Stephen Colbert on potential war in Iran: ‘Worst throwback Thursday ever’ | Culture


Stephen Colbert

We’re still no closer to evidence justifying the president’s “almost-war” with Iran, said Stephen Colbert on Thursday night, and the Late Show host had “fully irked” words about it.

Trump has justified his decision to launch a drone strike killing the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani as heading off an “imminent attack” but “so far Trump hasn’t provided any evidence of that, or told anyone what the attack would’ve been”, explained Colbert. On Thursday, Trump delivered classified information supposedly to explain said imminence to Congress, where it was not well received; Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican, called it “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.”

Lee also fumed about how lawmakers were instructed not to discuss or debate further military action against Iran lest they “embolden Iran”.

“Of course, that makes sense – Iran wants nothing more than forcing the Great Satan to have a functioning democracy,” Colbert deadpanned. “Don’t forget their rallying cry: Reasoned Debate to America!”

In a press conference, Lee called the briefing “insulting” and “demeaning” – and found perhaps an unusual ally. “Damn right Mike!” exclaimed Colbert. “Senator, I’m going to ruin your political career right now by agreeing with you.

“This is insulting not just to Congress, this is insulting to the American people,” an impassioned Colbert ranted. “Has everyone already forgotten what happens when we don’t ask for concrete evidence justifying a military attack against a Middle Eastern country whose name begins with Ira?

“Here’s the difference between 2003 and now: I weigh 30 more pounds. Here’s another one: back then, George W Bush respected us enough to put some effort into his lies,” he continued. “They even sent Colin Powell to the UN to shake his cocaine vial full of Sweet’n’Low and claim if he opened it right then it would kill everyone from here to Westchester county. And he’d love to show us the evidence but that would ruin everything, we just had to trust them and their buddy Curveball. Well, 17 years later, here we are again – worst throwback Thursday ever.”

So before we give the president authority for more war in the Middle East, Colbert concluded, Americans must “demand better lies”.

“Our taxes pay for all these lies – put some effort into it!”

Seth Meyers

On Late Night, Seth Meyers addressed the president’s threats over the past week to destroy Iranian cultural sites, which would violate international law. “I would just like to point out that the guy threatening to destroy Iranian cultural sites is the same guy who lost his mind when people suggested taking down Confederate statues honoring white supremacists here in this country,” Meyers said.

Trump’s illegal threats meant the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and secretary of defense, Mark Esper, had to make cable news rounds reassuring the public that, as Esper said, they were “fully confident” the president would not give them an illegal order.

“Oh, you’re confident he won’t give you an illegal order?” Meyers mocked. “He ordered his ex-fixer to cover up an affair, and he personally wrote the check for the hush money while he was president … lots of presidents have scandals but Trump’s the only one who paid for it by check.”

Trump tepidly walked back his war crimes threat by saying he “likes to obey the law”. “There’s really nothing more suspicious you can say than ‘I like to obey the law,’” Meyers responded. “Imagine how that would go in a real life situation: if a cop pulls you over and says, ‘Do you know how fast you were going?’ And you just respond by saying ‘I like to obey the law.’ They’re gonna find that bag of coke in your glove compartment.”

Meyers also touched on the briefing yesterday which infuriated Senator Mike Lee, who called it “un-American” and “insane”.

“I love when a politician figures out this late in the game that the Trump administration is insane,” said Meyers. “It’s someone watching Mrs Doubtfire and then turning to you after an hour and saying, ‘I think this British lady might be Robin Williams.’”

Jimmy Kimmel

And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel discussed Congress’s resolution on Thursday to limit the president’s war powers, which garnered support even from some Republicans. The goal is to “try to restrict his war powers to two Rock ’Em Sock ’Em robots and that’s it”, Kimmel reported, though the resolution in effect would limit Trump’s ability to declare war on Iran without Congress’s permission, “which seems like a good idea – it’s like parental controls on an iPad or something”.

Meanwhile, “even with all hell breaking loose, the president found time to brag about an idea he had to give Nato a new name,” Kimmel said. (The name is Natome as in Nato Middle East).

For those wondering what on earth is going on, Kimmel concluded, look no further than the president’s brag on Thursday that he gave up his salary so that it could go instead “to drugs”.

“He gives his salary to drugs! Now it all makes sense,” joked Kimmel.



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