If you did not catch the Colbert Report on Comedy Central last night (Thursday, April 17th), you will probably find it worth your while to catch one of the scheduled reruns today or this evening. The show brought to a climax Colbert’s week in Pennsylvania in advance of the primary election next Tuesday.
Last night’s show was political satire at its best, but it was also political allegory at its most profound.
Stephen Colbert showed why he deserved that Peabody Award.
Here is a link to last night’s show.
Here is a quick synopsis below the break.
(1) The candidate who portrays herself as the detail-oriented policy wonk who can fix anything is given the opportunity to come in from New York to fix the broken down big screen. Hillary walks onstage and dutifully delivers her lines, and the audience remains under control and does not boo her (Colbert clearly made sure that the audience members would hold their fire during Hillary’s appearance.) Finally, with Hillary’s “expert” advice, the big video screen is up and running.
(2) Colbert then uses the big screen “fixed” by Hillary to run a devastating deconstruction of the shameless “gotcha” approach of ex-Clinton apparatchik George Stephanopoulos and ABC’s Charles Gibson during Wednesday night’s “debate,” i.e., inquisition. The circle of guilt-by-associations leading back through the Pope, who was a Nazi youth, all the way to Hitler is a particularly sharp thrust.
(3) Rep. Patrick Murphy, who was an Army Captain in the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, comes on to talk about why he has endorsed Obama for President. Murphy’s handling of past tense verbs is a little clumsy, but he is earnest, coherent, concise, and obviously knowledgeable about the realities of Iraq. Colbert gives Murphy essentially free rein, and Murphy brings up the point that Obama is a “once in a generation” kind of leader.
(4) A very relaxed John Edwards waltzes in to deliver his “Edwords” lines with good timing and grace, including a dig about worrying about getting bitten by James Carville–thereby reminding savvy viewers of Carville’s going nuclear and calling Bill Richardson “Judas” after Richardson endorsed Obama. Is Edwards hinting at how he is leaning?
(5) Using the wonders of 21st century technology, Jedi Webmaster Obama then appears behind Colbert on the same big screen that had earlier been “fixed” by Hillary and proceeds to put the media’s pointless faux “distractions” on notice at the very top of Colbert’s famous “On Notice Board”–to the great delight of the live audience, which roars its approval with sustained cheering.
This episode is political satire and allegory of the highest caliber. Hillary, seemingly unwittingly, lays the groundwork for Murphy, Edwards, and Obama to change and elevate the quality of the national discussion. Colbert serves as the medium for the transformation.
It is game, set and match–for Obama.
And Colbert, more than any other media figure (though Jon Stewart and Keith Olbermann make their fair contributions), seems to be the genuine Voltaire of our era.