What's All This Then?

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Now that every current affairs blogger - and radio, television and newspaper pundits have analyzed, interpreted, praised or condemned last week’s presidential press conference, I feel that I’m ready to add a few thoughts that may not have been expressed by the political pundits of the world and to suggest a new idea for them.

In brief - Obama displayed knowledge and confidence - but, as many critics have observed, as if it was important - it was boring. Not him. IT. A couple of people tried to be confrontational - but Obama is unflappable and no real excitement was engendered. Big deal!!

Those who wanted to be up to date on the economic recovery progress and other issues on the president’s plate, tuned in to the press conference or read a summary in the following day’s papers or read the word for word transcript on line as soon as it was available.

Despite all of the ways in which members of the public could have been exposed to what was said and by whom at the press conference, the pundits of the world - as I have just observed above, felt a compulsion to report their version and their analysis of what we all could have seen, heard and read about for ourselves. Alan Sherman capsulized the phenomenon in his Al ‘n Yetta" parody more than four decades ago.
"Al ‘n Yeta watched an operetta. Leonard Bernstein told them what they saw."
It wasn’t enough for the fictional couple to enjoy an operetta. The great conductor and composer had to explain it all to them later. In case what they thought they saw wasn’t what they saw at all.

The post press conference pundits performed more or less like we would expect them to perform. The conservatives - from the sane all the way out to the nut cases- explained what was wrong or bad about Obama’s performance. The moderate to far left pundits "saw" more or less the opposite. But there was one thread of commonality throughout all the punditry. There was too much of it. Far too many pundits. Far too many opinions. Far too many ego trips. And if you’re anything close to a news junky, it was impossible to avoid. Turn on your favorite evening cable show and there it was . Hours of programming talking about the president’s news conference . What he did right. What he did wrong. How the pundit you’re watching knows more or better than Obama. How the pundit you’re watching/listening to - would make a far better president.

And if you are anything like me, you cried out "enough already." Not just last March 24th or 25th - but following many a similar occasion when you were bombarded with an excess of punditry. So in the spirit of "enough already" I would like to propose a new national holiday to add to New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I propose March 25 as Pundit Free Day. It will be a national holiday - meaning that schools will be closed, no stocks or commodities will be traded and no mail will be delivered. But beyond those familiar trappings of national holidays, Pundit Free Day will include what the name implies.

On Pundit Free Day. Rush Limbaugh and his ilk will be off the air. As will Ed Schultz and his ilk. Those tuning in their radios to the stations that normally carry Limbaugh and Hannity and Savage and other assorted nuts of the extreme right, will be greeted with continuous military music. Those tuning in the few stations carrying Schultz and Stephanie Miller and Ron Reagan and their "progressive" colleagues, will hear nothing but show tunes. Similarly - the cable talk shows of O’Reilly and Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and Glen Beck will - in years when March 25 falls on a weekday, be replaced by continuous showings of Patton and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. You can guess which movie will replace which pundit.

On Pundit Free Day, all electronic news programs and all newspapers will be required to report the totality of news events including recordings or transcripts of all that was said by "newsmakers." Thus, on Pundit Free Day, no "sound bites" or "news clips" will be allowed. And definitely no opinions. If there is too much material to present in a newscast or in a newspaper, viewers and readers will be directed to Internet sites where videos and transcripts will be available. At least until March 26..

The exception to the rules governing Pundit Free Day will be this and similar sites. That is, commentary by people doing it for their own amusement for a limited audience and without any remuneration other than the pleasure of being a blogging pundit and having that phrase sound like swear words without them being so.

Since it will be a school holiday, activities will be devised for kids that will in no time become beloved traditions - as will Pundit Free Day Family Dinners at which time family members will totally ignore the ancient admonition that all the things one really likes are either illegal, immoral or fattening. The theme of the dinner will be - "bring it on." ALL of it!!

Finally, there will be penalties imposed on those who violate the rules of Pundit Free Day. There is no doubt that the likes of Limbaugh and Savage and Hannity will find it impossible to refrain from spewing forth their usual vicious and/or nonsensical garbage for a full 24 hours - and that there will be one or more radio station owners who will defy the punditry ban and allow them on the air. Violations from left leaning pundits would be less likely. Most of them actually believe in the rule of law - and none that I know agree with George W Bush that the constitution is " just a goddamned piece of paper."

The rules of Pundit Free Day are still in the formative stage, so penalties for violations have yet to be finalized - but under serious consideration for right wing violators is confinement for 24 hours to a locked room, in which the ceiling and all four walls are completely covered with giant sized television screens displaying an endless loop of Obama campaign rallies with a continuous chorus of "Yes We Can" at a volume level that cannot be changed. Other penalty suggestions would be welcome and will be given serious consideration.

March 25th can’t come soon enough for me. Maybe we shouldn’t be made to wait. Maybe we should pick another date. Suggestions anybody? April 2nd or 3rd ???