Last week's announcement that Stephen Colbert's super PAC treasurer, Salvatore Purpura, had left to join Rick Perry's campaign probably won't be the last time the comedian's political committee is mentioned outside of Comedy Central. As Times columnist David Carr points out, Citizens for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow has the same abilities as its "noncomedic brethren" (namely, the right to collect unlimited donations from nearly any source), and they're "in it for the long haul." Says a Colbert staffer:
“Not even the actual news reporters want to cover campaign finance. We decided that we would just see how far we could go,” he said. “And it turns out that, like everyone else raising money in politics, we can pretty much do what we want.”
Currently, Colbert and an Iowa TV station are looking into how many people went along with his recent "Rick Parry" stunt during the Ames straw poll. With 165,000 viewers signed up with the PAC, it's sure to continue to garner way more attention than is typical for one of the lightly regulated fund-raising operations — which is the point. However, as Center for Responsive Politics' Sheila Krumholz told Carr, "It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, like a specific campaign or the electoral system.”
But is there really anything to hurt?
Maybe the whole system has become such a joke that only jokes will serve as a corrective. But if Mr. Colbert succeeds only in drawing out more humor, then the whole idea is a failure.
Stephen Colbert already pre-digests the news for practically the entire 18–34 demographic, anyway. He's probably one of the relatively few people in this country who wouldn't actually need a PAC to get people to vote the way he wants. Of course, a little money — or a lot of it — always helps.