Are Local Politics as Interesting as Fake Politics?

Two more candidates have picked up packets in the Montclair municipal race since we last wrote, and there are rumors that the “big reveal” — on the question of whether mayoral candidate Robert Jackson and 1st Ward incumbent Rich Murnick are on the same ticket — could be as early as today. The new candidates are Jannette Williams, potentially running for mayor of 3rd Ward councilor, and Joseph Kavesh, running for 2nd Ward or councilor-at-large — and already rumored to be on the Jackson slate.

But the Montclair politician who’s the most fun to follow these days isn’t Jackson, Murnick, Bob Russo or Harvey Susswein. The Montclair politician whose antics are absolutely riveting is our own Stephen Colbert, who — among other things — has asked supporters in South Carolina to vote for Herman Cain as a proxy for voting for him, and who’s in the Palmetto State today for a “Rock Me Like a Herman Cain South Cain-Olina Primary Rally”.

My email from the Colbert Super PAC — now, officially, the Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC — has gotten a lot more frequent since Colbert declared a possible presidential candidacy and handed the reins over to Jon Stewart a week ago.

Yesterday, the Super PAC reported on a Marist poll that found that 18 percent of voters in South Carolina were “kinda somewhat likely” to support Colbert. It was a real poll, confirms  Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “We asked real people in South Carolina, who interestingly were very cooperative,” Miringoff said. Still, he doesn’t think Colbert’s possibly spoof candidacy is anything more than satire. And even though one of the “Not Coordinating with Colbert” Super PAC ads went so far as to call Mitt Romney a serial killer, Miringoff doesn’t think Romney — or any other real candidates — will complain.

“I don’t think you’re going to hear any candidate mentioning Stephen Colbert anytime soon,” Miringoff said.

Pundit Larry Sabato of the Virginia Center for Politics is also amused, but counts out any real political fallout from Colbert’s political meddling. “Obviously, the ads are hilarious, especially the one where he ‘slow-grins’ like Cain. And a relative handful of people will vote for Cain to signify support for Colbert,” said Sabato. But he added, “A joke independent candidacy would wither on the vine in the real world of politics.”

Which leaves, perhaps, the Supreme Court as the branch of American politics that Colbert really means to play with. After all, it was the high court’s Citizens United decision of January 2010 that obviously inspired Colbert’s Super PAC antics. And if you don’t think that Stephen Colbert is the most powerful man in all of Baristaville, I ask you who else could get a retired Supreme Court justice to come on his show and tease him relentlessly. If you missed the interview with John Paul Stephens last night, watch it now.

But Stephens was the chief dissenter on the Citizens United decision, and Sabato thinks it’s unlikely that Colbert will have any influence on the justices who voted for the decision.

“I doubt any Justice is going to reverse his or her vote because of what is on Stephen Colbert’s mind. And Congress isn’t about to pass any campaign finance reforms,” Sabato said. “The positive part is that millions are getting a civics lesson in what a Super PAC is. As the author of three poorly selling books on campaign finance, I can guarantee you he’s educated more people about the subject than I ever did. And he didn’t put a single one to sleep.”

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  1. Very funny stuff from Colbert, and possibly quite true about the civics lesson comment.

    That said, who is Cary Africk going to run with ? Hope that the right people reach out to him. He’s been a tireless voice of reason, IMHO.

  2. Perhaps Cain is hoping to polish his personal brand after it was so tarnished following the harassment allegations that torpedoed his candidacy by getting some measure of positive attention, even if it’s satirical.

    There is the belief that Cain’s presidential run started as simply a publicity stunt to promote his book tour that gained more traction than their wildest imaginations could ever have conjured. Of course, he has all been but forgotten since then.

    Cain might see this rally as a convenient and timely opportunity to showcase his humor and charisma, and increase his draw as an author and speaker.

  3. I think it makes him look like a buffoon. He’s an intelligent man with a lot going for him. It’s unfortunate that he thinks he has to sink to this level.

  4. “He’s been a tireless voice of reason, IMHO”

    reason: n. sound judgment; good sense.

    just checkin’ that we are using the same definition here…

  5. I don’t get this Colbert guy, watched him a few times and never laughed. I guess I’m not hip enough, I probably need to move to Montclair or the Upper West Side and start drinking $5 coffees.

  6. i take this stuff seriously.
    this is very offensive to me. take it down galant.
    i say take it down debbie galant.

  7. I don’t get this Colbert guy, watched him a few times and never laughed. I guess I’m not hip enough,

    I’ve said the same about Ray Romano and George Lopez.

    However, lately I’ve been out-loud gaffawing at Colbert and Stewart, especially their recent join appearances in which they have been mocking the tiny legal fig leaf of independence between candidates and super-PACs. I don’t think you need to be hip to find them funny, but perhaps you do need to be into politics and political humor, and with Colbert, a tolerance for cringe-humor as well.

    I also especially enjoyed Colbert’s duet last night with James Taylor.

  8. I think it makes him look like a buffoon. He’s an intelligent man with a lot going for him. It’s unfortunate that he thinks he has to sink to this level.

    I appreciate your concern about Colbert, but I think he’s getting a lot of good mileage out of the Herman Cain thing.

Comments are closed.