Jamelle Bouie is a young writer for Slate. He covers policy, politics, and race. I have read many very interesting stories from his pen and our opinions are compatible more often than not.  I have quoted from his pieces and posted them on Facebook.

But I find myself at odds with him here. And it’s on a relatively simple matter. He believes Jon Stewart of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Stewart has announced he is stepping down from his perch as host of the hit satirical cable program later this year.The liberal world that pays attention to such matters is in mourning. He has been our “spokesman” for over a decade and a half as he has torn down the facade so often erected by the right of political positions and absurdist societal ideals that are based on superstition, distortions and outright lies.

But he has not been hesitant to bring to our attention the sometimes hilarious, and, at times, equally ugly and disturbing faux pas of actual liberals and even of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, true liberals only in the worst nightmares of of those who oppose their every action or word.

But the primary function of Stewart is to make his audience laugh. And his audience mostly skews liberal. It may be the only two conservative viewers he has are Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, both digging for ammunition to maintain ongoing feuds, just as Stewart himself mines their programs for his own material, taking extra delight in tossing barbs their way.

And when Stewart is sometimes attacked for his mainly liberal take on things and notation is made of his show’s influence and higher credibility ratings than either most mainstream or conservative media, he is wont to protest that he is “merely a comedian”.

Bouie dissents.

More often however, Stewart’s stance is frustrating. His protests to the contrary, Stewart is a pundit, and like many pundits, he’s wed to a kind of anti-politics, where genuine difference doesn’t exist (or isn’t as relevant as we think) and political problem-solving is mostly a matter of will, knowledge, and technocratic know-how.

I like this writer but have to disagree with him here. But our differences may stem more from our age disparity and the perspectives our own life experiences represent. He graduated from college in 2008, I in 1969.

Perhaps his relative youth lends him more optimism that true engagement on the issues is possible. I, on the other hand, have been witness to the deterioration of the relationship between our two major national “sides”— conservative and liberal.

I have vivid memories of my (thankfully brief) embrace of Barry Goldwater in 1964 and voting for Richard Nixon in 1968 upon my first eligibility. And though today I would not support either of these legendary Republicans based on their platforms and accomplishments in their time, today I’m not sure many conservatives would either, were they to look more closely at what they, especially, Nixon did. And that is utterly apart from Watergate which really cannot eradicate his diplomatic overtures to China or establishment of the now frenetically hated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or (GASP!) …as modern conservatives disparage the minimum wage itself…Nixon’s proposal of a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI) in 1969.

Bouie sees Stewart as feeding into uncompromising dysfunction of the contemporary political dialogue (more accurately simultaneous monologues) and the seeming inability of Congress to pass anything other than the 3462nd attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and sponsoring bills to eliminate even more long-standing laws.

I see Stewart as providing a necessary counterpoint to…in  my own views… a far conservative right wing wanting to dismantle the great progressive improvements to America since…let’s say…the New Deal. And he makes me laugh, though much of that laughter is as attributable to his “correspondents” as it is to him.

And I need laughter. As much as I may be the beneficiary of confirmation and validation of my own opinions I am the receptor of material that tickles my funny bone. Comfort food, if you will.

In this very piece whether you agree with my views, individual or as a whole, that I express here, is irrelevant. I know some of you do not see things as I do. But this is about Stewart and what place he merits in our psyche.

As much as I admire Jon Stewart and would love to have a conversation with him over a few beers, in the end, though, whether you deem Stewart a comic or an acutely perceptive political pundit cum humor, he is simply one of the Comedians and I am not referring to characters in the Graham Greene novel of the same name.

Then again, it could be the Lords of FOX who take him much too seriously nail it, which would..I believe..make them the Tontons Macoutes 

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  • Devildog  On February 13, 2015 at 2:48 PM

    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that one side “wants to dismantle the great improvements to America since the New Deal”. Is it fair to say that the other side does not want to dismantle or substantially modify any New Deal/liberal program regardless of whether it has succeeded in its stated objective? Has that “other side” admitted failure of a major program? Has any such program “failed”?

    • Tourist  On February 14, 2015 at 4:44 AM

      Every New Deal program has failed. Which is to say, this is one of Devildog’s best and most meaningless challenges. NASA has failed. Microsoft has failed. History’s biggest (‘cause isn’t that the measure?) corporation, Apple, has failed.

      The U.S. of A. has failed. I want my perfect union now!

      “Stated objectives”?

      Who – WHO! – does not grasp the meaning and importance of aiming high?

      Name a New Deal program that hasn’t done substantial good and name a New Deal program that hasn’t been modified to correct deficiencies, balance harms, and do better – this in contrast to “dismantle.” “There is no safety net in the constitution,” in the words of a prominent tea party congressman.

      We did this. We tried that. We are where we are. We deal with what we have. The “inbox” test. Reality. Today. Half full or half empty? Most want to go forward.

      Start over?

      Explain the wrongness of the stated objectives.

      • Devildog  On February 14, 2015 at 9:30 AM

        So Tourist, you do not have any suggestion to “improve” any “safety net” program nor do you believe it necessary as they are all glass-full. Thanks for making my point! Where you got “perfect union” from my post I don’t know.

        Removing the medical device tax under Obamacare seems to have majority bipartisan support. Will it happen while Obama is president?

        A problem, pretty well-recognized by many “critical-thinking” people, is that once a program is enacted it continues on forever with ever-increasing funding regardless of success(however one wants to define that). You seem unable to recognize that; ergo, you must be one of those non-critical thinking people.

Please give me your thoughts.

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