If you’ve seen Jon Stewart at all in the last month, you probably weren’t laughing like you’re used to. As the onetime host of the Daily Show late at night on Comedy Central, Jon used to bring us news in a way that, even when it couldn’t make us laugh, at least made us cry a little less than we might have. That was important in times of tragedy — Jon walked us through Hurricane Katrina and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia, and maybe hardest of all, he stuck with us through 9/11, the most poignant and deeply-felt disaster perhaps in all of American history.
But when you’ve seen Jon lately, 9/11 is all that’s been on his mind. That’s because he’s a native New Yorker, and has been championing legislation to compensate the first responders to that attack — the thousands of men and women who ran into danger rather than away from it, saving countless lives and giving up their health and their time and their careers in exchange for the opportunity to just save a few more on that day.
If you ask me, it’s shameful that a celebrity would need to lend their “star power” to something as ostensibly non-partisan as a fund to care for those that cared for America in its time of greatest need. Who are the people against this? Well, they’re people “voting their conscience” like Rand Paul, who says he didn’t want to add anything to the US deficit, but doesn’t seem to have that problem when the time comes to raise the debt ceiling in order to fund more tax breaks for the wealthy contributors to his campaigns.
But more than that, they’re cynical Republicans who have adopted a strategy that works almost every time to get what they want out of Democrats: They take a bill that makes anyone voting against it look like an asshole — the 9/11 First Responders’ bill, Children’s Health Insurance Programs, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs — and attach something to it that they want in exchange, then threaten to vote no if the Democrats won’t agree to their terms, all while blaming the Dems for not negotiating.
So what’s really shameful is seeing a Senate Majority Leader like Mitch McConnell hold something like this bill hostage in exchange for political concessions from Democrats; he doesn’t care one way or the other whether the first responders get the help they need, but he knows Democrats do and he can use that against them.
Jon Stewart knows that it’s been Mitch who’s held up the bill he’s been on Capitol Hill testifying about — everyone knows it’s Mitch. And in his way, funny-so-it-doesn’t-make-you-cry, Jon Stewart has been letting Mitch have it publicly every time he gets a microphone in front of him.
Heck, Jon went on his “mortal enemy” network Fox News in the middle of last month to lambast Mitch over it:
We have Republicans on the bill. We’d obviously like to have more of them, but Senator McConnell has seen fit to — in 2010, he used it to make sure the Bush tax cuts would be permanent. In 2015, he took out of the transportation bill because he wanted to extract some promises on oil imports, so in this bill right now in 2019, he’s been aware of this.”
Today that bill finally shamed enough Republicans into the passage of it. And as Mitch McConnell made his way down the hallway to go cast that indelible vote, Jon Stewart was waiting for him. Maybe he was smiling so he didn’t cry:
Whether that’s the reason behind Jon’s weary grin or not, watching Mitch do his best to do the walk of shame past the man who beat this bill into the conscience of our Congress is something timeless — something only a legend like Jon Stewart could lead us to.
Featured image via Twitter
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