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Jon Stewart to the President

“Hello, Donald! It’s me, the guy you made sure everyone knew was Jewish on Twitter,” Jon Stewart said as he took his seat on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show on June 28.  “I know you’re upset about all the criticism you’ve been taking in the ‘fake news’ and the ’fake’ late-night shows. It’s just, we’re all still having a little trouble adjusting to your presidency as it goes into its five hundredth year.”

“Everything’s off its axis,” Stewart explained. We used to think Canada was our ultra nice and responsible friend.  Now Canada’s a bunch of giant assholes.  Now you present to us  Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un as noble, intelligent role models. “Like, that’s hard to get used to. You’re re-doing the post-war alliances, only this time, we’re with the Axis powers. But I just want to say that if there’s one hallmark to your presidency that I think we’re finding the most difficult, it’s that no matter what you do, it always comes with an extra layer of gleeful cruelty and dickishness.”

“It’s not just that you don’t want people taking a knee; it’s that they’re ‘sons of bitches’ if they do,” Stewart continued. “It’s not just denying women who have accused you of sexual assault; it’s saying, ‘They were too ugly, anyway”—not pretty enough for me to have been  interested.

“You can’t just be against the media; they’re enemies of the people. It’s not even partisan. Anyone in the Republican Party dares speak against you, they also must be humiliated—even if they have a terminal disease” (or were imprisoned and tortured in North Vietnam).

What about  immigration? “Boy, you fucked that up.” You could have tightened border security without separating asylum-seeking children from their parents. But  “I guess it wouldn’t have felt right without a Dickensian level of villainy.”

“Clearly, we’re not going to be able to negotiate or shame you into decency,” Stewart said. “But there is one place where I draw the line: I won’t allow you and your sycophants to turn your cruelty into virtue.” Yes, some right-wing anchors praise you for being “the exact right leader” and “a fighter.” As one pundit put it, “Donald Trump talks like the majority of the American people talk.”

But “the majority of the American people aren’t assholes.”  You in the White House “don’t talk like the majority of the American people.” You talk more like the “gerrymandered minority that shrewdly played the electoral college.”

Stewart recalled Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech where he stated  that  all Southern slaveholders wanted at the time was for free states to “cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right.” On his point, Lincolns said,  “the Union could not bend.” What . Donald Trump wants is “for us to stop calling his cruelty and fear and divisiveness wrong, but to join him in calling it right. This we cannot do. And by not yielding, we will prevail—unless, of course, the Democratic leadership continues” fecklessly to do nothing.

To get the full impact of Stewart’s presentation, see it at:

 

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Walter Clemens is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Boston University and Associate, Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He wrote Complexity Science and World Affairs (SUNY Press, 2013).

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