Dear Mr. Cohen:
I just read your editorial about Stephen Colbert's appearance at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. You said Colbert was 'not funny' and that he was 'rude.'
You said "speaking truth to power" is a tired phrase and that it's meaningless, that mocking Bush's shortcomings to his face will result in no consequences at all. Such a claim is either incredibly naive or willfully ignorant. When you're in the same room, even feet from The President Of The United States -- even this one -- you'd have to feel a sense of awe, of wonder, perhaps even fear? What about those tired phrases like "Leader of the Free World," "Commander-In-Chief" and the like. Heck, many people have trouble contradicting their own parents to their face. Here we're talking about the President. Regardless of the content of Colbert's presentation, to claim he neither needed nor displayed courage in this situation is simply untrue.
You said he "wasn't funny." Perhaps it wasn't the material, just the room. I heard one pundit say "reading the script was funnier." Some laughed. Others squirmed with discomfort, either vicariously on behalf of the president or because they felt Colbert's barbs hit them. The audience on the whole was slower and less lively than the audience of The Colbert Report; perhaps this can be ascribed to a larger room, one less familiar with Mr. Colbert, and dare I say a bit stodgier than his core audience? Jon Stewart suffered the same problem when he hosted the Oscars. Perhaps you needed your own copy of the script, or perhaps a laugh track to better appreciate the biting irony in Colbert's caustic faux-adulation of Bush.
Lastly, you said Colbert was 'rude.' I think that a virtue, not a vice, when a comedian is calling the president to task. You also called Colbert 'a bully.' Before you belabor Colbert's rude or bullying behavior, consider the President's. He's a bully who attacked a country that was no true threat to us, who engaged in name-calling ("Axis of Evil") with other countries. There's nothing more bullying than this doctrine of pre-emptive war.
I think it incredibly rude -- to say the least -- for this president to have caused the loss of thousands of American lives in Iraq, the tens or hundreds of thousands of lost Iraqi lives, the billions of dollars spent (much lost to corruption), the utter failure to save American lives in New Orleans, the illegal wiretapping of phone calls in America, the 750 signing statements declaring his intention to not follow Congress' laws when he considers it undesirable to do so, his undermining of scientific research that fails to support his fundamentalist Christian worldview, his rolling back of environmental laws, his evisceration of labor laws and his coddling of big business, especially in the energy sector, where today profits run wild at the expense of every American.
That, sir, is rude and bullying.