Late Night Hosts Reflect Irony, National Division

For decades, late night talk shows have made hay over politicians from both sides of the aisle. On any given night, you’ll see Jimmy Fallon take a crack at Obama, Clinton, or Deblasio one night, then turn a joke on Chris Christie or Ted Cruz the next. Tonight, Stephen Colbert swung at Hillary Clinton, joking about “two choices, one terrible, and the other catastrophic.” Kimmel hosted President George W Bush last month, and Lindsay Graham played pool with Trevor Noah last Fall, during the election. Some get more extreme than others, but they all have their audiences. Fair enough.

But, the night of May 2nd was an historic one for late night talk shows, as two of them waded into politics a tad more than usual. First, Colbert – who actually makes trumpism a nightly buffet of sardonic wit for his audience – went ballistic. First, he played footage of the president repeatedly insulting Colbert’s CBS colleague, John Dickerson, mocking his show as “De-Face the Nation.” After following up on a question the president brought up, Dickerson was cut off when trump walked away, ending the interview. Colbert’s response was an intentionally childish string of puns [WARNING: implied foul language] that grew with intensity, until he literally hit below the belt with a *bleeped* homosexual reference.

Within minutes, the conservative twittersphere lit up, aghast at Colbert’s use of “homophobic” insults against the president, pointing out the left’s reaction IF a conservative host had done the same to President Obama. (Funny, I don’t remember many of us showing righteous indignation over “homophobic” humor before, but I digress)

Well, conservative hosts have done just that, and more than once. In fact, a good portion of these same folks applauded when a commentator said,  “We are being told that we have to hope [Obama] succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president.”

I happened to agree with the sentiment behind this statement, along with the rest of you. But it should be noted… they’re using the exact same subject of sodomy that made people furious the other night. I am aware that pointing out this irony is anathema in conservative circles like our own, but tough beans.

While the hashtag #FireColbert trended briefly online in the wake of the comedian’s vicious monologue, Jimmy Kimmel had teed up his own viral moment the same night, breaking from his usual monologue to explain the emotional tragedy of almost losing his newborn son last month.

The New York Times explained:

Mr. Kimmel revealed on Monday’s show that his wife [Molly] had given birth to a son [William], who, within hours of delivery, was found to have severe heart defects. He needed emergency surgery, leading to a torturous series of events — then, ultimately, a happy ending. Mr. Kimmel eventually turned toward politics, decrying the idea that anyone should be denied access to health insurance and to coverage for pre-existing medical conditions:

“We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all. Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.

If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?

“This isn’t football,” Mr. Kimmel added. “There are no teams. We are the team, it’s the United States. Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants.”

Almost before he left the stage for a commercial break, people broke out on social media, criticizing him for using his son to push a liberal agenda. Meanwhile, Democrat leaders from Rep Nancy Pelosi to President Barack Obama offered their condolences, and expressed support for his comments. As you’d expect, this only fueled the reaction from the right.

Washington Times writer, Charles Hurt called Kimmel an “elitist creep,” and mocked his “slobbering wet kiss to the federal bureaucracy,” telling him in no uncertain terms to “shut up.”

Really? I mean, REALLY?

Kimmel’s tearful plea was powerful for any parent, but some of us (including yours truly) found a way to disagree with his implied solution without anger. One such person was the president’s Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney (whose own triplets were born with health defects), saying, “I have seen the fragility of having a premature baby or sick baby. Everybody, I think, agrees with Jimmy Kimmel. We have enough money in this country to provide care for those types of folks. [But], that’s not the point,” he said. “The point behind the state waiver program is the state governments know how to treat children like the Kimmel baby better than the federal government does. If we give more control to the states, they can figure out a way to best provide for children like Mr. Kimmel’s baby.”

This was a measured response, and I applaud Mulvaney for it.

The lesson I’ve drawn from these two simultaneous late night moments is this: we have a country that is deeply divided, and can rarely talk with each other and disagree civilly. At times, we use wit, other times we express anger. Sometimes, we get distraught, and occasionally go over the line. But, a sign of a good sense of humor is being able to absorb a joke at your own expense, and roll with the punches. I have to wonder how many realize their hypocrisy at times, laughing at our own commentators ripping liberals a new one (yes, that is a crass reference too), while being pissed off that a liberal somewhere expressed their own feelings. It clearly doesn’t matter how – in a crude manner like Colbert, or tearful, like Kimmel, we act like it’s unconscionable.

Some people just can’t talked down, and I understand that. These are the dramatic folks that single-handedly have kept some soap operas alive on TV for 40 years at a crack. But, I have to believe that at some point, we can share a pew, a coffee table, or a Facebook thread without hating liberals just because we have failed to convince them we’re right. We certainly don’t need weekly marches, or viral twitter rants to stand up for what we believe in. What do they do?

#InsteadOfMarches is a good hashtag, started by some writers here at The Resurgent. And, in that vein, I think all of us should just focus on living life a little more. Maybe post it on Facebook, instead of the next Daily Wire piece. You’ll be surprised how similar our lives are to the “socialist” across the street, or the “unionista” lighting up their keyboard at the coffee shop. After two years of drama, I just want to laugh a little, cry when necessary, and above all, just chill. No matter what a comedian says. Why do we care, anyway?

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Ed Willing

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