Thomas Krannawitter knows white papers and think tanks can’t always compete with laughter.
A perfectly timed satire can scorch your ideological foes. It’s a lesson too many conservatives have yet to learn. Humor leaves a mark.
Just ask virtually every late night comedian dedicated to scoring points against both President Trump and the GOP.
It’s why Krannawitter wrote “Save the Swamp: Career Guidebook for Budding Bureaucrats.” The book, written from the perspective of a seasoned bureaucrat, shows the arrogance, bloat and ineffectualness of too many government workers.
Or, as he dubs them, the “permanent government.”
“Humor and satire can shape culture in ways policy studies can’t,” he says. Now, Krannawitter is taking the book on the road.
His most recent stop? The Colorado Republican Committee’s Centennial Dinner in Denver.
The April 13 presentation opened with a “Star Wars” inspired crawl. Krannawitter briefly introduced the concept before “becoming” Philbert C. Dempster. Who’s that? He’s a stand-in for your average bureaucrat complete with a clip-on tie and lanyard.
Philbert is powerful, unelected and virtually impossible to fire. And he’s got a few lessons on how his fellow bureaucrats can keep the good times rolling. Bigger government. Less freedom. And not a lick of accountability.
Sound familiar? That’s the point.
Naturally, Dempster’s presentation is an act, a way to highlight all that’s wrong with big government and how it just keeps growing.
“That what victory looks like,” Dempster crows as a chart flashes on the screen showing just how government has grown over the past few decades. He calls the evolution of “regulations” over “laws” “one of the greatest coups of modern history.”
With regulations, “citizens are presumed to be guilty until proven innocent,” Dempster says.
That doesn’t work the other way around. Remember the EPA-fueled spill that turned Colorado’s Animas River yellow? Guess how many EPA employees were fired or demoted for the catastrophe, the show notes?
A big, fat zero.
FAST FACT: Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez called Krannawitter’s “Save the Swamp” “both hilarious and informative.”
Failure isn’t just an option for career bureaucrats. It’s the master plan. Why? You don’t lose your gig and you can keep putting your hand out.
“We wouldn’t have failed if only we had more money, more resources,” he says, tongue buried in cheek. After all results matter less than noble intentions.
That’s the kind of insight a John Oliver or Stephen Colbert might tackle … if only it didn’t paint Big Government in such a nasty light.
Flashes of irreverence abound in this “Swamp,” and the act is mostly clean save for an occasional “ass” jab. Along the way politicians like Democratic Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. John McCain get slapped, the latter for the onerous Campaign Finance Reform Act.
We’re even treated to a slam against Facebook guru Mark Zuckerberg and his now-infamous “booster seat.”
Krannawitter admits his live “Save the Swamp” show is still in its infancy. And at times it shows. Krannawitter should make better use of multimedia above and beyond the Power Point style effects. Throw some funny videos in the mix, and the show will take on a whole new dimension.
Parts of the “Save the Swamp” show prove too dry for satirical purposes. The performance packs a surprising amount of information, but a more liberal amount of laugh lines would make a big difference.
Krannawitter wrapped the show with a canned “Q&A” that allowed him to tee off a few last times. One cultural comment hit a bulls eye.
“Americans don’t trust each other,” Philbert said of the growing mood nationwide. “And when they don’t trust each other they look to us,” he said in full bureaucrat mode. “That’s our path.”
Krannawitter’s path is one more conservatives should emulate. Mock the Left. Turn the bungling bureaucracy into a laughingstock. It might convince more Americans to vote for smaller government down the road.
Or, as Krannawitter puts it:
“Love freedom? Get funny.”