With political pundits across the fruited plain believing that NBC's "Saturday Night Live" transformed the Democrat presidential campaign by exposing media's love affair with Barack Obama as well as their apparent disdain for Hillary Clinton, one has to wonder just how far the program's producers and writers are willing to go to advance their candidate of choice.
After all, for the third week in a row, "SNL" began with a skit highly favorable to Clinton, and this time made Obama look like an incompetent, inexperienced fool.
In this week's opening sketch, Hillary, played by Amy Poehler, introduced a campaign advertisement depicting a frightened President Obama calling a sleeping Senator Clinton at 3:00 in the morning:
Uh, Hillary, I'm sorry to call this late again. I need your help. ...The CIA just confirmed that Iran has completed a nuclear device. It looks like the Russians, the North Koreans, and Hugo Chavez have been helping them. ...Oh my God. ...What do I do, Hillary? What do I do?
After Hillary tried to calm him down, Obama began crying:
I can't. Don't you see that I'm in a panic -- a blind, unreasoning, inexperienced panic?
Hillary calmly instructed Obama what to do, as he busily took notes. After resolving this issue, the junior senator from New York guided the President as to how to turn the furnace back on in the White House. A grateful Obama stated:
Once again, I am amazed by the range and depth of your experience. I'd gladly trade all of my superficial charm and rock-star appeal for even a part of it. ...Because this job is hard! I had no idea. I mean, it is a bleeping ballbuster!
After the ad ended, Hillary told the audience:
The point is, the future we've described doesn't have to be. If you want a different future, a safe, competent, more experienced future, there is something you can do. You can call or write the offices of the Democratic National Committee and tell them, "Wait, we've changed our minds." With enough pressure, we can convince Party leaders that nominating my opponent would be a huge mistake.
Add it all up, and for the third week in a row, "SNL" has stumped for Hillary.
Sure, cynics will counter that this is just a comedy show, and that those concerned about this level of political activism on television are overreacting.
However, there's no denying that since "SNL" has returned to the airwaves, press members have indeed pointed to these skits as having turned the tide on campaign coverage. In fact, there's no doubt that in the past couple of weeks, the media have been scrutinizing the junior senator from Illinois in a manner not seen throughout 2007 and the early part of this year.
With that in mind, it is quite clear "SNL" has impacted this race, and appears interested in continuing to do so.
*****Update: Ann Althouse agrees:
We're seeing [Hillary's] long, completely unfair ad — and, yes, they've told us to think about how unfair it is. But the ad really does push us to think that Hillary Clinton has a lot of experience and Barack Obama is a neophyte. The fact that we know it's an exaggeration doesn't prevent it from stimulating our anxieties about the underlying truths. And if we're disposed to look at a comedy sketch and find it funny, then our minds slip into the place where we perceive the thing that is being exaggerated. Our defenses are down. Don't you love Amy Poehler? In the tank!
Exactly. In fact, one could make the case that since it is presented as a parody, and the viewer's defenses are indeed down as a result of being in "entertain me" mode, the message is actually more powerful than if "SNL" was playing it straight.
In the end, the audience is laughing with Hillary as they laugh at Obama. That's powerful indeed.
*****Update II: Don't miss Ed Driscoll's mash-up of all the web parodies of Hillary's original 3:00 AM ad.
*****Update III: Allah also agrees:
The butt of the joke, ostensibly, is Her Majesty and the overblown aspersions she’s been casting on Obama’s fitness to lead, but in practice it’s five and a half minutes of him sounding like a buffoon while she keeps a steady hand on the wheel. The ‘Busters say it amounts to another de facto SNL ad for Hillary; I’m inclined to agree.