BY FRANK WOOTEN
But the grudges they feed frequently fester.
So were the hard feelings exhibited by Stephen Colbert on his show Wednesday night all part of his popular act? Or was he at least a little for real with his opener?
“Tonight I am angry. And for once that doesn’t make me happy. And I think you know why.”
Colbert, who grew up in Charleston and graduated from Porter-Gaud, is a little brother of Elizabeth Colbert (pronounced Cole-burt) Busch.
So her loss to Mark Sanford in Tuesday’s 1st Congressional District special election was obvious fodder for his “Colbert Report” (pronounced Cole-bear Re-pour) on Comedy Central. His consistently amusing, mocking shtick casts him as a conservative-blowhard pundit based loosely on Fox News ratings powerhouse Bill O’Reilly.
After airing a news clip reporting Sanford’s triumph, Colbert delivered this lament: “My sister lost. How could this happen? I was so sure Lulu had won because CNN called it for Sanford.”
And: “The voters of South Carolina have spoken. Mark Sanford beat my sister, and I believe that means Mark Sanford is now my sister. And on behalf of my entire family, I wanna say we’re deeply sorry about him.”
And: “I feel so betrayed by South Carolina. Well, if they’re gonna turn their backs on my family, I’m turning my back on them.”
Colbert then literally turned his back on a map of our state, declaring: “From now on, and I never thought I would ever say this, I am from North Carolina. I’m a Tar Heel now, whatever the (bleep) that means.”
Displaying a bottle of Low Country Gold: “I will no longer enjoy South Carolina’s tangy, savory, juicy and deeply delicious barbecue made with our unique, mustard-based sauce. Now instead, I now officially love North Carolina’s sauceless, vinegar-based, meat product that they call barbecue.”
But almost immediately after sampling a plate of that alleged barbecue, he appeared on the verge of regurgitation. After disposing of what remained on his plate, he said, “I might just save the rest of that for later.”
Then, after what looked like a moment of agonizing inner torment, Colbert grabbed that bottle of Low Country Gold, took a swig from it and proclaimed: “I can’t do it! I can’t do it! I love South Carolina too much! And I love my sister. And I’m so proud of her. But I just don’t get it. Where did Lulu go wrong? Did she not campaign hard enough? Did she not raise enough money? Did she hold too few debates against a cardboard Nancy Pelosi?”
He pondered whether he has previously been too quick to believe “outrageous accusations” against other politicians: “Could it be that I have lied about candidates I disagree with — like that time I said that Harry Reid is just a leather saddlebag brought to life by a Navajo shaman? I mean, it feels true, but maybe it’s not.”
This much, however, is true:
Political resentments proliferate about not just election campaigns but election endorsements.
For instance: Some readers on the right got right riled up about The Post and Courier’s editorial endorsement of Colbert Busch last Sunday. Assorted emails, letters and phone calls registered not just disagreement but downright disgust with our recommendation.
A recurring theme was that a Colbert Busch triumph could help Democrats recapture the House in 2014, paving the way for President Barack Obama to become a “dictator.” In other words, a Democratic president who can’t get a gun bill through a Democratic Senate after Sandy Hook could seize total power if his party ran both chambers of Congress — as they already did during his first two years in the White House.
Another irate reader charged that we aimed “to cater to the urban hipsters.”
Hmm. Is an “urban hipster” anything like a “hipster doofus,” the term Elaine used to describe Kramer on “Seinfeld”?
My favorite condemnation of our endorsement came in a one-sentence email that started by calling for me to perform an anatomically impossible feat — and ended by calling me a term too vile to print in this family newspaper.
Despite the virulent message’s brevity, though, it contained two glaring errors: The author, perhaps blinded by rage, misspelled Busch as “Bush.” And he wrote what should have been that dirty single last word as two words.
Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste — or for the misguided notion that backing any Democrat under any circumstances warrants excommunication from the conservative creed.
Or as Colbert — Stephen, not Elizabeth — put it Wednesday night:
“The point is, in politics, it is us vs. them. But apparently some of them have the nerve to call them us. How dare them.”
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.