Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger

To the Editor:

I enjoyed Chris Lehmann’s critique of Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House correspondents’ dinner [“The Smarmies of the Night,” May 8]. I think that he got closer to the reality of what went on than most that covered the event.

I think he may have missed the essential point, though. Mr. Colbert wasn’t really interested in making anyone in the room laugh: He was playing to the home audience on C-SPAN. Mr. Colbert views the D.C. insider “culture” the same way most Americans do, as a cesspool of narcissism, corruption and detachment from reality. Mr. Colbert, like most Americans, thinks that the press corps is generally spineless, complacent and frequently complicit in government deception. The audience didn’t get the jokes because they were the jokes. He hit too close to home.

Mr. Lehmann is correct that some of Mr. Colbert’s material was recycled from his show, but the reason that people—mostly on the left—were so happy about his performance was that he was making fun of the President (harshly) to his face. Most people think that President Bush is extremely isolated, and they viewed this as an “emperor has no clothes” moment. So the reason people are defending Mr. Colbert is not really because they love him so much as because they love to see truth being spoken to the powerful.

I find it absurd that anyone would complain about Mr. Bush’s evening being ruined when Mr. Bush is in the process of ruining our nation.

Matt O’Grady

Alexandria, Va.

To the Editor:

It’s a sad day when a man like Stephen Colbert is allowed to get up and, in the guise of humor, excoriate the President of the United States of America. It’s even sadder that he was allowed to do so in front of the Washington press establishment and that, in his act, he called them on the carpet for not doing their job. But what’s really sad is that it took a comedian to do it.

Joel Vogt

Seattle Letters