Dudegate vs. I Meant To Do That

by Jonah Goldberg

I apologize for not focusing on this pressing matter earlier, but I’ve only just now actually watched the apparently infamous “dude” scene from Obama’s Daily Show appearance. I think everyone’s missing the most revealing part of the exchange (including Dana Milbank). Look, I think calling the president “dude” is inappropriate in almost all circumstances. But one of the circumstances where it’s not is on the Daily Show. You accept an invitation to be on the Daily Show, you should not be shocked that it’s the Daily Show when you get there.

(If anything, I wish Stewart was more consistent. Whenever he’s criticized for his substantive opining he responds “I’m just a comedian.” Well, if you’re just a comedian, stay a comedian. The truth is he switches hats and tone depending on the guest — a lot.)

What’s interesting — and obvious by my lights — is that Obama barely even noticed the “dude.” He was stung by the fact that Stewart — and the audience — clearly busted the president saying something politically very stupid. Saying that Summers did a “heckuva job” — on the Daily Show! — was a real blunder. Obama is clearly embarrassed that he got busted saying it. And rather than laugh with the audience and at himself he says, entirely unconvincingly, “pun intended.”

No it wasn’t. For the record, it wasn’t even a pun

But Obama’s ego couldn’t let him take it on the chin. So he in effect said “I meant to do that” with that “pun intended” line. It was defensive and lame.

It reminds me of Obama’s initial laugh at that woman who said she was tired of defending him at the CNBC forum last month. As Ace of Spades put it at the time:

By the way, some commenters explained why Obama laughed at first at that … woman who said “I’m tired of defending you:” Obama thought at first she was making the point that exists only in Obama’s head, that is, that these attacks are all silly distractions made by unserious people (or seriously racist people who talk about him like he’s a dog). He wanted to laugh with her at how nonsensical all this criticism was. I hear ya, sister. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

But then she affirmed her own belief in the seriousness of these criticisms and he realized he wasn’t going to get what he had been used to — adulation for his lack of accomplishments. And then he grimaced.


In both cases Obama was caught flat-footed because he was unprepared to deal with the possibility that everyone doesn’t buy into his self-image of personal flawlessness.

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