O'Reilly and Colbert talk the talk

It's hard to believe, but O'Reilly appeared on the Colbert Report. (And Colbert was on the O'Reilly factor). Bill had nothing to gain from this; why did he do it? Unfortunately it wasn't nearly as funny as it could have been. And frankly, the bit when Colbert microwaved the DVD recording of the entire thing at the end of his show disturbed me. Colbert is successful precisely because he is not mean spirited, and in many ways really does pay homage to O'Reilly. Being hateful just ruins the whole thing.

How does Colbert pay homage? He uses some of the tropes of the O'Reilly factor that make it so watchable. These things generally give it the air of snappiness, decisiveness, and clarity. The show is incredibly well organized, and into "bite sized" pieces. Colbert is never doubtful, always decisive. His presentation is polished and neat. He certainly has a charismatic flare. This last is even more potent in Colbert because his goal is to amuse not to outrage. Colbert emulates one of the greatest qualities people demand in a relationship: predictability. He has clearly stated his outlook, he is internally consistent, and even if you disagree he's still easy to deal with.

Superior organization and personal confidence has been the hallmark of recent Republican success. John Kerry ran a terrible campaign, and he really was quite flimsy in his views. I have read that the Bush White House reports to work every day in shirt and tie at 7am, and is exceedingly well organized. I bet The O'Reilly Factor (and the Colbert Report) are run in similar fashion.

One could hope that these genuinely positive qualities of Bush and O'Reilly could be emulated by *everyone*, regardless of their specific political stance. I have considerable sympathy for the left-wing (or rather, antipathy for many of the things Bush has done) but by golly it's true - the left consistently comes across as less put together, less organized, and with a fuzzier message.

O'Reilly wants "traditional values". That's easy to understand, at least. What does Al Franken want? It's much harder to define. Primarily because liberals these days are largely protesting the changes that conservatives are trying to make. (Which is odd considering that "conservative" usually implies not changing things). Unfortunately, people with agendas are more entertaining. The only really entertaining way to thwart that agenda is the way Colbert is doing it. God bless his French-Canadian heart.

O'Reilly and Colbert talk the talk - USATODAY.com

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