Son of Broder-nods-off: Where on earth do they find these people?
Last night, Trip Gabriel was badly bored, like David Broder before him. In this morning’s New York Times, the scribe’s report of his own private Gethsemane starts off like this:
GABRIEL (12/13/11): If Newt Gingrich is the Republican nominee and President Obama accepts his famous challenge to seven three-hour Lincoln-Douglas-style debates, viewers might find them only on C-SPAN and should plan to have plenty of black coffee on hand.Gabriel blamed it on Huntsman’s daughter, but it's pretty clear who was really on the verge of nodding off. You see, the Timesman was forced to sit on a chair and listen to ninety straight minutes of policy talk! No one talked about anyone’s marriage, the subject of a sprawling report on the front page of today’s Times.
At least that was one take-away from a two-man, unmoderated debate of a mere 90 minutes between Mr. Gingrich and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who at one point, when asked if he had more to add, said, “I see my daughter nodding off, so let’s move on.”
No one talked about anyone’s hair. It was nothing but foreign policy talk! People! Here’s how bad things got before the torture ended:
GABRIEL: Other topics covered (and covered) included Iran, debt and military spending, the Arab Spring and Pakistan.Trip could tell how the audience felt. He knew he felt that way!
After an hour and a half, when the moderator offered the candidates a chance to hit the remaining five topics in a lightning round and they declined, the audience seemed to collectively sigh with relief.
That’s the way Gabriel’s piece ends in the hard-copy Times. On-line, he added some silly shit about Donald Trump, thereby defeating the demons of narcolepsy. For the record, that jibe about topics being “covered (and covered)” does not appear in the on-line post. But there it is in the hard-copy paper, helping readers understand how trying this evening was.
Where in the world do they find these people? Wherever it is, the folk in that land are easily bored by talk about policy matters. Complaints about boring policy talk have become a staple of the upper-end “press corps.” The late David Broder made this format a standard when he rolled his eyes at Candidate Gore, who had bored him to tears at the 2000 Democratic Convention.
Broder almost nodded off too! For our money, this is one of the most remarkable passages in all of modern journalism:
BRODER (8/20/00): In tone and substance, Vice President Al Gore's acceptance speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention was like nothing I have heard in 40 years of covering both parties' quadrennial gatherings.Truly, that's just incredible. In the real world, Gore’s speech was a gigantic hit. Working with data from focus groups, Frank Luntz instantly hailed it as “a home run.” Over the next few days, it completely transformed the campaign’s polling.
Usually these acceptance speeches are attempts to take you to the mountaintop and show you the future. Gore's was more a request to step inside a seminar room, listen closely and take notes.
Never has a candidate provided more detailed information on his autobiography and the program initiatives he plans. One more paragraph and he would have been onto the budget of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
He mentioned only three aspects of what was, in fact, a significant record in the House and Senate—his work on the environment, welfare reform and arms control.
But, my, how he went on about what he wants to do as president...
On some of the headline proposals—for Medicare prescription drug benefits or a patient's bill of rights—Gore humanized his presentation by pointing to specially invited families in the audience who would have benefited directly from the programs he is promoting. But I have to confess, my attention wandered as he went on through page after page of other swell ideas, and somewhere between hate crimes legislation and a crime victim's constitutional amendment, I almost nodded off.
Gore shot into a wide lead—and it held. One month later, the press corps had to invent new “lies” to bring him back to earth. But up in the press box, David Broder, dean of the press corps, had been bored right out of his gourd! Three days after Gore’s speech, he confessed that he almost nodded off, so bored had he been by the candidate’s “swell ideas.”
Broder was bored right out of his gourd. So was Trip, last night.
On page one, Michael Barbara babbles on today about the Romneys’ marriage. He has no idea what he’s talking about, or if the things he's saying are true. But so what! It makes for an enjoyable tale. Alleged singing by Romney gets discussed. It’s like something you might see on Bravo!
Wherever they go to find these people, they love discussing this shit.
How can a Timesman know this: Early on, Barbarao refers to "the Romneys' unblemished marriage of 42 years."
How can the savant know this?