Sanity and/or Fear Meet Comedy -- or Not
A Commentary by Debra J. Saunders
If you are a big fan of Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, you probably got a big kick out of the title of Saturday's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" on the National Mall in Washington. The motto was "Take it down a notch, America."
Keep it up, comedy guys. There's nothing like being told you're a ranting fool if you don't like watching America go deeper and deeper into debt. Forget about wooing those folks. Hold a rally that's bound to alienate those who aren't in on the joke.
Stewart and company portrayed the rally as non-political. Stewart gave a sweet "Can't we all get along?" chat. Maybe he even fooled himself.
The very presence of Colbert, however, undercuts any notion of disagreeing without being disagreeable. Colbert has built a career on a character based on Fox News' Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck and telling that same joke over and over and over again. Liberals tune in because the Faux Colbert doesn't challenge, but instead plays to his left-wing audience's limitless appetite for smug.
At one point during the rally, Colbert objected to Yusuf -- formerly
Cat Stevens -- singing "Peace Train" at Stewart's behest. Colbert told Yusuf, "I am not getting on that train" and started a real-time battle of the ballads between Yusuf and Ozzy Osbourne singing "Crazy Train." It was sorta funny until Papa Bear Stewart put an end to the rift -- and Colbert choked back, "You ruin things with reasonableness."
And they call that satire.
While Stewart used the rally to trash cable TV news -- "Americans don't live here or on cable TV," he intoned -- I didn't see much of a difference between Comedy Central and cable news. This entire political season has been peppered with episodes tailor-made to reassure liberals that they are smart and tolerant, and their opponents are stupid and crazy. You couldn't go a day watching CNN without hearing the latest tidbit from Sarah Palin, the latest gaffe by Nevada hopeful Sharron Angle or vintage video of Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell.
The message was clear: If you don't like President Obama, you're with Stupid.
Just like "The Daily Show."
The New York Times, Associated Press and National Public Radio banned their own journalists from attending the rally on their own time -- I believe, lest the public's suspicions of liberal bias be confirmed.
On "Meet the Press" Sunday, Michele Norris marveled that many Dems watched the rally and thought, "Boy, you know, if these were voters that might be in our camp, wouldn't it have been interesting if those people were out canvassing or actually doing something on the weekend before the election?"
Meet the downside of the smugness echo chamber: It doesn't work. Only a select number of people can fit in with the in-crowd.
In 2008, Obama managed to be cool and energize the electorate. In 2010, after months belittling the pinhead tea party people, his brainy base voters are too precious to pump votes from red-state oafs.
As for the oafs, they know they'll never be good enough for Comedy Central -- where smart swells like Colbert want to ruin everything with their, uh, reasonableness.
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