"I've never had on a Republican strategist of your caliber before," Stephen Colbert told Mary Matalin on his show last night. Which is what made the subsequent tango so fascinating.
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It's a complex line to walk to be a conservative satirist alongside a conservative talking points machine. Colbert had the choice to either be hyperbolically conservative, risking antagonizing Matalin or worse, not being funny, or to try to rag on her in any way possible irrespective of his usual tricks. He did a little of both, kicking off with, "Why are you wearing a cross? You know Jesus preached social justice, you look like a Commie," but then, intriguingly, taking a progressive stance on Biblical interpretation. Then he pulled out a bingo score card for conservative talking points — the kind he usually spouts in character.
Matalin seemed a bit nonplussed, and responded by being very, very careful not to fall into his traps. "You've done very well in not saying the things that everybody says," Colbert told her. "You haven't said much though."