Yesterday, since I was sick and stuck in bed with only a laptop and a wireless DSL connection and needed entertainment, I finally watched the video of Stephen Colbert’s now-legendary speech at the White House Press Corps Dinner. Yes, I’m a little behind the times. Fortunately, quite a lot of people seem to still be talking about it, so I’m not so late as to be irrelevant.
And yes, I thought it was brave and funny material. And yes, he deserves the praise he’s gotten from the left side of the fence for chiding the president along with the puppy-dog press.
But what I’m having trouble with is the notion that everyone was so shocked by Colbert’s performance. Didn’t everyone know in advance that Colbert was going to do something like this? Did the President, the First Lady, and all the administration show up completely unaware that Stephen Colbert was speaking, and that his bit would most likely skewer everyone present?
I’m not a complete political novice — I’ve seen more than a few episodes of “The West Wing,” after all — so I don’t think I’m entirely off-base when I imagine that the whole agenda may have been elaborately conceived as a way to make the president seem a little more human, a little more likable. After all, Bush’s own presentation, complete with Bush impersonator, used some of the same self-mocking jabs as Colbert’s.
So what am I missing in all the hubbub?