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Colbert at the Press Corps dinner

I'm shamelessly stealing much of this from Chris Durang at the Huffington Post, so I may as well just cut and paste! Here are the some main points: Colbert's performance was amazing, if uncomfortable for viewers. Let's face it, the best satire is usually uncomfortable, and Colbert's schtick represents a mirror for the worst side of the American press. Most of the biggest neo-con cheerleaders would be present in the audience, and would understandably be uncomfortable with the faux cheerleading of Colbert. As Durang points out, it's like the scene in Hamlet where the prince forces King Claudius to watch the 'play' which not-so-subtly accuses Claudius of murder. I'm just not sure if Bush is Claudius in this simile, or if the whole room is basically just a collection of Claudius'. In more modern terms, Colbert channels the spirits of Lenny Bruce and Andy Kaufman with his ability to make the audience, and the target, squirm.

Colbert's act was universally trashed or ignored by the mainstream media. A quick Google News search on Stephen Colbert gives a list of 424 hits, but perusing many of those stories (such as The Chicago Tribune, CBS News, The NY Times), they either devote most of their inches to what a meanie Colbert is, or they simply include him as a footnote to the "Bush twin" impersonation act. Colbert's act consisted mostly of back-handed compliments to the President, and at the end the President seemed pretty peeved. A jester like Colbert would not be doing his job if he didn't make the President-King question his own flaws.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a link to the Colbert performance (the second link in the search). I won't be able to watch it until I get home this evening, so I hope everything I wrote was accurate! I did read the transcript, and it reads like gold.

while it's sadly true that the mainstream media ignored colbert, it's highly encouraging to see that coverage- POSTIVE COVERAGE- of his speech is all over the internet. as much as the people he was making fun of would like to bury his speech, it's obvious that there is a much larger group who think he was right on the money.

here's hoping cheney doesn't have him killed.

I've seen it - and it was pure gold. I'd recommend that all the people reading this blog watch it, because it's history in the making - cause you know he's never going to be invited back again.

I would like to offer the comments of my favorite blogger Billmon (emphasis mine):

Colbert's routine was designed to draw blood -- as good political satire should. It seemed obvious, at least to me, that he didn't just despise his audience, he hated it. While that hardly merits comment here in Left Blogostan, White House elites clearly aren't used to having such contempt thrown in their faces at one of their most cherished self-congratulatory events. So it's no surprise the scribes have tried hard to expunge it from the semi-official record -- as Peter Daou notes over at the Huffington Post.

Colbert used satire the way it's used in more openly authoritarian societies: as a political weapon, a device for raising issues that can't be addressed directly. He dragged out all the unmentionables -- the Iraq lies, the secret prisons, the illegal spying, the neutered stupidity of the lapdog press -- and made it pretty clear that he wasn't really laughing at them, much less with them. It may have been comedy, but it also sounded like a bill of indictment, and everybody understood the charges.

If things were going well, if Bush's approval ratings were north of 60%, gas was 80 cents a gallon and the war was being won, I suspect Colbert would have gotten a different reception. His audience could have pretended to be amused -- in that smug, patronizing way we all remember from the neocon glory days. But we're long past the point where the Cheneyites and their journalistic flunkies are willing to suffer such barbs with good humor. The regime's legal and political troubles are too serious, the wounds too open and too deep for the gang to smile while somebody like Colbert gleefully jabs a finger into them.

Colbert's real sin wasn't lese majesty, it was inserting a brief moment of honesty into an event based upon a lie -- one considered socially necessary by the political powers that be, but still, a lie.

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