Is Jon Stewart following in Stephen Colbert's footsteps?
In late April, Colbert did a routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner that mocked President Bush with a series of easy, predictable jokes. It was not very good comedy, but it made liberals happy, and many thousands of words were blogged about how great Colbert was.
Unfortunately, it's easy for satirists to give into the temptation, as Colbert apparently did, to (a) see themselves as serious political commentators and/or (b) play to their audience's preconceptions. The result, as I wrote then, is that "The Daily Show and Colbert are increasingly focused on telling jokes that make liberals feel good about themselves. The result is that the shows are both pretty mediocre right now."
Thomas Jefferson once said: "Of course the people don't want war. But the people can be brought to the bidding of their leader. All you have to do is tell them they're being attacked and denounce the pacifists for somehow a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." I think that was Jefferson. Oh wait. That was Hermann Goering. Shoot.
An unfunny joke where the punchline is a Nazi comparison? Why hire Jon Stewart when you could get a commenter on Daily Kos to provide the same material? Sad, sad, sad...
Update 6/8 12:52 PM: Some commenters are mad that I don't like the joke and think I've appointed myself the humor police. So let's put the shoe on the other foot: Would people find it funny if Stewart's joke was to say "Howard Dean said X about President Bush. Oh wait, that was Osama Bin Laden." I doubt it. (Note: This is not hypothetical -- conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh draw that equivalence all the time.)
Update 6/9 8:26 AM: For those who are interested in a more detailed argument against Nazi analogies and jokes, see see my exchange with Matthew Yglesias from last September. I'd also note that Jon Stewart reportedly mocked people invoking Hitler and the Nazis last year, although I can't find video anywhere. (Does anyone have a link for this?) And for a lighter take, see the brilliant Beautiful Atrocities post "In the future, everyone will be Hitler for 15 minutes". Indeed.
These days when it comes to demonizing your enemies there's a certain someone whose name is on everybody's lips... Yes, Adolf Hitler, one of the worst mass murderers in all history, has now become the go-to metaphor and comparison for anyone you have a minor disagreement with.
...And good for Pat Buchanan for showing that much strength. He didn't compare Terri Schiavo's husband to Hitler, just a Nazi in general. Now we can discuss this at a reasonable level!
So to sum up, please stop calling people Hitler when you disagree with them. It demeans you, it demeans them, and to be honest, it demeans Hitler. That guy worked too many years too hard to be that evil to have any Tom, Dick or Harry come along and say, "Hey, you're being Hitler." No! You know who was Hitler? Hitler!
Et tu, John?
[Disclosure: All the President's Spin was featured on The Daily Show -- Stewart interviewed my co-author Bryan Keefer.]