Careful Not to Laugh — You Might Scare Away Progressives

In reviewing some of the post-Oscar scribblings, I was pointed by someone to this column from last Friday’s Boston Globe. Apparently, when the Democratic Party takes power again, laughing at politicians will be forbidden. The first comic they’ll round up is, surprisingly, Jon Stewart.

Stewart’s daily dose of political parody characterized by asinine alliteration leads to a ”holier than art thou” attitude toward our national leaders. People who possess the wit, intelligence, and self-awareness of viewers of ”The Daily Show” would never choose to enter the political fray full of ”buffoons and idiots.” Content to remain perched atop their Olympian ivory towers, these bright leaders head straight for the private sector.

Observers since the days of de Tocqueville have often remarked about America’s unique dissociation between politicians and citizens of ”outstanding character.” Unfortunately, the rise of mass media and the domination of television news give Stewart’s Menckenesque voice a much more powerful influence than critics in previous generations. As a result, a bright leader who may have become the Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson of today instead perceives politics as a supply of sophisticated entertainment, rather than a powerful source of social change.

Most important, this disturbing cultural phenomenon overwhelmingly affects potential leaders of the Democratic Party.

Wow. So this guy (Michael Kalin, a “2005 graduate of Harvard,” according to the byline) thinks future American progressive leaders like his Harvard classmates can be dissuaded from entering politics and public policy by a few jokes? If true, wouldn’t that suggest their progressive convictions weren’t all that strong to begin with?

“Hey, I’d like to save the world from poverty and war, but I’m afraid people will make fun of me.” People like that — don’t you think it’s okay if they stay out of politics?

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