October 15, 2014

Yesterday, I watched one episode of "The Daily Show" and one episode of "The Colbert Report," and immediately afterwards bought the new books of the 2 authors I'd seen interviewed.

That was weird, although I see the connection to my long-time habit of feeling the need to buy 2 things if I'm going to buy 1 thing. I don't have a problem buying nothing, but 1 seems to require 2.

Here's the video of Matt Bai on "The Daily Show," pushing "All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid."

Here's the video of Walter Isaacson on "The Colbert Report," pushing "The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution."

I chose both on audiobook because there are 2 things audiobooks help me with: 1. Getting some exercise. (I like to walk and will walk, when walking alone, much farther if it's a process of "reading" a book.) 2. Sleeping. (I've used audiobooks for decades to crowd out the thoughts of my own that would — or at least used to — keep me awake.)

A problem with audiobooks is that if I encounter something I want to blog, I need to buy the book over again in Kindle form. Last night, almost entirely while asleep, I listened to "All the Truth Is Out" for 9 hours, 8 minutes, and 40 seconds — I've still got 30 minutes and 20 seconds left — and I woke up listening to some great material about the difference between the John McCain 2000 and John McCain 2008, and I wanted to share some of that and so now I own the Kindle version too and can show you this (boldface and hyperlink added):
What Palin brought to the ticket was stagecraft and stardom. Her candidacy was captivating in the way that American Idol or The Biggest Loser kept you lingering on the channel even as you fingered the remote control and told yourself you were going to watch something more redeeming. She was just like the rest us, or at least like people we knew — insecure and ambitious and beset by family problems, but also beautiful and impassioned — and somehow the spotlight had found her, and every moment she stood in its glow teetered dangerously between greatness and humiliation. It was as if, rather than having chosen an actual running mate, McCain had tried to reinvigorate his flagging campaign by holding a televised contest for the role, and Palin had made it through all the challenges and battle rounds in which you were locked away in a room full of tarantulas or whatever it was, and here she was, learning her lines in front of us. What [Neil] Postman called the “supra-ideology” of entertainment — that’s what Palin’s candidacy was all about, and McCain’s embarrassed aides would later admit as much.

By then, of course, Palin was more of a superstar than McCain had ever been, and she embodied a new phenomenon in national politics — power as a path to celebrity, rather than the other way around. Once, at the dawn of the satellite age and for a long time after, entertainers like Sonny Bono and Fred Grandy (“Gopher” from The Love Boat) had leveraged their Hollywood cachet into political careers. Now, though, a politician was increasingly likely to seek office as a catapult to broader, more lucrative fame — as a TV host or professional speaker, the subject of tabloid covers and Hollywood treatments. You didn’t have to win an election to achieve this kind of celebrity, or even campaign. You simply had to be telegenic and provocative. A little shamelessness didn’t hurt.
Most of the book, by the way, is about Gary Hart. That subtitle — "The Week Politics Went Tabloid" — refers to a week in 1987, which I kind of remember, but not from the book, that being a part I slept through.

16 comments:

FleetUSA said...

I don't think you are bi-polar.

Jim Gust said...

I'm not familiar with Isaacson's book, but a generation ago I loved Steven Levy's "Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution," a remarkably similar title. Perhaps Isaacson acknowledged and updated the earlier work.

rehajm said...

1. Gary Hart had an affair.

2. Bill Clinton had (many) affairs.

3. Bill's wife stood by her man.

4. Bill's wife is running for president.

5. Matt Bai writes book shaming media for reporting about 'Gary Hart's' affair.

Anonymous said...

Most of the book, by the way, is about Gary Hart. That subtitle — "The Week Politics Went Tabloid" — refers to a week in 1987...

1987? So he's off by about 200 years. At least in the US. Homer and the Biblical authors were pretty tabloid as well.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Last night, almost entirely while asleep, I listened to "All the Truth Is Out" for 9 hours, 8 minutes, and 40 seconds..."
.
REM's 'Feeling Gravity's Pull': "I fell asleep and read just about every paragraph"

Fernandinande said...

I watched one episode of "The Daily Show" (actually about .75 of an episode) and maybe 3 or 4 episodes of "The Colbert Report".

Now the word "episode" looks wrong.

Anonymous said...

Last night, almost entirely while asleep, I listened to "All the Truth Is Out" for 9 hours, 8 minutes, and 40 seconds

"Alpha voters wear Armani. They work very hard writing books about politics. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because all I have to do is believe what I read in the books the Alphas wrote for me. Gamma voters wear huge belt buckles. They like Sarah Palin. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I get to watch Jon Stewart making fun of Gamma voters and laugh and clap."

rhhardin said...

I listen to ARRL morse code files (20-35wpm; 40wpm can't be done with room echoes) all night, should I happen to awaken now or then.

I found as a kid of 11 that if you left the radio tuned to NSS sending 5-letter code groups, your morse speed was much better in the morning.

I don't know if NSS still exists, and if so whether anybody would be sending morse on it. But the ARRL has a substitute.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

karlpoppersghost said...So he's off by about 200 years

Exactly correct, ghost Karl. I listened to an interview with Bai on NPR and he didnt' address this--maybe its in the book but I got the impression it was at least possible that he badly misunderstood history enough to believe that the 1980s were worse than the days of actual yellow journalism (much less the horrible pamphlets of earlier generations). Hell I remember learning in high school about the "Ma Ma Where's my Pa" chant against Grover Cleveland in the 1880s! But, you konw, maybe history hadn't started yet then or something.

HoodlumDoodlum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

Wouldn't these sneering remarks about Palin apply double to the charismatic, good looking empty suit that actual won DroneStrike Idol twice? The sneering never seem to notice that do they?

Anonymous said...

Still, you'd think even a political writer with no knowledge of history would at some point have come across the saying "Politics is showbiz for ugly people", and so saved himself the embarrassment of trying to pass it off as an original observation.

April Apple said...

Paul Z - super HEH.

April Apple said...

(11:53)

Ron said...

Plus, when you say "power as a path to celebrity, rather than the other way around", isn't JFK a better example of that than Palin? A Hollywood pretty family, a lot of charisma...and now the game gets changed!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Paul Zrimesk said..."Alpha voters wear Armani. They work very hard writing books about politics. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because all I have to do is believe what I read in the books the Alphas wrote for me. Gamma voters wear huge belt buckles. They like Sarah Palin. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I get to watch Jon Stewart making fun of Gamma voters and laugh and clap."

Well done, sir.