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Send in the clowns
by Travus T. Hipp
Nov 07, 2010 | 680 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of America’s shortcomings in governance has, historically and currently, been our lack of any officially sanctioned sense of humor. Somehow our political class leaves behind their laughter in the process of becoming the respected and solemn solons of our democracy. The occasional brief glimpse of presidential humor is so rare that it is reported with analysis and commentary after every press conference. Perhaps we ought to add a jester to the cabinet, sort of a secretary of “What the F**k?” to advise the president when he’s doing something truly nuts. Such advice might have spared the country several small and two major wars over the past decades.

Fortunately, the public has provided their own comedian pundits and raised them to positions of power in the media and political spheres. After toying with political humor in the network late night shows for the last quarter century, a new wave of current event mockery has now proven itself on cable and satellite. “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” originally created as a parody of the net’s news smorgasbord format, with pointed jokes and punch lines to illustrate the inherent silliness of the news is now cited by more than half of the younger-than-30 generation as their primary source of news and current events. This discovery prompted Time Magazine to put him on the cover with an in-depth article on what it all means.

Paired with his former cohort, Stephen Colbert, whose show mocks Fox’s gas-bag commentator Bill O’Reily, Stewart recently moved the game up a notch, calling a Capitol Mall rally for the weekend before the election and dedicated to the celebration of sanity. The event drew more than 200,000 to a sunny day on the grass, almost none of whom were extremists, fundamentalists or any other stripe of activist.

In his closing monologue, Stewart pointed out the part the 24-hour media play in amplifying the extreme in every debate while ignoring the day-to-day cooperation of the diverse multitudes who do not think of themselves as one or another political entity but simply go along and get along in daily life. His message was hopeful, in that it presumed most Americans are pretty reasonable folks and given their choice will generally do the right thing.

In this last election a desperate right-wing fringe decided to remedy the humor deficit by taking down the old guard Republicans in primary elections and giving the GOP nomination to a variety of embarrassingly funny nutcases, particularly in Senate races, which were high profile enough to attract national attention. From the weirdo witch of the East in Delaware to Alaska’s own backwoods Constitutionalist with an embarrassing past employment record, and Nevada’s own Sharron Angle, whose expansive ignorance of nearly every national issue of interest to a senator made her nearly impossible to mock, the GOP failed to get the laugh of approval.

Fortunately,  these several wingnut candidates failed in their bids for office, costing their party a chance at winning the Senate, and proving Stewart’s premise that we’re actually smarter than we have been told.

“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.
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Send in the clowns by Travus T. Hipp

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