What is this Human ‘Joke’?

The other day, Robert De Niro told a joke during his introduction of Michelle Obama at a fundraiser:

“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” De Niro said at an Obama fundraiser in New York City on Monday night.

“Too soon, right?,” he added.

It’s a decent joke. But someone isn’t laughing.

Newt Gingrich slammed Robert De Niro’s comments last night at a fundraiser for President Obama, demanding that the president apologize for the actor’s joke that America isn’t yet again ready for a white first lady.

“It is exactly wrong, it divides the country,” the former House speaker said.

Let me just step in here before this joke further divides America, because I can understand Newt Gingrich’s confusion. Comprehending jokes can be difficult, and the one that De Niro told is quite a doozy, requiring not one but two leaps of logic to “get” the punchline.

Allow me to walk Newt Gingrich through this one:
Input #1: Every first lady in this country’s history prior to 2008 has been white.

Now keep that fact in the back of your mind as we move on to the second input.

Input #2: At the time of Obama’s election, there were many articles written addressing the pressing question, “Is America ready for a black first lady?” I know it’s hard to believe now that America has become a race-blind paradise of diversity and tolerance, but it’s true! Here’s one right here (written, by the way, in response to Fox News referring to Michelle Obama as Barack’s “baby mama.” Oh those Fox News cutups!) Here’s another. And here’s one by noted opinion-haver Maureen Dowd. See? This was a real thing! I swear!

So now that you have those two inputs in mind, go back and read that De Niro joke again. Do you get it now?

I thought so.

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