…made the New York Times today. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report has formed a SuperPac:
Citizens for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow may be a running gag on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, but it is spending money as it sees fit, with little in the way of disclosure, just like its noncomedic brethren.
Comedians, including Mr. Colbert in the last election, have undertaken faux candidacies. But his Super PAC riff is a real-world exercise, engaging in a kind of modeling by just doing what Super PACs do.
And he has come under some real-world criticism for inserting himself in the political process so directly. Mr. Colbert, who lampoons conservative talk show hosts by pretending to be one, is now making fun of Super PACs by actually forming one. His committee spent money on advertising in Iowa during the run-up to the Ames straw poll, which took place Aug. 13. It’s as though Jonathan Swift took his satirical suggestion about Irish babies one step further and actually cooked one.
At first blush, it seemed to be one more skirmish in the culture wars: East Coast funnyman uses his fan base to pay for satirical commercials, implicitly demeaning the Ames straw poll in specific, and Iowa in general. Mr. Colbert suggested that all the soft-money ads with their soft-focus shots of rural tableaus were exposing the children of Iowa to “cornography.” But the folkways being criticized belonged to the Beltway, not the Corn Belt.
“I am much taken by this and can’t think of any real parallel in history,” said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution. “Yes, comedians have always told jokes about elections, but this is quite different. This is a funny person being very serious, actually talking about process. What comedian talks about process?”
That’s what makes this guy one of my heroes…
While most of the rest of the news media continue to cover the coming election with long-running tropes — whose horse is ahead and who has the most loot? — Mr. Colbert has taken the equivalent of a political homework assignment and sprinkled a little silly sauce on top, and people seem happy to dig in.