Thankfully No Jokesters at the White House Correspondence Dinner in 2019: Respect and Leadership do not owe comedy “equality”

Honestly, I think the pick to put Ron Chernow as the headliner of this year’s White House Correspondence Dinner is a good one. His book on Grant was fabulous as he is a great historian and to me that should be the purpose of the dinner. This tradition of laughing at ourselves as a country is a pretty dumb one. How it got started in the first place is something that we should have revisited a long time ago. I understand the need for comedy, but there is psychologically something much more sinister going on at roasts of celebrities and people who have achieved great importance, and when it comes to President Trump, he has one clear message for his years as the leader of the Executive Branch, respect is a theme he has always wished to cultivate on projects he works on. This trend to make fun of everything so not to show that we as a culture and as a people don’t take ourselves too seriously has major flaws that should have ended after Johnny Carson and Bob Hope’s era closed. After them, the trend went out of control and has turned into a joke and that doesn’t help America be great, which for many in the typical White House Correspondence Dinner audience always wanted anyway.

I share with Trump a distaste for personal aggrandizement. I just never have participated in it and I don’t do it to other people. Part of the gift of thinking positive about everything is that it has to start with yourself and if you are making fun of some imperfection that you have to show the world that you aren’t any better than they are, well then you are a captor to their limitations for themselves. When you work hard to be the best person that you can be, why on earth would you sit around and let people find flaws in what you have done? Especially when the people making fun of you haven’t made any efforts themselves at greatness.

We all have grown up with this notion that its good not to take yourself very serious and it was always a false one. After all, if you don’t take yourself seriously, who else will, and in many cases—especially when it comes to children we raise, people we lead in industry or just friends and neighbors, they need someone to believe in. So if we allow our value to be cheapened by silly jokes about ourselves and allow our image to be brought down to earth where all the lazy and unambitious are sitting around as losers smoking pot, drinking too much and generally showing no yearning to live life to the fullest, then we have cheapened everything we individually stand for, and that has always been the point.

When people who do great things allow themselves to be chided and ridiculed with a display of humility it is a silent endorsement that the masses and all their lackluster effort are the standard and the efforts of the great are meant to be absorbed in the murky depths of social stagnation. There was always an unsaid truth between the person who makes fun of other people and those who allow it that states a lack of superiority in the target and if left unchecked the bar that we should all aspire to falls short. In my own personal life even as a very little kid people would tell me, especially adults, that you can’t go through life as if your shit doesn’t stink. You can’t go around acting like you are better than everyone else and expect to be a successful person, because they won’t let you into the gates of life if you don’t make peace with them. Well, I never listened and all those things they said were untrue. Reality states that if you are the best at things no matter what controversies are going on in your life, the world will beat a path to your door and line up to seek your attention, because they will need what you have to offer. So why would anybody who works harder than the average person ever give jokesters a seat at the table of equality by allowing puns to go unchecked.

People who want to elevate themselves by castigating the successful and harder working will call their targets “thin skinned” if they don’t silently endorse the efforts at equality by allowing it to continue. But why did it ever become necessary to “take a joke” especially if one doesn’t dish it out? I can tell you dear reader that the source of that trend comes from the same European concepts that invented Marxism and it never should have been allowed to set foot in American culture. Personally, I am a very positive person by nature. I think greatly of myself obviously and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. I love myself and everything I do and I live every single day and every single second of that day trying to be the best that I can be. And when I deal with other people, I always look for the positives in them. I always try to extract out of them goodness and a positive self-image. People who fail to respond or persist to continue their lives as a joke and find jokes in others are really just too lazy to try to accomplish anything in life, so their attempts at jokes are meant to keep the bars of life low for everyone. I see this as detrimental to any productive culture and have never participated. I don’t let people make fun of me and I don’t make fun of them. If they do make fun of me, I will tear up whoever it is that is doing the banter because I see it as an attack not just on me as a person, but on what the efforts of goodness should stand for. Do I take myself seriously, yes? Of course! And for damn good reason. Everyone should, and I am happy to help them look in the mirror and like the person that looks back at them. But fault-finding is a very negative thing and has huge implications on the quality of any society, and I personally don’t allow it.

I have never thought it appropriate to have a White House Correspondence Dinner that centered around telling jokes and making fun of our own culture. People around the world watch the video clips and it doesn’t set a good standard for a country that leads the world to make. Why would anybody follow a culture that finds so much fault with itself? The answer is they wouldn’t. Yet that has always been the secret ambition of the jokesters, to keep others from following the great people of high ambition and taste, and to celebrate the weak losers of lazy aptitude. We are talking about the kind of society that celebrates the star football player in any school at the same level of the class clown to the point where the star plays right along to endorse the behavior because they think it’s the popular thing to do—and that if they don’t, they may lose their star status. That is the great ruse of our modern times, that jokesters are just as important as the stars that build the society.

I understand Trump’s reservations about the way the White House Correspondence Dinner has been conducted. After all it has the word “White House” in it so that is a brand that President Trump has a great interest in protecting. Why would he want to cheapen it with the jokes of the stupid and lazy, to lower its image on the world stage just so that he could appear “cool.” That’s what we say to people we want to lower their guard to us, “be cool.” Don’t get upset, just drop your standards and opinions and join us in the collective mud of civility where we are all equally bad, stupid and imperfect creatures of God. No thanks. I like striving for perfection every day and working as hard as I can to get there. The last thing I want to hear is some joke about my hair, or the way I talk, or other little nitpick. And Trump is of the same mind, and I don’t blame him for it one bit! One way to make America great again is to believe that its great to start with, and that requires looking at the greatness and celebrating it, not making fun of it and trying to demean it so that other people won’t feel the pressure to be better. They need to try to be better and not use jokes as a way to insulate themselves from the expectations of the ambitious.

Rich Hoffman

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