Feature

Stephen Colbert's Iraq invasion

The comedian's tricky mission to entertain the troops

"Apparently, all it took for victory in Iraq was a visit by late-night funnyman Stephen Colbert," said Aamer Madhani in USA Today. The host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report—who is broadcasting a week of shows from Iraq—told an audience of 300 cheering U.S. soldiers that, since nobody else was brave enough to do it, he was declaring that "we have won the Iraq war." Fans in the military were glad Colbert didn't tone down his faux-conservative persona to avoid ruffling feathers—although Gen. Ray Odierno did gently correct Colbert by saying his declaration of victory was premature. (watch Stephen Colbert announce his Iraq trip)

"War, as things go, is a fairly unironic exercise," said Campbell Robertson in The New York Times, so Stephen Colbert's "Operation Iraqi Stephen" is a "tricky" mission. But Colbert "is unquestionably a real supporter of the troops," having raised and donated money to help soldiers and their families. He's out for laughs, but also to focus attention on the sometimes forgotten fact that we still have 135,000 troops in Iraq and they're "still doing dangerous work."

"For a supposedly functioning idiot," said Scott Thill in Wired, Stephen Colbert has a talent for bringing "much-needed attention to hidden territories of human knowledge and experience." Before he reminded America of the task remaining in Iraq, he raised interest in the space program by getting a Space Station treadmill named after him, and he boosted attendance at the Smithsonian by lobbying to get his portrait displayed there, "if only near the bathrooms." Colbert's fake-macho TV blowhard is "quickly becoming America’s greatest ambassador for smarts."

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