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Monday, May 01, 2006

When Colberts attack

Video of Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner posted here.

Editor & Publisher says:
A blistering comedy “tribute” to President Bush by Comedy Central’s faux talk show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close.
You can tell from the cutaways to the President during Colbert's speech that he wasn't particularly amused by the shots taken at him.
As Colbert walked from the podium, when it was over, the president and First Lady gave him quick nods, unsmiling. The president shook his hand and tapped his elbow, and left immediately.

Those seated near Bush told E&P's Joe Strupp, who was elsewhere in the room, that Bush had quickly turned from an amused guest to an obviously offended target as Colbert’s comments brought up his low approval ratings and problems in Iraq.

Several veterans of past dinners, who requested anonymity, said the presentation was more directed at attacking the president than in the past. Several said previous hosts, like Jay Leno, equally slammed both the White House and the press corps.

“This was anti-Bush,” said one attendee. “Usually they go back and forth between us and him.” Another noted that Bush quickly turned unhappy. “You could see he stopped smiling about halfway through Colbert,” he reported.

After the gathering, Snow, while nursing a Heineken outside the Chicago Tribune reception, declined to comment on Colbert. “I’m not doing entertainment reviews,” he said. “I thought the president was great, though.”

Strupp, in the crowd during the Colbert routine, had observed that quite a few sitting near him looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting--or too much speaking "truthiness" to power.
My take? Colbert's wit was certainly on the ascerbic side, but I think if you take it in the spirit of a "roast" of the President, it's not offensive. In my mind, anyway, that was Colbert's intent. I think he's genuinely too much of an affable guy - too old school, in a way - to possess the meanness of spirit required to hammer someone three chairs away, whether it's the President of the United States or anyone else. Plus, he's damn funny.

I was at the semi-infamous 1996 Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner, at which Don Imus' raunchy jokes about then-President Clinton were truly shocking. (And also funny as hell if, like me, you're a huge Imus fan and had lost all respect for Clinton by then.) In my opinion, Colbert's performance had nothing in common with Imus', either in tone or in taste.

That said, given the glee emanating from the usually dour left half of the blogosphere, maybe I'm wrong. Certainly this website encouraging visitors to leave their "thank yous" to Colbert (3288 at the time this is being written) would seem to point in that direction. It saddens me to think that being a huge Colbert fan may be clouding my judgment.

But then I remember that these are the same people who gave Cindy Sheehan her fifteen minutes and think Michael Moore "speaks truth to power," and I immediately feel better.

Watch the video if you haven't already seen it, and let me know what you think.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand all the hype about Colbert. I saw him on 60 minutes last night and it was embarrassing. And I felt embarrassed for him.


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