Jonah Goldberg

This was made abundantly clear by the sober testimony of Carol Swain, a Vanderbilt University professor of law and political science, who argued quite effectively that a steady flow of cheap migrant labor depresses wages for poor blacks and other American workers while keeping working conditions grim.

Though Colbert would obviously deny it, his testimony amounted to calling Swain -- an African-American woman of very humble background -- an ignorant bigot, because her analysis runs counter to the liberal party line.

Colbert's defenders point to the fact that other celebrities have testified before Congress. "I would like to point out," Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) noted during the hearing, "that in the past the Republicans have had witnesses such as Loretta Swit, who played 'Hot Lips' Houlihan from 'MASH,' to testify on crush videos." True enough. But she didn't testify as "Hot Lips."

Colbert's testimony reduced the topic to a black-and-white issue in which people on the other side are fools or bigots worthy of cheap mockery. I thought the whole point of Colbert was to stand against that sort of thing by making fun of it, not by doing it. Are our politics really improved by making congressional hearings even more of a joke? Were they truthiness-deficient?

On Oct. 30, Colbert's "March to Keep Fear Alive" will join Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" on the National Mall. They will rationalize the stunts as send-ups and putdowns of all that is wrong with our politics. But by slowly degenerating from satire into plain old mockery, these guys are slowly becoming too-clever-by-half versions of the very people they claim to deplore.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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