Saturday, November 13th, 2010...9:51 pm

Jon Stewart is Losing Me

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Sigh.  I love Jon Stewart.  I think he’s hilarious.  I spent considerable money, and time I should have been using to write papers, to go to DC last month for his rally.  But after watching this video of him with Maddow I’m starting to think he’s drinking too much of his own kool-aid.  I really really hate to say it but it’s almost as if he’s spotted the opportunity to carve out a niche for himself between MSNBC and Fox, and conviction does not exist in that niche.  Watching him twist himself up into knots to relativize GWB’s pride in waterboarding is painful.  GWB himself may or may not be evil–being the stellar Catholic that I am, I’m not sure anyone can make that judgment about someone else–but the act of taking pride in having authorized torture certainly is.  If it’s possible to talk yourself into thinking that it’s not, then it’s nothing more than a thought exercise to rationalize away all the evil that’s ever happened in the world.  If Jon Stewart is arguing for a media environment that equivocates on issues like torture in order to maintain decorum….I may have to rethink this sanity thing.

2 Comments

  • Catherine,

    I enjoy reading your blog. It’s always thoughtful and often provocative. But I think you’re mischaracterizing what Jon Stewart was saying.

    He starts by saying he’s talking about tone, rather than content, giving the example of a woman shouting “Bush is a war criminal” in a meeting, which he calls “an incendiary charge.” He argues that Obama could also be accused of being a “war criminal” since extraordinary rendition still goes on, as well as allegations of torture at Bagram Air Force base.

    He then concedes that waterboarding IS in fact torture: “Is it (any allegation vs. Obama) as clear cut as waterboarding?,” he asks. “Maybe not. But FDR interned 120,000 Japanese Americans. Is he a war criminal? If you say he is, then isn’t that incendiary and a conversation-ender?”

    He concludes his point by saying that Bush’s actions should be discussed in the context of what other presidents did and in context of, for example what Saddam, or Pol Pot did. Is that not a fair point?

    I actually see Stewart as being intellectually consistent here. I don’t think he’s disputing that waterboarding is torture. But I believe his point is that it’s impossible to have a rational conversation unless and until we can tone down the rhetoric.

    No Republican will listen to me if I begin by yelling “Bush is a war criminal,” just as I would immediately tune out someone who paints a Hitler mustache on a picture of Obama.

    Tea partiers disrupting town hall meetings may (or may not) actually have some valid point(s). But the point is lost by their tactics and their tone.

    Peter

  • BTW, we were at Ak’bol with you.