Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wouldn't it be smarter for Davy Brooks to leave the "wacky pundit" comedy routines to pros like the "Daily Show" folks?


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by Ken

Maybe I wouldn't be quite so defensive about my policy of nonparticipation in "event" political talkfests like the SOTU if not for The Aftermath, the endless wave of pundolatrous folderol they set in motion. Take the relevant installment in "The Conversation," the ongoing online tê-à-tête between NYT columnists David Brooks and Gail Collins, which began:
Gail Collins: David, every year we get all worked up about the State of the Union speech. When it finally happens I’m always disappointed, bored, underwhelmed. Then the pollsters announce that the public loved it. So obviously it’s me.

We both like Barack Obama, but from different perspectives. I think the guy at the front of the House on Tuesday was your version, not mine. Never have I beheld so much reasonable moderation. Such moderate reasonableness.
To which our David replied, "I guess I'd say the speech was modest more than moderate." Paul Ryan's SOTU reply, however, he thought was "outstanding": "[H]e demonstrated why he is a rising star. He forcefully made the case that the debt threat is much more serious than Obama acknowledged, and his remarks built a strong momentum."

If you read Howie's latest post on Paulie this morning, you know that people with working brains -- Paul Krugman for one has been trying for ages to point out that the guy is a fraud -- had little difficulty seeing his latest disgorgement of claptrap as a pile of imbecility, ignorance, and ideologically psychoticized deception, word for word as shameful and dangerous a pool of puke as any human gut could have upchucked.

In Davy's murky world, I guess the only thing that tops mindless gibberish is wonkesque mindless gibberish backed by phony-baloney numbers and charts. I should add that, not having watched, I don't know whether Paulie actually used charts, but I have enough experience of his fiscal comedy routines to know that when he opens his mouth, there are always at least metaphorical charts lurking in the air. They're always bogus, of course, but Paulie's shtick is that if you come rigged out in the accoutrements of knowledge, gullible people will believe you're giving them actual facts rather than ideologically whacked-out jibber-jabber. (Right, and Newt Gingrich was a "history professor.") And is there anyone on the planet more gullible, to the right line of patter (and I do mean "right"), than our Davy?

The man is a cretin, and shouldn't be allowed to appear in public without a dunce cap.

So what is Gail C doing dialoguing with the cretin? I should say that I retain a lot of admiration and affection for her, from those happy days when I first got to read her regularly, after she moved her column from the New York Daily News to much-lamented (by me, at least) New York Newsday. She doesn't seem to me ever to have regained her spark in the NYT (though she's had her moments), but I've still never figured out why she let herself sink to the absurdist level of these sci-fi-bizarre online "conversations" with Davy B.

The image that always pops into my head was conjured by Robert Benchley is a piece we read just the other night, "One Minute, Please!": "A business man could be talking with Ajax, the mechanical chess player, on the other end of the wire and still feel he was getting somewhere, simply because to anyone passing the door he looks as if he were very busy." I have to guess that the NYT couldn't get Ajax, or maybe Ajax didn't have the right-wing credentials the paper was so desperate to bring into its fold, and then they found out that Davy B was available.


I refer you back to the wonderful segment from last night's Daily Show atop this post, which begins with John Oliver offering a rebuttal to -- not, it turns out, to the State of the Union address itself, but to Jon Stewart's jokes about it, demanding plaintively, "What of the jokes we didn't hear? Then Olivia Munn comes on to offer a California perspective, but unlike poor Michele Bachmann, who delivered her SOTU reply staring resolutely into a camera off in a different direction and by gosh stuck to it, she's repositioned by Jon in ways that take her farther and farther off the mark.

Finally, Larry Wilmore comes on, intoning, "The Daily Show is the greatest show that God has ever given to the people of earth, and yet, it is in trouble." Illustrating with a clip from 1999, he laments "the show that was once young and vibrant and thin [illustrated, a show whose best days were still ahead of it" but is now "old and bloated, graying, droopy-faced," eventually leading to this exchange:
LARRY WILMORE: I remember a Daily Show where a correspondent could work hard, give it everything they had, and achieve his dream of leaving this show for a better career in Hollywood. But where is our Steve Carell, Colbert, Ed Helms? Today's is the first generation of correspondents that will do worse than the generation before. I'm here to tell you that is not the Daily Show we should leave to Sam and Jason's [i.e., married correspondents Samantha Bee and Jason Jones's] kids --
JON STEWART: But we . . . they have, like, ten kids. We can't leave them . . . But anyway you guys are doing great. You've done books, Larry Wilmore. Oliver's on a sitcom as well; he's done some movies. Olivia Munn's got that show Perfect Couples.
LARRY: Wait, wait, wait, wait! The Asian correspondent's got a show? See? China is kicking our butts!
JON: She's not, she's not Chinese.
LARRY: We can do better, America!
JON: Thank you very much for all the rebuttals.

No, thank you for the rebuttals, Team Daily Show.

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