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The Sweet Relief of Jon Stewart


This has been a rough year for me. Just when Donald Trump took over my television set last summer, Jon Stewart left The Daily Show for parts unknown (or to help his wife rescue animals on their family farm, whatever). I’ve tried to take comfort in Samantha Bee (Full Frontal), Larry Wilmore (The Nightly Show), and Trevor Noah (The Daily Show). I’ve come the closest to finding sustenance with the one-two punch of Rachel Maddow’s comprehensive historical take on the news on MSNBC, and Steven Colbert’s giddy musical review of the news on The Late Show. But no one filled that Jon Stewart void.


Butterfly sought comfort from Duckie.


Cricket went for the food.

I’ve watched this year as the Republicans moved from disbelief, to disgust, to acceptance, to an embrace of the post-factual Trumpian world view that we witnessed at the Republican National Convention this past week. Jon Stewart showed up Monday night on The Late Show, as promised, but only to do spit takes and reintroduce Colbert’s alter ego from The Colbert Report. It was not enough.

I watched this week as the media refused to blame Melania Trump for plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech, as if she is a child. But, she speaks, what, five languages, became successful on her own long before meeting Trump, and is, in fact, a forty-six year old adult woman. If Michelle Obama had been caught plagiarizing, would her speechwriter have been blamed? Or would we assume that she is an intelligent human being who can tell the difference between her own words and someone else’s? I wonder if the media think that Melania is a moron because she was a professional model, or because she’s a non-native English speaker, or if it’s because she chose to marry Donald Trump, and they assume that any truly intelligent woman would know better.

Then I watched the media fawn over Trump’s odd waxwork children, none of whom seem to be able to breathe outside of Trump’s sphere. All three of the older children work for their father, and Tiffany seems to be on her way into the organization too, now that she has been indoctrinated and proven her loyalty. How many families do you know where all of the children go into the family business, and no one goes off in another direction? Is it not allowed in this family?

But I almost lost my mind when, after Ivanka gave a lovely speech on Thursday night, seemingly advocating for Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ policies and pretending that her father is just a lovely man, Trump came out and patted her butt with both hands. That just broke me.

People have been joking about his inappropriately sexual relationship with Ivanka for a long time, ever since some disturbing pictures surfaced of her as a very young model sitting in seductive poses on her father’s lap. Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, has been making jokes all year about Trump wanting to have sex with Ivanka. There are interview clips where he talks about her sexy body, and how he would date her if she weren’t his daughter. Ivanka sits there awkwardly in these interviews, as if she isn’t taking it seriously and is just embarrassed by the silly things her father says. I took her lead and didn’t take it very seriously, either. I thought the jokes were in bad taste, actually, and that the things Trump said were just more evidence of his “word salad” problem. But when, on National television, in front of the world, in response to the air kisses she gave him from what looked like a foot away, he grabbed her ass, it all came together. This is an incest family.

In her speech, Ivanka presented her idealized father – who bears very little similarity to her actual father – and she made it clear that she advocates political beliefs that are not in concert with the Republican Party. Either she is delusional about who her father is (which would be a sign of a deeply dissociative state, common among incest survivors), and/or, she was giving a public, lady-like fuck you to that man.

People have talked about how Trump is a dictator and a narcissist and a sociopath, but all week the media have been saying that he can’t be such a bad guy with such wonderful children. Ivanka is his “closest ally and confidant,” and she is the “princess,” (according to one of her brothers), and she is going to be the “real first lady.” But Trump reminded her, in front of everyone, that he can do whatever he wants to her and no one will stop him. He owns her.

How is this man being lauded and supported by a political party that supposedly believes in Christian values? I can’t imagine what kind of moral convolutions Paul Ryan (Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives) must be going through to make this seem okay.

I did not watch the seventy-five minute speech Donald Trump went on to give at the Republican convention that night. I took the dogs out for as long a walk as possible, checked Facebook and Twitter, and then twiddled my thumbs waiting for the after shows to offer some perspective. Alex Wagner, a guest on The Daily Show, commented on the “inappropriate touching.” Larry Wilmore talked about his discomfort in finding that, for one strange moment, he found himself, eek, agreeing with Ted Cruz (“Vote your conscience.”). And then, finally, Steven Colbert came on, live, after Midnight. He looked like he’d slept in his iridescent blue suit, but he was still awake and giddy and dancing, which gave me some energy and some hope.


“Did Donald Trump pee here?”

And then, Jon Stewart popped up from under the desk, and gave me the rant I’d been waiting a year for. There’s something about his mix of outrage and earnestness and humor that digs deep into my sternum and makes room for me to breathe again. I have missed him more than I ever thought possible. I have needed his no-bullshit voice all year long and it was such a relief to breathe deeply again. But it’s not enough. It was over too soon.

I know that animal rescue is important, and I understand that Jon Stewart’s kids need his attention, and that the daily grind of the show was getting to be too much for him. But I need rescuing too, Jon. Please, come back soon!


Cricket & Butterfly waiting for Mommy

Cricket and Butterfly are waiting.

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

138 responses »

  1. Hi Rachel. Reading from the UK. We are terrified of Trump. Thank God for people like you. We can’t understand how people can be suckered by his rhetoric. He’s a narcissistic fantasist and so dangerous. He oppresses our breathing too. So reassured by your post. Thanks.

  2. Goodness gracious Rachel Mankowitz political activist!! Bravo, my friend!!!
    Casa de Canterbury has also been suffering from Jon Stewart deprivation and what a breath of fresh air to hear him rant and rave like his old self about the Mouth that Roared Donald J. Trump. Honestly, it was like my best version of the good old days.
    We, too, longed for him during this entire campaign season.
    Spike and Charly audibly groan now when they hear the gavel calling the conventions into session in the afternoon. It’s like they’re thinking OMG – not another political harangue.
    The only time they relaxed was when the Obamas spoke. 🙂

  3. OMG!I had caught that and loved every moment. I was glad I was out of Philly(my hometown) and to get the Colbert/Stewart one-two punch rocks!

  4. What an enjoyable complaining post! Loved every word of it.

  5. Honest Abe Lincoln

    I began hoping Trump would win over the gang of 16 and he did and ended up being something different among politicians. I am finally over it and him but there is nobody in the wings that I am aware of worthy of the Oval Office in the White House. I have notebooks full of George W. Bush and why I didn’t like him or his brand of politics, but now I have Trump who would be a joke as my kind of president. And I am fresh out of new notebooks. Actually I am trying to forget about politics. At 82 years of age, there is only the hereafter that I should be thinking about and certainly not Donald Trump. We are a country of 300 million, more or less, and can only produce people like Clinton and Trump?

  6. Couldn’t agree more with every word you wrote! Let’s hope that people will come back to their senses before it’s too late…

  7. Hi Rachel. I hope everything will settle down soon. I really enjoy hearing about Cricket and Butterfly. I love my dog so much I can relate. He really grieves for me when I am away. They have true emotions like everyone. He well lie on my bed and I leave him something. Of mine to have near till I get back. He’s spoiled but he deserves to be spoiled. I wish all children and animals could be loved and protected. I am pretty much exhausted with Trump and can only hope we have enough sensible voters to keep him out of office. Thanks for the wonderful article I am wishing you the very best.

  8. I miss Jon Stewart too. What a time to go. But if you’ve seen him make appearances… he doesn’t look good. I wonder if he’s sick. This election is crazy and Trump is creepy.

    • He was on Larry Wilmore’s show the other night, and I think the difference is that he’s lost weight, and he refuses to get rid of the beard. Hopefully his health is fine and he will come back in time to help us through the rest of the election season.


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