Ethics Dunce: Jon Stewart

Meanwhile, Lincoln pretty much just lay around after he was President...

Meanwhile, Lincoln pretty much just lay around after he was President…

Face the Nation had George W. Bush on today as its primary guest,  so the show’s lead in, CBS This Morning, asked its guest, “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, what question he would ask the man who preceded President Obama in the Oval Office.  Stewart’s smirking reply,

“ ‘Tell me about umber and how it helps you in painting cats.’ Jimmy Carter’s like 108? He’s out in Africa pulling guinea worms out of children’s feet, trying to cure them. Bush is at home. ‘Bring me my fruit bowl. Doin’ a still life!”

The technical term for this is, I believe,“being a dick.” Yes, it’s vulgar, but the usual terms don’t quite do Stewart’s gratuitous and unfair nastiness justice in trhis instance.

I recognize that Stewart, who eschewed a flood of well-deserved Democrat jokes over the past five days because he could not get around his massive anti-Republican biases, is in mourning over the GOP electoral avalanche that turned the nation red at all levels of government in all regions. Poor baby. Nonetheless, mocking one President of the United States for his activities in retirement because they do not measure up, in Stewart’s value system, to what Presidents are supposed to do is evidence of a stunning lack of grace, decency,proportion, self-awareness and common sense.

When George Bush was President, he was fair game for any comic to mock for his performance in his job. Attacking him as a private citizen almost completely out of the public eye is personal, however, and simply evidence of meanness. The nature of this specific attack, which is the inverse of the rationalization “It’s not the worst thing,” is the idiotic standard for judging any human being, famous or otherwise, that I would call “it’s not the best thing.” After a full life of public service and private sector accomplishments, President Bush, at the age of 68, has as much right or more than any American to enjoy retirement.

His lifetime legacy, by objective assessment, will include more tangible service to his country and society than Jon Stewart is likely to approach even if he hosts the “Daily Show” until he is 108. George W. Bush led the United States for eight full years, grappling with real problems, making life-and-death decisions, and accepting responsibility for them while snotty pygmies like Stewart called him names and threw fecal matter from the sidelines. Every President deserves respect and gratitude for devoting part of his life to such an enormous, killing job (It is called an impossible job when a Democrat can’t do it—like Carter or Obama). What ex-Presidents do not deserve is to be held inferior to some arbitrary template, cherry-picked for no reason other than to diminish them. Stewart didn’t say of Carter,

“He’s out in Africa fighting  guinea worms, while Bush saved millions from AIDS there. Yeah, impress us, Jimmy!”

…because he would have been called out for his dickishness by the wrong crowd, but it would have been equally detestable.

Presidents are not in competition for who can impress Jon Stewart the most in retirement. Jimmy Carter’s built houses and has done good work in Africa; he’s also  been an international diplomacy menace and easily the most graceless and bitter ex-President in memory, recently carping that Obama never called him for advice (The best news about the President’s foreign relations acumen I’ve heard.) It’s easy to find someone who will make nearly anyone’s accomplishments look paltry by comparison. How much of Carter’s work in Africa wouldn’t be performed by others if not by him? I’m not aware of Jimmy’s advance training in pulling out guinea worms. His senior exploits may be more impressive than “painting cats” ( and what a hypocrite Stewart is to mock the value of art!), but they pale by comparison to, for example, nanotechnologist Mildred Dresselhaus, 82, who authored 39 papers in 2012 and begins her day at MIT by 6:30 a.m. Her research is more technical than either Stewart or Jimmy could probably understand, and involves the physics and properties of carbon nanomaterials, including nanotubes and graphene. Among her  accomplishments, Dresselhaus was “the first scientist to exploit the thermoelectric effect at the nanoscale, which could allow for devices that harvest energy from temperature differences in materials that conduct electricity.”

Though Carter himself has claimed to be the most successful former President, he’s not even close. Let’s mock Jimmy for not equaling the lofty post-Presidential achievements of John Quincy Adams, who served in the House of Representatives until he died, fighting slavery, or William Howard Taft, who became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I’d rank Carter fourth, at best, in post-White House exploits among failed one-term Presidents, #1 being Herbert Hoover.

In late May 1945, only six weeks after FDR’s death, the much-hated Hoover met with President Harry Truman and helped planned the recovery of postwar Europe.Truman gave Hoover the assignment of traveling the world to assess post war world food needs, which were dire.  Hoover also assisted Truman as part of a 1947 commission to reorganize the executive branch of the federal government, generating recommendations that led to a streamlined, more efficient post-war government.  Hoover chaired a second Hoover commission under Eisenhower. He then devoted his post-presidential years to developing the Boys Clubs of America and expanding the Hoover Institution, the policy center he had established on the Stanford campus in 1919. Hoover also wrote more than forty books.

Boy, Jimmy Carter’s sure no Herbert Hoover. Go ahead and mock him for it, Jon!

And let’s see the tally of Stewart’s positive accomplishments when it’s all said and done. Has he heard, I wonder, of the Golden Rule? Do you think the New York Times obituary of the once popular and influential cable personality who is likely to be no more remembered in 2050 than Stan Freberg or Al Capp are today would be fair to conclude its appreciation by saying, “He was great at mugging for the camera, but compared to the innovation, objectivity and versatility of David Frost or the talent and productivity of Mel Brooks, he was nothing”?

Of course the Times, if it is around then, will be fairer than that….unlike Stewart himself.

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Pointer and Source: Mediaite

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Jon Stewart

  1. As much as I enjoy a good frying of any loyal leftist propagandist like Jon Stewart, and I think your frying of him is spot on in all regards but the following, is it fair to demand of him his exploits just because he criticized someone else’s?

    This is man in the arena stuff. And even though it isn’t the critic who counts, the critic still gets to be a critic. Both Bush and Carter stepped into the arena, and neither have anything to be ashamed about (in terms of their post-arena careers, I don’t know if its a logical argument to degrade the worm Stewart’s argument from the angle that the worm’s contributions are truly dismal. They stepped into the arena, they gave critics the right to criticize. And the critics don’t count for all the reasons you listed except that one… I think. (and that reason doesn’t make them count, I think it’s irrelevant).

    PS, so my anti-Leftist creds aren’t tarnished, Jon Stewart is an ass.

    • Nah, I take it back. If you criticize someone outside the arena, you’d better have the standing to back up your criticism yourself. That requires the authority to do so, which derives from having demonstrated the same conduct you wish to critique.

      Yeah. Get lost Jon Stewart.

    • Sure. He can criticize all he wants, and do nothing but. That’s his job. What he can’t do, fairly or otherwise, is use bogus criteria to criticize, like “why doesn’t he do what this guy does?” It’s in the same category as “how dare you not give to a real charity, like the one I give to, ” and “why spend money on nice clothes for your kids when you could be buying shoes for barefoot kids in Sri Lanka?”

      This wasn’t criticism. This was hate, fueled by partisan bias.

  2. President Bush has wisely refused to comment on President Obama’s actions and decisions. A stance that more former presidents not sitting in an elected office should take.

    • Yes, this is one area of post-Presidential life where W. has been far superior to Carter, and Clinton. Indeed, as of now, the ungracious post-Presidential carping seems to be a Democrat thing. LBJ didn’t do it, and JFK never had the opportunity, but Truman did. Wilson couldn’t, and then we have to go all the way back to Cleveland. You know, there haven’t been that many Democrat Presidents. FDR kind of warps the perception.

      • Well, there has been a lot of Democrat President-time in the most recent 22 years (26, if you choose to call George H.W. Bush a “RINO”), and I frankly dread how Obama is going to behave in his post-White House years. You can’t keep a good narcissist racist agitator down. We should expect him to win at least one more Nobel Prize; he’ll need the money.

  3. That woman Dtrsselhaus blows my mind. I did one lousy year of entry-level physics for pre-med, and I was hanging by a thread, studying almost constantly to keep decent grades. Mind-bending stuff! All I want for my 82nd birthday is to still be wiping my own ass, and she’s doing post-Doc physics at M.I.T !! That is astounding!

  4. I’m pretty sure if Jon Stewart had been subjected to one-tenth of the sheer vitriol Bush has had to put up with in the media, he’d feel like holing up with some quiet inoffensive hobby too.

    • You would think painting would be an inoffensive, quiet hobby but now that the art is being viewed by the public, some art critics have put a psychological spin on the paintings. While Bush says that the paintings of him in the shower and bath tub were inspired by his desire to practice painting falling water and water hitting water, I read one art critic’s interpretation that the shower painting represented Bush’s regret over his handling of Katrina, and the other represented his feelings regarding water boarding. I have no idea if there is any validity to this art critic’s observations but I do think that art is a medium which has the possibility to tap into the mind and subconscious to a larger degree than an autobiography with a controlled narrative. In the end, we might get more from Bush’s paintings than we expected if the critics don’t turn his pastime into one he can no longer enjoy. I hope this doesn’t happen because I believe that Bush has much more to “say” than Carter. God knows, Bush just sometimes can’t get the words out.

      • There is literally nothing Bush could have done differently regarding Katrina, except in pure hindsight bias. That kind of art criticism is just more Bush Derangement Syndrome. Tell them to look at Ray Nagin’s paintings in prison.

        • Let me correct what I said previously. It may have been Bush’s regret that he could not do “more” rather than his regret of the way he handled of Katrina. Ray Nagin’s art? Probably all self portraits. Interestingly enough, I felt that all the portraits of the people Bush painted were pretty good. I could definitely tell who the people were with no problem. The one portrait that was a little off was Bush’s own self portrait. I don’t know that I would have recognized him. He gave himself a little more hair than he actually has. That’s just my opinion.

  5. I was just thinking of all the under appreciated people in the world. What about Glenn Seaborg? Discovered 10 transuranium elements. Advisor to 10 US presidents. Chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission. Contributed to most of our anti-nuclear proliferation treaties, 1 Nobel Prize, Chancellor of UC Berkeley, contributed to national science education. He spent his last years fighting the California state science requirements because they didn’t have enough science. Not bad for a kid from Ishpeming.

  6. He mocked Bush while in office for breaking everything he touched, now mocks Bush for staying home and not touching anything…. Bush can’t win!

  7. Thanks for including the information about Hoover. I recently finished David McCullough’s biography of Truman where I learned, for the first time, the role that Truman graciously gave Hoover in the post-war years.

    He’s largely defined by history as a failure because the Depression fell on his watch, but he had skills that were well used after the war ended. Considering how he’d been the butt of jokes for 12 years and treated pretty poorly by FDR, he would have had the right to be bitter. Hoover could have justified staying in his NYC penthouse in a quiet retirement. Instead, he put politics aside for a time to contribute to the stability of this country and of Europe.

    That was his retirement choice. Truman wrote his memoirs and worked in his own Presidential Library. Carter builds houses. Bush paints. They each served in one of the hardest jobs in the world. What each chooses to do after that is his own business.

  8. Jack: “There is literally nothing Bush could have done differently regarding Katrina, except in pure hindsight bias.”

    WHAAAAAAAT?????

    How many Army helicopters could we have had within 500 miles of New Orleans, if we had 72 hours’ notice to muster them? If all you have to do is fly these people twenty miles, that ought to be about one hour per flight. If Bush and his people had prepared competently — and they had plenty of advance notice, unlike in Benghazi — virtually everyone who was stuck at the Superdome could have been given adequate food and water within 24 hours, and evacuated within 72.

    Katrina was a clusterfuck, and it was ALL on Bush #43, who was too busy attending parties to attend to his job. That one doesn’t pass the smell test, Jack.

    • That’s just factually wrong, as numerous investigative reporters have shown, in multiple books. 1) The Mayor screwed up, and then shifted blame. There was a mandatory evacuation, and he didn’t enforce it. 2) The Governor of Louisiana and the Feds bickered over jurisdiction 3) Homeland Security was a bureaucratic mess. Yes, President John McCain would have gone ahead and sent in the Marines, broken some laws, and sorted it all out—and so would I. But Bush was not the reason that was a catastrophe.

      Bush was at fault for having a political hack running FEMA, though political hacks traditionally run FEMA. Brown was incompetent, and he had to resign. Bush was responsible, and trusted someone who was untrustworthy. He was NOT partying—be serious. He was at his ranch during the actual storm itself. His main mistake, other than having an idiot running FEMA, was PR, and I agree that’s important. No non-political hitman seriously argues that it was “all on Bush.” The city was unprepared. The police in New Orleans ran. Buses were unused. The army corps of engineers screwed up. Clusterfuck, absolutely, but Bush is way, way down the list.

    • This lacks a basic understanding of what had to be done to get the aid to New Orleans and the conditions under which people operated. My oldest son conducted search and rescue in New Orleans. Many of the problems occurred because Nagin failed to evacuate the city. Many of the evacuees that came to our area admitted that they didn’t leave because they didn’t think it would be as bad as predicted.

      The National Guard don’t live on their installations and had to gather their unit personnel and supplies. My son’s unit is a special forces communications unit. They had to gather aide supplies that are not standard in their mission, drive from the northern boarder of a state two states away to New Orleans. Not a quick move.

      I won’t recount the threats and violence my son encountered from those who still refused to leave.

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