if he made the same ‘predator drone’ joke Obama told last night.”

Olbermann seemed to agree with that assessment Monday night.

“The modern benchmark for going too far with humor in a presidential address was infamously achieved in March 2004. President Bush one year into the war in Iraq narrating the slide show at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington. ‘Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere,’ [said Bush]. Not everybody laughed. In hindsight, it has gotten less funny still,” said Olbermann.

Jonathan Alter joined Olbermann to discuss the president’s performance. “Did he or do we know who did the predator drones jokes about the Jonas brothers and did you think they were in bounds? Because, frankly, I thought that was over the edge. I thought that was almost in [Bush's] ‘where are the weapons of mass destruction? Under the desk’ thing,” Olbermann asked Alter.

“Well, Keith, I would submit that you are not like me, the father of two daughters,” answered Alter. “If someone comes for your preteen daughters, predator drones are actually a mild response.”

Death by predator drone isn’t a laughing matter for many of Obama’s critics on the left. Adam Serwer at the American Prospect wrote, “You have to wonder why in the world the president’s speech writers would think it was a good idea to throw a joke about predator drones into the president’s speech during the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, given that an estimated one-third of drone casualties, or between 289 and 378, have been civilians.”

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast May 4, 2010.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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