Cosby and Obama

Throughout this past dreary year, while doggedly fighting against POTUS Obama, I have fended off accusations of racism with my standard ten-word refutation: “I would be delighted if Bill Cosby had become president.”

Dr. Cosby has a far more impressive record than Obama. He earned his doctorate, an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts, with legitimate research work and a dissertation. Unlike Obama, his résumé would never fit on the back of a postage stamp. He has won four Emmys and nine Grammys; published eleven books; and received eleven honorary degrees, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. He successfully managed a complex multimedia career. He has outspokenly campaigned for reforms in family structure and educational responsibility within the black community while retaining the respect of black leaders such as Jesse Jackson. Thus, in terms of Parkinsonian criteria for a job, Cosby has demonstrated executive ability, focused and persistent energy, charisma, idealism, honesty, and bravery — all much-needed qualifications for high public office.
And he is also funny, often wildly and wackily so, but always with that basis of common sense and sound moral principle that has earned him the love and respect of the public. Therefore, last month, when he was finally awarded the twelfth Mark Twain Prize for American Humor [1], everyone felt it was long overdue [2]. His acceptance speech, for which he did not need the aid of a teleprompter, was brief, gracious, studded with delightful anecdotes, and devoid of either vanity or false modesty. He bragged happily, “even my wife said I was funny.”
Not that Obama can’t be funny. His speech about “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” would have been hilarious as a Cosby rant; Obama just didn’t put enough oomph into it. He’s much better in his deadpan impersonation of a humorless snob trying to be funny à la Steve Carell in “The Office”. That’s the only way to make sense out of his bizarre announcement of the Fort Hood massacre or his laborious shtick on classical music. Notwithstanding the clumsiness of these sallies, Obama does have considerable potential as a comedian. He just needs better writers and a slightly more exaggerated delivery.
This strange juxtaposition of careers is reminiscent of the concept, frequently used by science fiction and fantasy writers, of parallel universes: an infinite set of alternative realities, envisioned as a bundle of parallel and/or branching timelines, each embodying a possible reality. A popular example is the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” in which George Bailey visits an alternative world in which he never existed.
It has even been suggested in hyperdimensional quantum theory that this concept may have physical validity [3]. If this is true, then perhaps, in some far-off but not too different alternative timeline, a beloved and effective President Cosby has just congratulated comedian Barack Obama on winning the Mark Twain prize. So if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go down to the cellar, tinker with my time machine, and try to get it to travel sideways.
[1] The award presentation took place at the Lincoln Center on October 24, but was not aired on PBS until November 4. The complete video can be found here.
[2] Cosby had in fact been offered the prize twice before but had refused it as a protest against the profanity and low moral tone of the inaugural presentation to Richard Pryor in 1998.
[3] Whether or not it is physically valid, the theory of parallel universes is obviously true in a psychological and perceptional sense. Each of us lives in a private universe that is significantly different from the universes of those around us, even (or especially) those who are nearest and dearest to us.

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