Hey, Newt! You Never Knocked Me Down!

Hey, Newt! You Never Knocked Me Down!

Hey, Newt! You Never Knocked Me Down!

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 20 2012 3:45 PM

Hey, Newt! You Never Knocked Me Down!

Robert DeNiro tells a joke at an Obama fundraiser, attended by Michelle but not attended by the president.

"Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?" De Niro asked at the top of his remarks at Locanda Verde restaurant as the crowd yelled “no.” “Too soon, right?," he said.

Sure, you get it. We've had lots of white first ladies. (I think the number is 42, as James Buchanan was a bachelor but Woodrow Wilson was widowed and remarried.) But Newt Gingrich takes offense, griping that "I think the country is ready for a new first lady and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms." It was a joke! Look, Ann Coulter gets it.

Screen shot 2012-03-20 at 3.33.19 PM

It's not really offensive at all; it's a joke about the color barrier being broken already. If I didn't know better, I'd think that Gingrich spotted (or thought he spotted) a dog whistle with two tones -- it could offend voters who hate Hollywood, and it could offend voters who think the real racists are liberals.*

*extra points for black liberals. See "Bell, Derrick."

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.