SNL Obama China Skit

Dan Drezner and Megan McArdle are among those recommending Saturday Night Live‘s opening sketch parodying a joint press conference with President Obama and Chinese President Hu.

Drezner quips that the sketch manages to convey the nature of the relationship much more succinctly than his own 40-page academic treatise.

Note that, although it appears that President Hu has the power because he is repeatedly berating Obama, the content of the skit suggests otherwise.  Hu’s repeated complaints that the United States is, er, “doing sex” to him demonstrates the very limited leverage China has over U.S. policy.

While $800 billion is indeed a lot of money, it’s not as large a chunk of U.S. public debt as widely imagined.  But it’s enough to virtually assure that China will keep lending us more money.

As an aside, I’m bemused that SNL has managed to get away with having a white guy playing Obama for this long, much less having a white guy playing Hu and a white woman affecting the broken English of a Chinese translator.

UPDATEAdam Serwer points me to this Jezebel post to let me know that “getting away is relative.”

FILED UNDER: Asia, World Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:

    China has even less leverage when you consider that something like 20-25% of its GDP consists of exports to the United States…

  2. G.A.Phillips says:

    The stupid hybrid commercial was funnier then this stupid skit.

  3. JVB says:

    SNL is dangerously close to being insignificant in terms of political parody. You can’t parody when you’re obviously so biased you fail to see the humor. They act like their very existence depends on how well they bash Republicans and exalt the liberal agenda. This used to be their appeal…their genius…to go after any one and everyone for the laugh. Now they just bully. Not funny any more.

  4. Wayne says:

    Re “But it’s enough to virtually assure that China will keep lending us more money.”

    You sound like those people who don’t worry about maxing out the Credit cards since the banks will just give you another one anyway.

  5. Wayne says:

    Re “Hu’s repeated complaints that the United States is, er, “doing sex” to him demonstrates the very limited leverage China has over U.S. policy”

    IMO it demonstrates how China is feeling the U.S. is treating them. How would you feel when you perceive someone is F@#king you over? Perhaps frustrated, angry and looking to return the favor?

    The Chinese have a history of being a little more radical than we do. What if they stop lending us money? Saying they won’t isn’t a valid answer.

    What if they demand compensation and threaten to take it by force if we don’t? After all according the the MSM our military is broken and is incapable of facing another conflict.

    Would you keep performing services for your employer\customer if they just gave you IOUs and never paid you but pennies on the dollar?

  6. How dare actors in an ensemble cast take on roles for which they are genetically unqualified? The nerve.

    A lot of the criticism of the criticism seems dangerously close to cult-like theology to me.

  7. Franklin says:

    JVB- So I take it you somehow missed every single skit about either Clinton.

  8. Daniel says:

    This really was one of the funniest skits I have seen come out of SNL in years. Finally SNL is getting to point again where it is allowable to poke fun at BHO….

  9. jokertim777 says:

    I am glad to see SNL using our dire financial straits as comedic material. Even belittling it will bring attention to the subject which most people seem to want to avoid.

    The idea that China won’t take repayment of their “loan” in clunkers, however is false. China is more hungry for raw materials than paper dollars and would welcome being paid with them. In fact, I have recently heard a claim that China suggested the “Cash for Clunkers” as a way to get paid in steel for their exports.

    I have also seen an article on Lew Rockwell that claims that China stopped buying dollars in May of this year (and their total dollars held has begun to decline) which has forced the FED to purchase the bonds instead (which is monetizing our own debt, ie running the printing presses).