One of the most powerful tools in a sketch comedy writer’s arsenal is a simple one: the reversal. A character, introduced in one context, elides preconceptions and reveals herself to be something else altogether, to hold an opinion or be of a background that the audience never expected. It’s pretty simple, but surprisingly satisfying, narrative mechanics.
Also simple, and also satisfying: two conservative sources owning up to, well, reality (which suffers, as Stephen Colbert has noted, from a ‘well-known liberal bias’). Former Bush speechwriter David Frum looks at the swing towards libertarianism and sees in it a complete denial of the past three years, and of the economic policies which wrought global financial disaster. Similarly, The Economist looks at current Republican budget plans – getting a lot of media play right now for ‘courageousness’ – and finds in them nothing courageous at all, but rather just tired retreads of conservative policies that even Alan Greenspan has disavowed.
Somehow, it always packs more punch when an opinion is delivered in a reversal, rather than by a true believer. The narratively expected isn’t funny, and it’s not very persuasive, either. Here’s hoping that these two reversals will inspire others to re-examine their beliefs, and recognize that reality is rather different than their ideology will permit.