Comedian / magician / author Penn Jillette has been telling a joke about Hillary Clinton for some time now. Or, rather, telling a story about the joke and its supposed meaning. But yesterday, he told it to the wrong people —Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski*—in the wrong forum.
At risk of blessing it with repetition, the joke goes something like: “Obama is just creaming Hillary. … And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”
Jillette’s point is that when he told it on stage, the audience didn’t gasp—they went wild. To him, it’s a miniparable about how Hillary can’t win. But Scarborough and Brzezinski were clearly not amused, and there’s been some minor fallout .
But imagine how much there would have been if he’d told it a day earlier. Back in February, Maureen Dowd called jokes like Jillette’s “exactly what may give Hillary a shot. When the usually invulnerable Hillary seems vulnerable, many women, even ones who don’t want her to win, cringe at the idea of seeing her publicly humiliated—again.”
Had his ill-advised words fallen a day or two before the primary—like Obama’s cool brush off in the New Hampshire debate or Clinton’s Diner Sob—they might have gained a bit more traction and maybe even created a backlash. Instead, they got buried under election-day coverage. Not that an off-color remark by a comedian would have handed North Carolina to Clinton. But every bit of outrage counts.
Oops. This post originally misspelled Mika Brzezinski’s name.