John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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The Importance of Being Ironic

Posted on January 20, 2012


The Importance of Being Ironic

I was wrong.

I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago where I made the claim that Stephen Colbert is not funny.

My friend Gayle Osterberg said I was wrong and she was right.

Colbert is funny.  But these days, he is not only funny.  He is funny and his humor is dead on when it comes to the political process.

Instead of criticizing the ridiculous state of our campaign finance laws head on, Mr. Colbert would rather show how ridiculous the laws are by participating directly in them.

By first announcing that he was starting a Super Pac and then by handing off the Super Pac to his good friend Jon Stewart, and then announcing that he was starting a exploratory committee because he was thinking about running for President, Stephen Colbert showed how incredibly silly our campaign laws are.

We live in a world created when McCain-Feingold, the so-called campaign finance reform law, ran smack into First Amendment and created an unintentionally bizarre universe where the political parties have no power and a diminished capability to raise money and where very rich people from all political stripes can dominate the discussion by creating shadowy organizations with no accountability and no disclosure.

Colbert has shown, in one fell swoop, how stupid these campaign laws are.  And by doing so, his own personal credibility has shot through the roof.   In fact, polls show that he has more credibility with the voters than any other of the Republican candidate, which is pretty pathetic if you think about it.   He’s a comedian, folks!

We live in an ironic age.  I think people are catching on to the idea that Washington isn’t exactly on the level.  And they are getting in on the joke.

The Republican candidates aren’t exactly brimming with a good sense of humor.  Hermann Cain was pretty funny and so was Rick Perry (although most of his humor was by accident).  And when you want to save the world and battle terrorists and boldly proclaim that you are the change that the world has been waiting for, it is awfully hard to have a healthy sense of irony.

There was a story a couple of weeks ago about how Republicans liked reality television/competition shows and cop dramas, while Democrats liked “sarcastic” shows.

There is something in the Republican brain that values icons, while there is something in the Democrat brain that values iconoclasm.

That being said, both sides like candidates with a sense of humor.  They like it better when the candidates have a self-deprecating sense of humor.

And if you look closely at our current campaign finance system, you can’t help but burst into a heap of riotous laughter.  Stephen Colbert has help make that easier for the common man to do.

If Oscar Wilde were to write an update to his famous play to describe the world we live in, he would title it “The Importance of Being Ironic”.