The people of South Carolina have spoken: They want Stephen Colbert as their next US Senator. And yes, that Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central. And no, I’m not joking.
A new poll released Monday found that South Carolina voters favor Stephen Colbert to fill the soon to be vacated US Senate seat of Jim DeMint. Colbert came in first chosen by 20% of those polled followed by South Carolina Representatives Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy.
And Colbert apparently has some interest in the Senate seat as he announced in typical Colbert fashion on his show “The Colbert Report” this week: “My network contract prohibits me from taking on another full-time job. So, the Senate would be perfect.”
All joking aside, Stephen Colbert would likely be a great US Senator. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley seriously should not rule out appointing Colbert to fill DeMint’s seat simply because he’s a comedian.
Lets not forget that Al Franken was elected to the US Senate in 2009 after his years of being a comedy writer and cast member on “Saturday Night Live.” So how has Franken fared in his time in the US Senate? A recent poll shows that 52% of people in Franken’s home State of Minnesota approve of his work. Contrast that with generic approval polls of Congress which show that the institution is slightly more popular than syphilis.
And sure, Colbert has made some seemingly outlandish comments. But for the most part his quips are lined with political insight. We learn about the issue while laughing. Why does politics have to be so painfully boring when a little humor can make it more accessible and understandable to all?
Here are just a few of Colbert’s past comments that are both funny and poignant:
-"Contraception leads to more babies being born out of wedlock, the exact same way that fire extinguishers cause fires.”
-"If we raise taxes on corporations, what incentive will they have to make money other than the fact that it's the sole reason they exist."
-"I've long been against illegal aliens, partly because they distract us from an even bigger threat: real aliens."
And one of his best: "If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it."
Now contrast Colbert’s above statements with ones made by earlier this year by non-comedian, “professional” politicians who were the Republican Party’s actual nominees for US Senate. Congressman Todd Akin, the GOP’s Senate candidate in Missouri, offered these views on “legitimate rape” of women during this year’s campaign: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
And then came Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdoch’s comments in October: "…even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen."
If these aren’t enough to make you appreciate a Senator Colbert, then just check out some of the comments made by current South Carolina Senator DeMint. His statements often sound as outrageous as Colbert’s but they are far worse-DeMint is being serious.
Here are just a few of DeMint’s “gems”: “If a person wants to be publicly gay, they should not be teaching in the public schools.” DeMint, a national leader of The Tea Party movement, also publicly opposed allowing unwed pregnant women from teaching in public schools.
And recently DeMint called the Obama administration the most “anti-American administration in my lifetime,” and warned that he doesn’t believe America can survive as a nation if Obama won a second term.
All of a sudden Colbert’s comments are the sane, responsible ones. Indeed, Colbert’s moderate views on many issues and his preaching for sanity in Washington, D.C. are exactly what this nation needs.
Plus, on the fun side, there’s a chance that if Colbert was appointed to the Senate he would bring some of his trademark segments with him. People would finally watch C-Span coverage of the Senate just to see if Colbert began his speeches on the Senate floor with the sounds of a screeching eagle. Or to see Colbert do his, "tip of the hat, wag of the finger" segment to the face of the Senator he was calling out.
The biggest drawback for Colbert becoming a Senator is that it’s actually a step down. And I’m not kidding. Sure, as a Senator he can vote on legislation but as the host of a TV show he has the ability to reach a national audience on a nightly basis. Most Senators can only dream of being as well known or influential on public opinion as Colbert.
America sorely needs a Senator who is not afraid to speak the truth – or at least gives us the “truthiness.” And who is better at that then a comedian? In the words of Colbert: “Sometimes it takes a crazy person to see the truth. If so, I'm a freaking lunatic.”