Opinion Brief

Stephen Colbert's testimony: 'Inappropriate' or incisive?

Republicans, and even some Democratic leaders, say having Colbert testify in character was a mistake. Are they missing the punch line?

The backlash continues over House Democrats' decision to invite Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert to testify at a Friday immigration hearing — in his TV persona as a faux-outraged conservative. The politicians on the Sunday talk shows weren't laughing: Republicans criticized his appearance as a time-wasting mockery of Congress, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) agreed it was "not appropriate," though more embarrassing "for Mr. Colbert... than the House." Only House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) applauded Colbert's efforts to bring attention to the issue of immigrant farm-workers. Did Dems mess up? (Watch Steny Hoyer's comments)

Colbert's critics should be embarrassed: If you've only seen the "same few gags" that cable news keeps repeating, says The Daily Athenaeum in an editorial, you missed the core of Colbert's testimony, "when [he] broke character and got to the heart of his argument." Of course "politicians and media analysts" didn't like his "biting" take on an important, ignored-in-practice issue: "It took a comedian to point out how ludicrous the debate had become."
"Colbert right to go before Congress"

What were Democrats thinking? For better or worse, what got through to "the average, non-news junkie, American" is that the Democrats had a comedian testify in character, says Joe Klein in Time. So sure, Colbert's "heartfelt" opening and closing statements had an important message — nobody wants to be a migrant farm-worker — but all anyone saw is that Congressional leaders are "out of touch and ridiculous." What genius came up with this?
"Washington seems a crazy place"

Politicians weren't the key audience: "In a sane world," this would probably hurt the Democrats, says Allahpundit in Hot Air. But the Dems need young voters to turn out in November if they have any chance of survival, and having Colbert on the Hill might remind the non-political youth that there's an election, and how "hip" and "just darned chill" the Democrats are. It's a "longshot," but that's all "the left has at this point."
"Steny Hoyer: Hey, maybe letting Colbert testify... was inappropriate"

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