Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Big, bad talk-show audition

   Listen to Dan Patrick destroy his guests. Try to get a word in edgewise; he'll not only cut you off, he'll slice you into cold cuts.

   Patrick is a Houston radio talk-show host. To catch his act, however, you don't have to give his AM ratings a bump, something I'll not facilitate. Just catch his act as he cuts the legs off citizens at the Lege — the Texas Legislature.

   I don't know if on the radio he is the same samurai seen on a recent video. Surely not.

   Surely if "goon" is one's day job, one puts on different clothes before heading off to serve as a state senator, which Patrick is.

   In a hearing on his bill to prevent school districts' enlisting Planned Parenthood for sex education, Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, was beyond abrupt — unless someone came to agree with him.

   Patrick's bill is typical off-the-deep-end stuff from one who wouldn't dare acknowledge the holistic scope of what Planned Parenthod does to help women avoid the very thing — abortion —  he uses to demonize the agency. The bill is propaganda incarnate.

   Video on rhrealitycheck.org shows that the last thing Patrick wanted at his hearing was such a point to be raised, much less any actual discussion of his bill's merits. He had already decided those.

    You might think of such behavior as unusual and unseemly. I see it as too usual, also known as a trend.

    A whole bunch of people in public office these days want a talk show. They want to be Rush Limbaugh. They want to be Sean Hannity. They want a time slot on Fox.

   They aren't interested in parsing truth. Their target audience doesn't parse.

   Sen. Rand Paul, for example. He held up confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan for many hours to hear the chime of his own voice.

    Paul's stated concern was the use of drones, one I share — except that in no time he was talking about U.S. drones shooting citizens in the streets and burger bars of America. Senator, if that ever happens, please hand me the Bushmaster with the high-capacity clip. We have a government to overthrow.

    Ted Cruz. Fox News. They rhyme. Joe Scarborough, a former GOP congressman, now MSNBC morning host, expressed disdain that the Republican freshman senator comes across as "willfully ignorant" in his absolutism about gun rights. This, though Cruz himself testified on behalf of gun restrictions as Texas solicitor general.

     But, Joe, Cruz won the tea party's casting call in winning his office. He is not going to disappoint his public.

     Allen West. Now there's a Fox News darling. 

     West became a tea party super hero by claiming that bunches of Democrats in Congress are Communists. No facts; no evidence; no nothing. It didn't matter. It doesn't matter.

     Speaking of the fair-and-balanced folks. David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt, in their book, The Fox Effect, point out that Fox News put so many Republican presidential aspirants on its payroll that it might have stunted the anti-Obama field when people like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin had to decide whether they wanted to give up show biz for a run.

     You see, everyone wants a talk show. Everyone wants to be Limbaugh, and Hannity and Dan Patrick. They're not so interested in governing as in talking, and interrupting if necessary, and having their audience say, "Amen."

     "If you combine a lack of a sense of humor with an absence of humility and then stir in a cup of self-righteousness, you are definitely not working on a recipe for cooperative achievement," writes The New York Times' Gail Collins. She is talking about Ted Cruz, but could be referring as well to all those who've answered the tea party's call for auditions.

     Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.    


No comments: