“Eff you!” — How Jon Stewart interpreted Obama’s SOTU address *UPDATED*

I’ve never been a big Jon Stewart fan — there’s a lack of good spirit and subtlety that turns me off — but I’ve found interesting watching him deal with Obama.  As Stewart’s pr0nouncements during the course of every show demonstrate, he is a die-hard liberal.  However, he’s also a comedic shark.  This last means that, despite his liberal predilections, he’s going to go after blood in the water.  Right now, much to his manifest distress, the Democrats and President Obama are providing that blood.

Last night’s show was particularly interesting.  After managing a few weak attacks against Gov. McDonnell’s rebuttal, the real chum, for Stewart, was Obama’s SOTU address.  And the way Stewart understood it was as one giant “Eff you” from Obama — to everyone.  He attacked Republicans (natch), Democrats, Supreme Court justices, businesses, Wall Street, voters.  You name it, said Stewart, and Obama was out there giving someone the finger.  (Stewart didn’t mention, of course, that Obama managed to keep his rhetorical fingers neatly hidden away when it came to terrorism, Iran, North Korea, etc.)  I think Stewart was on to something:

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The second half of the show — the interview part — was just as interesting.  Stewart’s guest was Doris Kearns Goodwin, known on the Left as a historian whose book, Team of Rivals, about the Lincoln cabinet, was supposed to be a blue print of how the perfect Obama temperament would create a bipartisan political scene unknown since the Civil War.  (And that is, yes, a very funny sentence because, Lincoln’s cobbled together cabinet notwithstanding, the Civil War era doesn’t stand out as an exemplar of bipartisanship in action.)

To the Right, we know about Goodwin’s book, but we also remember that Goodwin has a little Biden-esque problem with plagarism.  In my mind, plagiarism is a very bad moral crime.  It is the intellectual equivalent of robbing a house.  Most plagiarists, though (unlike house robbers), add a soupcon of arrogance to their crime, since they believe that their greatness entitles them to the fruit of someone else’s labor.  I make this digression about Goodwin’s nasty intellectual habits to explain that I was predisposed to dislike her.

And dislike her I did.  She is, typically for America’s intellectual class, very, very liberal.  She opened her shtick by explaining that Obama’s words are meaningless unless he can match them with action, which is true.  She praised FDR and LBJ for doing just that, and told a rather funny story about Nixon inadvertently predicting his own departure during his last SOTU address.  Those were good historical stories, but she then started out with sheer partisanship, saying Obama should double-down on his policies, etc.

What was interesting about the Goodwin interview was Stewart.  Stewart is troubled.  He kept saying, without using that word, that Obama presented nothing but a dreary laundry list, without vision.  Should Obama, he asked Goodwin, state clearly a few big picture things he wants (and here Stewart digressed by praising Reagan for his skill in doing just that), rather than bogging everything down in the details?  For example, said Stewart, when it comes to health care, shouldn’t Obama identify a few problems, such as preexisting conditions, tort reform, etc., and explain how he’s going to fix them.  “Jon,” I wanted to say, “that’s the Republican plan you’re advancing.”

Goodwin just didn’t get it.  The whole notion of actual vision and problem-solving, as opposed to a simple government takeover, eluded her.  Instead, she rejoiced in the thought of Republicans standing athwart the battlements yelling stop, something she thought would harm the Republicans.  It didn’t seem to occur to her that New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts and all the polls show that, should the Republicans do that, ordinary Americans will probably be standing there cheering them on.

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I do wonder whether Stewart is going to reach some intellectual impasse, where his intelligence and aggressiveness crash head-on with his knee jerk ideological beliefs. Will we watch The Daily Show fall apart in a welter of cognitive dissonance?

UPDATE:  Earl’s comment (comment #6) is such a must-read, I’ve elevated it here, into the body of the post:

Something didn’t seem right in DKG’s reference to Strom Thurmond…..so I checked.

Wikipedia (I know, I know) reports that it was the 1957 civil rights bill that Strom Thurmond filibustered (for 24 hours and 18 minutes nonstop), and not the 1964 one.  And, by the way — when Thurmond engaged in that filibuster, he was…..a Democrat!

In 1964, the champion filibusterer (14 hours, 13 minutes) was apparently…..wait for it……Robert Byrd — who was…..a Democrat!

She is an historian, right — surely she should know this stuff…..so, did she simply not want to tell her audience?

Sheesh.

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Comments

  1. CollegeCon says

    I rather like Stewart.  He’s a liberal, but he’s also straight with people.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he privately found himself questioning his convictions.  Whether he can afford to do that on the show though is another question.

  2. Charles Martel says

    A little before logging on here, I watched the Jon Stewart segment on Instapundit where he takes down Chris Matthews for his remark about forgetting that Obama was black for an hour. It was hilarious.

    Like Book I think Stewart is a knee-jerk liberal, but his shark tendencies are starting to make him fly toward chum of any persuasion.

    Best of all, my yellow-dog Democrat wife saw me watching the video and wondered what was up. I, a racist/greedhead/homophobe troglodyte was watching Stewart?!? Anyway, I sent her the link and fully expect to hear some loud laughter a few minutes from now.

  3. says

    Something didn’t seem right in DKG’s reference to Strom Thurmond…..so I checked.
    Wikipedia (I know, I know) reports that it was the 1957 civil rights bill that Strom Thurmond filibustered (for 24 hours and 18 minutes nonstop), and not the 1964 one.  And, by the way — when Thurmond engaged in that filibuster, he was…..a Democrat!
    In 1964, the champion filibusterer (14 hours, 13 minutes) was apparently…..wait for it……Robert Byrd — who was…..a Democrat!
    She is an historian, right — surely she should know this stuff…..so, did she simply not want to tell her audience?
    Sheesh.

  4. 11B40 says

    Greetings:
    Former Governor Palin also hit the nail on the head when she described President Obama’s State of the Union speech as a lecture.  As his stress level rises, he senses how small his bag of tricks really is.

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