Thursday, May 04, 2006

Richard Cohen So Doesn't Get It

A mark of Steven Colbert's genius last Saturday is the utter shite it has triggered by way of responses from the pundit class. Richard Cohen, whose ox was most definitely gored, is in high dudgeon. His response, So Not Funny, is so not sentient. It is is almost self refuting in its lame cluelessness, but let me help it along a bit. Sayeth Richard:
Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude. Rude is not the same as brash. It is not the same as brassy. It is not the same as gutsy or thinking outside the box. Rudeness means taking advantage of the other person's sense of decorum or tradition or civility that keeps that other person from striking back or, worse, rising in a huff and leaving. The other night, that person was George W. Bush.
The gala is an essentially harmless event that requires the presence of one man, the president. If presidents started not to show up, the organization would have to transform itself into a burial association. But presidents come and suffer through a ritual that most of them find mildly painful, not to mention boring. Whatever the case, they are guests.

Cohen claims not to attend the thing -- I assume a wanker of his stature can find better cocktail weenies elsewhere. But his argument betrays the same kind of obliviousness that plagues so much of his writing.

This "gala" looks harmless only to courtiers like you, Richard. Bush and his inner circle understand that it is a powerful tool of co-option -- and you and yours are the ones being co-opted. They understand that Bush made it into the White House by running this same affable, regular-guy schtick on you morons on the campaign trail in 2000, and that if they trot out self-deprecating regular-guy George one day a year, you lapdogs will lay off King Screw-the-Constitution for the other 364. This "gala" is a symptom of a disease that is potentially fatal to our Republic. That disease claimed you long ago.

If King George is so insulted that he stays home and they cancel the thing in response, we in the blogosphere will not weep for the hundreds of sycophants who might have to buy their own dinners that night. Heaven forfend, but absent their fix of synthetic bonhomie, perhaps they might seek out a sliver of truth themselves instead of being gobsmacked when a mere comedian rubs their noses in it.

Which gets us to the real point: it isn't Colbert's alleged rudeness to the Worst President Ever that really gets your hackles up, is it?
¨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. Put them through the 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.¨
It just amazes me how you and your partners in crime seem to keep pretending that part, which had exactly nothing to do with our President's delicate sensibilities, never happened.

Oh, excuse me, Richard. Was I being rude? I am So Not Sorry.

Update: Poor Man. Greenwald.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well said. I cannot express myself well with words. I appreciate yours.

11:08 AM  
Blogger jedermann said...

Bush has been so isolated from any kind of dissent, even through an entire presidential election campaign, for cryin’ out loud, that it must have been a huge shock to the system that someone was allowed to intrude on the fantasy in such a public way. And they couldn’t even have him removed by Party Security! (Come to think of it that would have been a scream if Colbert had staged his own removal). Whoever arranged the entertainment for the affair will never have lunch in that town again. Would that some of the folks who were sitting on their hands that night had been so courageous back in the day.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

Was Swift's Modest Proposal supposed to be funny? Satire is not suppsed to be funny, though it can be. It's not Jim Carrey funny. Or pie in the face while slipping on a banana peel funny. It's like irony. Tomm many things are called "ironic" that aren't. And people think Saturday Night Live sketches are the pinnacle of satire.

It requires a certain level of intellectual effort- knowledge of the reality being satirized and the willingness to admit the reality as truth. If you either lack the intellect or refuse to use your intellect to find the humor, for whatever reason, and also the truth of the satire, then it is simply unfunny.

With Colbert, some people didn't get it because they aren't aware of the reality being satirized. Others refuse to acknowledge the truth being satirized. Still others are part of the relaity being satirized and were offended.

Then there's the rest of us, still laughing about it and playing it for people on our multimeida enabled Treo 700w.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

Also, anyone who says, "I'm a funny guy..." Well, I've never shared a cab with the guy, but none of the funny people I know say they are funny. Other people say that about them.

1:19 PM  

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