When Rush Limbaugh first appeared on network radio, he was a rather interesting character. He had an almost “libertarian” tone to his commentaries, being critical of Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals alike. On any given morning, he could be heard ripping into George Bush I, as well as Teddy Kennedy. He was, for a time, a critic of government itself, until the Republicans seduced him with an overnight slumber-party at the White House. From then on, he was talk-radio’s voice of the GOP.
Jon Stewart’s early television shows had a comparable agenda, being critical of the political establishment in its varied manifestations. Of late, however, he has become for the Democrats what Limbaugh became for the Republicans. The depths of his collapse were reflected in his recent program in which he brought in three establishmenteers to counter – which they failed to do – Judge Napolitano’s factually-grounded critique of Lincoln and the Civil War. As I watched Stewart’s fiasco – having never before seen him interview his “guest” with four critics to tear him apart – I was reminded of the old definition of “democracy” : a system in which four wolves and a lamb vote on what to have for dinner.
I hope Stewart is able to recover his initial style. As the established corporate-state order continues its collapse, and with younger people seeking alternatives to the vertically-structured society that go beyond “conservative/liberal” definitions, Stewart might discover – to his great benefit – an expansive market for his talents. He has shown himself to be much more creative, humorous, and entertaining than Limbaugh ever was. It would be a shame to see him sink at the shallow end of the pool, appealing to an emerging audience less and less interested in praising the likes of Lincoln, FDR, or Obama.11:35 am on March 16, 2014