Friday, January 15, 2010

Jon Stewart and John Yoo

Stewart apologizes for not nailing John Yoo on his program the previous night.

I think the apology is less apology and more humorous acknowledgment that this Yoo guy is pretty smart.

In general, I think that Stewart does a really good job in his interviews and you learn quite a lot from them. He doesn't take cheap shots and doesn't try to change the subject when he runs up against an argument that he doesn't have an answer for. I think he sets a better example for how to engage in public reasoning than most journalists.


Just because he did not have answers for the questions raised doesn't mean that Yoo is right, it just means that Yoo had raised an issue or consideration that Stewart hadn't thought through before. There is nothing wrong with not having an answer for an argument you have never heard before. I think that Stewart's program does a real service and I wish that conservatives were not so tacky in their references to him.

Stewart is obviously a liberal and makes no secret of the fact. That is useful to us. When he says something it has credibility outside of the conservative movement. It is true that he does his best material on conservatives, but that is inevitable. What drives comedy is the sense of contradiction, the fact that you are a liberal and that you detect contradictions most readily in the positions and speech of conservatives is not surprising: one is largely a result of the other.

We should also take these criticisms of ourselves to heart many times. He points out the ways in which we can improve our message. When he does a whole show on Glenn Beck's conspiracy theories he is telling us something worth knowing: that Glenn Beck is not someone to be too close to.

And he is an unnamed ally on many occasions of the conservative movement and even of Glenn Beck. When the MSM were ignoring the Acorn films and only Glenn Beck talked about them Stewart did one of the funniest segments I have ever seen. Stewart's presentation of the films was devastatingly funny and really cut to the heart of the matter far more than the grandiose conspiracy castles that Beck built upon the films. I was able to show the Jon Stewart show's version and it had a much greater impact on the (largely liberal class) than the Glenn Beck presentations would have. Moreover, they provided some validation for the Glenn Beck show's exhibiting of the films. That is, I think, a good guide to conservatives on how to approach Beck: use him when he has good, new information, and ridicule him when he goes off on his conspiracy theories.

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