Revulsion is the emotion that best describes the feeling I and others felt while watching a malicious comedian blindside George Bush with unrelenting attacks. The President and Mrs. Bush, bowing to protocol, endured a nauseating barrage at the annual Correspondents’ Dinner this past Saturday night at the star-studded event of 2,700 at the Washington Hilton.
The media, ever concerned never to dishonor Islam, chose a representative to dishonor and eviscerate a President they dislike in front of the country and entire world. Hatchet-man “comedian” Stephen Colbert epitomizes a liberal press corps that shows reverence to anti-American leaders and non-Christian religions but eagerly breaches respect when covering an American political conservative or serious heartland Christianity.
In the past, the Dinner’s guest comedian used his pedestal to good naturedly jab both the President and Congress, Democrats as well as Republicans, and the Press itself. It was humor, not vitriol; clever, not vicious; across the board, not a blitzkrieg targeting the President only; comedic satire, not naked pulverization. But today’s Left does not play by the rules, and the President’s men, by now, should have known this.
In effect, Colbert acted as the Trojan Horse for the Left’s most despicable leftwing blogs. He was brutal, agenda driven, one-sided. His calculated diatribe was antithetical to acceptable taste. The President was portrayed in front of all, countless times, as highly unpopular. Colbert accused the President of being incapable of changing his mind even in the face of new facts.
The administration, Colbert proclaimed, is like “the sinking Titanic.” Not satisfied, Colbert comes back to characterize the administration as “the Hindenburg.” Again Colbert: “Like Rocky Balboa, at the end, he (Bush) loses.” To my dismay, all simply sat there and watched it happen!
What an unnatural place is this region they call Inside the Beltway. There is something frighteningly weird about a group of people who context issues of life and death, national security, and the safety of its citizens as simply fodder for gossip and comedy. Most normal people out there called Americans ascribe to these matters an utter gravity, not springboards for a “good time was had by all.”
How much respect can the average principled citizen feel for a press corps and even Inside the Beltway supporters of the President when wimpishness and need for “high society” approval stymies them from even booing and hissing remarks that are degrading — and intended to be so — watching as their own President squirms in public embarrassment? A political culture such as this reminds one of Rome during the Decline.
The “outed” Valerie Plame was there in her most conspicuous gown relishing being spotlighted and publicly acclaimed by a comedian using the opportunity to assign her a credence and virtue he denied to the President and Vice President. Score one for the blonde — victory handed to her over the Republican administration, courtesy of Stephen Colbert. And all laugh. One begins to wonder: Is this C.I.A. “outing” a grave matter as the Press contends or simply an Inside the Beltway game, simply the amusement de jour of the trendy D.C. political class?
In his retinue, Colbert made light of and criminalized our efforts in the War on Terrorism. Weapons of Mass Destruction were dismissed. Members of the Iraqi government risking their lives in the face of Al Qaeda were diminished as part of a do-nothing government. The N.S.A.’s attempt to intercept calls from Al Qaeda to dangerous sleeper cells here was spinned into a warning to attendees to beware of N.S.A. surveillance bugs within the table number cards atop their tables.
All these matters of national security were reduced to games of “gotcha.” Perhaps, that’s how the Press views all these things. It’s all table talk. But to those of us out here who earnestly take these matters to heart and daily engage in gut-rending debates with opponents, and see our very survival as a nation dependent on the efficacy of the war effort, to us, the D.C. spectacle and mindset is grotesque. It was a mockery of the people’s earnestness. Cynicism and lack of seriousness now dominate much of the political class and most of the press.
Supreme Court Justices, generals fighting a current war, a President, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, Helen Thomas, George Clooney — tonight we reduce ourselves and our battles to gossip and foreplay. We are all the same, ongoing bit players for the National Enquirers’ latest edition. Tomorrow we’ll wake up and, once again, become “official.”
Astounded were I and my friends who later saw supposed friends of the President and people involved in implementing the War on Terror smile and shake hands with Colbert, the left’s verbal butcher. Most of the good humored but serious Americans I know would have gone over to Colbert and said: “You’re a disgrace…a first-class boor.”
The mingling at the event of Hollywood stars, and a red carpet glamour setting reminiscent of Oscar night, demonstrates a worrisome evolution within today’s American media: a quest for and a self-identification as celebrities. No wonder Press people today seem more intent on doing that which will give them spotlight and celebrity, such as denouncing the President and our country, than doing the old-fashioned, tedious grunt work that leads to uncovering real truths as opposed to stories with liberal politically correct conclusions more apt to garner celebrity status and, perhaps, a misbegotten Pulitzer.
This is the second time in less than six months that the President’s good grace and inability to move from his seat have been exploited by his enemies at events touted as “collegial.” It happened recently at Mrs. King’s funeral, where some high-profile eulogizers capitalized on the President’s presence to denounce his domestic and foreign policies and even impugn his humanity.
Would it not be better for the President to safeguard his honor, and ours, by limiting his appearances to his speech only, given that we now live in a liberal era of “no holds barred” when up against the President or any political conservative. Liberals threw out the ideals of propriety, dignity and grace back when they decided to criticize their own country and government while on foreign shores and turn funerals, ala Wellstone, into political rallies. So, Mr. President, come in, give your speech, and immediately leave to attend to other pressing matters.
As distressed as I was for the President, I was upset for all of us represented by the President. This was not similar to past “roasts.” Colbert and friends wanted to weaken him, and those of us who support him. They made light of our security concerns, indeed criminalized them. They handed our enemy a type of relativist moral high ground. Zarkawi and other jihadists are delighted, and I suspect they know that the Press, as has repeatedly been shown, would show more deference to any tin pot communist official and, certainly, any dictator and militant of “the religion of peace.”
As for the D.C. establishment: Let’s leave them in their Beltway land of cynicism, mockery, indulgence and political decadence and move the business of governing to where real people, serious Americans live, say, Omaha.
[Reprinted from Human Events, April 2006]