Obama laughter: ‘punch drunk’ or ‘gallows humor’

March 24, 2009

The Internet is abuzz over what to make of President Barack Obama’s laughter during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday.


Interviewer Steve Kroft, as they discussed the ailing automobile industry, said to Obama: “You’re sitting here, and you’re — You are laughing about some of these problems.  Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there, just making jokes about money’.”

He went on to ask Obama how he explained his mood and laughter.  ”Are you punch drunk?” Kroft asked.

“No, no. There’s got to be a little gallows humor to get you through the day,” Obama said.

What do you make of Obama’s laughter?

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I understand him totally……………with all that he has to deal with if you don’t laugh you will cry. I don’t see nothing wrong with his reaction. His action today shows how serious he is about the financial mess and taking constructive steps to deal with it. People who want to make more out of it is just whistling dixie.

Get a life people………….

Posted by Florence | Report as abusive

so trivial… this is not news.

The POTUS and his team have no clue. His fiscal policies penalize hard working earners and reward government parasites. BH Obama is going to ruin the USA for generations.

Posted by Jay D | Report as abusive

What do I make of his laughter? What a ridiculous thing to focus on. Sometimes people laugh. He’s got probably the worst job ever handed over to a new president, ever. I understand the 24/7 media has got to keep generating angles, but there’s a very deep problem unfolding here in the USA and it has very little to do with how much Obama laughs and, actually, not that much to do with the AIG bonuses. Things are just getting ridiculous here. Why, even laughable, in a sad & dark way.

I was glad to see the President laughing at the mess. His confidence gives ME confidence.
(If he had appeared worried or scared, that would have made ME feel worried and scared).

Posted by Keith Hardcastle | Report as abusive

He’s able to handle stress, smile makes people feel comfortable and in control – even on highly stress situation

Posted by Barrack OMAMA | Report as abusive

I think Obama is laughing at the sheer absurdity of just how many problems — and how big they are — he’s been left with to sort out. Its like buying a car knowing its has a few problems, but then when you take it into the shop you find out that the engine is shot, the radio is dead and all four tires are hanging on by sheer will. With problems that big and that many, you shoot right past anger and just have to laugh.

Posted by flavor13 | Report as abusive

I recognized that laughter as what it was: an exhausted man who is trying not to be overwhelmed. It seemed out of place, yes, because we laugh at inappropriate things when we are exhausted. Let’s cut him some slack–but I hope that he stops the “media blitz” and traveling and starts to get some balance, rest and necessary perspective. He IS president, after all.

Posted by Marty | Report as abusive

I agree with the first comment. With the weight of the world on his shoulders, and his intentions to solve all these problems, but unable to do it by himself, cut thean some slack. I think the dark humor was more out of a sense of incredulity that despite his intelligent sense of the US and global situation, that it was so much more than anyone could ever imagine. But he has to remain positive or he would be ineffective. Pres O is a good delegator and he his team has been all over the place trying to make lemonade out of the Bush and Congress lemons. Let us all be proactive in giving him honest feedback because he wants to listen.

Posted by Ann Francis | Report as abusive

“I don’t see nothing wrong with his reaction. His action today shows how serious he is about the financial mess and taking constructive steps to deal with it. People who want to make more out of it is just whistling dixie.”

HUH?? You can’t even construct logical sentences.
And to think the idiot who wrote this, and millions
more like him, are responsible for voting this fraud
into the highest office in the world. GOD HELP US.

OBAMA….One Big Ass Mistake America

Posted by LiarHussein | Report as abusive

…And yet, the press never stops playing the fool.

Posted by Selena Morris | Report as abusive

Steve Kroft was way off base with this question. I NEVER heard any reporter act this disrespectful to George Bush and he was an admitted genuine drunkard.

Posted by DeloresT | Report as abusive

I completely agree with Florence. Humor is an excellent way to deal with stress, and Obama is doing a remarkable job. Anyone that found his laughter offensive or inappropriate should closely examine his or her life, because I highly suspect you’ll have health issues as a result. Laugh a little. It feels good, and it’s good for you. It’s not a sign of being irresponsible.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

I think he was laughing because he was exhausted. He says that he’s working (in meetings) until midnight and then getting up early to work out every morning.

I’d feel much better if he cut off all social activities at 6 PM, then ate dinner and spent a few hours thinking about things by himself or just with family, then got to bed by 10 PM.

Being under stress makes you stupid if you’re not careful. Not getting enough sleep repeatedly compounds the problem and the result is not thinking straight. Obama is a smart guy. We need him thinking straight.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Obama is intelligent and hard working president. So far he accomplished more then Bush in the first year. I am astonished to see, how right wing news media tries to steer from the huge problems the president faces and so far successfully navigates into some sort of nitpicking.

American autoindustry or free trade – this is important and how how president jokes about it.
Same way: what to do with financial industry and AIG is important, not that Obama explained this on Late Night Show.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Grow up. The whole media “establishment” has become like the National Enquirer! The man laughed because he’s intelligent, capable, and in command. Let’s support him, not pick him apart!!

Posted by Frederick | Report as abusive

Horrors; what if we had a clueless sour old geriatric president right now? This is the hardest working president we have had in my 60+ year lifetime. How does he keep such good spirits while dealing with this many problems at once? We should be happy that he can find the humor in this (gallows or otherwise.

“What do you make of Obama’s laughter?”

That he’s human?

Seriously, get a life.

Posted by Bennett | Report as abusive

Oh my god, yes! I’m sure he is in such disbelief over all the problems he has to face that that laughter is stress relief.

Posted by Kelly Belly | Report as abusive

Are you kidding me? People are taking offense to this? Get a sense of humour!

Posted by Devlin | Report as abusive

Oh, we’ve got a life all right. We’re just hoping (and praying) that Mr. Obama doesn’t TAKE that life away from us. I don’t see anything funny about it, and I find it VERY odd that the President of the United States of America was making light of it.

A real leader does not need to “laugh so he doesn’t cry”. What liberal hogwash! If President Bush would have been captured doing that in an interview, we would NEVER hear the end of it from liberal pundits. But President Obama gets a pass, and excuses from his supporters, never being help accountable, just like Bill Clinton…

Mr. Obama, God bless him, is a pawn. A well-intentioned, likable pawn, but a pawn nonetheless.

It’d be so nice if liberal Democrats would at least SOMETIME see Mr. Obama as a human and not The Messiah Who Gets Every Break.

They neglect doing so at their own peril– OUR peril.

Posted by Jody | Report as abusive

Are you honestly trying to create traction on this as a “story”? What a waste. No wonder the main stream media is irrelevant.

Posted by Khris Brown | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, many Republican supporters will nitpick at this and blow it out of massive proportions.

When my business was failing back a few years ago, there had been many times I joked about it. It was either a little humor or constant misery. What would you choose? Seems like many Republican supporters would rather take a little humor out of major context, than to work with the President on the crisis.

Posted by Li | Report as abusive

Barack, just be yourself and use all your gifts to put this house in order. That’s the job you were elected to do with all our backing. When I hear the “blues” it makes me laugh as well. Kroft crossed a line taking to the President…don’t be afraid to put him, and all those so bold, back in their place!!

Posted by haroun el-nil | Report as abusive


Posted by Deb | Report as abusive

His modus operandi is to increase the federalist power and influence. He is punch drunk with power and sees his personal benefit from current situation regardless of how it affects others or the country in the long run. He will move the country toward a tyranny with excess burden and control without a check on his term.

Posted by Molly | Report as abusive

It’s kind of like he’s laughing at what the republicans will say about him if he puts more money into the automotive industry – politically they’ve been opposed to any bailout that one especially. Funny they’re the same people who will probably pick this bs apart. I agree with Florence, get a life and don’t make an issue of this.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

If you have ever worked in the medical field, you know that sometimes you must laugh. The alternative is out-of-control screaming! Must the man look as though he is attending a funeral at all times? Come on folks – - -

Posted by Tammy | Report as abusive

He just wants to be the guy next door. Down to earth, small town guy that made it big showing everyone you can do it too. You don’t have to worry about the market when you sign a big book deal for 500K five days before taking the oath and you got 2.5 million in 2008 for additional book compensation. He is laughing all the way to the bank. Once he gives away the future of our kids in his next socialistic move, maybe he will slow down.

Posted by hcallaway | Report as abusive

Totally agree, Florence. He’s human.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

unprecedented times, greatest recession and I think he is a true leader. 2 wars, job losses, bailouts, Republicans harping “NO” “NO” and obstructing without constructive ideas! I think he was trying to make americans comfortable but may have been overdone just those few sec but rest of his interview was fantastic.

He laughs because he sucks at interviews and he’s trying to distract the viewers and the person asking the questions.

I give you the Lord Almighty Barack Hussein Obama.

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

I really do not see why anyone is suprised about his laughter. This is the man that tells us to turn down our thermostats, adjust the air in our vehicle tires, tighten our belts. He berates the Big Three Auto Execs for using private jets to fly to Washington to ask for money.
Yet, he turns up his thermostat, parties in the White House,(I understand this is to be a weekly party, at the least), flies at taxpayer expense to California to be on Jay Leno’s show. (I thought the campaign ended in November) All this while the american people are suffering. Losing homes, jobs, everything they have worked for and he laughs. I think history tells us Nero laughed while Rome burned.
This man knows about as much about how to run this country as I would know how to fly and I haven’t even been on an airplane but twice in my life. With out his teleprompter, he muddles and sputters and make a fool of himself. Obama’s supporters still make fun of George Bush for the many stupid things he said. On the other hand, Obama is supposed to be a very highly educated person and he still makes a fool of himself.

Posted by Emma Ross | Report as abusive

oh brother – we finally have a president capable of putting a complete sentence together and not sound like some reject from a dude ranch and people are upset about him laughing in an interview? hell, he could have laughed through the whole interview and I’d still take him over the boob we just weathered eight years of.

Posted by Karl | Report as abusive

I totally agree with what Florence said.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

What does he care? He has a job, and a free house, and a $400,000-a-year salary, and a $500,000,000.00 book deal to write about his presidency two months into it! He’s had a free ride his whole life, best schools and even other people to write his books for him. He can’t relate to the struggles of every day people. It’s all a big joke to him. He’s the one telling us it’s a Great Depression, which it is not. His cavalier attitude proves that much.

Posted by Chico | Report as abusive

He’s not laughing because he thinks the situation is funny or or is amused by it…the gravity of the situation is so enormous it’s absurd!

Posted by Mel | Report as abusive

Obama is such an elitist and so out of touch. The laughing, just like so many other things (Special Olympics, Geithner selection…it goes on forever), is an insight to his character and soullessness.

Posted by Elder Jane | Report as abusive

That is the laughter of disbelief, incredulity at the mess the country is in and the few tools at his disposal to lift us out of it. He is absolutely correct: a year ago no one would or could have predicted that Iraq would be secondary to a collapsing economic infrastructure.

Heaven help him and also help the rest of us.

Posted by P Smith | Report as abusive

He is laughing that his plan is coming to pass, and the American people are falling for it.

Posted by Invisible Ninja | Report as abusive

It’s so nice that the media is dissecting the total non-issues of this president instead of ignoring all the serious issues of the last president. I mean, in a way it’s very relaxing.

Posted by Jonah Gruber | Report as abusive

Sorry, I’m not sure I believe that, it was a little ‘gallows humor’

Posted by Invisible Ninja | Report as abusive

I agree with the first comment, if you don’t laugh about it you will cry about the problems we are all facing. I think Obama is being perfectly normal in his reactions, and I do believe he is taking all this very seriously. We have seen a lot of action coming from the white house to try and build a better foundation for our economic future. I don’t think we need to make anything out of Obama’s humor other than he is a normal human being in the face of a devastating crisis.

they call this innappropriate affect…..

Posted by SC | Report as abusive

Obama -smart- gallows humor

Bush -not so much – punch drunk

Kroft- nitwit – or either pretends doesn’t know the difference

Posted by Pyak | Report as abusive

Gosh, I agree with Florence. And I didn’t even vote for the guy. Many of us chuckle or laugh or make jokes when under such stress and unnerving events.
Lighten up, for heaven’s sake. We are all so awfully critical, aren’t we…..

Posted by Hope | Report as abusive

He’s laughing because he’s selling this countries future off.

What was announced today is worse than what Madoff did to his victims.

Barry is selling out this country to fill the pockets of his banking and investments buddies that graduated from harvard.

This is the end of the middle class – we are now just slaves to the govt

I like Obama, but, the laughter is the same as the boy that ate the stolen chocolate bar- he got away with it. It is scary because I am left to wonder exactly what did he get away with ?

Posted by Laz | Report as abusive

First Obama takes us to war in Iraq. Then he cuts funding for stem cell research. Then he has his secratary of state condone water boarding and torture and uses the word 911 every five seconds and talks about terrorism constantly. I don’t understand why he shifted to intellectual logical conversation that included wit and a sense of irony? Me republican don’t understand. Me want hide under terrorism cliche and stern looks again:(

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

This is much to do about nothing. Let it go!!

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive