Did SNL Steal Obama Race Card Joke From Conservative Blogger?
The wording may be a tad nuanced, the referenced two-bit dictator from a different country, but the idea behind the following jokes involving Barack Obama and the race card seems too similar for mere happenstance.
Judge for yourself.
On September 19, conservative blogger Jim Treacher wrote the following fictious exchange between "President" Obama and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that seems eerily similar to the one presented on the most recent installment of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" (video embedded right, relevant section at 3:30):
Obama: The United States demands that you cease all efforts to manufacture nuclear weaponry.*
Ahmadinejad: No way, Yankee dog. Death to America!
O: Huh. Okay, I get it.
O: No, no, I get it.
A: Get what? All I said was "Death to America."
O: Don't worry about it, man. That's just the way it is, I get it.
A: The way what is? Seriously, I don't understand.
A: Is it because I hate America? I didn't think you people had a prob--
O: "You people!"
A: No, wait.
O: "You people." That's just great.
A: No, all I mean is, is, you know... When your wife said that thing about... Just hold on a second, this is going way too fast.
O: Hey, if you guys want to keep trying to build nukes, I think we all understand what you're really saying.
A: I'm really saying I want all unbelievers to burn! Why are you trying to read something bad into it?
O: It's okay, you can say it. I don't look like the presidents on the dollar bills.
A: What are you talking about? Have I gone insane or something?
The key to the joke, of course, is the reference to Obama's vague use of the race card when addressing supposed attacks on him by the right -- that he doesn't "look like the presidents on the dollar bills."
Compare Treacher's exchange to the one from September 27's "Saturday Night Live":
Jim Lehrer, "News Hour" host, Presidential Debate Emcee: Now let's turn to the topic of nuclear proliferation. Senator Obama, you have frequently been critical of this administration's efforts to stop Iran and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.
Obama: Uh, I have.
L: What would you do differently?
O: Uh, first of all, Jim, I would use traditional diplomacy. Something this administration has consistently refused to do. Should that fail, then and only then would I try what I call "playing the race card."
L: And how would that work?
O: Take North Korea. I would ask Kim Jong-il to shut down his country's nuclear weapons program. If he declined, I would say to him, "Alright, I get it. I know why you're really refusing to stop the program." And he would say, "No. What are you talking about?" And I would say, "It's because I don't look like all the other presidents you've dealt with." And then he would say, "Wait. That's not fair. That has nothing to do with it." And I would add, "That's cool. I understand. I'm different. I'm not like the other guys on the 5- and 10-dollar bills." It's a long, delicate process. But eventually, he'll have to give in.
Speaking from a purely academic perspective, using material this similar would constitute plagiarism; the idea is the same even if the wording isn't. The joke combined elements of two of Obama's more controversial statements: conservatives are racists, and; he would meet dictators without preconditions.
The idea of introducing race into diplomatic negotiations with a dictator just seems too clever and unique to have been independently created first by Jim Treacher and then by the SNL writers.
Or maybe there really is a Santa Claus.