Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

Total Pageviews

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

AM I MISSING SOMETHING?

The resignation from the Senate of Jim DeMint has created an opportunity for Nicki Haley, Governor of the deep red state of South Carolina, to appoint a replacement for the two years until 2014, when a special election will be held to fill the seat for the remaining two years until it is normally up for election in 2016.   Needless to say, only certifiably far right wing Republicans need apply.  A number of quick polls, testing the support for five or six of the usual suspects, has revealed that the person with the most support is television personality Stephen Colbert.

Now, I admit that I am a naive boob from the clueless Northeast, recently transplanted to the equally clueless Research Triangle area of North Carolina, but isn't Colbert a liberal whose comic TV shtick is to masquerade as a batshit crazy right winger?  Have I been seeing comedy all these years when in fact it was just honest nuttiness?

8 comments:

Jacob T. Levy said...

20% or so support, which is what he was polling at, doesn't require any crossover *Republican* support.

Colbert's been making SC political activity a part of his schtick for a while now, including a feint toward getting on the presidential primary ballot; I think there are lots of SC voters who are just entertained by the amount of attention he brings. Add to that the fact that he has high name recognition and was plugging his "candidacy" on the air for several days, and you can manufacture a goofy poll result.

That said, his performance has a lot of layers to it. There's probably still a handful of viewers who don't get that there's a joke at all. But there's a substantial conservative fanbase who perceive an affectionate and intelligent mockery in it, and think that by (in effect) pretending to pretend, Colbert gets to skewer liberal guests who would never subject themselves to a real conservative host. (The primary response remains that he's simply mocking conservatives. But it's hard to tell for sure.)

The actor keeps his own political views very close to the vest, but in any case he is genuinely a religious Catholic, and that does seem to inform his ability to play at being a Christian right nutcase.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

That is fascinating, and sounds right about the handful of times that I have watched him for more than a few moments. I don't think I have seen any of the instances of his skewering liberal guests, which would help to make sense of it all. Needless to say, he will not be Nikki Haley's pick.

Don Schneier said...

Past polling has shown that approx. 50% of Conservatives take Colbert at face value.

Rob Nicholl said...

It seems to me that the more conservative ones political views are, the less capable of understanding irony one is. That perfectly explains the effectiveness of Stephen Colbert's comedy - and he is joking, make no mistake. If he were open about his personal views, he would not be able to skewer the lunacy of the Right as effectively, and his show would wind up being a clone of The Daily Show.

On a side note, Dr. Wolff, I must tell you that I have been reading your blog for some time now and very much enjoy your political musings, as well as having learned a great deal from the philosophical writings you share here. As well, I just plain enjoy your personal stories. All the best to you and your family!

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thank you so much, Rob. The point about irony is spot on. I have written about that in connection with Marx [MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCkY] and also in other contexts. It is central to an understanding of the oral African-American traditions.

Murfmensch said...

I would need to see the poll. Colbert is pretty clear about his satire. He also is very upfront about his politics in many interviews given out of character.

I'm sure some conservatives find him funny anyway.

If you were undecided within the republican right, you might answer Colbert on a lark.

Another bizarre point. Colbert has a Super PAC with a pretty good amount of money. He may start to lobby for his choice in SC soon.

Marinus Ferreira said...

As for skewering liberal interview subjects, his interview of Bernie Sanders may be an example. It's not chest-thumping shouting match, like what Bill O'Reilly may consider a 'skewering', but Colbert is a very astute questioner when he wants to be. That interview convinced me that Sanders (an excellent legislator) was not an especially deep thinker re: government, cause Colbert posed him a number of good questions he couldn't give decent answers to.

Don Schneier said...

That Colbert was cleared to be the featured speaker at the 2006 Correspondents' Dinner is a good indication of how prevalently his act has been taken at face value. (I suppose the same could be said about Bush viz-a-viz the Presidency, which is why the choice of Colbert may have been so unwittingly apt.)