On Faux Suprises

From Howard Kurtz:

Stewart relentlessly ridiculed George W. Bush for eight years, painting the Iraq war as a giant "Mess O' Potamia." He went easier on John Kerry and Obama and, for a time, had trouble attracting Republican guests. That's one reason he and Stephen Colbert became cult heroes for many younger, liberal fans. During the 2008 Democratic convention, Stewart cracked to reporters that comics were giving Obama a pass because of "liberal bias and not wanting to be racist."

But the Comedy Central star has always maintained that his primary job is getting laughs. And ideology aside, it was hard early on for comedians to get a fix on an eloquent new president with no outsize mannerisms. Even Fred Armisen's "Saturday Night Live" impression was pretty lame.

Now, of course, Obama is in rough political waters, which always makes for better material. In recent weeks, Stewart has accused the president of hypocrisy for breaking his pledge to televise legislative negotiations on C-SPAN: "This looks and sounds pretty bad for Obama." His "senior black correspondent," Larry Wilmore, solemnly informed the host that "Negroes aren't magic. . . . He's just suffering from the hard bigotry of high expectations." On another night, Stewart chided Obama for his cerebral style, saying: "You thought you could win us over with rational policy decisions and an even temperament?"

Whenever I read a story like this I'm always left wondering if the writer is actually shocked, or just going through the motions of filing copy. Is anyone who seriously watches Stewart actually shocked that he's criticizing Obama? Anyone? Anyway, apparently Jon Stewart picked this up and went for his last night.