Monday, May 01, 2006

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES


On Saturday night, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert fearlessly went into the lions den and gave a keynote speech at the annual White House Correspondents dinner (usually a tepid, polite roast) that ripped W a new one, with Bush himself right there on the podium looking none too pleased, tight lipped and stone faced. The supine White House press corps comes in for quite a few hits too for their spineless aquiescence. This is satire with sharpened claws, not the good natured smug fun that the audience of journalistic and political elites expected.

Needless to say, the response in the room was...muted.

Here's a few excerpts via Daily Kos (there's video linked there too):
Now, there may be an energy crisis. This president has a very forward-thinking energy policy. Why do you think he's down on the ranch cutting that brush all the time? He's trying to create an alternative energy source. By 2008 we will have a mesquite-powered car!

And I just like the guy. He's a good joe. Obviously loves his wife,calls her his better half. And polls show America agrees. She's a true lady and a wonderful woman. But I just have one beef, ma'am.

I'm sorry, but this reading initiative. I'm sorry, I've never been a fan of books. I don't trust them. They're all fact, no heart. I mean, they're elitist, telling us what is or isn't true, or what did ordidn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American! I'm with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen.

The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man's beliefs never will. As excited as I am to be here with the president,I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president's side, and the vice president's side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!

Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write, "Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!
Maybe it should come as no surprise that there's been a virtual news blackout in the mainstream media on Colbert's scathing remarks--most reporters prefered to concentrate on the antics of a lame Bush impersonator instead. Again, it's odd that a comedian is the one left to point out the obvious.

Bravo, Mr. Colbert, and godspeed.

UPDATE: Jon Stewart had a few words on Colbert's appearance :
"It was balls-alicious," Stewart said. "Apparently he was under the impression that they'd hired him to do what he does every night on television" -- that is, make fun of conservatives, public officials, and the press in the guise of an O'Reillyesque talk show host.

"We've never been prouder of him, but HOLY SHIT," Stewart added.

He also described the annual dinner as "where the President and the press corps consummate their loveless marriage."