January
26th 2010
Losing Jon Stewart

Posted under: American history, unhappy endings

I always thought that our first woman president would be a Republican.  I just didn’t anticipate that our first African American president would be a Republican, too.  (At least, not since Colin Powell said nix in ’96.)  Here’s a good roundup explaining the policy and political FAIL:  As Melissa McEwan writes, “[y]ou know, it’s almost like progressives should have had a serious conversation about what kind of president Obama would really make, how he would really govern, when he kept telling us over and over and over that he wasn’t a progressive.  But getting shouted at that I was a stupid, racist, man-hating traitor was fun, too.”

Lyndon Johnson once famously quipped, “if I’ve lost [Walter] Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”  I don’t watch The Daily Show daily, but the last several clips I’ve caught suggest that Obama has lost Jon Stewart. It’s not just that Stewart has been critical of his policy positions (whatever they are today, anyway)–more tellingly, he’s mocking him out for pretty much everything, which suggests that our national Court Jester sees dire political weakness. I refer you to FratGuy in August of 2008: “What we need is another L.B.J., and what we’re getting with this guy is another Jimmy Carter.”

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama Speaks to a Sixth-Grade Classroom
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

Oh well–I suppose it’s good for comedians that Obama is flailing, I suppose.  “His Magnificent Awesomeness” really isn’t very funny–but a guy who hauls a presidential podium and a teleprompter to an elementary school classroom?  Comedy gold!

17 Comments »

17 Responses to “Losing Jon Stewart”

  1. thefrogprincess on 26 Jan 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    I voted for Obama and I stand by my vote but I did not do so thinking he was some major progressive. (His anti-gay marriage stance cured me of that real quick.) It seems though that the left was indeed swayed by all the conservative “Obama’s a socialist” hype. No, the left didn’t think he was an actual socialist, not least because the term isn’t particularly relevant but maybe all the shouting from the right that Obama was crazy liberal clouded the left’s vision a bit.

  2. Indyanna on 26 Jan 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    This “freeze-and-spin” plan referenced on the front page of the Times today certainly seems to suggest that we might as well have just elected Ronald Reagan “President for life,” or maybe we actually did? Billions for bankers but not one red cent for school lunches? This step is poll-driven, page 3 suggests, because they learned from Massachusetts that the “independents [are] abandoning us…” This is good strategy: Lose the independents, then drive off the tax and spend crowd. Who you gonna call when the next Tea Party comes around?

  3. Roxie on 26 Jan 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Much better for comedy, totally $hitty for the country. As Moose put it in a Facebook rant earlier today, it’s wonderful that our “progressive,” “transformational” Democratic president has decided what he really wants to be is a Republican governor. Melissa’s piece is a triumph of high, outraged dudgeon — All your readers should click right over there.

    Well, we told ‘em so, didn’t we, Historiann? And yet, there’s really not even much satisfaction in having been right about what a centrist sellout Obama would prove to be. I’m too worried about what such a huge squandering of time and political energy might do to the country.

  4. Historiann on 26 Jan 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    If anything, Roxie, I was too optimistic in predicting that he’d govern as President Clinton did with a Republican-controlled House and Senate! Surely, I thought, no Dem Prez with such healthy majorities would squander the opportunity to govern as a center-left president. (Center-left being as far left as an actual U.S. President can ever be.)

    Fool me once!

    I read a book once in which one character said sarcastically to another, “it must be really great being right 100% of the time, isn’t it?,” that is, to suggest that the other character thought too much of her own opinions. The other character replied, “actually, no–it’s awful. It’s awful to be right all of the time.” I’m not right all of the time–as if!–but I kind of identify with the other character right now. It doesn’t feel as totally awesome to be right as you’d think it would feel.

  5. LadyProf on 26 Jan 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    Thank goodness that Cynthia McKinney was (nominally) on the ballot; I don’t think I could have voted for a white man running against Obama in November 2008. But like you, Historiann, I knew it. And yes, it felt rotten back then and it feels rotten now.

    I have no hope whatsoever for this presidency. Although I think the Democrats will lose many seats in Congress this fall and that Obama cannot be reelected, the real misery ahead will land on the American people.

  6. koshem Bos on 26 Jan 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    What is funny is a guy who cannot run a supermarket is running the country. Furthermore, he is second in a row. It was clear in the primaries that the guy doesn’t have it but the screams were on and the status of FDR was already questionable. Bill Clinton was the devil (can we get him for a just a month?). How pathetic.

  7. Shane in Utah on 26 Jan 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    My favorite bumper sticker of the 2008 campaign was “Be Disappointed by Someone New.” Even when I voted for him in both primary and general elections, I fully expected Obama to be a centrist triangulator, though I did hope he would capitalize on Democratic majorities in congress more ably than he has done. I can’t argue with anything you’ve written here.

    What bugs me about these periodic posts, though, is the subtext (rarely spelled out, but always there) that H.R. Clinton would have done better. When she was senator, she never found a left-leaning position she couldn’t triangulate against. When she was running for president, she surrounded herself with loathsome tools like Mark Penn, Terry McAuliffe, and other DLC toadies. And her campaign was completely tone-deaf and absurdly cautious about taking any sort of controversial stand. The implication that she would have kicked Ben Nelson in the nuts and led the congress to pass health care reform by last March is laughable, given her track record and the kind of campaign she ran.

    Isn’t the real problem a completely corrupt and dysfunctional political system? At this point I doubt LBJ or FDR could squeeze a decent piece of legislation out of the pathetic buffoons on capitol hill, either.

  8. Nessum on 27 Jan 2010 at 4:56 am #

    Don’t get your hopes up too high re Jon Stewart, Historiann!

    He is probably somewhat forced to take a jab at Obama once in a while, to keep his credibility, but I don’t see him doing it consistently anytime soon.

    Besides he is as misogynistic as the next guy, but as he is also (can be) very funny, he doesn’t always come off like that. Recently he acidly ridiculed Martha Coakley and accused her of being responsible for “30 million Americans who now go without Health Insurance because of your loss.” !

    I guess, once a misogynist, always a misogynist. Some just manages to hide it better than others.

  9. Historiann on 27 Jan 2010 at 7:00 am #

    What bugs me about these periodic posts, though, is the subtext (rarely spelled out, but always there) that H.R. Clinton would have done better.

    You brought up Clinton–I didn’t, and haven’t. She lost 19 months ago–the primaries are over. I don’t understand how my pointing to Obama’s failures of leadership since he became President have anything to do with Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign. I don’t doubt that I’d have a LOT of problems with a Clinton presidency too–but that’s not the point. He won. He wanted the job. He’s got it now. He’s the one on the hot seat.

    McEwan’s post, to which I linked, alludes the Primary Wars. But even she isn’t making the argument that Clinton would have been teh Awesome. She’s just reminding some that all of the pretexts that Obama supporters used to justify their hatred of Hillary Clinton and support of Obama have come to pass in an Obama presidency anyway: more war, fewer civil liberties, a crap economy, and a fracked up “health care” reform process.

    I know these posts bother some people. I’m trying to get a lid on my disdain for Obama–because whether I like it or not, his hand is on the rudder of the great Ship of State for at least 3 more years, and I wish he were a better Captain. (I voted for him, too.) I appreciate you reading and commenting on this post, although we disagree.

    And, Nessum: I haven’t seen Stewart engage in misogyny–at least no examples come to mind, but as I said, I don’t watch the DS show regularly. He’s not as bad an offender as Bill Maher, though–is he? In any case, this post was more about “losing Jon Stewart”–I wasn’t making an argument that Stewart is right and Obama is wrong, all the time. I just think it’s notable when a President starts getting mocked on a regular basis for trivia by a show that was for a long time in his court.

  10. Western Dave on 27 Jan 2010 at 7:16 am #

    I think the quote comes from the movie Broadcast News. One of the evil corporate suits says it to goodhearted but work obsessed producer Holly Hunter who says “It’s awful, it’s absolutely awful.” One of my favorite scenes of all time.

  11. Emma on 27 Jan 2010 at 8:14 am #

    When she was running for president, she surrounded herself with loathsome tools like Mark Penn, Terry McAuliffe, and other DLC toadies.

    Anything like Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, David Axelrod, and Rahm Emmanuel? Nooooo, nothing like that. I’m sure HRC’s failing are just so much more fail-like. Fer sure.

  12. LadyProf on 27 Jan 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Well, I know Historiann didn’t want to revive the quarrels of 2008, but I want to echo Emma: Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, including her triangulation; she knew about the partisan fights ahead of her and said she was prepared to push. Obama, having run on appeasement and post-partisanship, has faced the same fights. He has been losing them all, because he has been either (a) unprepared, weak, and inept or (b) a plute-favoring Reagan Republican all along, throwing the match.

  13. cgeye on 27 Jan 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    I’d like a bought-off streetfighter who actually fights, please.

    And one who knows that winning the next election also means helping his or her base out, once in a while. Guess that’s too much to ask, huh?

  14. RKMK on 27 Jan 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    I know these posts bother some people.

    For the record, these posts are a comfort to me. Because it is horrible to be right all the damn time (I’ve seriously felt like goddamn Cassandra for almost two years now) but at least these posts means I’m not always right all by myself.

    I’d like a bought-off streetfighter who actually fights, please.

    Srsly. Whereas HRC is a heavyweight scrapper, Obama’s got a glass jaw. It’s like comparing Muhammad Ali to Tommy Hearns.

  15. Historiann on 28 Jan 2010 at 9:04 am #

    RKMK: thanks. But, a lot of my friends (and a lot of my readers, like Shane) are experiencing acute Hopium withdrawl now. I’m aware that these posts might read a little too much like “nyah nyah nyah I toldja soooo!!!” to some. And, while that might be true, it’s also not all that interesting to read, over and over again. (However satisfying it is for me, and perhaps for you too, to gloat once in a while.)

    The truth is that gloating isn’t a solution to anyone’s problems. We’ll see in the next year how steep is the Obama WH’s learning curve. I’m “hope”-ing that Obama takes Timmy Geithner into a back room with a rubber hose today and comes out with a signed resignation letter, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Seriously, he’d get a 3+ point bump in his approval rating overnight if he did that. But, last night’s speech was all about “tax credits” for this-n-that, no serious talk about tax INCREASES on the rich, which is what it’s going to take if he wants guns, butter, wellness checkups, and deficit reduction at the same time too.

  16. Daniel S. Goldberg on 29 Jan 2010 at 9:24 am #

    I apologize for the pop culture reference, but this post reminds me of the wonderful Family Guy montage where the Jewish character, Mort Goldman, is convinced that Hitler has returned. He runs around screaming, “Oh my God, he’s back, SAVE JON STEWART! He’s our most important Jew!”

  17. “Don’t give them the keys back?” : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 09 Sep 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    [...] trying to lead a full-on gospel choir, and failing miserably.  As I’ve noted here before, losing Jon Stewart is not where the Dems want to [...]

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