Last night on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert announced that he would give in to the cries of “Carolaniacs” and put his name forward as a candidate for President (or “President of the United States of South Carolina”) in his native state for the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary. (The popular outcry, oddly enough, exists not just in his character’s head but in at least one poll in which he is currently at 5%, outpacing Jon Huntsman.)
Colbert unsuccessfully attempted to get on the state primary ballot in 2008, and my knee-jerk reaction to the news was that, rather than run one more time, the comedian could do more original things with the Super PAC he mounted this year, satirizing the new campaign rules that allow groups friendly to a candidate to essentially launder massive amounts of contributions to help their campaign efforts.
But clearly, just as in real politics, Colbert’s (very real) Super PAC is not separating itself from the now-candidate so easily, and it looks like Colbert’s “run” fits very neatly into his mega-meta-satire of the cynical claims that the PACs do not “coordinate” with candidates. Introducing his bid, Colbert explained that Super PACs friendly to candidates like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are run by their former staffers.
Just so, Colbert said that in order to be a candidate, he would have to—wink, wink—cut his ties to his own PAC, so he turned over control of it to… Jon Stewart, with whom, of course, The Colbert Report never coordinates. “I would be honored,” Stewart said—and Colbert’s lawyer informed us, underscoring the real-life reality, that his giving the moolah to the control of his business partner is entirely legal. (We don’t know how much money, because—real-life lesson again—Colbert and Stewart do not have to tell anyone.)
So this could in fact be more fun, and pointed, than just another vanity run. The South Carolina primary, after all, will be done in just over a week. But money is forever.
Update: Well, that was fast. What’s Colbert—um, that is, the Super PAC—going to do with all that cash? ABC reports that it’s buying up TV ad time next week in South Carolina.