The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Colbert in ’08?

Comedian’s run likely to generate talk, but little action

Stephen Colbert is no enigma. That’s no secret. Since his days as a correspondent for “The Daily Show,” this self-proclaimed “shoot from the hip journalist” has used his distinctive brand of political satire to develop his craft into one of the most visceral, informed and hilarious voices in news today.

With his “Daily Show” spin-off news program, “The Colbert Report,” on airwaves since 2005, Colbert has created a cult fanbase comparable to a primetime series on a major network. But with Colbert receiving both financial and critical success as well as a loyal following, a question inevitably arises: Where does “Stephen Colbert the person” stop and “Stephen Colbert the entertainer” begin?

The answer came on Oct. 16 with the official announcement on his program of his candidacy for President of the United States. Colbert now joins the ranks of other comedians like Pat Paulsen who’ve used satire as a means to make a run at the White House. The only difference here though is this really isn’t a joke.

That’s at least how things seem presently as Colbert has backed up his statements several times in the media. But things haven’t been totally serious for the comedian-turned-candidate, as Colbert listed his intentions to run as both a Democrat and Republican, and that one of his ideal running mates was Vladimir Putin. And this is just the beginning.

If Colbert isn’t joking, we’ve got a year and a half of irreverent debates, outrageous commentary and possibly even some legitimate campaigning to look forward to. But how does anyone even begin to debate one of the wittiest comedians of the past decade? Perhaps this is exactly what Colbert was thinking when he announced his bid for the presidency. Granted, he is an easy target for every politician out there by just questioning the legitimacy of his campaign or his qualifications for the job. But if he is serious, we’re willing to bet Colbert’s got more than a few ideas to trump even the most viscous of opponents.

If this does all turn out to be a joke, in the end it’s going to be on all of us. Regardless, Colbert has created substantial fodder for jokes and publicity at least through March 2008. Not only has he created one of the smartest publicity campaigns for his own TV program just by running for the job, but also he’ll no doubt mobilize the ever sought-after and unpredictable youth vote.

At the same time, Colbert will gain an entirely new audience and create an even better forum to invite social and political discussion into the homes of even the most jaded potential voters.

Even if in the end this merging of the entertainer and the person is only an illusion, the American people have still won. Like him or not, if you care about this country you have to appreciate what he’s trying to do for the nation. Even though he’s using comedy as a guise for political commentary, at least he’s creating discussion. And that’s straightforward serious business.

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