The Colbert Report ends this week. When it started up, no one could ever have imagined how much of a cultural icon the character of Stephen Colbert–as opposed to the actual person of Stephen Colbert–would become. This is the guy who stood within a few meters of the American President, a deeply unpopular, divisive figure, and mocked him mercilessly, earning a unequivocally cold and angry response from that unworthy, as well as his slavering sycophants.
He became a hero to liberals in that moment, regardless of how they felt about him before. He did what none of us could do, what none of us would ever have the chance to do, and did it with such aplomb that even the recipient of his razor wit seemed unsure of what was happening, as it was happening.
To think that this character, this persona, could have fooled those who devised the entertainment for the event, tells us everything about Washington DC in a single encapsulated moment in time. They see little beyond their bubble. It never occurred to anyone in charge to look beyond the seemingly obvious. They thought Stephen was an anomaly, a right-winger with an actual sense of humor. They did not realize the very character itself was satirical.
I’d call it a perfect character assassination, but the fact is that George W. Bush doesn’t have any character to assassinate. Nor more than does his President of Vice, the un-esteemable Richard “Dick” Cheney, a name that will forever be held to up to the names of Oliver Cromwell, Goebbels, and Rasputin.
Dick the Dick is living on borrowed time, having had another person’s heart stuffed inside his chest because the one he had was defective. Of course, one is left wondering, was the heart defective, or did the man’s inherent defects harm the heart?
Speaking of ends, that’s one I’m sure people will celebrate. When Darth Cheney, that evil cyborg, finally shuffles off this mortal coil, the only ones who will mourn are those who knew him personally, who fit in that seemingly small group of people who “should not be tortured.”
I don’t believe Stephen Colbert’s contribution to our political dialogue is over, but I imagine it will change. I look forward to seeing what this new incarnation of the man–the actual human being–gives us to consider.
Endings are so often beginnings.