Reviews | If Tucker runs in 2024, here’s who the Democrats need
So he’s clearly committed enough for the job. But the main reason is that he is better suited than most politicians to what modern politics has become.
The 2024 presidential race is guaranteed to be a carnival, run 8 years after former President Donald Trump blasted the whole idea of ’normal’, and four years after a conspiracy party in the shadow of Covid . Stewart isn’t just one of our most popular comedians: his years hosting Comedy Central’s Daily Show have made him one of the effective communicators of public life. He lives a fairly low-key existence and uses his cross-platform showbiz skills to advocate for issues close to his heart.
Is this a real possibility? Maybe not. But it’s certainly on people’s minds. You could tell something was in the water during the recent Mark Twain Awards broadcast on PBS. Steve Colbert, Dave Chappelle and Pete Davidson all touched on the possibility of Stewart running for the White House in their tributes to Stewart, winner of this year’s Twain Prize for American Humor. All of them did it with a punchline required, but looking at it, you can’t help but think they know something the rest of us don’t yet.
Chappelle said, « I would like you to run for president, but I imagine that would be hard for a coke guy to do. » Davidson added that Stewart « is such an exceptional person that he really could be president tomorrow, but he’s too smart to do it. » And Colbert is worth quoting at length, because it’s damn funny:
« Of course, Jon is a brilliant comedian. But his close friends know that Jon’s real passion is recreational anxiety. It’s his superpower. Instead of being bitten by a radioactive spider, Jon was bitten by a clinically depressed squirrel. But that’s why he’s the perfect person to publicly worry about the future of our democracy. Why so many people think he should run for president. And I get it. He has a lot in common with Bill Clinton. A sharp intellect. Veganism. Rapid aging.
And no, Stewart’s superpower isn’t really his anxiety. It’s his world-renowned sense of humor and his ability to create a sense of direct connection with the people he talks to. This is the shared feeling of collective outrage among non-insurgent America. We know it’s absurd, he transmits when he talks about the news. But its real message is not just absurdity. This is the “we” — the sense of shared values. This is the heart of any successful race.
Trump turned a career in entertainment into a political one not by growing up in the moment, but by dragging politics further into the entertainment zone. He has since been replaced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a professional comedian and television star who played a president on television and, in the face of Russia’s brutal onslaught, skillfully turned him into a role real. as one of the world’s most admired and effective leaders. Increasingly, TV proficiency isn’t just a bonus for a global leader. It is a basic requirement.
A recent very popular Reddit thread also speculated on who should run for president in 2024 and Stewart was widely mentioned. And that’s clearly something Stewart has been thinking about. He told Kara Swisher this spring, « Oh my God, how could you not? » joking about grabbing the steering wheel of a drunk driver when asked if he was planning to run for office. There was humor in his voice when Swisher first broached the subject, but then Stewart got serious as he talked about fundraising and the absurd mechanics of political campaigning before concluding. by: “Sometimes I feel like I can be more effective outside than outside. inside.” I read “sometimes” as a key phrase on the subject. He obviously ran the traps on a pivot to politics.
If Stewart ran for president, could he reach a wide range of Americans? Stewart is known as a liberal, but his greatest cause has been deeply patriotic and very non-partisan: he was the most deeply effective and powerful driving force behind efforts to provide support to first responders and victims of 9/11. . This effort has evolved into a struggle to provide benefits and support to American veterans who suffer from exposure to the toxic effects of fireplaces while deployed overseas. He is famous for trying to help firefighters, police and veterans, a generally right-wing group. It’s a hell of a base to run on.
He’s also a truly gifted speaker who can break down our most complicated political debates into common-sense arguments for effective policy. Watch his testimony at Congress 2019 on behalf of 9/11 responders. The more than 5000 comments on the YouTube link of his appearance are almost unanimously positive. One commenter said: “Every word has been measured. Each sentence is short and precise. Every point hit with devastating precision. Every feeling actually felt. No bull, no waffle, no attempt at fairness. Integrity. Passion, expression. One of the greatest speeches I have ever heard.
He’s also excellent at political rallies, as evidenced by his eminently visible and hilarious « Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear » held at the National Mall in 2010. « Gorge » (according to the rally’s website) is set to watch Colbert and a range of musicians in what was meant to be a parody of Glenn Beck’s « Rally to Restore Honor, » but turned into a heartfelt call for more constructive and less vitriolic political dialogue. .
But perhaps most important reason Democrats consider Stewart is who he would run against.
Let’s take a look at the Republicans who could run in 2024. Trump can run; Stewart has a lot more television experience and is clearly a lot smarter, with more agility in front of crowds. Trump’s show of force has been his ability to draw thousands of people to his political rallies, as they are seen as entertainment by his supporters. A Stewart rally would be a road show of the most hilarious and civic performers known today. And on a debate stage? Stewart would never let Trump get away with his vague platitudes and repetitive rants. Game, set, game.
Florida Governor Ron Desantis and former Vice President Mike Pence appear to be running. Stewart would just chip wood through those two rigid panel-like speakers.
Chances are the most popular and dangerous Republican candidate is Tucker Carlson. Carlson leads the most-watched prime-time show, and news reports over the years continue to make his candidacy a real possibility. Jonah Goldberg, who worked at the Weekly Standard in the mid-’90s with Carlson (I was there too), told the Swisher’s Sway podcast that he thinks « Tucker feels the opportunity to be the new Pat Buchanan of the right. And that means running for office at some point. And he would be good as a candidate.
If Carlson runs in 2024, his wide notoriety, demagogic gifts and deep support among Fox viewers could make him the nominee. His years of television experience would make him a formidable challenge for any Democratic opponent. As a close student and huge fan of The Daily Show episodes, I think a Tucker Carlson run would be like a red cape waved in front of Stewart. Carlson’s bluffing fetishization of nationalistic and autocratic leanings seems like a boil that Stewart’s comedic shading could kick off most effectively.
Carlson and Stewart tangled in a 2004 episode of « Crossfire » where Stewart was asked to talk about a book he wrote and ended up hilariously lambasting Carlson and Paul Begala, the other host of » Crossfire », on the damage done by their false opposition and relentless fire. -beginning made in America. It wasn’t just great television, it was a snapshot of what the future may hold: a presidential race where America’s most watchable and admired television personalities, albeit with opposing audiences, fight for the future of the world.
In the Spring Podcast interview with Swisher, Stewart seemed shocked at the prospect of Carlson possibly running for president in the 2024 cycle. His response: a deadly serious, “Oh Jesus. Never say – it’s just not…” The podcast ended with Stewart saying that Carlson as a potential presidential candidate was “terrible” and “depressed me”.
At the opening event of new media company Semafor on Thursday, Ben Smith pushed Carlson on whether he would run for president. Carlson voted him down, which is exactly what any presidential candidate is expected to do at this point in the political cycle.
If Biden doesn’t run, Stewart would start with a huge name-identification advantage over any other Democrat and a vast legion of Daily Show viewers. The show ended 6 years ago, but Trump’s leap from television to the White House has learned that viewers – even of a waning reality series – can be engaged voters. By that measure, Stewart starts out better positioned than almost anyone else in the Democratic field from the start.
He could – and if Carlson runs, he may feel like he has no choice.