Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Political Theater

Richard Cohen cannot understand why his “Colbert isn’t funny” op-ed instantly got him thousands of angry e-mails in response. The left must have lost its mind. These people are completely unreasonable, and they are a threat to decent discourse and to the Democratic party.

What Cohen doesn’t understand is that his response to Colbert re-enacts the whole disgrace of the mainstream media’s failure to question the rationale for the Iraq war before it was launched. Those of us who opposed the war from the start saw our viewpoints systematically marginalized, dismissed out of hand—along with Al Gore’s—as “beyond the pale” by opinion leaders like Cohen, not just by conservative but by all moderate and many liberal commentators. No matter how awful the disaster, these liberal hawks still regard themselves as morally superior for having supported the war at the start.

The fact that the assembled arbiters of our discourse didn’t find Colbert’s routine funny means that they still don’t understand what they did when they refused to have the debate about the war, when they, like stenographers, took down the administration’s weak case for war, when they pronounced themselves “convinced” by Colin Powell’s deeply flawed UN presentation, when they endlessly parroted the narrative of President Bush’s “resolve” and “boldness.”

That Cohen has the nerve to come back and say “it’s not funny” just shows that they’d make the same mistake all over again. Colbert’s act was a better impersonation of our elite media discourse than Steve Bridges’ celebrated impersonation of the president. The reason why the audience in attendance didn’t find it funny is because the joke was on them.

It’s a silly controversy on the surface, but like all good political theater it exposes a deeper truth. Cohen’s effort to marginalize Colbert is just a mirror image of his marginalization of the whole opposition to the war. It induces anger because it enacts the same drama we all know so well: Our elites naked in the public square tell us that we don’t see what we see with our own eyes. Colbert was deeply, profoundly funny. Who is Cohen to say otherwise? He’s walking around naked.


At 5:40 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

There's another problem for the mainstream media. Not only are they the butt of the joke, but comedians Stewart and Colbert are also consistently better sources of NEWS than they are. Viewers get a better understanding of events by watching "fake news" and political satire than by actually seeing what is supposed to be "objective" reporting. It is one thing to be comic fodder, another altogether to be bested at your own game by those who intend primarily to amuse and entertain.

On another topic, I'm guessing by the flood of lengthy posts over the last two days that we're all done with grading.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Frances said...

Not me. I still have a huge stack of term papers to grade. The long posts have a different cause: procrastination (or, based on the quality of about 1/3 of the papers, dread).


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