What did Freud say about a joke? Here are a few recent jokes.
January 8. From the satirical journal, The Onion: “Israel Vows To Use Veto Power If Chuck Hagel Confirmed As U.S. Secretary Of Defense.”
JERUSALEM—Top-ranking government officials in Jerusalem confirmed Tuesday that Israel would exercise its longstanding, constitutionally granted veto power over American policy if U.S. lawmakers confirmed retired congressman Chuck Hagel as the United States’ next Secretary of Defense. “In light of Mr. Hagel’s worrying remarks on Israeli-Palestinian relations and questionable classification of Israeli interests as ‘the Jewish lobby,’ we consider him a highly inappropriate choice for Defense Secretary who stands far out of line with our national priorities, and therefore we are prepared to swiftly and resolutely use our official veto power over this U.S. action,” said Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev of the legal maneuver that the small Middle Eastern nation has employed to block U.S. Cabinet nominees, U.S. legislation, U.S. international relations, and U.S. domestic policy over 1,400 times in its 64-year history.
February 3. From the new Netflix show, “House of Cards” (as reported by MJ Rosenberg):
Kevin Spacey plays the Democratic whip of the House of Representatives. A new president has just been elected, who has promised to appoint Spacey’s character Secretary of State. However, he reneges and gives the job to someone else. The guy who gets the job is fine, even from Spacey’s viewpoint, but Spacey is mad and has to block him to hurt the president.
But the guy is clean. What to do?
Spacey’s staffer comes up with a Williams College editorial on Israel, published when the Secretary of State nominee was editor-in-chief of the college paper. The editorial calls the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza illegal.
Spacey figures that should be enough to destroy the would-be secretary’s chances EXCEPT it turns out that he did not write the editorial, another student did. Spacey dispatches a corrupt, drug addicted Congressman (really) to visit the guy who wrote the article and convince him to say that it was, in fact, the Secretary of State nominee who was responsible.
The guy doesn’t want to do it. He says that, even as a student, the Secretary-designate was a total wuss who would never take any controversial stands.
So the doped up Congressman bribes him with pot and cocaine and, voila, he changes his mind. He will go public with the fact that it was the Secretary guy who opposed the occupation.
Spacey gives the story to the Washington Post and then the Secretary nominee is confronted by the real George Stephanopoulos on his Sunday show who nails him for having criticized Israel 30 years ago! The addled nominee laughs!
Spacey calls the head of the Anti-Defamation League (not played by the real Abe Foxman) to inform him that the Secretary-designate disrespected Israel while in college. The Foxman character rushes to CNN to announce that he will stop the anti-Semite from being confirmed. Spacey, watching the television, smiles, looks at the camera and says, “This is too easy.”
The nominee is forced to withdraw.
February 10: A skit rehearsed on NBC show Saturday Night Live, unaired but released online (as reported by various sources, including Mondo and Lloyd Grove of Daily Beast, whose account I’ve potted):
In the six-minute sketch, performed at SNL’s dress rehearsal, Hagel is grilled mercilessly by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham about his published statement that the interests of the United States and Israel are not always identical. “Is this a typo?” Graham demands. “Are my eyes deceiving me? Does he think that our interests and those of Israel could ever be different?” And so on and so forth, as Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee fall all over themselves to prove their slavish devotion to the Jewish state.
The sketch culminates when John McCain insists that Hagel answer a hypothetical question:
What if Benjamin Netanyahu calls and “he says to you, it is vital to Israel’s security, that you go on national television that night and perform oral sex on a donkey.”
“Would you do that for Israel?” McCain asks.When Hagel says no, McCain declares that he can’t vote to confirm him.
JAMIE WEINSTEIN, EDITOR AT DAILY CALLER: Just yesterday, there was a new speech that they believe in which during the question and answer [session] at Rutgers University, Hagel claimed that the State Department was controlled by the Israeli government. Israeli foreign ministry controls the government.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You see, Bill, what they’re doing is they’re going after every —
BILL MAHER, HOST OF “REAL TIME” ON HBO: And it’s not?
WEINSTEIN: Well, there’s two things wrong with that. One is that — it’s, you know, kind of suggesting Israeli power is controlling things. Number two, of all the branches of the government, the State Department being the most pro-Israel branch is ridiculous.
MAHER: Based on every statement I’ve heard out of any Republican in the last two years, the Israelis are controlling our government.
P.S. I’m aware that the Netflix episode isn’t properly a joke. But– poetic license.