I’ve always admired Jon Stewart’s willingness to question his own side, and to demand substantive answers from his guests. In his recent interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), however, he seemed to be arguing with himself. After asking how Democrats can make a stronger case for the competence of government, Stewart lamented “…because on our end, it looks like it’s a bit chaotic.”
From his hilarious ripping of the NSA to pressing Pelosi on why healthcare.gov is such a mess, (to which she replied “I don’t know”) his subtle skepticism about certain government initiatives while believing others to be essential has always puzzled me. It seems obvious that his aversion to concentrated power in the hands of the rich, would be difficult to achieve while entrusting the people they’ve paid to prevent it.
He touched on this Thursday with a question that not only highlighted a lack of awareness on the part of Pelosi but hints at a growing disillusionment among Stewart and many on the left:
“Is it possible that the people within the system don’t have enough distance from it to see…These corporations lobby to get all kinds of arcane things put into the regulations that makes it harder for these small businesses…Can our congress maybe not see the corruption inherent in that?”
The former House Speaker denied knowledge of any intrinsic corruption, but Stewart didn’t share her conviction; insisting there is a “systemic” and “foundational problem” that has eroded America’s confidence in government.
Despite this, the Daily Show host remained adamant that there must be a way for further government oversight to reverse the abuse and inefficiencies caused by government in the first place.
In what’s become a staple of the American Left, both Pelosi and Stewart pushed the narrative that in order to stifle the influence of special interests who funnel money to both parties, government must “have a role as a balancing factor against corporate power”. It never occurs to them that granting more influence to those already bought out by wealthy elites will hardly deter further abuse in the future.
Even after Pelosi suggested the Dodd-Frank bill as a legislative achievement for reform, Stewart shot back “And look at the way it’s been implemented…now it’s 900 pages long when it used to be 2 pages.”
Channeling his inner libertarian, Stewart continued:
“My point is this. When I talk about how those rules get expanded, a lot of that expansion is purposeful from these much larger corporations that can afford the legal counsel and lobbyists to add in things that carve out exceptions that allow them to continue to do what they do and corrupt the original intent…The process is somewhat corrupt.”
To Pelosi’s chagrin and Stewart’s credit, he rejected the notion that Democrats are immune to the malfeasance:
“…there is also within the Democratic Party a problem with lobbyists and corruption and the revolving door to corporations back and forth…”
It’s no surprise that Mrs. Pelosi would shy away from explicitly condemning the deep pockets that line Democratic coffers considering her own ties to lobbyists and monied interests; what is perplexing is Stewart’s steadfast support for government growth after his repeated denouncements of its efficacy.
Even the California Congresswoman acknowledged that bureaucracies and government employees may tend to be “risk-averse” or lack efficiency but brushed this aside as merely the way things work and not a cause for alarm. Only within the beltway could someone assert a program’s necessity while also admitting its inability to perform at a competent level.
It’s difficult to understand the continued desire for more government from liberals like Stewart in the wake of countless scandals, broken promises and even his own doubts surrounding its capacity to operate without breeding corruption.
But a look at Stewart’s recent summary of the State of the Union Address reveals the fatal flaw in his way of thinking that many on the left subscribe to whether they realize it or not. Commenting on President Obama’s desire to force policies without the consent of Congress, Stewart said in jest, “I’m intrigued. And increasingly willing to go against the Constitution and entertain the notion of a two-branch government.”
Stewart may have been joking but his refusal to take seriously the implications of an administration without limits is precisely what blinds him and other liberals from the destruction of their well-intended but ill-fated objectives.
No amount of good intentions excuses the high unemployment, corruption, or insurmountable debt that not only vindicates their critics but exacerbates the inequalities and sufferings of the same Americans they hoped to rescue.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for the left to reconcile its ostensible disdain for the elite, while turning to them for salvation. Stewart’s misgivings are an example of this. While I respect him as a journalist for posing questions mainstream anchors refuse to touch; as to why Stewart expects solutions from what he admits is the source of the problem, that’s apparently a question he’s not ready to ask.