Three weeks. That's how much time is on the clock for Jon Stewart and his version of "The Daily Show." I confess that I got a little caught up in the hype of David Letterman's retirement a couple of months back. It struck a chord with my nostalgia nerve. My nerve chord. That was more about a body of work that stretched back into my youth. Jon Stewart's departure is creeping up and making me nervous about how my life will change without four days a week of yuks and incisive commentary. Where will I get my news?
I know. I'm a clever guy. I know that I can click on the links that will give me the perspective that I can use, or the items that will help me connect the dots. But I don't want to. I like the way Jon has given form to my meandering thoughts. He has crystallized my thinking during a time that has been confounding for many Americans, not just me.
I thought about when Walter Cronkite retired. The most trusted man in America, once upon a time. The man who told us that Kennedy had died and Neil Armstrong had set foot on the moon. In a time that seemed like forever, Walter brought us through Watergate and the Vietnam War. If you wanted to know the way it is, you tuned into CBS. That time that felt like forever was nineteen years, from 1962 to 1981. That was my lifetime, once upon a long time ago. Walter Cronkite was the only voice I knew, when it came to news. That was the voice that that helped make sense of Richard Nixon. Would it have been nice for Walter to stick around and keep Ronald Reagan honest, but that wasn't in the cards.
Jon Stewart got me through the Bush years. He consoled me after September 11. The outrage that I felt as the lies piled up after the turn of the century was eased by the dismantling of the ridiculous done by Mister Stewart and his crew. In these sixteen years, he has brought in a great many fresh faces that have turned out to be discoveries that have generated their own cottage industry of comedy. And even though it must be incredibly tempting to stick around and shoot the fish that are currently swimming in the presidential barrel, it's time for this circus to fold up its tent. That point of view will be stilled, for now, and the laughs will be found in places that might sound familiar. And the outrage? That might seem reminiscent too. That will be a little comforting, but the next few weeks will bring some reflection and some reminiscing. Because that's the way it is.