Send In The Clowns; Watch the Pundits leave!

Greetings and Salutations;

Last night was a kind of milestone in television, in my opinion. While most of the  evening was unremarkable, the juxtaposition of the two Republican”debates” with Jon Stewart’s last day as host of The Daily Show turned it into a stellar moment.

First off,there were the sound bite shows that passed for a debate between the Republican candidate wannabes. As I am sure everyone knows, Fox News decided that, since there were 17 contenders for the candidate’s position, the best course of action was to split the field into two parts. Based on polling results, the seven lowest rated candidates were relegated to the earlier show (which has been named “The Kid’sTable”). I alas, did not watch that debate, as sleep claimed  me while it was on. However, from reports of the content, it seems there was nothing surprising there. Then, at the “Adult table” debate at 21:00 the remaining 10 folks gathered in a lengthy arc across the stage.   Donald Trump was in the center (of course), with the rest of the group arranged in order of decreasing poll results out to the end. Fox had three of its anchors taking turns asking questions of the candidates, and,frankly, while they were fairly softball in their treatment of the speakers, there were some rather interesting moments during the show. More on that later.

One of the major factors that undercut this event as a debate was the fact that there were ten people on the stage, and only two hours to talk to them. This meant that each person had 60 seconds to answer  a question, and, 30 seconds for a rebuttal if necessary. That is not a debate, as it allows for NO complex or nuanced examination ofa given subject. So…nothing but quick sound bites for the news programs. This format also made it difficult for the moderators to call the candidates on it when they wandered off topic and did not answer the question they were asked, but, made other talking points.

In spite of those weaknesses in the format, there were some interesting moments. Donald Trump was called out on his hateful attitude towards woman and his contemptuous language towards them (ranging from calling them stupid, to bodyshaming).  Trump, in both his language, and his defense of his hateful attitudes, is interesting.   First off,  he jumped in and said that he only said these things about Rosie O’Donnell.   While it is true that he has had quite a feud going on with Ms. O’Donnell,  as the anchor pointed out, his hateful comments have been used against a number of women who have opposed him.   Then,  he went on to say that when he was being abusive,  it was all in good fun, and folks were just joking around and such.   As I was listening to that nonsense,   I was reminded of at least one client I had for many years.   He had exactly the same, cocky attitude (but not the money).   He would happily denegrate everyone around him, treat them like trained apes in a zoo,  and if called on it,  would be totally puzzled.  He even said to me one time that “he only gave me a hard time because he thought of me as one of the family”.   Considering the train wreck that hsi family was,  I can see how that might have been true.   In any case,  the bottom line is that abuse is abuse, and there is no call for it, and no way that anyone can or should be proud of engaging in it.   Trump’s attitudes that this sort of behavior is ok shows that he has a level of hubris that should  automatically  disqualify him for the presidency.
     Jeb Bush was kind of tentative in his statements, as I think he was trying to walk a tightrope of having a point of view,and yet not getting into it with Trump, or offending the special interest groups in the Republican Party. Christy was his typical, abrasive self, and played fast and loose with a number of statistics about his governorship (as of course, did various of the other speakers). Speaking of which, as expected, the entire two hours were packed with lies, partial truths, and agenda pushing spin. I was actually kind of surprised by the fact that I heard a few verifiable, true facts sneak though. Apparently accidents happen! Overall, I have to say that it was interesting enough to keep my attention for the two hours, and almost as amusing as the hour long tribute to Jon Stewart that followed it.

Tonight’sepisode of The Daily Show was an hour long, and, although there were a couple of efforts to stick to the usual format of mocking the insanity of the political and social scenes, it just did not happen. Pretty much it was an hour-long love fest of people doing cameo roles to let Stewart know what a great person and what a great force for good he has been for the last sixteen plus years. I am pretty sure that every on-air personality that ever was on the show made an appearance, and had an amusing interaction with Jon. There were even some very amusing clips of a variety of politicians and businessmen who he had zinged pretty well coming on and saying a cheerful “good riddance!” Perhaps the best moment, though, was when Steve Colbert went off  script at the end of the show, and gave a lengthy and heart-felt tribute to Jon that pointed out that he had done great things in his time on the show, not only in his pointing out the insane moments of the world, but, by helping many others into the industry, and teaching them how to seek and achieve excellence in there work. It is well worth searching this tribute out  on YouTube, and watching it, both because of the raw honesty of it, and, the fact that it is so hard for Jon to take that it looks like he wants to make a run for it to get away from the love. In contrast with the “debate” that proceeded it, there was nothing but truth spoken in this hour, and in such a way that it balanced out many hours of the evil and untruths that infest the broadcast waves most of the time.

I was watching the Daily Show pre-Jon, and I had some doubts when he first came on as the new host. However, he grew into the post, and became a true and amazing force for good. He deserves his time at the farm with his family…so thanks Jon, and do not be a stranger!
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