Colbert’s Moment: The Beltway Gang Didn’t Get Colbert, But Nearly Everyone Else Did
By Chris Dols
“An old friend of mine with a penchant for Marxist jargoneering takes every opportunity to remind anyone who will listen that, ‘the American ruling class is the dumbest class ever to rule.’ After speaking in front of the most representative audience of the American ruling class that he’ll ever land –the White House Press Correspondence Dinner –Stephen Colbert proved it. Colbert impaled them and they were dumb enough to claim, as Noam Scheiber of the New Republic did “that he just wasn’t very entertaining.” Of course, comments like this just vindicate Colbert….”
One problem here is that if you are being “impaled” of course you are not going to find it “entertaining.” That’s not being “dumb.” Wouldn’t it be more “dumb” to find entertaining one’s being impaled? The lack of favorable appreciation is more likely a sign of having a different set of values. These folks value the status quo. After all, it works for them, to a considerable extent.
Of course Dols is correct in pointing out that Colbert accurately criticized the dominant media and government, among which we may safely assume that many are deeply indoctrinated into the values of power, but this of course doesn’t mean they can’t recognize when they are being criticized or even condemned. It doesn’t mean they don’t “get” the send-up. It means they disagree with it, not because they don’t understand it, but because they are, for whatever reason, dehumanized to its value. And if they were somehow humanized to its scathing accuracy in the moment, or could even admit the value of a little of it, then the last thing one would expect them to do is laugh. They got the send-up all right. Understood it just fine, thank you. It’s just nothing they care to hear. As they made perfectly clear.