Political theater literally arrived at Washington DC thanks to a free comedic act from faux news man Stephen Colbert last week. And if there’s anyone to thank for Colbert’s appearance on Capitol Hill regarding immigration policy, it would be Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), from California’s 16th congressional district in the San Jose and Silicon Valley.
Being the quintessential entertainer, Colbert used Lofgren’s invitation to slip into his Comedy Central character, modeled after Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly. Colbert’s monologue made a mockery of the conservative illegal immigration position, portraying conservatives as being ultimately anti-immigrant.
"I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian. Because my great-grandfather did not travel across 4,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this country overrun by immigrants," Colbert sarcastically told the subcommittee at one point.
Colbert’s stunt may have been a delight to some Democrats who voted for the recent DREAM Act, because he painted Republicans as incompetent on the immigration front. At the same time, Colbert’s appearance shows that a new low has been achieved when it comes to having a civil and thoughtful dialogue on a serious issue like illegal immigration.
Thanks to Rep. Lofgren, bringing in Colbert seems to be an act of political suicide for her party, opening a can of worms the Democratic Party cannot afford this close to the November elections. Consider the “experience” factor. The Congresswoman contacted Colbert because of his one-day stint as a farm field worker. If a comedian’s brief time as a farm field worker is a measuring stick of what it means to have good insight on illegal immigration, then this is a pretty frightening indication of what Establishment congresspersons constitute as “experience.” It certainly begs the question: What “experts” are they contacting on other issues pertinent to the United States at this point in time?
Colbert’s appearance is also demonstrates that Republicans are not the only Establishment party in Washington plagued by internal division over seeking solutions for illegal immigration. As a concrete example of the Democrats' disjointed voice on illegal immigration, consider that the House’s Democratic leadership was divided over allowing Colbert to speak at the subcommittee hearing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) thought testimony by Colbert would be “appropriate” because he’s an “American,” reported the Los Angeles Times. But, speaking on Fox News, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the second ranking Democrat in the House, said that the testimony would not be appropriate. At the hearing itself, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) asked the entertainer to leave because the comedian lacked expertise on immigration policy.
As a liberal, Colbert may be more lenient on immigration policy; however, the subcommittee allowing him to satirize the subject places a bad light on elected officials, portraying them as treating immigration reform far too lightly.