Stephen Colbert shows Republicans how to draw a crowd
Under the looming live oaks at the College of Charleston on Friday, Stephen Colbert delivered a clinic on how to produce a whiz-bang political rally. Significantly, not one of the Republican candidates this year has exhibited the star power to bring off such an extravaganza themselves.
Thousands of students packed into the old college’s walled central yard. Many had waited for hours to see Colbert and they cheered wildly when the comedy genius from Comedy Central marched in. Cheerleaders and a marching band led the way. A gospel choir was poised to sing with Colbert onstage.
An ex-presidential candidate had also been convinced to join the parade - Herman Cain, the Herminator, the Pizza Man, he of the 9-9-9 plan. Colbert’s latest stunt was to urge his South Carolina fans to cast a vote for Cain, who is still on the ballot, as an expression of support for Colbert’s own candidacy for “president of the United States of South Carolina.”
Colbert’s farcical campaign follows from his establishment of a personal “super PAC.” All of this is an elaborate satire of the Supreme Court’s 2-year-old Citizens United ruling that declared corporations are entities akin to people and, therefore, have the same rights to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political speech. The results of this decision have been abundantly evident in the 2012 campaign. Super PACs working in support of, but independent from, several candidates have spent mountains of money on attack ads trying, often successfully, to do damage to opposing campaigns.
Colbert’s latest gimmick was to turn his super PAC over to his comedy confederate, Jon Stewart, and pretend the super PAC will now operate independently from Colbert’s “I am Herman Cain” campaign.
In his persona as a hugely self-impressed conservative pundit, Colbert gave the crowd of students a rousing “defense” of super PACs that, of course, actually made a mockery of the Supreme Court decision. “There are cynics who say you have to be a billionaire to have your voice heard in Washington,” Colbert said. “Wrong. You just have to know a billionaire.”