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North is South and South is North — in South Carolina

2012 January 23

What transpired last week in the South Carolina Republican Primary was a cllinic in misdirection, obfuscation, and ironic expression.

Steven Colbert–the comedian and (fake) TV talk show host–bases his act on winking hyperbole. His bloviating pundit doesn’t really believe–or mean–what he says, right? How could he possibly?

But recently the fake Steven Colbert has become a real (if joking, as well as instructive and cautionary-tale-type) presidential candidate. Others, on Colbert’s behalf, have legally formed and funded a Super PAC, over which he has absolutely no (wink-wink) control–even though he also was able to legally transfer the fund to his partner in comedy and what-should-be-a-crime, Jon Stewart–who promptly changed its name and helped to produce ads that ran on television in many South Carolina media markets during the week leading up to the vote.

So (fake or otherwise) Steven Colbert, who’s not really a candidate (we all know that, right?), is nonetheless able to associate with a Super PAC, which is running political ads on his behalf in South Carolina, even though Colbert filed too late under South Carolina election laws to even get himself on the South Carolina ballot–and even though the law also prohibits write-ins. (If a South Carolinian wrote in Colbert’s name, as I’m sure one did, that effort didn’t count and the ballot was discarded. Talk about thwarting the will of the voter.)

But none of this deterred the “truthiness”-seeking Colbert. It wasn’t enough for him to reveal the absurdity of the Super PAC laws by lampooning them from afar. Instead he exposed them utterly merely by employing them. And now Colbert also was thwarting the balloting laws, this time by using (likely as his unwitting accomplice, given his astonishing lack of self-awareness) a real (though former) presidential candidate who should have been fake: Herman Cain.

Though Cain had “suspended” his campaign a few weeks prior to the South Carolina primary because (oh, never mind why), he still was on the SC ballot because–well, because when Cain had been a candidate he had timely filed the appropriate papers. Presumably with Cain’s permission (or possibly not; it’s likely not even legally required), Colbert’s Super PAC TV ads solicited votes on behalf of “Herman Cain,” but whenever Cain’s name was mentioned, Colbert’s likeness appeared.

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So to whom do Cain’s South Carolina votes belong? Don’t ask any lawyers or politicians to explain it to you.

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