Friday, May 09, 2008

Thursday talk show update

Even among conservative radio talk show hosts, it's possible to believe there are multiple American universes, with no overlap. On O'Reilly yesterday, the Democratic primary was all over, and O'Reilly had no interest in hearing from anyone who thought otherwise. He just wanted to talk about what questions he should ask John McCain in last night's TV interview. Sounds tedious, but it actually is interesting to hear O'Reilly parse questions and give his philosophy of political interviewing.

In Sean Hannity's world, where creating Democratic chaos is the overriding goal, the primary was anything but over. He devoted at least two full hours to thrashing out the possibilities: a brokered convention, seating the Florida and Michigan delegations, a shared ticket, more attacks on Obama. About the only possibility he didn't cover was Hillary kidnapping Obama and locking him in a hotel room until the convention is over. Perhaps that will come today.

Michael Savage was trying to make hay with Clinton's remark that she does better among "hard-working Americans, white Americans." Interesting language, since it seems to exclude the possibility that black people might be hardworking Americans. I'm not really sure who these hardworking Americans are, but I always suspect that I am not included either, even though I hold down four jobs and work upwards of a hundred hours a week (if you call this working). I also always wonder why there is no candidate out there running for the votes of lazy Americans. No candidate would have a broader (in all senses of the word) constituency.

I'm not sure how O'Reilly's interview with McCain went, since I saw only a couple of minutes of it. But I did see McCain on Jon Stewart's show last night. Stewart, for all his clowning, is a remarkably adept interviewer, and he nailed McCain pretty hard on what McCain has said about Hamas endorsing Obama. Stewart set up the question to make it work on several levels: as a rebuttal to McCain's promise to run a respectful campaign, as a commentary on what a Hamas endorsement really means and as a gloss on the failings of Bush's anti-terrorist policies. McCain stumbled a bit before coming up with the observation that he sees himself as Al Quaida's worst nightmare.

Obama, meanwhile, was answering Brian Williams' question about his bowling prowess. It was a dumb question, but Obama gave a deft answer. He said he tried not to "over think" such matters: He was at a bowling alley looking for votes, somebody offered him a ball, and he gave it a few rolls. A more calculating candidate, he pointed out, would have gone in private to a bowling alley in advance to brush up. But he thinks Americans are too smart to need that kind of pandering.

It's not the first time he's said that Americans are too smart to fall for the dumbest aspects of American political campaigns. I sure hope he's right.

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