Things That Are Funny to Dana Milbank: Kenyans, Hawaiians, Short Democrats

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank (3/18/10) returns from his excursion into mocking right-wingers to return to his natural role of ridiculing single-payer advocates. His target today is Rep. Dennis Kucinich. You know what’s funny about him? He’s short! Or, in Milbank’s words, he’s a “little man,” a “little guy,” a “diminutive figure” and–because he announced his support for the healthcare bill on St. Patrick’s Day–a “leprechaun.”

Actually, Kucinich is the exact same height–5 foot 7–as John McCain, whom Milbank can somehow write about without any elf jokes.

Milbank also includes a sneering reference to how Kucinich “led the city into default” when he was mayor of Cleveland. Yes, that’s true–he stopped the plan to privatize the city’s power system, which caused some banks to play hardball with the city’s credit. He didn’t blink, Cleveland still has municipal power and it saved the city and its residents tens of millions of dollars. It’s hard to find many people in Cleveland who think Kucinich did the wrong thing.

But also… he’s short! Like a leprechaun!

What most struck me as most strange, though, about Milbank’s column was this line:

Our Kenyan Hawaiian commander in chief evidently has the luck of the Irish.

First of all, it’s weird to refer to a president’s state of birth as though it were an ethnicity. Who would anyone describe Bill Clinton as an Anglo Arkansan? Ronald Reagan as an Irish Illinoisan? It’s as if, like Cokie Roberts, Milbank doesn’t really consider Hawaii to be part of the United States.

Secondly, Obama is part Irish on his mother’s side–he’s got Kearneys and McCurrys in his family tree. But Milbank was apparently too struck by the hilarity of being “Kenyan Hawaiian” to look that up.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.