House Freshmen Ordered to Avoid Colbert Report

The Godfather of House Democrats has issued an edict: Stay away from Colbert.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the Democratic Caucus chairman, has told new Democratic members of Congress to steer clear of Stephen Colbert, or at least his satirical Comedy Central program, “The Colbert Report.”

“He said don’t do it … it’s a risk and it’s probably safer not to do it,” said Rep. Steve Cohen. But the freshman lawmaker from Tennessee taped a segment that last week was featured in the 32nd installment of the “Better Know a District” series. Colbert asked Cohen whether he was a black woman. He isn’t.

Eyes (but thankfully, not heads) roll in Emanuel’s office when other freshmen stumble, such as the time Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) got into a debate about the merits of throwing kittens into a wood-chipper, or when Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) explained that he is not his predecessor, convicted felon Bob Ney (R).

Emmanuel’s dictatorial style isn’t going over well on with bloggers. Kim Priestap, noting the recent fleeing from the FOX debate in Nevada, writes, “Sheesh, the Democrats are afraid of everything and everyone. Why don’t they just boycott every single show on television and be done with it.”

The left is even more harsh. My Left Wing‘s Thereisnospoon terms it “idiocy.” Preemptive Karma‘s Becky wants to know, “Who wants their representatives to be a bunch of stiff, perfectly coifed politicians, anyway?” And over at CorrenteWire, Chicago Dyke proposes to engage in action with Emmanuel that would seem contraindicated by her pen name, preferably using power tools.

Having watched a few of these segments, most notably Colbert’s “interview” with DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Emmanuel has a point. There are a few people in Congress so stupid one wonders how they manage to breathe. Still, unless they’re total dolts, gaining the national exposure that Colbert’s popular program offers likely offsets any short-term embarrassment over being bested by a professional comedian at his own game.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    “Why dont they just boycott every single show on television and be done with it.”

    Since we don’t pay them to go on television, I don’t see why this would be a bad idea. Maybe if they boycott campaigning too they would be worth re-electing.

  2. James Joyner says:

    we don’t pay them to go on television

    Are you suggesting that their activities be limited to legislating 24/7/365? Or that communicating with the electorate isn’t a legitimate function of public representatives?

  3. Michael says:

    Are you suggesting that their activities be limited to legislating 24/7/365? Or that communicating with the electorate isnt a legitimate function of public representatives?

    Not at all, maybe I was being too harsh. I’m would just like it if when I do see my elected officials on TV, they are doing something useful for me. When was the last time someone went on television to communicate something new and informative to the public? The airwaves seem to be used more to persuade the public to believe one meme or another, rather than to inform them of anything. Really, when Cheney goes on a sunday morning talk show and says that Democrats and Terrorists want the same thing, is that serving the public good, or serving Cheney’s good?

  4. Mark says:

    noting the recent fleeing from the FOX debate in Nevada

    How about “principled stand against FOX’s right wing bias” instead of “fleeing” 😉

  5. James Joyner says:

    How about “principled stand against FOX’s right wing bias” instead of “fleeing” 😉

    Well, considering they were unaware of their “principles” until deluged with emails from MoveOn.org types, color me skeptical.

  6. Mark,

    If you haven’t noticed, Edwards has been on Fox News many times. I bet he will be on it again before the dust settles on the 2008 election. Same for the rest of the candidates (okay maybe some of the lesser known haven’t/won’t but I suspect that is not principle, but opportunity in action). So they have to either accept the “RUN AWAY!” (images of men in poorly constructed armor speaking with British accents clanging towards the horizon) charge or draw a very interesting line as to why appearing on a Fox News show but not on a democratic debate hosted on Fox news is a principled stand.

    To the extent that the nutroots can keep the democrats message getting out to anyone but the party faithful, I am torn. On the one hand it helps keep the persuadable from being persuaded. On the other hand, many of the positions they take may persuade the persuadable that the democratic candidates shouldn’t be trusted with sharp objects let alone the presidency. So its a tough call as to whether this will make their election more or less likely.

  7. Michael says:

    To the extent that the nutroots can keep the democrats message getting out to anyone but the party faithful, I am torn.

    Perhaps then it would help you to know that the “netroots” do not represent the party establishment, and are at odds with them more often than not. They do, however, seem to represent a large portion of the Democratic Primary voters.

    It’s not like the major candidates haven’t ignored moveon.org in the past, so what makes you think they’re beholden to them now? Could it be that maybe the candidates just think maybe the netroots had a point that they would be better served avoiding Fox News? Or does that just overly complicate your worldview?

  8. Michael says:

    Well, considering they were unaware of their “principles” until deluged with emails from MoveOn.org types, color me skeptical.

    I’m sure they were all well aware of their principles before the emails, they just were not aware of everyone else’s principles. If once candidate didn’t attend, it hurts them and does nothing to rebuke Fox, so nobody wanted to make the sacrifice. When the emails came, it gave them the opportunity to make it a group boycott, which not only makes the statement more powerful, but gets them about as much news coverage as an ordinary debate would have anyway.

  9. Jayson Billington says:

    I’m sure they were all well aware of their principles before the emails, they just were not aware of everyone else’s principles. If once candidate didn’t attend, it hurts them and does nothing to rebuke Fox, so nobody wanted to make the sacrifice.

    So what you are saying is that the Democratic candidates are cowards who can’t stand alone on principle?

  10. Michael says:

    So what you are saying is that the Democratic candidates are cowards who can’t stand alone on principle?

    I’m saying that the Democratic candidates are practical and won’t shoot themselves in the foot just to prove the gun is loaded.