Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 26, 2010

IF IT'S SUNDAY, IT'S JOHN MCCAIN DAY.... Bookers for the Sunday shows have shown admirable restraint of late. They continue to book Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, and Newt Gingrich with painful frequency, but they've gone two whole months without inviting John McCain back on.

Don't worry; the Sunday shows just can't quit him that easily. "Meet the Press" made this announcement the other day:

This Sunday: Exclusive! Sen. John McCain

President Obama relieves Gen. Stanley McChrystal of his command in Afghanistan after his comments about the president's diplomatic team causes a firestorm in Washington and undermines the President's strategy in Afghanistan. How will Obama's decision impact the war going forward? Will McChrystal's replacement, CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus, be able to successfully lead the effort in Afghanistan? Plus, the upcoming midterm elections and the future of the GOP. We'll ask a man in the center of it all: fighting his own tight re-election battle to the Senate and serving as the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

I especially enjoyed the "Exclusive!" with the exclamation point, as if this were a rare, special occurrence. It's not.

For those keeping score -- and you know I am -- this will be McCain's 22nd appearance on a Sunday morning talk show since Obama's inauguration. That's an average of 1.3 appearances a month, every month, for over a year -- more than any other public official in the country.

Since the president took office 17 months ago, McCain has been on ABC's "This Week" three times (9.27.09, 8.23.09, and 5.10.09), CNN's "State of the Union" four times (1.10.10, 10.11.09, 8.2.09, and 2.15.09), CBS's "Face the Nation" five times (1.24.10, 10.25.09, 8.30.09, 4.26.09, and 2.8.09), and "Fox News Sunday" five times (4.18.10, 12.20.09, 7.2.09, 3.8.09, and 1.25.09). His appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" tomorrow will be his fifth since Obama's inauguration (6.27.10, 2.28.10, 12.6.09, 7.12.09, and 3.29.09).

Obviously, there's no reason for this. In the announcement, "Meet the Press" seemed to justify the invitation by saying it was a big week with regards to U.S. policy in Afghanistan -- and it was. But John McCain has never demonstrated any meaningful understanding of the war policy. On the contrary, he's been routinely confused. "How will Obama's decision impact the war going forward?" It's a good question, but McCain's hardly the best person to answer it.

McCain lost a presidential election; he's not in the GOP leadership; he's not especially influential with anyone; he's not playing an active role in shaping any legislation; and he doesn't appear to have any expertise in any area of public policy. The Sunday shows seem to book him out of habit. It's farcical.

Steve Benen 9:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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But in the long run, it is counterproductive for Republicans. No new voices get to audition.

Actually, if one has to go with oldguard, the voice I'd like to hear is Sen Lugar, a Republican who actually is thoughtful and whose opinion would be worthwhile to hear.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 26, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Out of curiosity -- Does anybody outside the Village and you pay ANY attention to these weekly celebrations of smugness and drivel?

Posted by: Greg Worley on June 26, 2010 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

he may be everything Steve has posted, but: He's filthy rich, has a bimbo for wife, comes from a racist state, and is up for reelection. All of this necessitates he be exposed by corporate america on a regular basis. They need him to forward their agenda. Plain and simple.

Posted by: stevio on June 26, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Obviously, there's no reason for this."

Obviously? You might want to check the ratings of these shows. Could be that lots of bitter old coots tune in to spend quality time with Tantrum Johnny.

Journalism and broadcasting are, in the end, in most respects businesses like any other.

Posted by: penalcolony on June 26, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! I've already missed 22 episodes?

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on June 26, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who wastes their time listening to his drivel, will hear an hour of his denouncing set time lines for withdrawal, with a whole lot of "I told you so". He will be ever so correct when he says, "I never told the enemy in advance when I was going to crash land a plane or have to bail out. I kept them off balance, that way".

Posted by: berttheclock on June 26, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Well, let's be fair -- I remember how often they had Harold Stassen on after every election he lost --

oh, wait.

Posted by: Gummo on June 26, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Ktwitcherbitchen Steve. Itr's the weekend. You've gotta come up with posts. Look how easy life is for you. All you have to do is pull one of these out of the file drawer, update the new numbers and voila....fill in the blanks punditry.

Kinda like the bookers on Sundays.

If you are really smart, you will headline the next one of these: EXCLUSIVE!!!!!!!

Posted by: dweb on June 26, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Really. What are the ratings/demographics/audiences for these shows? Of all the antiquated stale 20th century dinosaurs that exist in our cool groovy 21st century blogo-anitMSM-meme-driven electron fest, these shows are some of the worst. Who gives a rats ass about middle-aged white corporate hacks interviewing old white coporo-political hacks on a Sunday morning? Let them play in their fetid sandbox, Steve, get over it, and move on to covering stuff that matters....

Posted by: bigutah on June 26, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

In and alternate reality, I wonder how Gen. McChrystal's staff would have to say about a Vice President Palin?

Of course, the eventual Rolling Stone story would have been overshadowed by other events happening during an alternate McCain administration (the disasterous invasion of Iran, the world economy plunging into the worst depression in human history, a rise in US-Russian tensions over Iran and the Republic of Georgia that eventually lead to a nuclear exchange, and the complete breakdown of civilization).

Posted by: 2Manchu on June 26, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

It's a summer weekend in Washington, and any pol with a lick of sense is somewhere else. But John McCain LIVES for those shows. He'd show up in a blizzard or during an earthquake. On Sunday mornings, he is President.
That's why he's on so much. He'll do it when almost no one else will.

Posted by: JMG on June 26, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Indeed the Sunday shows are becoming a joke - - Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Liz Cheney - - it's hard listening to all the mindless pontificating even if the hope is that a rare tidbit of actual information will emerge. The moderator on Channel 7's This Week does a better job than most of questioning and synthesizing I think, but the guests make his job daunting. If Rudy Giuliani shows up anyrimw soon that'll be the last straw. His appearance on Morning Joe last week was an insult to anyone with average intelligence.

Posted by: Ann Davidow on June 26, 2010 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

You gotta invite Grandpa.
Even if he bitches about the the trip, the food, the heat, your spouse, gets stumbling drunk, mumbles obcenities, shits his pants, pisses on the toilet seat, and screams about how the President is an incompetent black soshlist commnist narzi furrener, Hell-bent on destroying the country by trying to eliminate the Sambo lawn jockeys in his all-white retirement home.
If you don't invite Grandpa, he might cut you out of his will.
Why the gabgests insist on bringing Sen. McCranky can only be explained as force of habit. And, they want to be invited to his next Rib BBQ.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 26, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

"McCain lost a presidential election; he's not in the GOP leadership; he's not especially influential with anyone; he's not playing an active role in shaping any legislation; and he doesn't appear to have any expertise in any area of public policy. . . "
You could say that about 95% of the current Senators in D.C. Which is why nobody bothers watching MTP.

Posted by: Patrick Star on June 26, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

It's sad to think it, but perhaps mccain is the last remotely rational republican standing. That's no excuse for getting all excited about it, though.

Posted by: CDW on June 26, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

How does this help their ratings? Does anyone see "Exclusive! Sen. John McCain" and plan their Sunday morning around watching? No one seems to like him.

The Sunday morning shows cling to the ancien regime that has utterly left them behind, just like McCain.

Posted by: Baldrick on June 26, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

David Gregory can't help that he has a vacant spot between his ears, and keeps inviting, a know nothing McCain to MTP.

Posted by: Ted76 on June 26, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Ratings must be down...

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 26, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain knows how to win wars!! Just ask him! He won't tell you how until he gets elected, but he knows how to do it!

Re: c u n d gulag
roflmao you are on a roll today!

Posted by: Schtick on June 26, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

I was just reading an article by Zarkaria and it reminded me of my solution to the Sunday shows: fire Gregory and replace him with Maddow; fire whichever idiot is doing CNN (Crowley? King?) and replace them with Zakaria; for ABC - not sure - does anyone in their network news have any brains?

Posted by: Johio on June 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

i think it is time for a codependency intervention.
btw, which one do you think is dumber?

Posted by: daveminnj on June 26, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

No reason?

There's a very good reason. The Sunday shows put McCain and Lindsey Graham on over and over and over and over again because it keeps them from having to expose the American public to the reality of the Republican Party's complete radicalization or, for that matter, having to face it themselves.

McCain and Graham and Luger are anachronisms. Comparatively sane people are in a distinct minority in the GOP and, as McConnell and McCain and Graham demonstrate daily, under intense, and unbearable, pressure to behave insanely.

The real faces of the modern GOP are Jim DeMint and James Inhoffe and Michelle Bachmann. DeMint and Bachmann got one appearance this year and then they were done because the MSM can't face the reality the present. The repeat appearances by McLiebergraham are just the MSM's way of hiding under the covers and believing that we still live in a nice safe, sober center-right world where sensible people gather to do sensible things and no one is crazy in politics except those silly, shrill, squabbling, laughable liberals.

Posted by: Steve (Not that one) on June 26, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Two words, Steve: Tire swing.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on June 26, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

We'll ask a man in the center of it all

How in the hell is Grampy in the center of it all?

Posted by: wbn on June 26, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

I just wrote in to thank Meet the Press for finally bringing back McCain. Here's the text of my message:

"Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing back John McCain!!! It seems there has been a media blackout lately of our favorite maverick, the foremost conservative expert on foreign affairs and oil spill technology.

We need McCain's perspective now more than ever, and I'm glad he's finally getting a chance to air his views on your show.

I'm outraged that it has been so long since he's been on Meet the Press."

I think we should make it a weekly ritual: each week it would be nice to bombard the office with requests to hear more of McCain, complain about media bias, etc. When he gets his biweekly exclusive spot, we could send in letters complaining that it's about time.

Posted by: a on June 26, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Out of curiosity -- Does anybody outside the Village and you pay ANY attention to these weekly celebrations of smugness and drivel?

Posted by: Greg Worley on June 26, 2010 at 9:40 AM

That's the perfect description for Meet The Press and the other, equally insufferable Sunday shows. Now, if only that could become the official MTP byline, as in: "Welcome to Meet The Press, your weekly celebration of smugness and drivel. Now with 30% more John McCain!"

Posted by: electrolite on June 26, 2010 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I think it reflects the paucity of new Republican leaders and is a good thing for us as it helps cement the public association of Republicans and angry, old, white guy-ness.

Posted by: bob h on June 27, 2010 at 5:50 AM | PERMALINK

Quoth Steve, "It's farcical".

Simply put, McPain's unsupportable bookings could not be characterized more appropriately.


Posted by: timpanist on June 27, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steve (not that one) has it exactly right. We get a constant dose of last-year's-model right wing stupid on the gasbag hours, because the courtesans want to pretend that Republicans haven't passed out of the Day of the Stupid and into the Day of the Round the Twist.

Here's the thing, though: we're lucky they've got these irrelevant clowns to go back to. Because if they were forced to put the real Republicans, the howl-at-the-mooners, on each week, their sense of duty to journamalism would force them to put their straight shoulders to the wheel, to grunt and push at the Overton window, until the CW certified Rand Paul and Tancredo as models of sanity.

I wish Newtie and McCain and that nutmegger with the nutcracker face and the woeful smile a long long run. Every show they're on is one less appearance for Liz Cheney.

Posted by: nicteis on June 28, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK
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