Jul 1, 2008

How The Onion got everything right

"While serious liberal news organizations such as the New York Times helped disseminate the White House’s specious rationale for war, The Onion’s lampoons turned out to be far more accurate. The Bush gang, the paper said, was hell-bent on invading Iraq, and it would deploy any means necessary in order to do so. Throughout the fall campaign, The Onion continued to see right through Bush’s bluster..... When the war finally began in March 2003, the paper continued to mock both the Bush administration’s theatrics and its claims to an easy victory... Amid the chaotic aftermath of the invasion, many media observers, as well as Democratic Party officials, began to turn against the Bush administration, attacking its incompetent handling of the occupation. The Onion, however, continued its relentless assault on both the design and the execution of the war."

From Theodore Hamm’s The New Blue Media, which views the last few years as seen through Onion headlines:

  • “Holy F**king S**t — Attack on America. U.S. Vows to Defeat Whoever It Is We’re at War With” — Sept 11, 2001
  • “The Age of Irony Comes to an End: Shattered Nation Longs to Care About Stupid Bullshit Again” — Sept 19, 2001
  • “Military Promises ‘Huge Numbers’ for Gulf War II: The Vengeance” — March 2002
  • “Bush Won’t Stop Asking Cheney If We Can Invade Yet” — September 11, 2002
  • “Bush Seeks U.N. Support for ‘U.S. Does Whatever It Wants Plan’” — October 2002
  • "Dead Iraqi would have loved Democracy" — March 2003
  • “Gen. Tommy Franks Quits Army to Pursue Solo Bombing Projects” — May 2003 (“The years I’ve spent with the Army have been amazing, and we did some fantastic bombing. But at this point, I feel like I’ve taken it as far as I can. It’s time for me to move on and see what I can destroy on my own.”)
It's been pointed out by others: what a gift to satirists the Bush presidency has been, if only because Bush made so many bad decisions that all the comedy writers had to do was invert it and they got a) something close to the truth and b) a laugh. I've noticed some uneasiness in the audience recently when Jon Stewart starts in on Obama. The other night even Stewart noticed. "Its okay laugh at him," he reassured the audience, but the laughs didn't get much stronger. I don't think they were holding back out of piety or reverence. It was just that Stewart jokes don't have much traction on Obama, who already comes armed with a sense of irony, sharp intelligence and a leiusurely feel for the ridiculous. He cancels Stewart out.

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