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April 30, 2006


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It was wonderful. Side-splittingly, breathtakingly wonderful.

I just cruised over here to share the link, and it was already there...


I didn't actually laugh, just was admiring of his poise and courage. The jokes were broad and the topics obvious, but having the nerve to do it in front of the whole Wealth Bondage Press Corps, let alone the President, gave me hope that we may finally see the facade of managed perception crack.

The hairs on my chin rose, eerily. Done well, the goat-dance is always poetry—as the filí will happily remind you.

Goat dance is right.

I was surprised at the literally hundred or so blog comments i saw (on various blogs) where people wondered about Colbert's personal safety after that performance .. comments such as "I hope he's not flying home" or "I hope Colbert has bodyguards 24/7".

A measure of how serious Bush's taking Door #2 above may be ... backed into a corner from all sides, WHAT WILL he do next ?

Calling the bully's bluff. In the end either something bad happens to Colbert, as if by chance, or something bad has happened to Bush, on purpose. That is the dynamic of satire which is ruthlessly insubordinate. Insubordination cannot be tolerated because it spreads. Yet, for crying out loud, this was a Presidential Roast, a time of officiall license or Carnival. The President attended, per tradition, to show what a good sport he is. Colbert just resurrected the Carnivalesque genre, appearing in a mask. (Note that a harmless comedian appeared in a Bush mask, and was photgraphed with a smiling President.) Bush's best move is to laugh Colbert's performancet off. And, of course, that is a tacit opening of a door to those who would do it again. Satire works because it presents those satirized with intolerable choices. They must laugh or bellow. Either way they lose. Yes, they can cruxify the satirist, but if they do, they confirm the truth of the satire.

The other thing that struck me about Colbert's peformance was the role of practice. He was able to bring it off under great pressure because he has had plenty of practice in a less stressful environment, on his own show. I think of our blogs in that way. We are getting our schticks down, so that when the moment of truth arrives we will not be derelict.

What's also very interesting, imo .. is the observable fact that the ,aim television networls are all showing the *official* fun and frivolity of Bush's hamming it up with his frat-boy, smirking, impish, "Laura is hot" alter-ego, and none of them are mentioning Colbert.

This is a very clear, and very telling, parallel with how truthiness and perceptions are stage-managed between the WH and the establishment media. If it isn't reported, did it even really happen, or does it exist.

in this case, as many others, thank goodness for the Internets. I still don't think people realize how lucky they are that it exists.

Re: your points about practice .. I think Colbert was very crafty and artful, operating on several levels at once ... I think many were not quite sure .. "did he really say what i just heard him say, and omg, Bush is still sitting there ... oh, my .. etc."

These are the reactions one would want, and expect, when speaking what everyone knows but is AFRAID to say, truth to power... kind of like the collective crowd's sharp intake of breath when the little boy cries out into the silence "but, but .. he's got no clothes on".

No wonder people were asking after Colbert's safety.

,aim = main

Billmon says what I was trying to say, reiterates what the Tutor has said, and connects a few dots, loose ends, whatever .. re: the White House Press Corps and the uncomfortable silences.


Telling .. so to speak.

Washington Correspondents Sit Calm
(never let 'em see ya sweat)

Nice commentary from Billmon. I particularly liked his saying that Colbert was using satire as it is used in more openly authoritarian regimes to say what must not be said. Interesting to see how his puncturing of the accepted decorum has been decorously ellided from the official record. Bad taste is passed over in silence. That is how good manners works in these situations. I have noticed a fair amount of decorous silence here at WB from our better placed readers and at Gifthub too. You have to know the rules to break them effectively, but even then the default response is wounded silence. Hauteur.

For those only half paying attention, hearing rumours that the Preznit endured some sort of satirical attack, there will be the following, as noted above, which will prove Bush took it all with good humour:

The roasting of the president was only half the story. The more uncomfortable half was to roast the audience for having failed to burn Bush into oblivion years ago:

Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out.

There was almost too much candor in the room, at moments, which is why the Helen Thomas gag -- easily the weakest part of the performance -- had to be there. The press's heroic idea of itself had to put in an appearance.

Plus: Did anyone else get the eerie overtone that Colbert seemed to turn on and off, causing the fey aristo mannerisms of GHW Bush to sparkle about the barbs in a way calculated to make W. squirm even more?

"I didn't actually laugh, just was admiring of his poise and courage. "

i laughed so much i FEared my NeighborS woOD think I'm craxy! (they listen to me s3cr3tly and steal my garbage).

It wAs unlike the end of SUllivan's Travels - a real h00tenn0tty.

Too bad a few big laughers were not at the press club, to start a volley or two of chortles.

O, would Leslie Stall laugh
for a skinny Falstaff?


Commenter 36984:
Longinus Says:

Satire rushes in when the space for free speech has been eliminated.

I think that's very well said.

I also agree with you that Bush played it wrong. Scalia (judging from the transcripts) played it right -- laugh, laugh hard. I wonder if he was trying to get them all to laugh by his example, so as to blunt the scalpel edge. Then again, Scalia is so enthralled with his own sense of olympian power that he may be laughing from recognition. Ultimately, as you say, laugh or bellow, they lose; they just wouldn't have lost so completely had they gotten in on the joke. (The only way they could have won would be to lop off his head before the cameras. I think they're getting to the point.)

Historic occassion, one that will be remembered in the unofficial history books.

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