Republicans in Congress are more upset that a comedian cracked jokes at a hearing than the fact they invited a comedian to crack jokes at a hearing. Just making sure that’s clear before we get into the oddity that is celebrity endorsements.
The AP takes a crack at explaining the true nature of these press ops as those “famous-for-DC” meet with bold face names that grace the supermarket check-out lines.
Colbert’s celebrity is a commodity that California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, who chaired the subcommittee hearing, and the other witnesses that day sought to leverage. Lofgren joked at one point that the last time the hearing room was so crammed with audience members and cameras was for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings a dozen years ago.
Of course, Colbert’s appearance was a joke. He appeared the night prior on The Colbert Report explaining why he was qualified to speak, based on his time as a migrant worker. But the explanation that Congress is now against Colbert is so simple it’s been used in Hollywood for years: ratings and relevance.
At the kicker of the AP article, Carol Swain, a law professor who testified before Colbert, remarked “I have testified before” and credited that because of the high profile star following her, “people heard my testimony.” This is directly what Colbert and Jon Stewart bring to the political world that is mired in otherwise mundane events that just so happen to dictate our government.
Celebrity is intoxicating, but when you have informed satire hiding behind celebrity it becomes a problem for most glad-handing politicos. Even with the upcoming Rally To Restore Sanity now getting a free bus service from New York to DC thanks to Arianna Huffington (complete with Twitter) and even President Obama plugging the rally, according to MSNBC First Read, due to the event’s focus on not foaming at the mouth due to punditry.
Even if Congress bristles at being made fun of, it still secretly swoons over the fact it can say the Dr. Stephen T. Colbert made fun of them for a five-minute viral clip they can show their staffers.