Stewart To the Ugly Madman In the Castle: This Country Isn't Yours
Ugly white people listening to Cruz behind the itty-bitty wall LA street artist Plastic Jesus built around Trump's Hollywood Star of Fame, complete with razor wire and a sign urging, "Stop Making Stupid People Famous."
Where to begin with the GOP's upstart vulgarian and his portrait of an apocalyptic hellscape of America, all fear and lies and venom and more lies? Maybe start with Ben Fountain - whose great dark "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" presents the Iraq War reflected back to us as a Dallas Cowboys game - who attempts to make sense of a political convention where guns are allowed but tennis balls aren't, "the sort of garishly insane proposition that’s just another normal day in America, the kind of stunt that a bunch of latter-day Dadaists might pull to highlight societal derangement and degradation." Likening the candidate to a 1970s mid-level mobster from Buffalo and imagining "the ultra piss-elegance of a Trump presidency, with its slathers of gold-gilt," Fountain proclaims, "Let the word go forth: America has lost its mind!"
But the loss, he suggests, has been a long time coming. He revisits Norman Mailer in Chicago in 1968, with his startlingly prescient view of "an insane Republican minority," playing to fear, powerful, uncomprehending. "They had been a damned minority for too long," writes Mailer, "a huge indigestible boulder in the voluminous ruminating gut of every cow-like Democratic administration (with) vast powers of negation and control, a minority who ran the economy, and half the finances of the world, and all too much of the internal affairs of four or five continents, and the Pentagon, and the technology of the land, and most of the secret police, and nearly every policeman in every small town, and yet finally they did not run the land, they did not comprehend it, the country was loose from them, ahead of them...They were the most powerful force in America, and yet they were a psychic island. If they did not find a bridge, they could only grow more insane each year, like a rich nobleman in an empty castle chasing elves and ogres with his stick."
Confronting our national catastrophe, Stephen Colbert brought out his old buddy Jon Stewart to likewise offer some historical perspective. Stewart ripped the hypocrisy of right-wing media figures like Sean Hannity - aka Lumpy - who've spent years bad-mouthing Obama as "a divisive thin-skinned narcissist with no government experience," but who fall silent before their own divisive thin-skinned narcissist with no government experience, and a racist bully to boot. He blasted those like Rep. Steve King arguing that Black Lives Matter and other "subgroups" are "divisive" for demanding their rights: "You've got a problem with those Americans fighting for their place at the table?...Take it up with the founders...Those fighting to be included in the ideal of equality are not being divisive. Those fighting to keep those people out are."
Stewart saved his most righteous rage for the duplicity and empty, ugly, nationalistic rhetoric of Trumpsters who pretend to take the moral high ground when their beliefs are in fact unconscionable. "You don't own patriotism," Stewart told them, his voice rising. "You don't own Christianity. And you sure as hell don't own respect for the police and military" - especially, he added furiously, when so many fought against giving 9/11 First Responders the rights and benefits they deserve. "This country isn't yours," he proclaimed. "It never was." Jon, we've missed you. Now that we're faced with the bitter, shoddy prospects of the future - Trump and Hillary and WTF?! Kaine, such a betrayal - please come back to help us through.