And That’s All For the ‘Report’

Nation … it is with a heavy heart that I come bearing unfortunate news.

As of last Monday, Stephen Colbert, one of the most trusted names in fake news and the last real glimmer of hope for the Republican Party, has announced that he is no longer in the race for the presidency.

True, he was never actually in the race to begin with — per se. To be fair, Colbert had laid it plain on an interview for ABC that he was merely forming an “exploratory committee for a possible candidacy for the President of the United States of South Carolina.” And yes, the fact that his name was not printed on the voting ballot could have proven to be a slight obstruction in his otherwise inevitable path to the Oval Office.

And yet in spite of all odds, he was still able to overcome these obstacles, urging the public to cast their votes for former Republican candidate Herman Cain instead as a display of support for his theoretical pseudo-campaign.

So the only question really left to answer is how? How could such a man, with his obviously well thought out plan and impenetrable personality not succeed in a democratic environment? What malicious beast could possibly possess the power, let alone the audacity, to challenge and trounce a widely respected and totally super serious candidate like Stephen Tyrone Colbert?

Well, America, the answer to that question is you.

Yes, you, fellow citizens are the reason why the charismatic, straight-shooting host of the Report now remains reclusively behind a desk made of glass and LED panels rather than that of mahogany and oak — doomed to dish out the fair and unspun truth every Monday through Thursday at 11:30 p.m. EST, in the stead of what could have been a most auspicious political career.

For although it comes to no surprise that Colbert came out a winner in the South Carolinian primaries, the victory he won that night was unfortunately over candidates that were no longer seeking to run for president.

Yet, in light of this fact, I do not believe that all was lost in the pursuit of his hypothetical campaign.

In fact, I believe that so much more was gained in the process — and unfortunately it is now that I must do what Stephen so rarely does and break character.

The underlying punch line of “The Colbert Report” is its hyperbolized portrayal of the incredibly prejudiced, ultra-conservative, and often emotion-driven nature of many right-winged news programs — namely, “Papa Bear” Bill O’ Reilly’s, “The O’Reilly Factor.”

And so, since its original airing in 2005, the Report has made ample usage of the blundering rhetoric and excessively anti-progressive values of a number of conservative Republicans and talk show hosts into a form of imitative satire that it then refined and polished into the blind-faith Republican and blatant racist that is Stephen Colbert’s TV persona today.

By running, or rather attempting to run, for president behind the guise of his on-air character, what Colbert has done is brought this rare form of social commentary down to an incredibly personal level with the election and electoral process itself.

By juxtaposing his blithering idiot of a personality alongside those of the various Republican candidates, Colbert is able to draw out the glaring flaws that surround those with serious presidential aspirations, and with laughter, he brings to light how desperately these candidates are trying to remain respectable in light of these stark blemishes.

Romney’s obvious lack of values, Newt Gingrich’s ironic (and quite honestly heartless) infidelity and Michelle Bachmann’s extreme homophobia are merely a few of the defects that scar the prospects of a Republican president and conversely boost the ratings of shows like the Report and Jon Stewart’s, “The Daily Show.”

So yes, Colbert may not have won big in the South Carolina primaries. But then again, he did not expect to — and thank the stars that he didn’t.

His hypothetical candidacy — as humorous and entertaining as it may have been — was really nothing more than an extension of the satirical criticism that provides the defining foundation to his show. From his incredibly explicit Super PAC transferal process to the way he drew Herman Cain to a rally that was in itself a form of mockery, Stephen Colbert provides a social commentary that is unparalleled and impossible to convey in any other form.

By being so unserious, he has actually given us something to be serious about. By being so upfront about his character’s blatant hypocrisy and many flaws, he has somehow brought out the same in, not only the individuals that work so feverishly to become the potential leader of this nation, but also in society itself — especially those that manage to slip right under our noses.

And by continuing to do so, hopefully, the Report has managed to impart this ability unto its viewership — that ability to critique intelligibly and challenge the irrational.

For Stephen Colbert may not be right for the White House, but a little Colbert Nation in this country might actually do it some good.

Benjamin Hong is a second-year biological sciences major. He can be reached at bshong@uci.edu.