On Tuesday, the Daily Show was being its usual witty, zinger-filled self in this bit announcing the arrival of its new “Senior Latino Correspondent,” comedian Al Madrigal. The writers threw in smart self-effacing jokes and I liked that shot of Jon Stewart sipping innocently on a big cup of what looked like horchata. But then things got weird!
Not only did the bit quickly become less and less funny (the largest offense, in my opinion), but then Stewart parroted President Obama’s lines on immigration reform: “Obama’s plan out does sound though pretty reasonable. You get caught here illegally, you pay a fine, you learn English, you head to the back of the line for citizenship. That’s just, uh…”
And then they cut to a montage of right-wing elected officials and newscasters labeling any attempt at legalization “amnesty.” The criticism of the far-right is spot on, but Obama’s plan only appears “reasonable” in a xenophobic political climate that’s swung so far to the right that Obama’s insistent criminalization of undocumented immigrants comes out sounding rather compassionate. It’s a shame that—and this may be more about my misplaced anger with the immigration debate in this country than the fault of the Daily Show—those are the parameters of the debate now. With Obama on one side and the right wing on the other, reason left the building a long time ago.
But still, where’s the funny! I can’t wait for Al Madrigal to bring the funny.