Monday, April 6, 2015

232. Stewart's common sense will be missed

After a long day of news, in which we are overwhelmed by network and cable programming, newspapers, blogs, Facebook posts and Twitter feeds, the world seems like a crazy place. There are many opinions out there, and for each one of them, someone is “outraged,” or “appalled.”

Every day feels like a culture war, and it’s exhausting. On one side it feels like progress is slowly being made; on the other, my mouth drops open at some of the things that are said by politicians and other cultural influences. Although I understand that the competition to be heard is considerable, which inspires bold statements and ideas, it’s unbelievable that some people continue to get publicity for the crazy things they say.

For them, the antidote is Jon Stewart.

For me and millions of other fans, Jon Stewart provides a sense of order in a world of chaos. Wildly talented and entertaining, he takes to task those things that drive me and other mostly liberals crazy. Though fair and willing expose any instance of hypocrisy, inconsistency or insanity, his targets are often those on the right—particularly Fox News and Republican politicians. He also tackles critical social issues with humorous segments designed to expose inconsistency and ignorance through absurdity.

There are a lot of writers and personalities which I share a kinship. I have quoted them quite often, those such as Sam Harris, Bill Maher and Michael Moore. As much as respect all of them, they often have ideologies for which I disagree. Harris can go too far sometimes, Maher has this weird obsession against vaccination and Moore dislikes animal compassion groups. But I cannot recall a moment where I have disagreed with a stance taken by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Part of that reason, I believe, is that he presents his arguments with proof. His segments include video clips and other media to prove his point. He doesn’t sit upon a pedestal and spin his case—rather he makes his case by showing the errors of others. And he makes it entertaining, a little less inflammatory than something you will see on the news stations. He’s a dose of common sense. Fortunately, politicians and conservatives provide plenty of material. Critics claim that these segments are taken out of context. Sigh.

For example, one recent episode zinged Republican Thom Tillis, who makes his political appeal through his dedication to free markets. Tillis was apparently proud of himself when someone tried to test his anti-regulatory stance by asking whether restaurant employees should be required to wash their hands. Tillis responded no, as long as restaurants were required to post a sign that employees didn’t have to wash their hands.

To this, Stewart responded, “You do realize that’s a regulation, too, right? That’s not getting rid of regulation, that just makes you an inconsistent ideologue with a light fecal dusting in your latte.”

In this way, Stewart is adept at pointing out that sometimes people have no idea what they are talking about.

With such fondness for Stewart and the little bit of relief he adds to my week, I was obviously disappointed when he announced his retirement from The Daily Show. For many years, he has fed my sense of justice. Heck, he helped me get through the Bush years. And I am going to miss his Mitch McConnell turtle impersonation. 

Stewart said, somewhat jokingly, why he is leaving, “Take it from someone who’s been watching what they (conservatives) do for a blessedly almost over 16 years or so. Their chronically angry war for ideological purity, where every aspect of life becomes a two dimensional battle for America’s soul—it ages you. Even watching it is killing me.”

Me too Jon, me too.