Did you hear the one from the Marine with the solar panel rolled up? It wasn’t exactly Bob Hope and the USO when Kamala Harris tried out humor during an opening speech to graduate Sailors and Marines at the Naval Academy last week.
Speaking to the next generation of American warriors, the VP made a joke that they would just love all that green investment she and Joe Biden are considering: “Just ask any Navy today, would she rather carry 20 pounds of batteries or a roll-up solar panel, and I’m sure she’ll tell you a solar panel – and so will he.
Ms. Harris’ attempt at inclusive, eco-friendly comedy elicited a loud, glowing burst of laughter – but only from her. The rest of the audience looked like they wanted to crawl under the nearest solar panel.
To be fair, it’s not easy to use culturally appropriate humor. The best humor is often counter-cultural, if not downright offensive. You can’t be awake and funny.
Picture the scene: a room filled with the vice president’s best young employees, all brandishing their critical theory degrees from Sarah Lawrence and Amherst, brainstorming for an unknown audience of courageous young fighters.
“They’re Marines, aren’t they?” Didn’t they fight some famous battles?
Quick Google search.
“OK. How about something about Montezuma or Tripoli?”
More research on Google. Embarrassed silence.
“Seriously? Wouldn’t that be, like, incredibly offensive to, like, Latinxes and Africans?”
“Oh that’s right. Sorry.”
No more silence.
Unsure, “How about a gag that combines a reference to our passionate commitment to green energy with a focus on full gender equality?”
“Awesome. I’ll go.
The plant of Ms Harris’s face was no better than that of her boss a week earlier, during his speech at the Coast Guard Academy. At least Ms Harris didn’t try to break the awkward silences after the failed jokes by telling audiences they were “really boring,” as Mr Biden did.
Opening speeches are a difficult act; those odd occasions when professors, parents, and dignitaries grin uncomfortably across a generational chasm when their charges just want to start the party.
But looking at the performances of the Commander-in-Chief and his future successor, it was hard to resist the suspicion that the young patriots who signed up for the service were not quite aligned with the reigning ideology preached by the brass and their Democratic lords. That they may not be as enthusiastic as their cowardly aroused senior officers about the cultural nihilism that is advancing like an invading army through the institutions of the country. Some generals and admirals give the impression that they are more concerned with microaggressions than those of a more macro – and kinetic variety.
Something tells me that if you are filled with the kind of patriotic verve that drove you at 18 to commit to defending and if necessary giving your life for your country, you probably have some choice words for the well-paying, laden costumes. to train. the unconscious bias out of you.
There were better graduation addresses this year, ones that spoke of the values that made this country great, rather than the hold drained on our hapless new young military officers.
I was at my own daughter’s graduation ceremony at the University of Notre Dame, where Mr. Biden, the second Catholic president, declined the invitation to follow most of his predecessors and give the traditional dispatch to graduates of America’s leading Catholic university.
It was not a loss. Jimmy Dunne, former head of investment bank Sandler O’Neill, spoke fondly of what he had learned from service and duty that day when nearly half of his staff were killed in the attacks terrorists of September 11, 2001. Then Carla Harris, a top Morgan Stanley executive and perhaps the most successful black woman on Wall Street, gave a haunting speech on her reception of the University’s Laetare Medal that brought down the very thunder of the sky in its inspiring momentum.
Best of all, however, could have been the later speech at Purdue University by its president, Mitch Daniels. The former governor of Indiana has denounced the fearful and risk-averse mentality that has captured much of the elite in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In their caution and mistrust, he told the graduates, they failed this “fundamental test of leadership” by refusing to balance risks and obligations. “Certainty is an illusion,” Daniels said. “Perfect security is a mirage. Zero is always inaccessible, except in the case of absolute zero where, as you will remember, all movement and life itself comes to a halt.
It’s a very American sentiment – one that I suspect will long outlast the spasm of identity-obsessed, self-tearing, humorless piety imposed on us by our current generation of leaders.
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