• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Colbert’s Moment

An old friend of mine with a penchant for Marxist jargoneering takes every opportunity to remind anyone who will listen that, ‘the American ruling class is the dumbest class ever to rule.’ After speaking in front of the most representative audience of the American ruling class that he’ll ever land –the White House Press Correspondence Dinner –Stephen Colbert proved it. Colbert impaled them and they were dumb enough to claim, as Noam Scheiber of the New Republic did “that he just wasn’t very entertaining.” Of course, comments like this just vindicate Colbert. Josh Orton of huffingtonpost.com was one of the few in attendance who shared Colbert’s contempt for the evening’s collection of Generals, judges, politicians and the press that parrot them. “The real reason for this circle-jerk,” Orton wrote was, “affirmation of continued reporting mediocrity.”

We’ve all day-dreamed similar scenarios: “What if I had 20 uninterrupted minutes to say whatever I wanted to the mainstream media, George W. Bush, Supreme Court Justice Scalia, and a handful of the US Military’s ranking generals?” Now we can be certain we’ll never get the chance; Colbert zinged them all so perfectly that John Stewart has a better chance of landing Wolf Blitzer’s job than any of us has of getting invited to such a gala ever again.

Colbert is the host of the enormously popular satirical Daily Show spin-off, “The Colbert Report.” His detailed study of the talking head circuit is apparent immediately: He submits Bill O’Reilly as his closest influence, and has even made O’Reilly’s habit of cutting guests’ mics a part of his own repertoire. They stand together in the war to defend America against the “secular, liberal media elite.”

Unlike John Stewart, who would be far too polite in front of this crowd, Colbert’s character doesn’t know how to hold back. In countless blogs and columns Colbert’s performance is being compared to Stewart’s now-famous appearance on Crossfire during which he called Tucker Carlson “a dick,” compared mainstream political debates to professional wrestling and managed to get the show pulled from CNN’s programming. But Colbert’s mockery went one step further: his satire showed each one of them –from the scrappiest press correspondent to the president himself –what they look like to the rest of us. That’s why they weren’t laughing at his jokes.

Displaying his credentials to fill Scott McLellan’s old job as White House Press Secretary, Colbert –referring to the press –told Bush, “I have nothing but contempt for these people.” He could have said the same thing out of character.

“Over the last five years you people [in the press] were so good –over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.”

Rumor has it that John Stewart is popular among right-wingers. I don’t know why they like him, but I can believe it. I can’t accept however that any significant numbers of Bush-supporters have even the slightest tolerance for Stephen Colbert; he hides his disdain for Bush-supporters about as well as his disdain for the man himself.

“Pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means its 2/3 empty. There’s still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn’t drink it. The last third is usually backwash.”

After comparing Bush’s legacy to Rocky Balboa’s (“The heartwarming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face”) Colbert rebutted the pundits who charge that the administration’s recent personnel changes are tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic:

“That is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!”

And just in case you were afraid that Colbert might share some of John Stewart’s political naïveté, John McCain finally heard what Jeffrey St. Clair has been dying to tell him

“John McCain is here … what a maverick! Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you it wasn’t a salad fork. This guy could have used a spoon! There’s no predicting him. By the way, Senator McCain, it’s so wonderful to see you coming back into the Republican fold. I have a summerhouse in South Carolina; look me up when you go to speak at Bob Jones University.”

Generals were told, “If you’re strong enough to go on one of those pundit shows, you can stand on a bank of computers and order men into battle.” Justice Scalia was flipped off, “just talking some Sicilian with my paisan.” And he took the opportunity to welcome New Orleans’ Mayor Nagin to Washington DC, “the chocolate city with a marshmallow center. And a graham cracker crust of corruption. It’s a Mallomar.”

Watching Colbert, I thought about how H L Mencken must have felt at the Scopes Monkey Trial where he narrowly escaped a mob-lynching at the hands of those fundamentalists he ridiculed so scathingly. Mencken, who posted Scopes’ bail and shaped the legal strategy in his living room, acknowledged that their defeat to whom he called “evangelist mountebanks” was “a tragedy in a way but I might add it was not a tragedy to me I enjoyed it tremendously.” Colbert knows better than anybody the tragedy he satirizes so eerily well. But because he enjoys it so tremendously, he helps us find some joy in it, too.

On his own program, Colbert often plays to his audience –as if they’re Bush supporters –saying “you people get it,” knowing that they actually do get it; the satire, that is. At the press dinner, Colbert knew that he didn’t have his usual audience; and that crowd just doesn’t get it.

CHRIS DOLS is a civil engineering student at University of Wisconsin –Madison and editor of the nascent www.northpinckney.com; Chris can be contacted at chris@northpinckney.com

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail