Send in the clowns

Stephen Sondheim had it so right — "send in the clowns.” And that is what is happening with political punditry.

I first noticed this phenomenon a few years ago when I found myself turning to page 2 of The New York Times’s “Week in Review” to read the week's best lines from Leno and Letterman before turning to more serious remarks of Friedman and Dowd.

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Now the cable shows are using excerpts regularly from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to capture the lunacy of the Republican presidential debates. They send me to bed with a laugh to cap my days. Those evening shticks sum up best the day's top malapropisms and gaffes better than the pundits.

And Gary Trudeau continues to do his brilliant daily takes on passing issues, in fewer words than an op-ed; and he regularly hits the nail "on the finger," as the saying goes. What does it say about modern criticism that our funny men do a better job of political commentary than our wise men and women? “Quick, send in the clowns. Don't bother — they're here!”

Ronald Goldfarb is a Washington- and Miami-based attorney, author and literary agent.