Truth in the spotlight

In his column today in the Washington Post, Richard Cohen opines that Stephen Colbert’s slap-down of President Bush and the Washington Press Corps at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner last weekend wasn’t funny.

As a long-standing member of the Washington press corps, he has a right to his opinion. I’m sure being called a stenographer for the Bush administration was uncomfortable, even painful, and therein lies the reason he feels the routine wasn’t funny.

Well, he’s right. It wasn’t funny.

But it was the truth.

The kind of laughs Colbert’s speech elicited were of the black variety, the kind that come chuckling out when futility and impotent rage are mainly what the listener feels about the subject matter. His speech was full of mockery and irony, with a big dose of sarcasm stirred in. He spoke for all of us regular folks out here. We’ll never have an opportunity to personally administer such a talking-to, except when we go to the polls in November.

At that point, all bets are off.

Cohen’s irritation seemed to revolve mainly around his perception that Colbert was rude, skewering his audience in a situation wherein they couldn’t slap back. He called Colbert a bully.

But isn’t bullying, on a far vaster scale, exactly what the Bush administration has been doing to the American people and the world for the last six years? Isn’t it just about time that someone stood up?

Cohen hastens to tell us that he wasn’t actually at the dinner, thereby giving himself the right to be a bit superior to his colleagues who did attend. I guess he feels he’s above brown-nosing the powerful people who attend this “boring” event.

Good for you, Richard. Well done. We’re so proud.

The truth usually isn’t very funny. Sometimes, it can even seem rude, especially when the recipient needs a faceful of it. Colbert brought the hard truth out into the sunshine so everyone can see it, so it can’t be ignored any longer. His medium is ironic, dark comedy, and he used it brilliantly.

We laughed even as we cried.

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