- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2010

Comedian Stephen Colbert’s appearance before a House panel on farm jobs and illegal immigrants made a mockery of one of the most contentious issues of the election season. In playing host to this display, Democrats proved their self-destructive instincts are alive and well.

The political theater of the absurd was orchestrated by committee chairman Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat, who with Mr. Colbert spent a few hours picking vegetables to draw attention to the issue of migrant workers. No matter what this stunt was supposed to achieve, it backfired.

Rep. John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, pleaded for Mr. Colbert to leave the room before his testimony, sensing the risk the committee was taking, but was overruled by Ms. Lofgren. As his testimony unfolded, the star of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” drew few laughs from the assembled, most of whom understood they were witnessing a rolling train wreck. The extent of the farce was evident to all when Mr. Colbert asked that pictures of his colon be entered into the record to make a point about roughage.

Mr. Colbert’s character is a caricature of a conservative that amuses those predisposed to laugh at those on the right. This charade, however, is symptomatic of the tasteless leftism that’s mobilized many in the Tea Party movement. He is adored by the knowing, snarky, sometimes preachy eggheads who are ready and willing to tell the American people to shut up and take their medicine. This cohort of liberals fully believes in the racial profile presented by then-presidential candidate Barack Obama of the “bitter” small-town white Americans who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

The type of mockery that plays on cable television doesn’t translate well to the halls of Congress, especially when that body is held in such low public esteem and its gravitas is greatly in question. This was not the time for Democrats to make a farce of the process of lawmaking. For his part, Mr. Colbert was at a loss to make every response into a punch line. His ad-libbed comment about “gay Iowans” being “corn packers” amused neither homosexuals nor Iowans, and from the expression on his face it seemed Mr. Colbert knew the joke had fallen flat.

Sometimes being cloaked in a persona can come in handy. In 1952, actress Judy Holliday was called before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee to answer questions regarding why her name had been linked to communist organizations. Miss Holliday was well-educated and reputed to have a genius IQ but specialized in playing dumb blondes and had won an Academy Award for her portrayal of dimwitted Billie Dawn in “Born Yesterday.” During questioning, she adopted the tone of her most noted characters, which if nothing else took the edge off the hearings.

But Miss Holliday was making fun of herself, while Mr. Colbert is mocking the 42 percent of Americans who self-identify as conservatives. He will continue this inexplicable form of political activism with his “March to Keep Fear Alive” rally in Washington on Oct. 30. If Mr. Colbert wants to keep conservative voters energized, he’s doing a good job of it. In November, voters will have the last laugh.

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