The Escape Into Fantasyland
There was an awkward moment at today's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Obamacare when a New York Democrat rapped GOP critics with quotes from a satirical New Yorker feature, The Borowitz Report.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, while calling it her own “distinguished comedic think tank,” quoted from several stories in the Borowitz satire blog as if they were accurate, most notably one in which author Andy Borowitz joked that Republicans are complaining that the problem-plagued Obamacare website is working too fast.
It's tempting to allow your mind to drift into fantasy when all appears to be lost. In the past, beleaguered members of the far left have retreated deep into the bunker, and dreamed of the collapsing empire whose fate was doomed through mismanagement and extreme overreach, and how -- even as the walls are caving in -- it could still, somehow, be rebuilt again.
A scene from Downfall? No actually, I was thinking of when Stephen Colbert dropped by the Democrat-led (specifically, Nancy Pelosi-led) 111th Congress in late September of 2010, despite -- or maybe because of -- their knowledge that virtually all polls indicated that the deluge was on its way in November. As John Podhoretz wrote at the time:
This may have been the single biggest pointless blunder in American political history, and I am not kidding. With an election only five weeks from now in which Democrats are poised for major losses, this morning’s depiction of Congress as ludicrous dupes of a TV personality — which will be replayed for weeks — will make the analogistic point that the majority is unfit to be running things. How exactly will they argue otherwise?
Did Colbert himself understand the damage he was going to do to the political and ideological forces he clearly supports by mocking the political process they control in this way? Is he, secretly, more O’Reilly than O’Reilly? Whatever is the case, the disaster was predictable and could have been avoided. I know, because I predicted it. What I didn’t predict is that the House leadership and the Democratic leadership generally are in such a state of degeneration that they didn’t know, or didn’t try, to intervene before this political Jonestown.
UPDATE: Oh my Lord. Speaker of the House Margaret Dumont Nancy Pelosi has defended Colbert’s appearance: “He’s an American. He has a point of view.”
And Andy Borowitz has a point of view as well. Like Colbert's, it's not based on reality, but you can't have everything in the Obama era, especially when you're toiling on his behalf.
(Which isn't to say that the GOP isn't debating its own retreat into fantasyland as well...)