Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rally to Restore Fear

In an attack on conventional wisdom, Timothy Noah over at Slate urges Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to stay home October 30, the date of their conjoined satirical rallies. Noah seems to think the spectacle of privileged young people poking fun of Tea Partiers will ultimately damage the Democrats' prospects in the upcoming midterms. I disagree--contemporary elections, in my admittedly inexpert view, seem to hinge on whose base is more enthusiastic, and I think Stewart and Colbert will succeed in rallying the Democratic rank-and-file--but I thought that Noah was his usual incisive self when parsing "Stewart-Colbertism."

"[It} scorns extremism of all types, but especially conservative extremism, and most especially conservative extremism driven by ignorance or religious extremism. It is mildly critical of liberalism, but mainly for failing to combat conservative bombast more effectively. It endorses, implicitly, whatever liberal consensus has managed to survive these past thirty years, but isn't terribly interested in the details."

I think this is mostly right. (Although a recent, cringe-inducing segment lambasting labor unions was more than mildly critical of a leftist stalwart.) I appreciate Stewart's satire of extremism. I regret that he can't be bothered by the details.


  1. I particularly liked Stewart's metaphor of the narrowing lanes leading into the tunnel. "You go, then you go, then you go, then (I paraphrase) one schmuck pushes ahead to cut in, then you go, then you go..." He bothered to make a point about civility. No small detail to me.

  2. I agree with you about civility. Although, as I may have mentioned, there is a certain smugness about Stewart that sometimes bothers me. But I'm glad he's around anyway.