Make up your own jokes!

Why didn’t Obama cross the road?*

What are you, a purist?

* * *

Here is the formula:

[set up] Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

[punchline, always Obama fan rationalization or word salad]

(Three engineering considerations for phrasing in the negative: The little variation on the old children’s joke is a hook for the memory; and has a slight connotation of cowardice and cluelessness (“chicken”; “chicken, head cut off”); and should bring to mind everything Obama did not do, which is a lot. Another critique, with which I agree, is that Obama normalized and consolidated everything Bush did, which is a positive achievement of sorts, but probably best skewered with a different joke.)

So herewith:

Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

Because we didn’t “make him do it!” (JH)

Don’t question his motives this close to the election! (VL)

And of course the classics:

Why do you hate Obama?

You’re a racist!

Also too:

What, you’d rather have Mitt Romney cross the road!? (VL)

Nobody could cross the road in their first term!

Because his heart was in the right place!

Obama went near the road, and it was historic! (VL)

Historic indeed, also too transformational.

* * *

So, make up your own jokes! Or, NC readers being a smart and creative bunch, go meta, and make up your own joke-generating formulas!

NOTE * Big hat tip to VastLeft. I’m not linking to his FaceBorg page, because FaceBorg, but here is his site and his series of comics.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Synopticist

      I’m going OT here, but how about…

      “Romneys such a liar, it’ll turn out he didn’t strap his dog to the car roof after all”

  1. Tom

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    Because the road was filled with IUDs

    He was spending his time fixing his fences, because that’s where he sits most of the time.

  2. Dan Kervick

    Because Bowles and Simpson told him we can’t afford the price of road-crossing tokens any more.

      1. Klassy!

        “Look, first of all JPMorgan is one of the best-managed banks there is. Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we got and sometimes even he can’t get to the other side of the road.”

  3. Tom

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    Because he was already on the BBQ

    For Trump etal:
    Because they don’t have roads in Africa

    For BP
    Because he was covered in oil tar and couldn’t move.

    For the canadian oil line
    Because he was used as an plug for the pipeline

    For privatization:
    Because he couldn’t afford the toll

    1. Valissa

      And now for some ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ cartoons.

      Strategic self interest, Part 1

      Strategic self interest, Part 2×500.jpg

      Strategic self interest, Part 3×642.jpg

      A matter of perspective

      A childish non sequitur

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have a chicken joke instead.

      What does a bully chicken say to taunt his victim chicken?

      “You chicken!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  4. BondsOfSteel

    He did cross part of the road.

    You see… um… the middle, neither right nor left… um… is where compromise and incremental progress can be found. By… um… standing in the middle… um… he shows what a great chicken… um… *SPLAT*

  5. profoundlogic

    Q: Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    A: Because there was too much money to be made by letting the road continue to fall apart as the infrastructure was sold off to banks and other private equity interests.

  6. Paul Tioxon

    Why did’nt Obama cross the road?
    Because his corporate overlords told him to stay put at George Will’s dinner party.

  7. TK21

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    He took one step into the road and called it a day. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

  8. Klassy!

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    The rhetoric was soaring. On a chill day in January it kept us warm as we were witness to history. But reality is cold. Perhaps we were naive. We underestimated the intransigence of a Republican party that had grown increasingly extreme. Was there ever any chance that that road could be crossed?

    1. athena1

      I would be ok with this POV if Obama had TRIED to cross the road. He didn’t. Everyone paying attention noticed, too.

    1. ambrit

      Dear ohmyheck;
      I thought The Ponies was the RetroRocker group Bill “Keep It In Your Pants” Clinton played with.

    1. Klassy!

      Nice link. Seems like this should give you the most honest picture– kind of like paying attention to how insurance companies are responding to the threat of global warming to break through the BS of gloabal warming deniers.

    1. ambrit

      He never was an aficionado of “Haute Cloture.” (Being a Wolf in Sheeps’ clothing, he wasn’t dressed for the occasion.)

  9. Valissa

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    Because of all the rich celebrity supporters already on his side.

    1. Valissa

      I’m pretty bad at writing jokes on request, but I have really enjoyed this thread (thanks Lambert!) and everyone’s wit, so have created some imaginary awards to honor the best of, IMO…

      The short-but-sweet award… a 3-way tie between:
      Joseppi @ 12:10pm
      charles sereno @ 3:39pm (had to read it twice to ‘get it’)
      rob @ 2:08pm

      Best buzzword bullshit award:
      Hugh @ 1:33pm

      Best punny repartee:
      For “Haute Cloture” ambrit @ 1:26pm LOL…

  10. Hugh

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    The Republicans obstructed him.

    He will. Obviously, you don’t understand 11-dimensional chess.

    Obama has always wanted to cross the road, and once the election is over, he will finally be able to do so. That’s why we all must vote for him.

    The Republicans wanted him to remain on the right side of the road. Obama had often stated how he wanted to cross to the left side of the road, and skillfully maneuvered the Republicans into getting them to agree to his staying on the right side of the road.

    It was an Overton road. Obama didn’t need to cross it because it moved to the right on its own.

    Bush didn’t cross the road and he was widely criticized for this. So when Obama didn’t cross the road, it was obviously the right thing to do, or rather not do.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

      Because his Trojan Horse won’t be ready until after the election.

  11. Kevin

    Obama’s cel rang, and it was a big corporate donor who said “Don’t cross, or we take our traffic to a different country’s roads. Your speed-limit laws are slowing us down. Keep up the great work. Click.”

  12. Synopticist

    He DID cross the road, he just doesn’t get any credit for it.

    Anyway, no way would Romney bother.

  13. Klassy!

    F***ing sanctimonious purists. Jill stein has your rainbow colored sparkleponies waiting for you across the road.

      1. Klassy!

        I’ll try again.

        Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

        F***ing sanctimonious purists. Jill stein has your rainbow colored sparkleponies waiting for you across the road.

      2. Jim

        I guess you have to ask yourself, who would you rather have,

        (a) the US democratic system with President Obama as its head, or

        (b) the fascist EuroZone systems, with Draghi as the titular head, with “a small group of far-sighted statesmen” in Brussels doing as it pleases, without democratic legitimacy, “because the voter can’t be trusted”.

        I choose (a).

        What say you, fellow NC participants?

          1. ambrit

            OOOOOOH…. The stars are in the right alignments, and Mercury is in retrograde! President Waite, welcome back to the Poison Ivied halls of Arkham!

        1. scraping_by

          How about,

          (a) Barry, or

          (b) an unelected academic pledging trillions of taxpayer dollars to shore up insolvent private financial firms.

          Oh, wait… Maybe

          (a) Barry, or

          (b) A cabinet level department dedicated to unconstitutional domestic spying, shakedown, and groping.

          Oh, wait…

          Let’s keep looking. Maybe there something about golf.

  14. spigzone

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    Because he was already on the other side .. (arm pump) BAM!!

    c’mon people.

  15. Binky Bear

    I hope these jokes are still funny when President Romney is running the show. How will your political purity feel that day?
    I guess we’ll find out. See you in the camps.

    1. ohmyheck

      It’s not our political purity, Binky, It’s our idealistic purity and our adherence to integrity over cognitive dissonance, silly.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Romney, did someone say Romney? omg, omg, omg, OMG, OH MY GOD, OH MY GAWD! Whatever will we do? I’ve heard rumors that monster would authorize killing American citizens with no judicial review. I AM NOT KIDDING! Even if it meant the death of innocent four year old children for just being nearby! I’ve even heard he’d stand by as thousands of families were illegally evicted from their own homes.Can you believe it? Oh god of ignorance and superstition, protect us from we know not what! For verily you have said unto us, there is nothing so heinous that Gorge Bush did that can not be forgiven if it’s Obama that does it instead!

    3. Stroebs

      OMG, how did Obama and Romney come to be seen as practical choices!

      Q: Why didn’t Obama cross the road?
      A: Because it seemed like the practical thing to do.

    4. TK421

      You’re right, Binky, there will be no camps under Obama. People he doesnt like he simply kills. No need for camps there.

  16. different clue

    The optimist says the glass is half full.
    The pessimist says the glass is half empty.
    The engineer says the glass is too big.

    A conservative sees a homeless triple amputee and says:
    why don’t you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps?
    A liberal sees a homeless triple amputee and say: I can get you some benefits if you will just lose that other hand.

  17. craazyman

    Because he was on vacation!

    Because he wanted to go forward not backward!

    Because he can’t do everything by himself!

    Because he wanted the Republicans to meet him halfway!

    He did, but you won’t give him credit for it!

    Because he’s the kind of transformational president who makes his own road.

    Because Tim Geithner told him not to.

    Because he plans to do that in his second term.

    And my favorite (that Spigzone 3:01 pm) already wrote:

    Because he was already on the other side! hwhahahaha.

    (It’s easy to criticize the president when you yourself are not the president, I admit that. But it still cracks me up.)

  18. dingusansich

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?
    Some say it’s because he couldn’t get away from the $50,000-a-plate fundraiser. The truth is he did cross it. In fact he crossed it twice. (He’s an accomplished double-crosser.) If supporters failed to see it happen it may be because he can cross roads so swiftly—a clause, a phrase, even a word will do. Sometimes he even crosses them off the record or behind closed doors. Or maybe it’s because his supporters haven’t wanted to see either the real Obama or the road, but rather infotainment dreams of roads and Obamas. Which explains why they must believe in change: because it’s so easily mistaken for more of the same.

  19. Synopticist

    Actually, I think they explained this on Balloon Juice.
    There just wasn’t enough time between Franken finally taking his seat, and Kennedy dying.

  20. Jill

    He did not need to cross the road. He has already walked on water. (If you did not see him walk on water it is because you are a very negative person who is a racist and you don’t like organic gardens either.)

  21. chris

    Because Reagan already had and he didn’t want his path to be transparently obvious.

    Because Bradley Manning is GUILTY!

  22. Me

    He saw a leftist on the other side, got scared, and waited for a Republican to hold his hand before crossing. Too easy?

  23. scraping_by

    Because the receiving line at the Alfalfa Club led him the opposite direction.

    Because there are no roads on a golf course.

    Because his under-the-table money is in an overseas bank, not the bank the other side of the road.

  24. Jill

    Hi, Dan Ellsberg here. Yes, Bradley Manning is guilty. That’s why I’m stumping for Obama right now. So let me tell you swing state voters a thing or two.

    Sure Obama promised he’d cross that road. Yes, he sent drones across the other side and took out a few hundred civilians. O.K., he also took out at 16 year old boy. Sure, he had officials from ICE arrest US citizens and deport them to Mexico, (at least the ones who were still alive after being in custody). Sure, poverty is on a major upswing. Income inequality is at an all time high. Everything is being monitored by the govt. and should you object I think there’s a new law to take care of that. It’s called the NDAA, That stands for National Defense Against Accuracy-or “The thought crime law”. Sure, Obama took out the right of the poorest and sickest women to buy abortion coverage. Yes, he supports a coup in Honduras where the coup members specifically target gay and lesbian people. Prison population? Way up there! No national, universal health care, although, to be fair, he has helped the insurance companies who were in a death spiral. Check out Obama’s new NAFTA! 16 trillion in bank fraud-does it get more savvy than that?

    While I am disappointed, it would be really awful if a person who admitted to being Republican did those things, don’t you think? That’s why you should vote for Obama and join me in bringing down the rule of law. Make America something it should never be. Don’t ask questions, not even joke questions about roads. In my day it was all, “question authority” but that was then and this is now. My new motto is authority without a question!

  25. b.

    Because Biden didn’t make him.

    Because jaywalking is not unconstitutional.

    Because he discovered the appeal of being indefinitely detained.

  26. Waking Up

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    Because his grandmother, the banker, always said the bankers are “savvy” and he should ALWAYS do what they want.

  27. TheNewJacobins

    Ask not why Obama did not cross the road. Ask what you can do to carry Obama across the road.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This reminds me of another joke:

      The Democratic Party is like a horse that refuses take commands from its owner and stubbornly refuses to carry him.

      The owner does not go out and get a new horse, but picks up the horse and carries it on his own back in the belief that, eventually, the horse will change its mind.

      Years later, the horse is thinking, “I’m a genius!”

  28. seriousEconomist

    The scarcity of the crossed road cannot exceed the marginal utility of the uncrossed road.

  29. jrs

    because he had an organic veggie garden on this side of the road, really you expect more than that, actual road crossings?

  30. Klassy!

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    From your white and privileged vantage point I guess that road is pretty important, but when teenage girls are dying from back alley abortions after Romney is elected, pardon me if I don’t give a rat’s a** about that road.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Which would be why Obama threw exactly those poor women under the bus with both Executive Order 13535 and Plan B.

      Unless I’m missing your irony. My irony filter has been a bit clogged lately.

  31. Ms G

    Because the road (the entire length of the West Side Highway, aka Route 9) was roped off for the people who worked really really hard and paid a lot of money to participate in the NYC marathon.

  32. kevinearick

    because there is only one side…

    After all the middle class blathering, let’s see if the herd doesn’t show up to confer legitimacy on this government, again, or how long after the election it takes for the communist monkeys in Congress to start talking about mandatory voting, again.

    That’s it, place more of those Schweitzer controls in line, especially the “more efficient” models assembled by “more efficient” labor. If it’s German, it has to the best; after all, that’s what we learned in WWII, right?

    Make a list of capacitors by relativity, look at it for an evening and you will learn more in a few hours than you learned in 16 years of public education. Which comes first, separation of charge, releasing the energy in chemical bonds, or political discourse?

    1. Valissa

      because there is only one side…

      OMG, it’s a mobius road… explains the power of the duopoly most succintly!

      1. skippy

        “it’s a mobius road”… Valissa

        That was the first visualization that popped into my head, too…

  33. Paul Tioxon

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?
    Because in order to cross all of the way, he would have to cross half of the way. And in order cross that half, he would have to cross that half way, before he could cross half of all of the way across. And before he could cross, half of half of half, he would have to cross half of that and reductio ad absurdum. He does not move at all. Unless, of course, cleverly disguised as a potemkin kubuki trojan horse, in which case he will completely destroy Social Security, only it will not look destroyed.

  34. sd

    Q: Why didn’t Obama fight to cross the road?

    A: Any claim that the White House didn’t fight to cross the road is just flat wrong.

  35. Ms G

    Thanks for hosting the best Election-Eve get together. A very effective antidote to the grim truth.
    Ms G

  36. krys

    He did cross the road, as I know because of those speeches he made about it. *rolleyes* at low information folks who don’t understand this.

    1. krys

      I guess he didn’t really cross the road technically though, even though his speech somehow left me with the impression he cared about crossing the road. But that is really just as good. I ended up having a warm fuzzy feeling inside about Obama crossing the road, even though he may never entertained the possibility of actually implementing anything about it.

      1. athena1

        As someone who has been verbally abused online for saying the road was not, in fact, crossed, I appreciate this sentiment. I’m all like “You mean, other folks saw that he didn’t even TRY to cross the road? And other folks see that he probably never even INTENDED to cross any roads?”

  37. Markle

    Q: Why didn’t Obama cross the road?
    A: He wanted to. oh lord, how he wanted to! but the meanie Republican-controlled Congress wouldn’t let him.

  38. rps

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    Surely, ‘Tis simpler to protect the status quo of inequitable wealth and resource distribution rather than cross/anger your elitist campaign benefactors/and future employers. The pied piper Obama has been paid to lure the proletariate away with the magical pipe dreams of promises and change the little people can believe in.

    If you’re a member of the 99 Percenters, you have two choices with your vote: The pied piper’s Magical Mystery Tour to take you away. OR On your way to the promised land tied to the roof of Romney’s car on the Highway to Hell

  39. skippy

    It was not a basketball court…. and if it was… Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernanke and the rest of the team were playing zone. Obama is just there to focus eyeballs on… whilst the shot is taken from some where else.

  40. Ms G

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow, A Really Jolly Good Fellow, For He’s a Jolly Good Fe-e-llow, That Nobody Can Deny. And Community Organizing.

  41. patricia

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?
    1. Because the banks were too high so he ditched.
    2. Because every time he came to the yellow dotted line, he found himself going in the opposite direction.
    3. Because he wasn’t the Saviour after all.
    4. Because he thought it was a mobius strip.
    5. Because he wasn’t a Rhodes Scholar.
    6. Because No-bell rang.

  42. patricia

    7. Because he couldn’t see the right from the left.
    8. Because the pony farm was behind him.
    9. Because he’d already found the pot of gold.
    10. Because his bar-rocks were too heavy.
    11. Because he preferred jabber-walking to jay-walking.

  43. Lambert Strether Post author

    Call for suggestions:

    For a to-be-announced small contest, we need some humorous ideas for parody medals or awards (all caveats caveated by, for and at the total discretion of the nameless judges bien sur). Submissions should be NC-compliant and/or aware of all internet traditions. It is totally OK if suggestions mock authoritarian regimes.


    1. Pour le Quelle Surprise (this is a play on Pour le Mérite, the highest Prussian medal).

    Bonus points if the submission comes with a link to an image suggestive of said award.

  44. patricia

    And one last:
    12. Because he saw dirty hippies standing on the other side.

    Good night, moon. Good night, ‘Bama. Good night, hustlers. Good night, ‘Omney. Good night, scammers. Good night, fiends. Good night to everybody.

  45. Ms G

    Uh, he like totally DID cross the road? Your concept of crossing the road is, like, wa-ay NARROW? Stupid Romney Fascist.

  46. Brooklin Bridge

    because he sold it to Bain Capital along with SS and Medicare for funds to fight his impeachment for spreading socialism.

  47. Eureka Springs

    Q: Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    ***imagine the sound of a tinging triangle after every answer***

    A: Because he hoped you wouldn’t notice.

    A: Because strangling Kucinich on Air Force One is much more effective.

    A: Because playing step on a crack, break the progressives back works perfectly well right here on the sidewalk.

    A: It’s not the road, it’s the third rail.

    A: Because all roads lead to neoliberalism anyway.

    A: Because Clinton is having too much fun playing traffic cop.

    A: Because ordering the pepper spraying and billy-clubbing of the roads occupants is hard work.

  48. Jack

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    Because it was a road less traveled by… and that made all the difference.

  49. psychohistorian

    Why didn’t Obama cross the road?

    Because HOPE was on the other side and he decided to just go FORWARD.

  50. mw

    Q. Why didn’t Obama cross the road?
    A. Because it didn’t lead to Brooklyn Bridge.

    Q. Why didn’t Obama cross the road?
    A. Can YOU cross the road paved with War on Tar?

    Q. Why didn’t Obama cross the road?
    A. Because he suffers from Parkinson’s shuffle walk – takes forever.

  51. b.

    Because he can throw you under the bus from either side.

    Because it’s not safe. He’d look forward, but never looks backwards.

  52. Tangfwa

    Thank you for refusing to link to FaceBorg! I just got squeezed out of a supposedly radical group — a time bank where a lawyer’s hour is the same as a domestic helper’s!– for refusing to institutionalize the use of FaceBorg in our activities.

    When I read NC I don’t feel like such a purist nutball…

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