I think that this last debate was actually acceptable. There was a lot more contention and contrast. I mean, they’re both horrible bores. If I hear one more “independent voter” say that they’re not going to make up their mind until the candidates level with them about details I’m going to scream. I’m a wonkish type and I at a number of points Senator Obama was so thick in the numbers and turns of one policy or another that I was glazing over.
It was amazing the degree to which John McCain has failed to absorb the lesson of the Bush-Gore debate of 2000: being a sore debater doesn’t score any points. He’s like the snorting minotaur, lost in the labyrinth. Smoldering and scoffing isn’t winning over any undecided Athenians.
Maybe it was all just my mood, but for once I loved the punditocracy in all of their sprawling, self-referential drama, entirely divorced from the fate of the nation. It’s the most preposterous, grandiloquent reality show on television. David Gergan is our frog prince statesman. Jeffry Tobin is the ringmaster, comical and macabre, the Harold Zidler of CNN’s Moulin Rouge. Anderson Cooper was flashing blue steel, letting Wolf Blitzer know that this was AC360, not the Situation Room. Carl Bernstein and Candy Crowley, conspicuous in their absence, must have snuck off to make out under the bleachers. I love Andrea Mitchell but in these troubles times she doth protest too much for her beleaguered husband. I’ve always thought that there was something about the Monica Lewinski / Chandra Levy archetype, but to see Maria Bartiromo, cigar-chomper of CNBC, MILF statistician Cambel Brown and Soledad O’Brien, the Marisa Tomei of television journalism, one after another was an undeniable demonstration of the place of prominence of the Brooklyn-Jersey-Long Island brunet in the D.C. psychodrama of blow-dried grey-haired power-mongers.
The most characteristic thing anyone has ever said of D.C. was when Kissinger said in his realpolitik German accent that “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” The D.C. media establishment is Pepe Le Pew floating in misdirected amore along the scent trail of a painted cat. The contrast between the dithering fuddy-duddies of the Senate and the fiddling Neros of burning Rome was beautiful. It was a pyroclastic flow of superheated bullshit. The planetary nebula of the waning days of the new Rome. Like the skeleton at the feast, I can’t help myself.
Update, 16 October 2008: Wow. In the person of Jessi Klein, frog prince David Gergen has found his princess (“I’m in Love With David Gergen,” The Daily Beast, 15 October 2008):
I love his low, quiet voice. That unmodulated buttery whisper that sounds like it’s elbowing its way past a cough drop that’s permanently lodged at the back of his throat. You know how Bed Bath & Beyond sells those white noise machines that help you sleep? And they usually make ocean noises? I want one that’s just David Gergen gently muttering about the economy.
I love the way Gergen makes me feel calm, even when he’s making dire predictions about the future of our country. I love the way he knows everything and then formulates an opinion about everything that’s always right. I love that his eyebrows only move when he gets mad, and I love that he almost never gets mad. I love that he looks like a handsome baked potato.
I love David Gergen too. He’s the sort of old school commentator — polite, level headed, calm — that has been replaced over the years by interrupting, screaming, unhinged children of commentators. David Gergen is like watching old reels of Meet the Press from 1961.