Once upon a time jesters courted kings. Now enfeebled kings court jesters. Panting after the approval of the smug comedian Jon "Stewart," Barack Obama taped an interview for The Daily Show on Wednesday.
The smirking jester is also scheduled to hold a kind of charity benefit for his sickly king this weekend, a Comic Relief 2010 called The Rally to Restore Sanity. Obama and the Dems are suffering from a debilitating political disease, but Jon, Whoopi, Robin and Joy, among other celebrity jesters, stand ready to help them in their affliction.
No cure appears likely, though. Comic Relief 2010 may raise a little money and get some college students to the polls, but it is surely too little too late. As many dismayed Democratic strategists even suspect, Obama's ill-advised Daily Show appearance is a harbinger of defeat.
It is reminiscent of John McCain's odd decision to host Saturday Night Live shortly before election day in 2008. McCain's campaign started as a joke and ended as one, with McCain fishing for laughs off SNL parodies that were predicated upon his imminent defeat.
At a time of high unemployment, Obama is content to play the empty celebrity, appearing on shows as shallow as his policies and delivering trendy messages about the latest anxiety of the coastal elite -- the "gay teen suicide epidemic."
"Can The Comedian Save The Vote?" asks Matt Drudge of Stewart. No, this jester can't save his king. Still, Stewart is feeling his oats, basking in near-universal approval from the liberal elite. They can't get enough of him and live in dread fear of losing his approval. A desperately contrite Rick Sanchez, so grateful to Stewart for taking a reconciliation phone call from him after his firing, pronounced the comedian the "classiest" guy in the world.
While Stewart engages in a lot of cutesy mugging and seemingly self-deprecating humor about such accolades, he takes himself very seriously indeed. His own liberal assumptions are exempt from mocking, and he claims to be deeply pained by "phoniness" at the highest levels of society. Yet somehow this concern about phoniness doesn't extend to something as basic as his own name, which is not Jon Stewart but Jon Leibowitz, or his own role in high society. The self-proclaimed puncturer of all things phony has a phony name, and the jester has no intention of dropping his mask or reforming his juvenile ways.
The most respected liberal in America, according to one recent poll, throws his spit balls, then makes sure to hide in the bushes. On Crossfire several years back, he made it clear that he thinks others -- but not he -- are "hurting" society.
A cocky celebrity wanting it both ways is hardly news, but it is notable that the Democratic Party is now led in large part by comics. Stephen Colbert testified before Pelosi's Congress as an honored guest; SNL alumnus Al Franken sits in the Senate; comedienne Joy Behar vets presidential candidates on The View; and Bill Maher is treated like Mark Twain.
Had Joy Behar lived a century ago, she would have been a lewd barmaid somewhere. Now she is an important Democratic "opinionmaker," browbeating this or that public figure. She stomped off the set in an elephantine huff the other week after Bill O'Reilly failed to pay sufficient homage to Islam. But this week the defender of religions of peace cast Sharron Angle into the fires of "hell" and called her a "bitch."
One wonders how long Behar would avoid a stoning if she ever talked like that in Saudi Arabia. The ladies of The View are lucky the show is not shot in Riyadh.
Liberalism, perhaps under the influence of its foul-mouthed jesters, has suspended some of its old sensitivities, as its practitioners call Meg Whitman a "whore" (an honorable if insufficiently regulated line of work from liberalism's point of view), Angle a "bitch," and everyone from Juan Williams to Christine O'Donnell "crazy." Is that any way for liberals to talk about the mentally ill? And who knew that New Age NPR executives used "feelings" and "psychiatrist" so easily in punchlines?
Obama himself, trying hard to impress Jay Leno early in his term, used the "Special Olympics" as a punchline during that late-night appearance. But it is his administration and party which look increasingly lame and laughable as they court comics.
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