Posted 4 years ago on Jan. 20, 2012, 9:05 p.m. EST by demcapitalist
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http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1119043--stephen-colbert-and-herman-cain-hold-rally-in-south-carolina By Mitch Potter Washington Bureau
CHARLESTON, S.C.—You know it’s not your day when 3,000 people are standing in front of you laughing hysterically and you’re the only one who doesn’t get the joke.
Or you should know, at least.
But not Herman Cain, bless his breathtakingly unironic soul.
There was Cain on Thursday, the former Republican front-runner who quit his bid for the presidency in December amid several too many allegations of sexual wrongdoing, not getting it to the very end.
Cain understood the blunt surface of it — he’s not running, but his name is still on the ballot for Saturday’s South Carolina primary. And TV comic Stephen Colbert wants to (tongue-in-cheek) “run,” but Colbert’s name is not on the ballot.
Therein lies the explanation for why Cain agreed to enter Colbert’s world as guest of honour at the “Rock You Like A Herman Cain” rally in Charleston. A bit of comic relief, a bit of TV face-time, show America you can “lighten up” and let the funnyman and his followers use your spot on the ballot.
So far, so good. Except nobody, apparently, sent Cain the satire memo informing him that Colbert is in the midst of what may well be the sharpest lampooning of the American political process this side of Mark Twain.
Colbert, a Charleston native, opened the outdoor rally with full gospel choir backing, belting out “This Little Light of Mine” followed by a close-harmony version of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Then the faux-news pundit poured it on, taking the College of Charleston podium for an opening round of staccato one-liners for his adoring, college-age audience.
“Do you know that if you guess Ron Paul’s name, he has to teach you to spin hay into gold,” Colbert said. “The only difference between Mitt Romney and a statue of Mitt Romney is that the statue never changes position.”
The satire collapsed as Cain took the stage, launching into a by-rote rehash of his late-fall campaign stump speech. A nod to “We the people,” a shout-out to the Tea Party, a hat-tip to his 9-9-9 flat-tax agenda and suddenly this crowd was shifting restlessly.
The Colbert Nation, as fans are known, began to take the matter into their own hands, shouting out various suggestions as Cain flailed for a foothold. “Bring back Stephen Colbert,” one called out. “Occupy Herman Cain,” said another. “Pokémon!” shouted another still, in reference a minor sideshow from 2011, in which Cain mistakenly attributed his favourite inspirational quote to “a poet” instead of its actual source, the Pokémon movie.
Cain picked up on the last one, realizing this crowd wasn’t quite what he’d imagined, and tried to work with it — repeating the quote from the Pokémon anthem, “The Power of One.”
And then, perhaps exhausted of any other notion what to do next, Cain sang. Off-key and a cappella came a rendition of “Believe In Yourself” from The Wiz. This time it was the crowd’s turn not to get it.
Colbert mercifully returned, putting Cain out of his misery and ending with a flurry of jokes on the real target of his faux campaign: the limitless, undisclosed special-interest money that now drives U.S. election campaigns through so-called “super PACs,” or political action committees.
Colbert heaped fake praise on the U.S. Supreme Court for addressing the “tragic lack of influence by corporations” in its landmark 2010 Citizens United ruling, which paved the way for super PACs by deeming corporations to be people and therefore entitled to free speech in the form of unlimited political contributions.
“If corporations are people, then I’m a people person.” said Colbert. “I’m the Martin Luther King of corporate civil rights. I’m the Lockheed Martin Luther Burger King, you might say.”
And if corporations are truly people, said Colbert, then it follows that “government of those people, by those people and paid for by those people shall not perish from this Earth.”
Colbert’s crowd, who have long been in on the joke — having witnessed Colbert and his Comedy Central colleague Jon Stewart mock the process by creating their own campaign committees — left the rally laughing hard and shaking their heads at Cain’s utter lack of self-awareness.
“Colbert’s satire was spot-on. It was the perfect send-up of the mess our campaign system has become,” said Cookie Washington, a Charleston clothing designer.
“And it was just as amusing that Herman Cain didn’t get it at all. I just hope everyone else did,” Washington told the Star.
“It scares me to even say it, but sometimes we’re just a really stupid country. And it requires a certain level of awareness to understand just how funny — and how tragic — Colbert’s message really is.”