COMMENTARY | On Tuesday night's episode of "The Daily Show," comedian Jon Stewartnarrowed down all the reasons why conservatives seem to be having a problem with President Obamapoliticizing the killing of Osama bin Laden to three things: selective recall, the fact that they can't take credit for it, and that Republicans are on crack.
Although it seems a bit harsh to accuse the Republican Party of self-centeredness and mind-altering drug usage, he meant his analysis as both a caustic joke and as incisive commentary on the party's seeming ability to simply act as if they've never done exactly the same thing in the past.
"Republicans: You're annoyed by the arrogance and braggadocio of a war-time president's political ad," Stewart said on "The Daily Show." "You think he's divisively and unfairly belittling his opponents. I see... I have a question: Are you on crack?"
So, he wanted to know, what was wrong with Obama and his reelection campaign touting the feat, or "spiking the football" as his detractors were derisively calling the political ad? He noted that President George W. Bush landed a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier and gave a speech about the end of the Iraq War -- something that now looks to be a bit premature. Stewart pointed out that at least the mission Obama sent SEAL Team 6 into Pakistan on was truly accomplished, unlike the invasion of Iraq.
"He [Bush] spiked the football before the game had even started," Stewart exclaimed.
But that is the nature of politics. Politicians depend on the short-term memories of constituents and would-be converts only being casually involved in the political conversation, to only feel strongly about the current events the politicians are addressing. They only appeal to long-term memories on general issues like civil rights, patriotism, gun control legislation, allegiances, and domestic and economic issues -- hauling out a far-off incident when needed to clarify some point they're making. At the same time, they depend on the ability of voters to completely forget anything that might contradict what they're saying in the present tense -- that, or willfully deny that such contradictions exist.
Stewart highlighted his commentary with other video clips of Republicans stating something in the past that they sanctimoniously act offended about with regard to its employment by Democrats and/or the Obama administration. It was the ultimate call-out for hypocrisy.
There was also the denial of certain events, such as President Obama's verbal commendations and crediting for the role that certain people and agencies played in the death of bin Laden, something that conservative pundits and news show hosts at Fox News Channel have been denying he's done, insisting that he has taken sole credit and suggesting he share credit for the killing. Stewart refuted those attacks with several video clips of the president attributing credit.
So Stewart posits that conservatives must be on crack. He tied it into a segment where he challenged Republicans' awareness of the ability of the cerebral cortex to store and recall past events.
But it really isn't crack that's the cause of the misdirections, lies, and insinuations. It's just politics. People trying to get other people aligned to their way of thinking and get them motivated to cast a vote for or at least support them in future elections. And if it weren't for people like Jon Stewart helping to point out the hypocrisy in much of the current political discourse (on both sides of the political fence), politicians would more than likely get away with misleading the public. Because people don't really want to believe that elected officials that they voted for -- or plan to vote for in the future -- are lying to them or even misleading them.
But denial and willful blindness on the part of the voting populace is not a symptom of crack usage, either. It's a matter of apathy and ill-considered acceptance, making Thomas Jefferson's words even more poignant in our Age of Information: "An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will."
Ignorance and forgetfulness are states to be expected at times, but an orchestrated act of offended sanctimony becomes worthy of a humorous upbraiding. Enter Jon Stewart, humorist as public servant, to point out the political shenanigans and make a mockery of them.
Because, really, all those people can't really be on crack. Can they?