Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saint McCain

(In the interests of full disclosure, I'm not of Irish descent.)

Speaking at his appearance at the Irish-American Presidential Forum/town hall meeting yesterday in Scranton, Pennsylvania, John McCain led off with a joke (YouTube video here).

You know, I don't know why it is that -- and I'm sure you know, but I still don't know why it is. There's only one ethnic joke can be told in politics and that's Irish jokes. And I don't know why that is. But it's just is the case. So, here's the joke.

There's a bar in Philadelphia, empty. One guy down at either end of the bar. Finally, one guy get up, goes down, sits next to the guy next to him in the bar and says, where are you from? He says, I'm from Ireland. He says, really? He says, I'm from Ireland, too. He says, oh, let me buy you a drink. He says no, let me buy you a drink. Buying each other drinks back and forth. The guy says, well where you from in Ireland? He says, I'm from Dublin. He says, no. He said, I'm from Dublin, too. Really? Back and forth. Finally, the guy says, where did you go to high school? He said, I went to St. Mary's. He said you couldn't have gone to St. Mary's. He said, I went to St. Mary's. Wow. Buying each other drinks, a lot of commotion. A guy walks in the bar, sees all the commotion down there and says to the bartender, he says, what's going on down there? The bartender said, it's just the O'Reilly twins getting drunk again.

Irish-Americans: stupid drunks. That's John McCain speaking- not me.

To be sure, McCain went on to note "the contributions that Irish-Americans have made in every war" and to claim Scotch-Irish descent, as if the largely Protestant Scotch-Irish have any relation to the largely Roman Catholic Irish-American population. And this "joke" reinforcing stereotypes is hardly more justified because the audience is of Irish descent.

It's more acceptable, unfortunately, to ridicule Irish-Americans than individuals of most other ethnic groups, as McCain noted when he rationalized the upcoming crack by noting "There's only one ethnic joke can be told in politics and that's Irish jokes. And I don't know why that is. But it's just is the case."

But think of it this way: if Barack Obama had made an Irish joke in front of that audience, would the news media have ignored it? If Barack Obama had made a joke ridiculing blacks in front of a black audience, would the media have ignored it, even though Obama is African-American (on one side)? In the first instance, and probably in the second, the result would have been an uproar: game, set, match. Election over. Period.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, but John McCain is the older guy in the room that constantly has to crack jokes for people to like him. You are completely correct that McCain could get away with those jokes while Obama certainly could not, and I don't mean to excuse McCain for insulting any group of people.

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