Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 21, 2009

REMEMBER, HE LOST.... Chris Cillizza let readers know this morning about what to watch on Sunday morning.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spends the hour (or most of it) with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" on Sunday. McCain has laid low over the last few months as the debate over health care has raged. He's made clear he would like to play a bigger part in the negotiations but, to date, has been on the outside looking in. How hard a line against the plan does McCain take? Does he leave any wiggle room in hopes of emerging as the broker of a grand compromise?

Cillizza described McCain's appearance as "Must Watch TV." I have no idea why.

First, let's note that John McCain is not a key senator right now. He's not a member of the Republican leadership, and he's not on the Senate Finance Committee. McCain hasn't unveiled any relevant or important pieces of legislation, and he's not being targeted as a possible swing vote on any major bills. Indeed, CQ ran an interesting analysis this week, noting that McCain's "maverick" reputation has disappeared -- he's voting with the Republican Party more this year than at any point in his 23-year career.

McCain is, in other words, just another conservative Republican senator, with no real influence, and nothing new to say, who just happens to be invited onto national television all the time, including another lengthy chat on "This Week" in a few days. (What might he say? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess he'll spend most of the time bashing the president.)

Second, for a candidate who lost a presidential election last year, the Sunday morning show producers seem obsessed with the guy. Just this year, McCain has been on "Meet the Press" twice (July 12 and March 29), "Face the Nation" twice (April 26 and February 8), CNN's "State of the Union" twice (August 2 and February 15), and "Fox News Sunday" three times (July 2, March 8, and January 25). And on Sunday, McCain will make his another appearance on "This Week," after having just been on the same show on May 10.

These are, of course, just the Sunday-show appearances -- not including more routine appearances -- for a politician in the minority, with no real sway over current events, and who was rejected in large numbers by the electorate last year.

Just once, I'd love to hear producers/hosts explain why McCain has to be on one at least one of the Sunday shows 11 times* in eight months. Refresh my memory: was there this much interest in John Kerry's take on current events in 2005?

* corrected

Steve Benen 10:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Word. It seems the MSM wants to promote McCain as some sort of "shadow president."

Posted by: Doctor Whom on August 21, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Right, and on Meet The Prostitutes this Sunday we will have multimillionaire General Electric employee David Gregory interviewing another multitmillionaire General Electric employee, Joe Scarborough, about the the status of the Obama Health Care proposals.

Posted by: stormskies on August 21, 2009 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

But McCain cooks up some serious BBQ and has the nicest tire swing in the country! And if he had won, Cillizza would not be in danger of having his taxes increased by a few percentage points.

Posted by: Hunter Gathers on August 21, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Does McCain ever spend any time with his wife and family?

Posted by: Th on August 21, 2009 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Since he doesn't have to run the executive branch or lead the Republican Senate caucus or particpate in negotiations over the health-care bill, McCain's schedule is wide open.

Posted by: Seth Gordon on August 21, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Cillizza described McCain's appearance as "Must Watch TV." I have no idea why.

Because Cillizza is a talentless hack who writes to inspire fun controversy, not to inform, and you do your credibility no favors by continuing to take him seriously.

Can we drop the dumb idea that we have to be "loyal" to Rach and Keith by pretending that every one of their regular guests knows what he or she is talking about?

Posted by: shortstop on August 21, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

McCain has now achieved in the Senate, the same status as Uncle Joe in Petticoat Junction. "That's Uncle John he's headed to the john behind the junction...Petticoat Junction."

Posted by: Capt Kirk on August 21, 2009 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Well for goodness sakes…even before the dementia set in, he’s always been good theater. Ratings ratings ratings. Can you imagine him appearing on a serious interview show? I can’t even picture him with Fareed Zakaria. Perhaps the producers are hoping he will bring along Megan who is producing some pretty great theater on her own.

Posted by: DTR on August 21, 2009 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

He's such a microcosm of the GOP: no new ideas, no purpose in life, just a human messaging machine talking about shit he's clueless about. (oh and he's old and white).

Posted by: glutz78 on August 21, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

DTR, i like the Zakaria idea. Is it possible that CNN found a legitimate commentator to join Gergen, Smerconish, and Rachel Maddow as the only people i can watch on cable news with losing my stomach?

Posted by: glutz78 on August 21, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

But...but...but...he's all mavericky and stuff!

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on August 21, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

It would be embarrassing if Saints of the senate were proscribed from marching in .
Oh lord , I wanna be in that numba

Posted by: FRP on August 21, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Laying low? Let's reiterate that:

- Meet the Press; 7/12/09 and 3/29/09

- Face the Nation; 4/26/09 and 2/8/09

- State of the Union; 8/2/09 and 2/15/09

- Fox News Sunday; 7/2/09, 3/8/09, 1/25/09

- This Week; 3/13/09, 5/10/0910 and now 8/23/09

Yeah, definitely what I call laying low. And how often did we see those losers Kerry or Gore during the Bush reign of terror?

It's a good thing the media tells America what to think. We'd be a bunch of dumbasses without them.

Oh, wait. Right.

Deathers. Birthers. Grandma. Illegals. Dupes!

We, collectively, are a bunch of dumbasses. I have never been more embarrassed of the people in my country.

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 21, 2009 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Fire David Gregory and hire Rachel Maddow to host Meet the Press - now that would be TV worth waking up for.

Posted by: Ohioan on August 21, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

When Kerry and Dukakis lost, they basically became non-persons as far as the media were concerned, mentioned only as jokes. But their love for McCain is an abiding love.

Posted by: Joe Buck on August 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

We, collectively, are a bunch of dumbasses. I have never been more embarrassed of the people in my country.
Amen to that. I'm in my sixties so I've been disappointed numerous times by the American public. The current ignorance and gullibility of large swaths of America is the worst I've seen. Despite (Or maybe because of) cable news and the Internet we have roughly 40% of the populace believing that health care reform includes death panels. Most of these people don't know that the first ten amendments to the Constitution are collectively referred to as The Bill of Rights, have no idea when the American Revolution or the Civil war were fought and can't name their Congressmen. I think that we've gone beyond proving that no one ever lost a dime by underestimating the intelligence of the American people and moved on to the fact that you can become very wealthy indeed by doing so.

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on August 21, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Just once, I'd love to hear producers/hosts explain why McCain has to be on one at least one of the Sunday shows 11 times* in eight months

in a word: ratings. Who watches the Sunday shows? I'm guessing, mostly people over 55. It would not surprise me to find that a high percentage of these people voted for McCain.

Of course, the other reason is that producers find him an easy get. He's desperate to be on TV, he'll always say yes, and when you're a producer scrambling around for a guest, you like to make just one phone call.

I know that sounds trivial, but it's true enough. Between those two imperatives, it's not so surprising the guy is on TV so much.

Posted by: LL on August 21, 2009 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

President McCain is Must-Watch-TeeVee and you are commanded to watch President McCain on the TeeVee this Sunday.

President McCain is a maverick.

President McCain will tell you how to think about health care, and you will think it.

Otherwise, President McCain will get angry, and believe me, my friends, you don't want that...

Posted by: neill on August 21, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

OH Yeah ? When P. T. Barnum walks in the room our collective intelligence goes way , way up man , splain that !

Posted by: FRP on August 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Forced Neutrality"
Sounds like ballroom dancing with the pest man , a little .

Posted by: FRP on August 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Newt Gingrich must have been busy cheating on his third wife and unable to make the program's booking. In other news, former disgraced Republican politicians and pretended mavericks have more weight than current leaders and true mavericks like, say, Feingold. I'm just sayin'!

Posted by: Ralph Kramden on August 21, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm sure the show's producers realized they could get more worthwhile opinion and probably more coherent answers if they went outside the studio and grabbed the nearest substance-abusing, mentally ill street person, but then someone pointed out that they'd have to clean them up and generate new chyrons and stuff, and John McCain does know how to bathe and already has a wardrobe, and they can reuse all the old stuff, so he's less work.

You didn't think they make their decisions based on some kind of journalistic sensibility, did you?

Posted by: biggerbox on August 21, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

BREAKING: On Sunday, McCain called Obama a cowardly little wimp, whose main objective regarding health care is to kill grandmothers everywhere. Obama responded that he is willing to do whatever is required to make McCain love him. Mister Obama insisted that "whatever is required" included, especially, the willingness to totally emasculate himself.

Posted by: Ralph Kramden on August 21, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Booking John McCain is cost-effective. When in a studio, he's not crashing his sixth U.S. plane.

Posted by: CapMidnight on August 21, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Ouch !

Posted by: FRP on August 21, 2009 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Attacking a U.S. veteran. Very classy, libs.

Do you plan to kick senile old men next?

Posted by: Mlke K on August 21, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Let's hear McCain talk about Libya.

Thought experiment: imagine a senator visiting with, and praising Muammar Gaddafi, followed shortly thereafter by the release of the Libyan agent responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. Let's say that senator isn't John McCain, but John Kerry.

Posted by: James on August 21, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone - outside of a few thousand political junkes - actually care what goes on with the waste of broadcast air time known as the Sunday Morning Talk Shows? I haven't watched any of them in 20 years (other than the Rachel Maddow parts of MTP last weekend that I recorded) and I know I haven't missed a thing.

Posted by: TCinLA on August 21, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

These journos know where the butter on their bread comes from. They don't get promotions and pay raises by questioning their profession.

Just ask Ashleigh Banfield or Dan Froomkin.

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on August 21, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Mike K - has your house down there in Orangatang County been foreclosed on yet?

But serious, thanks again for proving that computers are so user-friendly that bipeds lacking both opposable thumbs and frontal lobes can use them.

Posted by: TCinLA on August 21, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, McCain wasn't even mentioned as a potential candidate for 2012 even in the days and weeks following his loss...

We All Know(tm) that McCain is simply not up to the job -- any job. That's why Carly couldn't bring herself to say he'd make a fine CEO.

McCain's continued presence on my Tee Vee says a lot more about my Tee Vee than it does about McCain.

The only question is, 'who will be his on-air minder'? Lindsey? Joe? Mrs. McC? Hard to imagine him one-on-one without someone to bail him out when he (inevitably) gets lost...

Posted by: jim Pharo on August 21, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Attacking a U.S. veteran. Very classy, libs.
Max Cleland, Al Gore, and John Kerry all received the deep respect of the GOP for their service - didn't they?

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on August 21, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Senator McCain will be joined by surprise guest Sarah Palin. Together they will explain just how great a threat Obama's death panels pose to America's elderly and how Obamacare will lavish platinum quality health care on illegal aliens while slashing Medicare to the bone (Who needs Medicare? The old people are all going to be dead soon anyway.)

If it's not irrelevant, it's not on the Sunday morning news shows. Each weekend the same shows present the same people to repeat the same opinions they've been uttering elsewhere all week (all month? all year?) long.

What insane person would want to miss that?

Posted by: oh really on August 21, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the other reason is that producers find him an easy get. He's desperate to be on TV, he'll always say yes, and when you're a producer scrambling around for a guest, you like to make just one phone call.

Posted by: LL on August 21, 2009 at 10:58 AM

I was going to say that but LL beat me to it. The show producers are lazy, the budget isn't all that big and McCain is like the crazy old uncle in the attic that you always bring down at parties to get him drunk and watch him stumble around as entertainment. He's always available, he's inexpensive, and he's guaranteed to spout off about things he knows nothing about; in other words, perfect GOP schtick, and that's why they love him. Plus someone upthread mentioned the demographics of these Sunday morning shows lean heavily to the "Get off my lawn!" contingent, so he's perfect.

Posted by: electrolite on August 21, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain? Is he still alive and kicking? Except for the cardboard cutout that appears on the Sunday morning shows with a tape recording of the same old "I told you so," there hasn't been a peep from the old maverick. He's had no comment when a dozen men with loaded firearms showed up to protest Obama's townhall in Phoenix, his own backyard. He's had nothing to say about the rabid, screaming, ignorant mobs with their Nazi logos and Hitler pictures. Not a word from Mr. America First to condemn the idiot nonsense of "death panels," "pulling the plug on Granny," and the "government takover" of healthcare. Nothing from the 2nd generation patriot to refute the wingnut "birthers" or the "Obama is a racist who hates white people" and "let's poison the Speaker of the House media clown. In fact, no Republican in Congress seems to have the stones to stand up to the radio talk show leader of the GOP and the media wing of the party, Fox News and lead. Some hero.

Posted by: Carol A on August 21, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

You see, since the right wing 20 percenters rule our political world, and because those very serious Americans are certain that Obama is a illegitimate president born in Kenya, a practicing Muslim and a voo-doo shaman, then McCain is our "real" president. McCain lost but he's the only old white guy left to lay claim to the office of Preznit. Thus, MSM fawns over McSame because MSM needs to always stay loyal to its GOP master. A very effective tonic against the McSame Show is to just turn off the teevee.

Posted by: Michael on August 21, 2009 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Chillzilla is a moron. Next question, please.

Posted by: peorgie tirebiter on August 21, 2009 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

More "milk toast" for the masses.
Irrelevant players answering irrelevant questions and wasting time.

In a perfect world Scarborough and Gregory would discuss on MTP how Rachel Maddow appears to have more balls then either one of them.
Instead we will get to hear Scarborough reminisce about he was in congress when others killed health care in 94.

Posted by: Ned Pepper on August 21, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

mcsame must be a cheap date...i can't imagine he was "must watch mindblowing" the first 10 times..and besides, didn't all the seniors' teevee sets go dark after the digital conversion?

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Posted by: Mansi on February 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK



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