In about an hour from now, Stephen Colbert (of Comedy Central) will make a major announcement. It's already been leaked--he's giving his PAC to Jon Stewart and Colbert is forming an exploratory committee to run for president in the Republican primaries. Big mistake, Stephen. You're not running, so get out and stay out now.
Yes, Colbert it polling one percentage point ahead of Jon Huntsman in South Carolina (Colbert's home state). Yes, Colbert has name recognition. Yes, he wants to be included in a Republican debate. And yes, comedians such as Pat Paulson and Mort Sahl have become involved in the political process.
Now, let me count the ways how this can (and will) go wrong.
Who can forget when Colbert testified before Congress in the Stephen Colbert Comedy Central character. Congress may be a joke, but he wasted people's time. Colbert tried to get serious during the testimony, but that's a bit too late.
Colbert has a highly successful television show. Will he give that up for a few months? Probably not.
Does Colbert even have a message? Judging from his PAC, I'd say the answer is "no."
And if he does get 1/6th of debate time, he'll just make a fool of himself. It's very, very different to tell jokes without a script, in a limited time period, and in a situation where the snark is not welcome.
Colbert has been ripping into Republicans lately. If there has been a single joke about Barack Obama or Michelle Obama, maybe I missed it. Running in the Republican primary would be the last step of anti-conservative bias.
Mr. Colbert, you can be a funny guy. But there are limits that you don't want to cross, for your sake and for this country's.
Barack Obama is running unopposed. Colbert could easily get the support to have a one-on-one debate in Democratic primaries. But he won't do that. So don't do this.
From the New York Times:
On Thursday night’s “Colbert Report,” Mr. Colbert took it a big step further, handing control of his group to his friend and fellow host Jon Stewart so that he can legally run for president, or at least pretend to. Mr. Colbert, who has comically flirted with — and mocked the possibility of — runs for political office before, said he would form an “exploratory committee for president of the United States of South Carolina.”
Riffing off his claimed dissatisfaction with the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney, Mr. Colbert has repeatedly suggested to his fans that he should hop in the race. A write-in bid in South Carolina, where Mr. Colbert grew up, would almost certainly create some media excitement in the days leading up to the Jan. 21 primary, but probably less electoral excitement.