Jon Stewart takes on Tim Pawlenty and "tyranny" talk

Categories: T-Paw
Jon Stewart in full flight.
Jon Stewart said last night on "The Daily Show" that he wanted to "move past Tucson" in his interview with Tim Pawlenty and talk about political rhetoric in general.

Why, he asked Pawlenty, do Republicans treat Barack Obama as though he is something fundamentally different?

Why accuse him of marching the country toward tyranny, when his predecessor vastly expanded executive powers and government intrusion into people's lives?

Here's some of the exchange:

STEWART: "This administration doesn't appear fundamentally different than Bush, but the panic and the reaction that is has set off does seem fundamentally different."

PAWLENTY: "Is it a whole different level of vitriol different from George W. Bush?"

STEWART: "Yes, I would say there's a whole political movement based upon that, that has come out of this, that is based in a revolution fetish to some extent."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Tim Pawlenty Extended Interview
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Pawlenty picked up the theme he sounded over and over the day before in interviews, trying not to knock Sarah Palin while at the same time keeping her vitriolic rhetoric at arm's length.

PAWLENTY: "Just because you can do something, you can say something, doesn't mean you should. We all have a responsibility. If you've got rights and privileges, exercise them responsibly. Be fair. Be accurate. An informed citizenry is the key to democracy, and you've got to have accurate good information to make good decisions. All of us, setting aside Arizona, right and left, could benefit from a more informed debate."
Pawlenty: "Just because you can say it, doesn't mean that you should."
Then Pawlenty adroitly threw Stewart a curve ball, teasing him for his habit of littering his monologues with F-bombs: "When you were throwing the effenheimer around here earlier that really contributed to it."

"The effenheimer?" Stewart laughed. "John Jacob Effenheimer Schmidt?"

"I thought that raised the debate up," Pawlenty deadpanned.

It was one of the few funny bits of the evening. Then, back to tyranny.

STEWART: "Why is the right so fearful of tyranny now, when George Bush expanded executive powers so greatly. No Child Left Behind. Honestly, put yourself in the position. Barack Obama [rather than Bush] comes out and announces No Child Left Behind, an enormous federal mandate for pubic schools. You supported it under Bush. Would you disagree with that if Barack Obama had suggested that, there would be, Glenn Beck would have pictures of Stalin behind him, giant. He would be leaning in and saying, "We have brought upon us the tragedy! They want our children!'"

Pawlenty smiles at the vision.

STEWART: "Is this a cynical attempt to whip up a voting block, or do people really believe there has been a fundamental change in our government towards tyranny and socialism?"

PAWLENTY: "Let's step back. I'm the governor of the state where the Republican National Convention was held in 2008. We had to put up an almost semi-military zone because protesters, mostly on the left, were yelling, screaming, in some ways creating a security threat and physical threat, not just to the convention to passersby alike."

STEWART: "No question."

PAWLENTY: "So this isn't limited to, you know, to one side or the other."

Where was the outrage when Bush was president?
But that doesn't address the issue of tyranny rhetoric, Stewart says.
STEWART: If the defense is, they've got people who do it too, that doesn't appear to me to be much of a defense. And the other thing is, I don't think you can conflate 18-year-olds who've written lawyer's names on their arms, running around with bandanas, with Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, with the leaders of the Republican Party. I think that is a cop out. I don't think that is fair.

"Fundamentally, does the Republican Party believe that we are as close to tyranny and socialism as the tone of their rhetoric would insinuate?"

Pawlenty stops tap dancing around the issue and makes his case.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

I'm a liberal and Daily Show fan, but I thought Jon Stewart did a pretty bad job with the interview. Even I had trouble understanding what Jon was really trying to ask about... Instead of asking Tim about what Tim thinks and his policies, he just kept trying to get Tim to admit the tea party and conservative media are wrong. It just ended up being confusing and awkward, for the most part, and it was Jon's fault for asking stupid, loaded questions the whole time.


Kirk, in the link you provided there are zero examples of elected liberal officials using hate - speech and vitriol. The fact that liberals are also capable of violence and hate is irrelevant to Stewart and Pawlenty's debate. The point of this debate is that prominent Republicans like Palin are actively encouraging and engaging in this violent rhetoric.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

You want some recent examples of liberal/democrat hateful rhetoric? Good stuff here-

See in the mind of the liberal, we all have the attention span and memory capabilities of a goldfish. Even if that is true about society, it's hard to pull off with anybody whom isn't a brainwashed liberal dolt; two minutes of internet research will usually prove the liberal wrong.

sucheta bhide
sucheta bhide

Instead if answering simple Yes or No he just went around and around and around the subject...for twenty long minutes. You can scream tyranny all you want in your safe Faux News zone but the problem is you can't defend it when you are in face to face with logical people like Jon Stewart.


Cynical Manipulation - as much as Pawlenty tried to reshape the discussion, Stewart kept returning him to his premise of the disingenuine rhetoric (i.e. is it really as simple as Tyranny vs. Liberty?"

If you watched the extended version of the interview, Pawlenty illustrated the whole problem perfectly:

STEWART: I don't want to give blanket figures, because I don't think we live in a blanket world.

PAWLENTY: You're brain is too complex, you need to simplify.

That's exactly the problem - our problems are complex, but politicos would rather try to manipulate voters with disingenuine oversimplicity.

The unspoken end of Pawlenty's statement is " you need to simplify....... because I don't know how to manipulate my bumper sticker soundbites to address your complexity & nuance."


Well, Kirk, glad you've managed to reframe the discussion around whether or not there are liberal people who also use hateful actions. Is that the only way you can compute what Jon is trying to say? Does it need to fit into your oversimplified "us vs. them" worldview in order for you to cope?

Jon's point is about political leaders cynically framing issues is unrealistic and hyperbolic terms (e.g. Tyranny / Socialism). Rather than acknowledging the complexity of problems like unaffordable healthcare, it's more convenient to torpedo any productive discussion with disingenuine rhetoric like "Death Panels" and "Tyranny of Government." Or, like Tim, do you find that too complex?

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault