I’ve always hated races – presidential and otherwise. I can trace my hatred back to the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare,” where the over-confident rabbit loses a race to his steadfast amphibious counterpart. I believe the moral of the story was “Brendon, stop picking your nose,” which is what my kindergarten teacher lovingly intoned at the tale’s conclusion. In my heart, I knew what she was saying: “Slow and steady wins the race.” This did not serve me well in physical education class later. I quickly outgrew trying to “be the tortoise”, but I’m not convinced that our political system ever did.
All this becomes quite clear once you realize each candidate tries to convince you he is the tortoise. Think about the words “slow” and “steady.” Picture someone who isn’t too quick but prides himself on consistency – sound like any politicians we know?
I have good news for you, America. I have found the Tortoise, and he is going to slowly and steadily make the race fun to watch.
On Oct. 16th, Stephen Colbert, anchor of the fake news show “The Colbert Report” announced he was running for President. It’s sort of like that Robin Williams movie, “Man of the Year,” except people are actually watching this and feeling entertained. Colbert plans to run only in his home state of South Carolina, and as both a Democrat and Republican so, in his words, “I can lose twice.” Colbert has come up with the novel idea that it’s okay to laugh at the more ridiculous aspects of elections. Hell, we might even learn something in the process.
Most of us are familiar with Colbert’s on-air persona, in which he acts as a super-conservative pundit with ridiculously right-wing views. In other words, he tries to out-tortoise the tortoises, and no one wants to be the target of satire. The hyperbolic extremism of his “views” might force the other candidates to re-evaluate if they, too, want to continue making massive generalizations.
Colbert already began exposing the silliness of some election laws. For example, Colbert keeps referring to his Doritos sponsorship, pointing out that, of course, corporate sponsors for candidates are illegal, so it’s only the coverage of his campaign that they’re paying for. Additionally, a petition can’t legally be posted on the show’s Web site without counting as unfair advantage, but a link to the candidate’s website which contains the petition can. For the first time, I understand how ridiculous and arbitrary many of these regulations can be. Who would have thought a comedian could make me care about election reform? Yet, here we are. And I’m not alone – the “1,000,000 Strong For Stephen T Colbert” Facebook group is the most popular on the site.
Predictably, not everyone is amused. Bill O’Reilly called the run a publicity stunt to bolster sales of Colbert’s new book, I Am America (And So Can You!) and criticized Colbert for not appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor.” “He knows the book is dumb,” O’Reilly stated. “So he’s not going to come in. Instead, he runs for president.” In related news, I used the same tactic in kindergarten when my friend wouldn’t share her cookie with me. I publicly declared the cookie probably tasted like poo anyway. For those who are afraid that Colbert’s really in it for the office, and will steal valuable votes from others, Colbert himself stated in a television interview, “I don’t want to be president. I want to run for president. There’s a difference,” Amen, brother.
When the Public Opinion Strategies poll put Colbert ahead of Democratic candidate Bill Richardson, Richardson’s spokesman responded, “This is a serious election with serious consequences and we are not going to comment on this ridiculous exercise.” I couldn’t agree more. The consequences of this race are so serious we can’t afford not to have someone like Colbert showing us how completely ridiculous and irrelevant certain aspects can be. And I think Colbert would agree with me that in such a race, neither the tortoise nor the hare prevails: American voters are the winners.