March 31, 2008
Carville, Coulter and the Others (Bob Franken)
@ 10:44 am
In today’s media Tower of Babel, the only way to prosper is to get noticed, to be heard above the din. Somehow. It’s the very best way to get to the front of TV’s Clamoring Class. From there it’s a direct link to those coveted (and obscenely lucrative) speaking engagements.
James Carville is a poster boy for this. How better, for instance, to enhance his image as the always-outspoken “Ragin’ Cajun” than to compare Bill Richardson to Judas Iscariot?
Richardson certainly infuriated Carville and his fellow Clinton backers by coming out for Barack Obama, but does that warrant a comparison to one of Christianity’s supreme villains? Even Carville finally had to admit that was “out of bounds.” Mind you, he didn’t apologize. He made light of it. That way he could calm the uproar a bit while keeping the bad-boy image intact and the big buck flying toward that carefully maintained high profile.
It works. All you have to be is either impetuous or utterly shameless. Would Ann Coulter be just another blonde with legs were it not for her poisonous insults, which are too numerous and too unworthy to mention?
Let us not forget that every time she regurgitates her newest venom, the bookers stampede to get her on their talk shows, where she can enhance her toxic stardom.
After a while it’s hard for the desperately ambitious pundit or pundit wannabe to resist joining this rhetorical freak show. That’s where the glory is, and you can’t be left behind.
It explains why commentators insist on saying that Chelsea Clinton has been “pimped out” to campaign for her mother. They know full well that particular phrase has been incendiary since the first feckless time it was uttered. But each and every time they repeat it, it’s like some junior high school taunt which causes the blogs to light up with their names. Remember, it doesn’t matter what makes you famous as long as you’re rich and famous.
It works because of us. We’ve been conditioned to flock to newsertainment. The bizzare and the mindless always get ratings. The thoughtful doesn’t. Even if it did, why should media executives spend the time and intellect to present stuff that matters when all that matters is the bottom line? By definition, the cheap shot is much cheaper.
Carville probably won ‘t want me to mention this, but in person he’s really pleasant to be around: gracious, affable, down-to-earth, approachable. We’ve talked countless times. He’s funny, but in an engaging way. In other words, a nice guy.
That means the other stuff is either just shtick or he feels sorry for me.
I’d say the same thing about Ann Coulter, which will amaze an awful lot of people. But in both cases they have created an act that sucks most of us into believing it has something to do with the “competition of ideas.” Instead it is mainly about the moronic nastiness of our political debate