Hey Bill, Dancing with the Stars is Kinda Nice

Filed under:Politics,Television — posted by Anwyn on October 28, 2006 @ 10:54 pm

Letterman had O’Reilly on last night, and my respect for Bill went way up. Dave’s game plan, apparently: depart from format of “funny show, have a good time with guest promoting his/her work,” go straight from “How ya doin’?” to “Your work sucks” without leaving guest time to answer even innocuous “How ya doin’?”, have unfunny, quasi-serious political discussion in which you come off earnest but a bit lacking. Bill’s game plan, apparently: Keep cool, sit back and see how much rope Letterman’s willing to pay out. Answer: not too much; just enough to put an edge on the discussion. The Associated Press got it wrong, surprise:

“You’re putting words in my mouth,” [O’Reilly] told Letterman at one point.

“You’re putting artificial facts in your head,” Letterman responded.

It was actually Letterman who said O’Reilly was putting words in his mouth, following Bill’s only misstep: accusing Dave of repeating the “Bush Is Evil” mantra when Dave said nothing like it. Letterman responded, “You’re putting words in my mouth. Just like you put artificial facts in your head.” But Dave’s answer to O’Reilly’s question, “Do you want America to win in Iraq?” was bass-ackward. Paraphrased Dave: “What I would like is for Americans to stop dying over there and for there to be stability in the region. If that means an American victory, okay. But I don’t know if it’s possible to have stability over there now with or without an American presence, so I’d do whatever it takes to stop Americans dying.” Even more paraphrased Dave: “It’s okay with me if Iraqis go back to dying the way they did under Hussein, if that’s what happens when we leave, as long as no more Americans do.” Which is a valid point of view, but fails to even consider the possibility that an American victory could be the cause, rather than the result, of his nebulous idea of stability over there.

Come to think of it, I guess my respect for Dave went up a bit as well, despite his rather childish treatment of O’Reilly, simply because he didn’t devolve into the “Bush Is Evil” mantra I’ve come to expect from so many mindless bots who won’t rid themselves of the horrifying but fascinating possibility that they might live under the most evil government since the Third Reich. Some people are too desperate for drama. I don’t think Dave’s one of them; he came across, for the most part, well intentioned and even “thoughtful,” but a little lacking.

Bill’s assertion that people would rather watch Dancing with the Stars than read the news out of Iraq hurt, though. Hey Bill: news is depressing. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be. I defy anybody to squash down a big ol’ grin of delight while watching Emmitt Smith deliver a killer mambo. He and his partner Cheryl are the most genuine and likeable people on the show–my only “reality” TV weakness. It’s less reality and more an actual contest with objective standards and rules, which is why it makes the cut. Anyway, back to the grin: watch and squash if you can.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace