Sunday, February 26, 2006

Governor "Smith" Goes to Comedy Central

In Bernie Schoenburg’s column today, he casts light on the dubious number of new Illinois jobs that Governor Blagojevich is claiming will be created by his proposed capital program. The media has become seasoned to his administration’s penchant for passing on their version of the truth as they would like it to be, rather than what the facts support. That’s why I’m surprised that they are taking the governor at his word when he says he didn’t know that “The Daily Show” was a comedy program.

If you’re not up on the story, Blagojevich appeared on the faux news program to discuss his executive order concerning contraceptives. At one point during the segment that was filled with blatantly absurd questions and comical asides, the governor looked to someone off camera and asks “Is he teasing me, or is that legit?” In a later interview with a St. Louis newspaper, Blagojevich “admitted” that he was unaware that it was a comedy program.

The governor is now good-naturedly taking a ribbing for his supposed naivety. While some in the media have questioned how anyone, especially someone with a staff of media-savvy advisors, could unwittingly wander onto the set at Comedy Central and think he was at PBS, most are taking Blagojevich at his word. Please!

Allow me to conjecture a bit on what really happened.

There are two ways that politicians have approached their appearances on “The Daily Show,” and neither one of them had them coming out looking particularly good.

The first approach was to maintain the pose of a serious statesman. Before the show became immensely popular (more on that later), much of the comedy was based on the duping of stuffed-shirt politicos. No matter how ridiculous the line of questioning became, the guests would stick to their prepared talking points and maintain an air of seriousness. They came across as humorless stiffs while the country had a good laugh at their expense.

Eventually everyone in the political arena became wise to the show’s ruse. But it was drawing such great ratings and had developed such significant cachet that politicians were still drawn to its spotlight. So they tried another approach.

Guests would come on and try to be part of the comedy, demonstrating not only that they were down with one of the hippest shows on television, but that they also weren’t above laughing at themselves. Just like the Hollywood types who appear on Letterman and read a Top Ten list that their publicist had prepared, many of the politicians bombed miserably. The correspondents on “The Daily Show” are professionals. They’ve spent years honing their comedic chops and when they sense that an amateur is attempting to match wits with them, they tear them apart. So instead of coming across as stiffs, they came across as dopes.

The Blagojevich people, aware of the damage that could be inflicted upon their boss’ image, staked out a middle ground. Their man would pretend to be oblivious to the show’s format, but in a charmingly innocent way. When things went over the top, he recognized that they were having him on, not wanting to appear dim, while affecting a light air, so as not to appear humorless. All in all not a bad approach, except for one thing.

It is almost inconceivable that Blagojevich didn’t know beforehand that “The Daily Show” is a comedy news program. It is totally inconceivable that no one on his staff briefed him on this fact.

“The Daily Show” has not only been one of the hottest shows on television, it also played a significant and well-publicized role during the last presidential election. Jon Stewart, the show’s host, has appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek. Next month, he will host the Academy Awards, a gig that is seldom given to obscure public figures.

I suppose that we are to believe that Blagojevich is too occupied attending to the people's business to watch television. That he and his intimates socialize in Proustian salons, matching intellects and bemoaning the state of popular culture that is so déclassé that they wouldn't deign to expose themselves to it. But if this were true, how do you explain the Elvis crush?

Clearly this little TV charade of his is of minimal importance compared with other sleights of tongue Blagojevich rolls out when citing his record or pushing a bill. This just makes it all the more bewildering that he would perpetrate it. It's a sad day when our governor makes Rob Corddry seem sincere and not at all weird.

1 comment:

Monkey Boy said...

Much like how I had a incredulous feeling in regard to Clinton being elected not just once but twice, (as I am sure how democrats feel about Bush) I have a "impending sense of doom" for Blago's chances at re-election. It just seems like no matter how many stupid things the guy says and does he is destined to be around for another four. In my opinion this election may go the way of the past presidential election. Blago isn't going to win because he did good things in his first term. If he wins it is going to be because of who he is running against. It was the "lesser of two evils" concept that re-elected Bush. It is the "he already has the keys and we don't want to change the locks" mentality that may keep Blago in office.

I hope I'm wrong.