Stephen Colbert is testifying before Congress on Friday (9/24/10)

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Stephen Colbert to Testify Before Congress

He’s going to stay in character? This sounds like a terrible idea.

I don’t get it.

Must be a joke. I can think of no earthly reason why Congress would need input from SC. I love his show and rarely miss it, but the point of hearings is to understand the factual basis for a problem, policy considerations that would be involved in a passing new legislation, etc. So, people like Union leaders make sense. Having someone who is purely an entertainer testify? It’s like asking Paris Hilton what we should do about North Korea. It’s simply bizarre.

Were the U.S. citizens offered the same pay and conditions as illegal immigrant workers presently receive?

That’s not really a fair comparison to a situation in which illegal immigrants weren’t available or practical for such work–pay would be higher, which is sort of the point.

And yes, agreed. What is the basis of his standing to make statements to Congress on this matter?

According to the link

Looks like anyone interested (if you’re a celebrity all the better!) was invited to be a day laborer for a day. Colbert happened to participate (and make a show out of it) and so got to make a testimonial. The article implies that Joe Citizen also participated and maybe will be testifying, but Joe Citizen isn’t a celebrity so they weren’t mentioned by name.

Not sure why he’s doing it in character.

First, it’s worth noting that that may not be true. ‘One Republican source said Colbert will be testifying “in character,” […] Some Republicans have already expressed unhappiness with Colbert witnessing at the hearing, thinking it would make light of a serious issue.’ So, not only do we not know who the source is – if he exists at all – he’s potentially hostile to Colbert.

But, Colbert could potentially do it (or at least announce that he would) to attract the general public to watch. If the general public would be on his side, then once the legislators are under public scrutiny, they have to lean more in that direction.

Personally I’m all for it. It’s about damn time that we gave up on the pretense that there’s some meaningful difference between entertainment and serious political discourse.

I don’t particularly see any reason why he shouldn’t, especially if invited by Congress to speak. It’s not as if “celebrity spokespeople” have never testified before Congress before in re: to issues which they’re associated. Just yesterday, Kevin Costner testified about the BP oil spill:

That’s ridiculous. One day in the field? That’s an absolutely pathetic claim to association with the issue. I spent a couple months fruit-picking; that qualifies me to write a letter or two on the subject, maybe.

Costner’s involvement sounds a little more real than Colbert’s, though maybe his brother should be up there.

It sounds like the politicians just want to hobnob.

Well… wouldn’t you? I would.

More info from the Huffington Post:

“It’s no joke!”

It would be nice if someone asked Colbert, “Say, Steve, I always thought the purpose of a labor union was to get better pay and better conditions for its members. Is that not correct? See, the reason I ask is, the United Farm Workers must be the craziest labor union I ever heard of. What kind of union wants MORE scabs brought into this country? What kind of union wants MORE cheap labor flooding the market? Can you explain that to me, Steve? You can use your real voice or your phony one, but either way, an intelligent answer would be appreciated.”

How can he appear in character? Wouldn’t he end up committing perjury?

I believe he is a US citizen. What more standing would be necessary for some to address Congress on any subject?

Well, over 20 years ago, I remember Sissy Spacek and Jessica Lange testifying before Congress on the plight of the small farmer. They were experts, you see, because they’d starred in “The River” and “Country,” which practically made them genuine “farm wives.”

I meant “standing” in the sense of knowledge, authority and relevance. As dzero noted, Paris Hilton has similar standing to testify on the subject of North Korea.

You really think that it’s to the advantage of a farm workers’ union in North America to define trans-border migrant labor out of its membership?

Unions work better the more of the labor force they incorporate. In this country, that means going transnational.

What standing does the Congress have to make decisions based on anyone’s testimony? Democracy ain’t pretty. It’s what we have. Does it matter who testifies about N Korea to the guys who believe the earth is only 5000 years old? How the ones who believed in WMD, despite the total absence of credible evidence that they existed? Sorry, I think this discussion is questioning the qualifications of the wrong side of the interaction.

I quake in terror at the thought that this could harm the dignity of Congress and tarnish the respect everybody has for that institution. Colbert did address this on his show tonight. He said he’ll be testifying for five minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives a monologue in character, which would probably moot any quibbling about answering questions in his TV persona: if he relates a story about what happened during his stint in the fields (and does so in a way that makes him look arrogant and inept), he’s not lying about anything. And why is he doing this? I suspect it’s because the union asked him to do it in response to participating in his show.

Elmo testified before Congress once:

If Elmo is qualified to talk about music education, Colbert is qualified to talk about migrant labor.