Scalzi Beaten To The Punch By… Al Franken?

In the wake of the Stephen Colbert Whitehouse Correspondents dinner kerfuffle, I was cruising the Internet[s] looking for prior precedent for comedians excoriating a sitting president to his face when I stumbled across a draft version of Al Franken’s routine at the 1996 WHC dinner. As I perused the speech, I noted with interest the following passage:

Here’s another idea. I am not a military expert so I’m not sure that this is feasible. But here it is. From what I’ve read I understand there is nothing more terrifying in battle than seeing enemy hordes charging at you with no regard for their own lives. Why have we always insisted on asking our young men, and now young women, in the flower of their lives to risk themselves in combat? Why not, in the right situation, use a human wave of our elderly to scare the enemy?
Think about it. You’re an Iraqi or a North Korean soldier. Suddenly, over the horizon, you see a batallion of Americans. They won’t attack, you think. America wouldn’t risk the blood of its precious youth when it could simply employ their sophisticated, expensive weapons. Then you look through your binoculars, and a chill goes down your spine. Retirees! Thousands and thousands of them! Each one older than the next. Each with a life expectantcy of three or four years at most. You think to yourself, “What do these people really have to lose? The four worst years of their lives?” You’re terrified. Then they charge. A slow charge, yes, but that makes it even more frightening.
Admittedly, there’s some kinks to work out. Mobilization would be tough. I don’t know if you’ve ever organized a group of seniors for a theatre trip? I don’t think training would be that much of a problem. It’d be kind of like, “Go out there and run.” And this would give our World War II era Americans a chance to contribute yet again to our country. Just when they thought they were forgotten.
I guess what I’m saying is let’s not just talk about our problems. Let’s talk about solutions.

Hmmm. Remind anyone else of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War? Could it be? Noted Sci Fi author plagiarizes arch-abuser of Harvard grad student ghost writers? Say it ain’t so, John, say it ain’t so!
(In an odd bit of synchronicity, Scalzi has posted his humorous thoughts on the whole Colbert shebang).

5 Comments

I think it’s funny that the mainstream media is saying how BAD Colbert did. I agree with Try Patterson over on Slate (http://www.slate.com/id/2140921/). Colbert did what he did not because he misread the audience, but BECAUSE of his audience. He was given a golden ticket – the ability to use satire and address a sitting President and the staff directly. And he used it. They say it bombed because people felt so uncomfortable at laughing at most of the stuff, when you know that they would have had no problem slapping a knee or two if the President or some of the other people weren’t there.
So I say kudos to the man. That took bawls.

…And with that, the coarsening of American political debate is complete.
I have to say that I’m disappointed, although not entirely surprised, Andy, that you would side with Colbert on this one. You’ve been tacking increasingly in a kneejerk relfexively anti-Bush/anti-GOP direction for some time and your perceptions on a whole range of issues seem to be affected by that trend. What he did didn’t take “courage”, it took chutzpa, it took nerve, as in “The nerve of some people…!”
Colbert was hired to add humor and levity to the proceedings, as were other comedians previously invited to WHC dinners. He was not hired for a Friars’ Roast of the President. Colbert was laughing at the President, not with him (a fact that was made evidently clear by the expressions on W. and Laura’s faces). I don’t care how much you enjoyed seeing him speak “Truthiness” to Power, what he did was rude, boorish, classless and juvenile. He was pandering, plain and simple, to his daily Reporr audience and used the occasion of the dinner to get himself a lot of free publicity and to make all the smarmy Lefty “intellectuals” think he was the cat’s meow for “bravely” accosting the President in public. In reality, he was little more than a Howard Stern fan calling in to a C-SPAN debate shouting “Ba ba boooie!”, secure in the fact that he would suffer no ill consequences and, more than likely, attract a few more Kossacks/Democratic Morlocks to his show. He might as well have (as Scalzi put it) stood up on the podium and peed into George W.’s soup and achieved much the same result.
All of this just goes to prove that Colbert is no where near the intellect or comedian he styles himself as – his humor, such as it is, derives from skilled writers handing him his lines on a silver platter.

And yet, had the president been Clinton (male or female), would you REALLY be singing the same “Oh how crass, he’s such an @$$” tune?
Come on now. This was purely a matter of people getting what they paid for. Unless you are telling me that the Elephant handlers thought he was SERIOUS on his show…
As to my leanings – well I’m going to go with Goldfinger on this one. You have changed, because I still feel the same. The republican party has gone HARD right. I wasn’t on the boat, so I can’t say I’ve tacked anywhere…
I don’t want to be labeled right or left, just correct.

Best be getting your facts straight, son. Don Imus made a bigger horse’s patootie of himself at the 1996 Radio/TV Correspondents Dinner, mocking the Clintons in an extremely upfront and unfunny way and was largely regarded as a jerk for doing so, even among us rightwingers. Secondly, the White House doesn’t hire the talent, the Correspondents Association does – this year, a reporter from the AP by the name of Smith was responsible for hiring Colbert. But don’t take my word for it, read it from that noted Right Wing news source, The New York Times. Bush n’ Crew didn’t have the first thing to do with Colbert being there.
Next up, please back up your bald assertion for “HARD right” with forinstances, etc., if you please.

The republican party (as a whole, and I am talking about the ones who are CURRENTLY in office) no longer cars about common sense budgeting, but still panders to the uber-conservatives every chance they get. The Terri Schiavo fiasco should never have happened (I mean federally). There are really only two mantras in Washington these days:
1) If you are not with us, then you are against us
and
2) The terrorists can and will strike at any minute.
Those two reasons have been used to hand waive ill-conceived and even more poorly written laws ranging from the DMCA to Patriot and then some. It’s all to give the appearance to Joe Nascar that we’re tough, and we’ll kick some butt whenever and wherever we need to, on our own terms.
Then you have Medicare. Holy Cow, talk about doing everything possible to keep the seniors happy, and completely botching it anyway. I’m not just talking about cost – the donut coverage scheme is just poopy.
Oil will never be cheap again, Housing will never be as affordable as it was 20 years ago, and we will NEVER feel as secure as we did 80 years ago. We have shown time and time again that you can’t legislate morality (Right in the 50’s, Left in the 60’s, and we have the 70’s and 80’s due to the backlash of each), and yet that is precisely what the Republican party would try to do. Gay marriage is evil. Don’t listen to those buggers who say love is love – If we let men marry each other, then the bond I have with my wife is cheapened. And babies – well, we got to do all we can to not only protect them, but make sure we keep making lots more of them. And poverty? What poverty? All we see are freeloaders…
Now, what may surprise you is this: I don’t think the donkeys are any better, nor am I convinced that they could be. They pander too.
My problem is that NO ONE is pandering to ME. So I belong NO WHERE and get no direct benefit from either side. So right now, I must choose between the party that gives me less HARM, and I think the elephants are risking my future at the expense of trying to save me a couple bucks. It’s not worth it.
Sometimes you pay more because what you buy is a better product. Nike’s have consistently lasted longer then any other shoe I’ve tried. So I’ll pay more…

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