Election 2012

Where Sarah Silverman Goes Wrong

Peter Beinart tells us why Sarah Silverman's newest video offering sexual favors to Sheldon Adelson might fail where the Great Schlep succeeded.

Following up on her 2008 smash hit, The Great Schlep, Sarah Silverman has just released a new, pro-Obama video. And it’s awful. The Great Schlep caught on because Silverman identified a real generational cleavage among Jews (and white Christians, for that matter). Despite Obama’s enormous popularity with the young, many bubbies and zaydes felt uncomfortable about a black president with a Muslim name. Silverman rather graphically reminded them that they were once considered exotic and scary, too. “Yes, Barack Hussein Obama is a super-fucking-shitty name, but you’d think that somebody named Manischewitz Gooberman might understand that.”

This time, Silverman takes aim at Sheldon Adelson, an old Jew who even more dramatically incarnates the anti-Muslim bigotry that infects pockets of American Jewry. Adelson, after all, is pro-occupation, doesn’t think Palestinians exist and believes that “all terrorists are Islamists.” But Silverman doesn’t talk about that. Instead, her primary beef with Adelson (besides his support for Romney) seems to be that he’s old. In the video, Silverman offers to perform a certain sexual favor (nuff said, Open Zion is a family blog) if he takes the gazillions he’s planning to donate to Romney and gives them to Obama instead. The conceit is that Adelson—and presumably Jewish Romney supporters more generally—are uncool, undersexed oldsters while the Jews who back Obama are young, hip, and familiar with lesbian sex moves (oops, I gave away the punch line).

It’s too bad. In 2008, Silverman mocked Jews who discriminate against people they incorrectly consider Muslim. In 2012, she could have mocked Jews who support discrimination against people who actually are Muslim. Instead, she decided that the most objectionable thing about Sheldon Adelson is that he might not be able to get it up.