No Laughing Matter

The annual White House Correspondents' Dinner is supposed to be a lighthearted roast of the President. It is expected that speakers, including the President himself, should use their time at the dinner to mock, to jab, to insinuate, to generally crack wise at the expense of the Most Powerful Man on Earth. Certainly Gee-Dub had no problem standing beside an impersonator and delivering a routine which mocked his own affected folksy persona.

That being the case, why is it that as Stephen Colbert's address went on, the laughter became weaker and weaker as the jokes became more scathing?
"I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."
Now . . . why isn't that funny?

Is it because people are dying in Iraq? Because the President's own jokes about looking all over for those darn WMDs seemed to go down well -- and one would think that would hit closer to home than a jab at the Iraqi legislature's trouble with getting out legislation.
"I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things -- things like aircraft carriers, and rubble, and recently-flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message: That no matter what happens to America she will always rebound, with the most powerfully-staged photo-ops in the world."
Now come on, this one has to be funny, right?

"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."
Um . . .


The problem here is that this stuff really isn't funny. It isn't funny because it's all true.

This administration drafted the constitution (and held the elections) in Iraq which gave rise to the ineffectual government there, a government which will continue to depend on the American military for survival for years to come. The administration crafted the policies which made it possible for billions of tax dollars to simply vanish into the pockets of defense contractors and other elements of the neocon financial network. The administration plunged a nation into chaos and civil war, not out of necessity, but out of sheer wanton powerlust. This is neither funny nor invented, and it was certainly no accident.

And, as a side note to the Bushsters . . . yes, you are that transparent. We know that, along with dismantling the safety net, elaborate photo-ops backed by nothing of substance are the whole of your domestic policy. We know all about your posturing and hard-headedness, and we know that your policies are intended to destroy, not preserve or defend. It remains to be seen whether we'll be able to convince enough Americans to see through the mass hallucination before the damage becomes irreversible, but more of us every day are on to you.

We know what you're all about, and now you know it too. It must be disturbing to have your core beliefs laid so bare. It must have been just as disturbing for a room full of journalists to have to sit and watch Colbert plainly state what they themselves feel obliged -- for reasons running the gamut from courtesy to continued access to those currently in power -- to gloss over in their own analysis of the administration and its actions. Even more disturbing is Colbert's frank presentation of the administration's philosophy using the very same rhetorical style they normally employ to conceal their true aims.

Stephen Colbert is a genius, but he's not funny. He's too truthy to laugh at.

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