Our Clowns vs. Their Clowns

I confess I haven’t had time to watch the video of Steven Colbert in the House, so I will leave it to others to decide if he was funny or whether it was smart/appropriate for him to stay in persona for the gig. I just want to point out that the headline writers can’t make up their minds about which party Colbert embarrassed more.

Think Progress: “Fox Apoplectic Over Colbert Testimony: Megyn Kelly Demands Apology, Rep. Steve King Calls Him A Liar

OK, so he pissed off Republicans. But wait …

Byron York: Colbert embarrasses Dems; Conyers asks comedian to leave

Maybe some of you know this — in what context did Conyers ask Colbert to leave? Was he serious or was he kidding? Anyway, it’s not clear from York’s post exactly why the Dems were embarrassed by Colbert, just that they were, or that York thinks they should have been.

Jonathan Allen of Politico said that Colbert knocked Dems “off message”:

For a Democratic majority that has had difficulty demonstrating to voters that its policies are addressing their needs, Colbert provided another day off message and, perhaps, an emblem of a party that has lost its footing as it limps toward a preelection adjournment.

John Podhoretz actually said the Colbert testimony “may have been the single biggest pointless blunder in American political history, and I am not kidding.” Colbert hit a nerve, I take it.

Digby: “Of course in a world where Glenn Beck is considered a serious political figure, I suppose you can’t blame them for not getting the joke.”

On the whole, the reaction from leftie bloggers seems positive while the reaction from rightie bloggers is downright derisive. I take it wingnuts were pissed that the Colbert testimony took attention away from other testimony elsewhere on the Hill, regarding the New Black Panther Party / voter intimidation allegations.

Speaking of clown acts, here is a new Bill Maher video of Christine O’Donnell:

See also O’Donnell’s pledge to stop the whole country from having sex.

BTW, why is Christine O’Donnell not “the single biggest pointless blunder in American political history”? She’s a bigger joke than Colbert, any day.

22 thoughts on “Our Clowns vs. Their Clowns

  1. “Our Clowns vs. Their Clowns”

    Perfect! I say stupid is stupid and just because FAUX news is overreacting and calling something ridiculous don’t mean it aint. Mostly I feel for the migrant workers, they have a cause and a story that needs to be told, all Lofgren and Colbert accomplished was to make a mockery of the whole process and the plight of the migrant worker. I’d bet the wealthy land owners who exploit the migrant workers couldn’t have asked for a better outcome of the hearings.

    • uncledad — Satire on Colbert’s level is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the more I see of what he said, the more I think he was not ridiculous at all.

  2. They love Dennis Miller, who hasn’t been funny in, oh, about a decade or more. But if he testified, they’d be lapping up every word, saying how he spoke truth to power.
    They hate Colbert because he exposes their hypocrisy. And they really, really hate Al Franken.
    Here’s what I’d love to see in 6 years- Stephen Colbert run for the Senate in SC and drop a house on Jim DeMented, ‘The Wicked Witch of the Southeast.’ I’d laugh my ass off if that happened, and I’ve got a lot of ass!
    I won’t be laughing though if DeMented is elected President in 2012. You know he can taste it. And he wants it. Badly. Then, I’d be looking to get my ass out of the US. Pronto!

  3. Lynne – I think that was his intention. Neither party has addressed the issue with anything but race-baiting for well over a decade.

    I won’t repeat what I said on the previous thread (once it escapes moderation) about mocking “the process,” but historical perspective on that process would be useful.

    And I guess it needs to be restated that Lofgren invited Colbert because the United Farm Workers wanted her to.

    Otherwise, if people find they just really need to be angry about Colbert, I’ll stop being such a buzzkill, step out of their way and let them get on with it.

  4. Here’s some of the additional things that went on that wasn’t part of the video testimony that I saw. I wish it was, it give another layer of sarcasm and humor.
    Rep. King (of the D**chebags):
    “[Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who invited Colbert to the hearing] and Stephen Colbert among them disparaged the people who do hard work in America everyday. That she went out and did some work on this farm, and Stephen Colbert did some work on this farm. I pointed out he was actually unpacking a crate of sweet corn, and it has to be going in the other direction if it’s going to be shipped off the farm. … I don’t think he had his facts right. I saw the video. And the video looks to me like it was staged. … He didn’t do real work.”
    King actually broached this subject of deception while questioning Colbert, who responded, beautifully, “I was packing corn. I was a corn packer and I know that term is offensive to some people, for corn packing is a derogatory term for a Gay Iowan.”

    Colbert’s sarcasm continued when he was questioned by lawmakers. Asked by the panel’s ranking Republican, Lamar Smith of Texas, how many workers joined him during his day on the New York farm, Colbert replied, “I didn’t take a count. I’m not good at math.” When Smith asked how many of them were illegal, Colbert replied, “I didn’t ask them for their papers, although I had a strong urge to.”
    Smith asked Colbert if that one day on the farm made him an expert. Colbert replied, “I believe one day of me studying anything makes me an expert.”
    And asked if he endorsed GOP policies, Colbert said, “I endorse all Republican policies without question,” prompting Smith to thank Colbert for his endorsement of the Republicans’ just-unveiled Pledge to America.

  5. Gulag, Steve King and Lamar Smith are just two of endless reasons why I believe no one needs to to appear before a Congressional committee cap-in-hand, as if in some sacred crystal cathedral addressing the Great and Powerful Oz.

  6. OT, but is that Scott Bruun guy, whose ads keep turning the right side of my screen blood-red, a teabagger? How’d he get in here?!

    • that Scott Bruun guy

      Next time you see the ad, copy the url the ad links to and paste it into the comment thread so I can find it. Then I can put the url in a block filter.

  7. The sad thing is that Colbert actually said some pretty smart things, but they will of course get overlooked as people argue about whether or not he was funny. (Which he was, IMHO. I guess we can debate whether or not satire is appropriate on CSPAN or whatever.) Towards the end of his initial statement, he said something along the lines of it being a good idea to grant legal status to migrant workers, because then they’d fall under the jurisdiction of labor laws, which would then improve working conditions, which would attract more Americans to the jobs, which, hey, isn’t that the goal? The other thing I thought was interesting is that Colbert pointed out that only 60 people participated in the Take Our Jobs campaign, and Colbert’s larger point was that conditions for migrant workers are awful and something should be done about that.

    And at least Colbert is funny on purpose.

  8. Joan,
    You’re right. Why have Colbert come in? Bringing in a comedian will only piss off the clowns.

  9. As I said over at Digby’s joint: I don’t know why people are so upset. I mean, it’s not like it’s the first time someone has testified to Congress in a persona of mock gravitas while spewing a collection of obvious absurdities and ridiculed the entire process of legislative hearings.

    I mean, Colbert is good, but he can’t hold a candle to Wolfowitz telling us that the Iraq War would last six weeks and pay for itself. Wolfie NEVER broke character for a moment, and years later, some of those Congressmen have still not figured out how badly he was mocking them.

    Perhaps Congressman King is just still hurting because he didn’t get a signature from Elmo when he came to testify.

  10. The problem with Stephen Colbert acting in character seems to be that a lot of people genuinely cannot distinguish the jokes from serious statements from a statement made by a joke.

    I don’t have any issue with making points through satire and irony, but we face a problem if people listening misunderstand what was meant. It’s sad, because they should be able to tell clearly if they listened to the context for more than a few minutes. Apparently most Americans have a shorter attention span nowadays. With the cable “news” and entertainment networks the way they are, I can understand exactly what that is.

    As to the whole “making a mockery” of Congressional testimony…hah. Congress is a joke, and I have no qualms with making that all the more obvious. If someone would like to notify me when we have a Congress that’s not composed mostly of lawyers, lobbyists, selfish professional politicians, abject contrarians, and hardcore ideologues, I will gladly retract that statement.

    Alternatively, let me know when Congress makes a genuine policy shift and does one of the following:

    (1) Simplifies the tax code to a straight-out strongly progressive income tax and flat tariffs, eliminating all exemptions and abolishing all domestic sales and excise taxes. Note that my idea of a strongly progressive tax puts the rate on anything over a hundred million dollars of profit at about 90%.

    (2) Expands Social Security to cover everyone, establishing a basic living wage for all citizens.

    (3) Expands Medicare to cover everyone, establishing single payer medicine and dismantling the for-profit insurance industry.

    (4) Constricts copyright laws and expands fair use. For example, setting the maximum civil damages per copy at what a product actually sold for on the market, not an arbitrarily high figure like $750. Or reducing the copyright term from life + 70 years (forever) to a flat 50 years or less — my preference would be 20 to 25 years. That nicely aligns with about one generation, which makes beautiful sense from a social perspective. The current generation should never have to pay for the last generation’s cultural products; they should be there in the public domain to build and expand on. Furthermore, a copyright term much longer than a couple of decades or so encourages artists and creators generally to try to develop a few big-hit mega-profitable works in order to profit off them perpetually, rather than to focus on creating the best quality work from an intellectual or long-term standpoint.

    (5) Restricts patents so that they cannot cover “business methods”, software algorithms, medicine, and any existing biological system or process. Patents should only be granted for highly ingenious inventions or processes that are published well in advance of any similar work. Today they are granted for almost anything, so long as you can write verbose-enough legalese for your obvious idea which is already in common use in several other forms. That brings up prior art, which is much too strict a standard as it stands. A patent should be invalidated as soon as anything quite similar can be found predating it. Giving patents for every minor innovation and successive generation of product is insane; it creates a minefield in which no one can operate while knowing that they are not actually violating any patents. Which is exactly how corporate giants and their lawyers want it.

    Anyone who thinks patents are working well in this country has not bothered to read even a few published patents in any field in which they have expertise. Unless you think “working well” is killing off newcomers and the competition, that is.

    (6) Legalizes drugs.

    (7) Forces an end to any war by refusing to fund it.

    (8) Initiates movement toward a Constitutional amendment declaring that any and all business entities (corporations, partnerships, sole proprietor-ships, and so forth) are neither people nor citizens and are not granted any rights or powers by it. This is, of course, completely natural and obvious, and the founders would be aghast and ashamed that anyone ever thought otherwise. Yet it has come to the point where we must actually say this and write it into the law, so that corrupt officials cannot even try to deny it.

  11. I saw Colbert’s bit. I think that he was a little overwhelmed by the superfluity of targets, but he hit enough of them to make the smart ones uncomfortable and the dumb ones puzzled. As for the Faux person, Gretchen something, I think, one must ask oneself what well of indignation she can draw from, being such a shallow puddle herself.

    The immigration discussion is, for many, just another cloak for racism, like the t-baggers and their blacktivated passion for the Constitution. Of course, they also have great appeal to the crystal ball and seance crowd, which must be telling them what the “founders” think about our present circumstances.

  12. I only saw one clip. But, the clip I saw Colbert was asked a serious question. He gave an answer that was exactly the right thing to say; and, I believed it to be a very honest and sincere answer that made Congress look like idiots especially those against health care reform. I think the clip was played on Rachel Maddow; but, not sure.

  13. I’m old enough to remeber the Smothers Brothers. Their show was cancelled because they refused to submit the tape to network censors in advance. That was the age of Nixon and they made their points with laughs. I think they were effective. Tina Fey was not a houshold word until she developed the Sarah Palin bit. Now she’s famous for it.

    Colbert’s testimony was watched – he went beyond C-Span to network time. The examination of the bit he did in comic character is being WATCHED – the message he imbedded in the bit is being heard. Had he done his testimony ‘straight’ – would it have been examined as closely?

    The use of satire has history. Mark Twain & Will Rogers were giants in their time. If this is a way to get people thinking – I’m all for it.

  14. I think the biggest joke is the idea that Congress is sincere in trying to understand how they can attract more American workers to be fruit and vegetable pickers. If you can’t understand the obvious nature of that dilemma than you’re just wasting time and taxpayer money by putting on a show of meaningless concern.
    I thought that Colbert might have used his celebrity without humor to highlight and explain the labor inequities and harsh working conditions that farm workers face, but I see now that there is no way he could have penetrated the willful ignorance of the members of Congress and their true lack of concern for those people who really, really have to earn their living. So maybe Colbert’s humor has a good a chance as any to penetrate the deaf ears of Congress.

  15. OMG, somebody put something in David Gregory’s ‘tea.”
    He’s getting tough on Mike Pence “The Dense,” and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. He’s actually asking him tough questions – AND FOLLOW-UPS!!! Holy Cow!

    And he’s got Van Hollen on, and he’s letting him talk. AND he actually let HIM have the LAST WORD! When’s the last time you saw a Democrat have the last word?

    OK, NBC, what did you do with the real David Gregory?
    And whatever you did with him, throw away the key. I’ll keep this ‘pod’ version.
    Of course, there’s still 40 minutes left, so I’m sure he’ll manage to go back to form in that time…

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  17. Upon review of several youtube videos, I realize O’Donnell indeed is the girl who pronounced Clinton as Clit-in. I hate to sound “narcissistic”, but she is a moron.
    I find it hard to believe that at this point in time, there are people who dismiss Darwin.

  18. Watching Maher on HBO is like waiting for a mean drunk to pass out. He’s as funny as Gilbert Gottfried.

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