A Presidential Oral Sex Joke Is in the Eye of the Beholder

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There are four ways to interpret what President Obama meant Wednesday when he said that his wife "doesn't go all the way down" at last night's fundraiser at the home of Glee creator Ryan Murphy. Obama was talking about Michelle Obama's push-up contest with Ellen DeGeneres, but perhaps he was also talking about their sex life. 

Per the White House's transcript of the President's remarks. This is what Obama said:

So what to make of that?

1. The Maybe-About-BJs Interpretation. This tactic was taken by the Dallas Morning News' Todd Gillman, who, serving as White House pool reporter, relayed this version of events:

He warmed up with some jokes about the first lady’s appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show. “Michelle outdoes me in pushups as well,” he said, after saying that she’s taken some criticism on her technique “because she doesn’t go all the way down” – a line that he let hang, naughtily, provoking laughter from the crowd.


2. The Wimpy Non-interpretation. This was the take of the anonymous "BuzzFeed Staff," who posted Gilman's report under the headline "Did President Obama Just Make a Blowjob Joke?" as well as Politico's Byron Tau, who used the even more ambiguous headline, "Obama's joke?"

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3. The Definitely-About-BJs Interpretation. As The Awl's Choire Sicha predicted, the distasteful joke has morphed into a conservative meme. "I'm thinking Barry didn't want to go there at a gay and lesbian fund raising event. But he di-d!!" Dan Riehl writes. (The word "di-d" appears to be Riehl's attempt at rendering "gay voice.") Jimmie at Sundries Shack wrote that Obama "dropped one of the more inappropriate comments I’ve seen from a President since, well, the last Democrat we had in office." While it's possible Obama just screwed up his joke, Jimmie says, if Obama is such a great orator, "then it’s reasonable for us to assume that he meant to deliver that crude remark about his own wife before an audience he was absolutely sure would get the joke." (It appears "absolutely sure" is a reference to the audience being gay.) Lonely Conservative says, more in sorrow than in anger, "After hearing about this I kind of feel sorry for Michelle Obama. Imagine being married to such a buffoon?"

4. The Probably-About-Push-ups Interpretation. Guys, guys, guys. Obama was referring to the push-up contest between Ellen and Michelle back in February. Michelle "won" the contest, based on how many push-ups she did. But Michelle didn't break the plane, which is the No. 1 rule of doing an actual push-up. As this guide to passing the Army's physical fitness test explains, "The standard for a correct push-up is very simple, you must keep your back straight throughout the movement and your arms must break a 90 degree plane when you go down." Michelle didn't do that, so not a single one of her push-ups should have counted. Allow me to illustrate:

For future reference, this is how a politician does an oral sex joke:

"Something may go down tonight but it ain't going to be jobs, sweetheart." Step it up, Mr. President.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.