But the problem isn’t specifically with the joke itself. It’s a sort of generic joke about the executive’s unconstrained power that any postwar president could’ve delivered. You know, it would’ve been Patriot missiles during the first Gulf War, or jokes about the CIA or Secret Service disappearing people during the Cold War. The problem is with the whole damn scene of the president delivering a stand-up comedy routine, on camera, to the press. The problem with the Bush joke about looking for WMD was that a roomful of journalists chuckled good-naturedly at it. It looks bad for everyone.
The joke mighta worked, and certainly would’ve been less offensive, coming from anyone else. It seems like a no-brainer that the people directly responsible for tragedies should not deliver jokes about those tragedies. That’s why Mel Brooks can tell Hitler jokes and Germans can’t.
But! The concept of the president personally ordering the assassination of the Jonas Brothers is, you have to admit, kind of funny. Such a terrible act would also neatly drive home the problem with drone strikes and the Presidential Assassination Program in a way that Americans and the popular press would really grasp.
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @pareene