First Lady Michelle Obama was in New York City a few days ago. She did a few events around town, like making an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, and she also hosted a fundraiser that brought out some big New Yorkers like Beyonce and Harvey Weinstein. Robert DeNiro also came out for the fundraiser – I always forget that he’s an Obama supporter. I think he used to be a Republican…? Maybe. But he supported Obama in the 2008 election, and it looks like DeNiro is sticking with the choice for this election cycle. So when Bob DeNiro comes to your fundraiser, you let him speak, right? Right. So DeNiro spoke, and he even had a little “joke” about potential GOP first ladies:
The GOP presidential candidate became righteously indignant today over a joke that DeNiro told at a fundraiser for President Obama, which Michelle Obama attended.
“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” DeNiro said, according to web site Talking Points Memo. “Too soon, right?”
Cue Gingrich, speaking today in Shreveport, La.: “What DeNiro said last night was inexcusable and the president should apologize for him.”
He added that “the country is ready for a new first lady and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms.”
The former House Speaker also drew an analogy to the attacks on Rush Limbaugh, who recently apologized for calling law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” when she testified in favor of employer health plan payments for contraceptives.
“If people on the left want to talk about talk show hosts,” Gingrich said, ”then everybody in the country should hold the president accountable when someone at his event says something that is utterly and terribly unacceptable as what Robert DeNiro said.”
The star of Raging Bull and The Godfather 2 told TPM that his remarks “although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone —- especially the First Lady.”
Michelle Obama called the joke “inappropriate.”
My first reaction was to laugh, just because I think it simply works as a joke. Then I started thinking – how would I feel if some Republican had asked, in jest, “Is the country ready for a black first lady?” I would feel… pissed off. Except THAT is exactly what happened in 2008 when the GOP pursued a campaign of “Michelle Obama is an ANGRY black woman, she hates America (because she’s black), she can’t be First Lady of the United States.” Which is why DeNiro’s joke works as a parody of the old GOP talking points. It’s sad that FLOTUS had to say it was “inappropriate.” But it’s also not comparable to Rush Limbaugh calling a young woman a “slut” and a “prostitute” either. Sigh… election year.
Photos courtesy of WENN.