The Duck of Minerva

Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando


10 June 2009

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Formidable Opponent – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Stephen Colbert in Iraq

This week the Colbert Report is broadcasting from Camp Victory, Iraq as part of a USO tour. Sporting a suit made of cammo, a regulation haircut, and swinging a golf-club Bob Hope style, he has been entertaining the troops, reminding people that there is still a war in Iraq, and offering some rather brilliant and bold meta-satire of the entire operation.

If you haven’t been watching, you really need to. Right now.

Last night he did what I thought was an exceptionally bold and brilliant sketch–a Formidable Opponent (Stephen debating himself) on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Had this bit appeared as a regular segment on the show it would have been funny but unremarkable. Performed live, in front of an audience of hundreds of active-duty military members, at Camp Victory, in Iraq, its genius. Much has been said about DADT, from polling data showing support for its repeal to the role of his new Army Secretary in building support for repealing the policy. By mocking the policy in front of troops–and not just any troops, but those in a very active combat zone–to legitimate applause, he ridicules the policy to the point of rendering it a farce. From Iraq, the arguments that seem so self-important inside the beltway sound so hollow when forced to occupy center stage in front of military personnel who go in harm’s way each and every day.

The entire enterprise is quite brilliant so far. Its quite the feat. He must respect, entertain, and build morale for the troops he’s visiting. He must be funny and produce a show for air that night. And, he is doing all that while still offering a fantastic meta-critique on Iraq policy. That’s hard to pull off in front of a live (and armed) studio audience. Not to mention the cameo’s he’s been able to secure. President Obama ordering General Odierno to give Colbert a haircut. Greetings from John McCain, Bill Clinton, George Bush (the older).

Really, watch both episodes– Monday and Tuesday.