Tuesday, December 9


• Isn't there a war zone we can ship Tom Brokaw off to now? I caught the second half-hour of his Meet the Press swan song interview with the President-elect, who, incidentally, he called "Mr. President" at one point, though the transcript has him saying "Mr. President-elect" all the way down. I realize that with Brokaw "elect" sounds something like "wec" or "we-oh" spoken as quickly as possible and with the tongue soldered to the lower front teeth at the rootline, but I distinctly...

• Wait, am I the only one who's disturbed by the whole "what to call the President-elect" business? The professional teleprompter readers on my teevee sure don't seem to be, to the extent that they seem wholly indifferent to the concept, or maybe they're just not mentally up to it. I'll provisionally trust this guy, because he's got perfect protocol hair (scroll down). He says it's "President-elect" and "Mr."

Now the problem I have with this--you knew there'd be one, right?--is that Senator Obama has not yet been elected anything; we-all elected Electors. And sure, minor quibble, but I'm not the one who stands on formality. Protocol does. Protocol is all minor fucking quibbling. I'm fine with "Mr. President-elect", but missing any opportunity to remind the American people that they are not free to elect the highest officer in the land seems a shame.

What I do have a problem with is the news-hairdos who skip the honorific and go right to the "Mr.", and, especially, the use of bare-nekkid "Obama" (I'm looking at you, CNN, but probably because you're the only one I've caught so far). The last-name business ought to be reserved for when we're officially tired of the guy, and should be left out of reporting altogether. This is especially galling since the blatant informality/cryptic insult/faux-democratic leveling is, without fail, coming from the mouth of the sort of person who'd take loud umbrage if you refused to let her cut in front of you in line at the bank, on the grounds that she's on television and you aren't.

• Where was I? Oh, Brokaw. As I say, I tuned in at the bottom of the hour, so I missed him suggesting Jack Fucking Welch as Auto Czar, apparently because, since it was his Last Day, he feared there might be a viewer or two still uncertain as to whether he (Brokaw) had a shred of decency. Someone who'd missed the last fifteen years of his pandering literary career, say.

Look at the transcript, if you must. It's not that Brokaw could have phoned it in; that's hardly newsworthy. It's that he could have phoned it in last February and had The Help spruce it up a little with some topicality. Twenty minutes at the top talking about the economy and bailouts, which never rises above headline depth, and which began with "How are you different from FDR?" Dear God, just once, just once to have a Mr. President-elect who'd say, "Gee, I dunno, Tom. You're the professional teller of Fairy Tales."

• Oh, if only we could harness the awesome power of the American Left and use it for good! Here, for example, the Internets' Answer to SMERSH cruelly pummel Mr. President-elect Obama over his cabinet choices, imperiling the delicate sprout of our national recovery and new-found good will. At least Politico has the sense to call them Liberals; the other day one of the blogs I roll had Jane Hamsher singing "L'Internationale" because she'd rather see Joe Lieberman's scrotum on the wall than his ass back in his seat.

Okay, so we learned last January that hoards of self-styled progressives seemed metaphysically certain they'd learned the lessons of 1972, while displaying a textbook case of fugue amnesia when it came to the Clinton years and the election of 2000. Symptoms appear to include repeated fevered attempts to emulate monolithic Republicanism. No criticism! You'll ruin it for everybody! Barack Obama must continue to pretend he's a Centrist, or else his fragile landslide victory might still come apart! Never mind that no Leftist worthy of the name could have ever mistaken Mister Senator President-elect for a liberal. But there's a guy who writes for a trades-union site who said mean things! Y'know, it ain't my party, but, Th' fuck did you imagine it to be? You took on the support of Mr. Obama as both leader of the nation and head of his party, and you're already freaking out before the Solstice? Good God, the Republicans pretty much have this sort of thing down to a science; when Marc Raciot proved unacceptable to the religious nuts as Attorney General, he was replaced by John Ashcroft before you could say Exposed Female Breast.

Look, there is one genuine piece of advice I can offer in this life, my only special area of expertise, and I don't say it very often, so listen up: The Buzz never lasts. Worrying about it makes it less enjoyable, trying to prolong it makes it go away that much faster. The Democratic Congress didn't fall to Bush-level approval numbers between '06 and '08 because it was too liberal, but because it didn't perform as expected. It bodes ill for people who prefer one side rather than the other pick their pockets. It isn't I who's criticizing Tim Geithner or Larry Summers, because I never had any illusions it'd be any different. It ought to be you who is, maybe; at the very least recognize that you signed on to manage Democrats, not Pentacostals.

• There's your problem right there. Mr. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gets high marks in the Environmental Activist press for going to Poland to mouth platitudes about Green Laws. Yes, the same Mr. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who owns eighteen Hummers, but doesn't even drive the one he converted to hydrogen anymore out of his newfound respect for the environment. Well, that, plus the fact that the CHP drives him everywhere, plus the fact that there aren't any Hydrogen Refilling Stations, unless you're traveling an endless loop from Sacremento to Long Beach. And yes, it's the same Governor of California who six weeks ago put the kibosh on, among other things, a pollution tax on carriers entering California ports and a law banning toxic chemicals in food packaging. But hoo-ray! He said something!

• h/t Digby:

"Having lived with this very right wing Republican group that runs the House most of the time, the notion of trying to deal with them as if we could be post-partisan gives me post-partisan depression."

--Rep. Barney Frank


A-Tom-IC said...

Technically, given that he has resigned his Senate seat, it should be 'Former Senator, President-elect Mr. Obama'. Protocol must be observed ... technically.

Stringonastick said...

The more I see of Barney Frank, the more I like him.

Brendan said...

Thanks for harshing on Brokaw (honorific intentionally omitted). I was beginning to think I was the only one who felt that way.

The real next gig for him, given that the economy is too far down to afford him a snazzy new Banana Republic bush jacket for war zone "reporting," is doubtless a plum gig at NPR as Esteemed Senior News Analyst Pooh Bah.

I don't listen to them anymore, either.