Goolsbee’s Colbert rapport

Austan Goolsbee reported for mockery on Monday’s Colbert Report, the first Obama administration official to submit to the faux-O’Reilly treatment. “I’ll ask him if his arm gets tired from throwing money at problems,” Colbert said. “I wonder if he came up with ‘tax’ or ‘spend.’”

After he listed Goolsbee’s titles—“one of the chief economists on the president’s economic-recovery advisory board and a member of the presidential task force on the auto industry”—Colbert had a more sympathetic question: “Who did you piss off to get those jobs?”

“You have no idea how close to true that is,” Goolsbee said.

A Chicago Booth professor on leave to work in Washington, Goolsbee wants “to bring a certain humor or style” to the stuffy field of economics. He wisely let Colbert handle the humor, but the aspiring “Muhammad Ali of economic advisers” came equipped with memorable analogies—a la Ali’s floating butterflies and stinging bees.

Responding to the host’s open-minded curiosity—“How will socialism solve things?”—Goolsbee compared the administration’s economic policies to rescuing a child from a burning house. As the heroes carry the kid to safety, “now is not the time to accuse them of kidnapping.”

Colbert granted him the rhetorical territory, then appealed to Goolsbee on an emotional level: “Which do you love more, taxing or spending?”

Jason Kelly


June 16, 2009