On Aug. 6, that pseudo-conservative satirist Stephen Colbert utterly failed to pretend to play a right-winger on TV. Colbert invited on "legendary" radical-left folk singer Pete Seeger and treated him with deep reverence.
"It's an honor to have you on. You are a living legend. You are a giant. It's like having Paul Bunyan or Johnny Appleseed on," he oozed. This is the same sultan of snark that exudes zero reverence for his allegedly Catholic beliefs, calling himself the "Pope of basic cable" as he has rudely joked that Cardinal Timothy Dolan uses Viagra and mocked Pope Benedict for having "the face of an angel ... that got caught in a food dehydrator."
After a six-minute interview, Colbert grew even more reverent as he closed out the show by announcing with a solemn face that the 93-year-old "legend" Seeger would now sing a folk song. There was no irony as this leftist sang that "I know that you who hear my singing / Could make those freedom bells go ringing." That's the pinnacle of the "anti-war" agenda, "freedom"?
Behind Seeger was a blown-up image of his banjo head, which carries the words, "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender."
That sounds like a bad joke when you consider this is Comedy Central, where hate and insults of everything Americans hold dear is what makes their machine rumble. So it's downright strange when they grow deeply reverent of anyone, as they did with Seeger.
After the gooey you're-a-giant introduction, the only real emergence of Colbert's pseudo-conservative idiot character came when Seeger openly proclaimed, "I was a member of the Communist Party for a few years." Colbert insisted: "I'm getting to that. In 1955, you refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Would you like to name names now? I'll start. Pete Seeger, I gave one, now you give one."
In reality, Seeger unspooled his old tales about his radical father without so much as blinking, following the advice Colbert apparently gives every guest: "My character's an idiot. Your job is to set him straight."
At The Huffington Post, a Seeger-adorer named Peter Dreier advocated a campaign to nominate Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize, which faltered previously. What does it really need to succeed? Colbert, "now that Pete has graced his show with his presence ... By heading a campaign to get Pete Seeger the Nobel Peace Prize, Colbert would actually demonstrate that the forces of social conscience can triumph, against the odds."