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THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Ribbing could ease the tension


ANTOINETTE CONNELL, [email protected]

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Ribbing could ease the tension

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WE’RE ON AN old topic here.

How many of us would like to get a chance to verbally roast some of our fiercest opponents? I mean to actually get to tell them what we think of them, their suggestions and how they operate in all-out, no-holds-barred speech and then at the end say, just joking.

I am sure some of you watched the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner with bated breath and wondered about the probability of that happening here. I’m not sure I relish the idea here since I do believe some of us wouldn’t know where to end.

Can you imagine putting Owen Arthur or Freundel Stuart in a room full of media people and others for the sole purpose of giving them a sound telling off? Of course, we hope that the audience would be brave enough to show up.

But why shouldn’t that be? All year long we print the comments of their harshest critics, we advance our opinions on what they are doing wrong, or prod them about doing nothing.

Of course they get back their own. The politicians take full advantage of their high profile office to mudsling – some tactfully, others clumsily.

I don’t believe it would be done with the same diplomacy as the time-honoured tradition of the White House affair. For one, I fear our politicians may not make the distinction between an evening of good-natured ribbing and being on a political platform at general elections with the countdown on.

It would still be good if the invitees were able to swallow their dinner after the roasting.

Of course, when Obama was finished taking his potshots, he still had to brace for the reviews from the media organisations on how he stacked up on the night. But for that moment, prince, politicians, friends, foes, colleagues, the almighty celebrities were all in his line of fire.

Some of his jokes included:

• “If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year . . . . Earn me some serious Tubmans.”

• The president noted his improved standing in popularity polls: “My approval ratings going up. The last time I was this high I was trying to decide on my major.”

• About Donald Trump: “The Republican establishment is incredulous that he is their most likely nominee. They say he lacks foreign policy experience to be president. In fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan . . . .” This was a reference to Trump once owning the Miss Universe pageant.

• Still on Trump: “I think we can all agree that, from the start, he has gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. I hope you are all proud of yourselves.”

• On Republican candidate Ted Cruz recently calling a basketball hoop a ring, Obama said, “And I’m the foreign one”.

Obama’s dramatic mic dropping sign-off with the words “I just have two more words to say: Obama out”, added flavour to the night.

For the most part, the reviews were in his favour, especially when compared with host comedian Larry Wilmore. I had no problem with Wilmore’s finale: “Yo, Barry, you did it, my nigga” to Obama.

That may be because I’m black.

Wilmore’s defenders said it’s a comedian’s job to make people in the room feel uncomfortable.

Actually, I thought that was the job of a preacher. Yeah, if you go to church and have not once squirmed in that pew upon hearing that fire and brimstone sermon, you either have no conscience or are an angel living on earth.

Back to the original point. I believe that here we may not be mature enough to walk out of that room without hard feelings.

I know of such a yearly event where a particular grouping gets the chance to do just that. No one wears a hat or title but walks with something they cannot shed, their personalities.

In that exposed setting, the guests get to tell each other exactly what they think of each other; no hard feelings. It is not intended to demoralise. The next day it is back to normal but with the ice broken, the relationships are less strained.

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