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January 18, 2011

Beyond Tucson: A Second Look at Punditry

In this post-shooting, pre-”Obama vs. Congress” lull in news spectacle, I’ve been studying this photo from GQ’s recent and otherwise forgettable “2010 Men of the Year” spread.

Certainly, you’re not going to see a portrait of Stephen Colbert (in role) that isn’t an exaggerated parody, and I find this one not just clever, but almost prescient given the current Tucson-inspired atmosphere of rhetoric-muted sobriety.

You might have a different, but the way I read it, Colbert — in slicing fashion — is telling us:

American punditry is a cut-throat business, but as long as you bleed red, white and blue (no matter if you tear the country in half along the way), you not only escape getting blood (libelous, or otherwise) on your thousand dollar Ermenegildo Zegna, you’ll come out like mega-bucks.

Well, if the Limbaughs and the Becks and the O’Reillys so ruled the media universe that Colbert’s tweak deserved to be buried seven slides behind Scarlett Johansson, Jeff Bridges and a couple of forced paid ads, this commentary now has a very different sense to me than it did before Mr. Loughner pulled up at the Safeway.

Now, I look at this and see all those filthy rich and self-satisfied bloviators wielding blades, going for the jugular and then having a good laugh over it.

(photo: Inez Van Lamsweerde/Vinoodh Matadin. caption: Stephen Colbert, Patriot of the Year: Wool suit, $1,095, and tie, $95, by Calvin Klein Collection. Shirt, $275, by Ralph Lauren Black Label. Cuff links, $150, by Paul Stuart. Pocket square, $150, by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture.)

  • Enoch Root

    I read it this way: Even if you bleed red white and blue, you’re still cutting your own throat.

    The US has a profound leadership problem. This satirist and his buddy Stewart are leaders, and their jokes are also leaders. Sarah Palin is a *leader.* It’s unreal. Who’s a real leader in this nation? We don’t have anyone. Obama triangulates and abandons his base, and the right is full of idiots.

    Who leads? The answer is: Anyone who can figure out how to be Sarah Palin 2.0. And that’s sad. We’re cutting our own throat.

  • Rafael

    A self inflicted wound.

  • Stan B.

    Not a big fan of gag shots- but like this one!

    Centuries from now, they’ll look back on the madness of the last decade and wonder how it could come to pass that an entire nation seemingly went mad. Someone will find a recording in a long buried time capsule of Colbert’s White House roast and realize that not everyone had gone insane.

  • Books Alive

    I think the problem is money. Obama explains that Gibbs is leaving in order to better his current “modest” salary.

    Harking back to your previous example of “Hairshirts,” there are candidates willing to take big money out of elections. It’s been a losing battle so far, but the coalition for public financing is striving industrially to get states to enact such legislation.

  • Stella

    Maybe it means that paying ten times the value of anything is cutting your own throat – a very non-GQ concept.

  • Robin Moore

    Solution to the deficit crisis: Tax pocket squares.

  • Progressive Mom

    Colbert is cutting his own throat to prove that he’s a “real” American.

    And with a smile that says: Who’s next?

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