26/25

Thanks to everyone who showed up to Solly’s last night to fete me and Brian Beutler. I can’t speak for Brian but I’m really–I’ll just resort to this word–blessed to have so many brilliant, witty, caring friends who don’t care about the size of their bar tabs.

Now that I’ve sung that note of cheer, back to the usual sarcasm and dread. Martin Austermuhle surely has the most thankless beat at DCist.com–reporting every angle of the flawed and futile attempt to give a Congressional vote to Washington, D.C. In this installment Austermuhle is reduced to promoting Mike Huckabee to Washington’s Republicans. There were, at the end of 2006, only 30,050 registered Republicans in the city. They turn out to vote at a rate of around 10 percent. They do hold a presidential primary but even less of them participate in that. In 2000, George W. Bush landslided the D.C. primary with… 1,771 votes, or about two-and-a-half times the total vote for Lyndon LaRouche.

Such a small pool to play in! Maybe Huckabee can win! But if D.C. Republicans are anything, they’re despondent about their party’s chances to win anything in the city, ever. They have zero interest in helping the city get a permanent Democratic vote in Congress.

That small sample size makes me wonder whether Ron Paul has a chance to win the D.C. primary. It would be a token victory, but it wouldn’t be impossible. If Jeff Frazee and Aaron Biterman rounded up every college student who thinks it’d be fun to vote for Paul and everyone from a Cato event or a Reason happy hour moseyed to the polls you’d have, what, 350-400 votes? They’d have to overcome the split presidential votes of the Republicans who show up only to vote for their committeeman/committeewoman, and if those split fairly evenly–300 Rudy, 300 Fred, 300 McCain, 300 Romney, 300 Huckabee, a bunch of write-ins–sure, Paul could win. Seems unlikely, but if there’s a nice underground campaign it would be a fun little outcome.

While on the other hand…

My enthusiasm is dampened by my total inability to finish articles – or more accurately, queries on articles. I was sort of entertaining the notion of grabbing dinner with friends tonight but this 5000-word rewrite keeps picking up my head and smashing it into my desk.

It is hard to muster much confidence in your work when editors insert notes like [Huh?] and [It’s not clear what this means.] I want to break my addiction to hammy prose and the passive voice… but how.

Innocence Lost

Today’s my birthday, I’m checking who else was born on 9/26, and in addition to the old faves – Gershwin, Springsteen – I see this is the 20th anniversary of “Chucklevision.”

Q: What the hell is that?

A: I’m glad you asked. “Chucklevision” is a children’s TV show hosted, plotted, and perfected by The Chuckle Brothers, beloved entertainers from Yorkshire. They are so ridiculous that I’m still worried I might have dreamt them. They are slapstick comedians whose catch phrase is “To me! To you!” This is yelled as both men are trying to pull or lift things – see, each one’s confusing the other. They perform yearly pantomimes on fairy tale or pop culture themes of varying degrees of inspiration. “Doctor What and the Invasion of the Garlics” – inspired. “Spooky Goings On” – less inspired.

I should add that “Doctor What” ends with a rave sequence.

They are terrifying to look at. Barry Chuckle, in particular, looks like the kind of guy you see on a unpainted park bench at 3 a.m. snuffing wine from a paper sack.

And yet, and yet… the very thought of these guys makes me happy. The picture of mid-sized venues selling out as parents tote their kids to watch deathless vaudeville hacks trip over things and splatter each other with cream pies temporarily twists my perma-sneer into a smile. I can never be a convincing misanthrope. I love my fellow humans way too much.

I get results

This post went up like 10 minutes after I sent out the Brian + Dave birthday evite. Garance raises an issue I grapple with sometimes, too. If a friend of yours who happens to be a prominent blogger posts something and you link to it do you indicate your relationship with the blogger? I don’t have a set answer. Disclaimers like “my friend Ezra” or “Jeremy, my old roommate” start to sound like name-dropping. But it seems a little off to participate in intra-blog debates and pretend you’re meeting your combatants for the first time.

Luckily, we’re not the group of people who ever thought of being reporters/pundits. There’s precedent for this stuff. And it is: Declare actual conflicts of interest (people you work with, people you pay your salary, people you knew when you worked for Candidate X) and don’t sweat the rest of it. And venture out of your immediate blogosphere. I like the regular pistols-out duels between Cato nerds and American Prospect nerds as much as anyone else, but we all learn more when we read those articles by the wizened, uncool folks who have 30-odd years of reporting experience or a shelf-full of books giving them cred.

I don’t think I’ve ever watched an entire episode of Bloggingheads but that site gets this stuff mostly right.

Take your guns to town

Since Matt and Megan posted their pics, I’ll go and steal Matt Ficke’s Pulitzer-worthy shot.

The consensus is that I “looked creepy.” [Correction: it’s more that I looked “badass” or “like a cult leader.” In my head that got twisted into something decidedly less cool.”]
Also:

This is a truly weird life that I’m living.

Confidential

At the end of a long fun day I’m already sort of regretting (I can write 3000 words on a Sunday, right?) I run into a casual acquaintance who I once shared an awkward coffee with. He informs me that he’s still working at the anti-war organization he was working out the last time we met, before the summer.

“Oh, so you’ve been there like six months?” I ask.

“No. Five months.”

I decide this is a good time for me to monologue on the dark and hopeless lot of the anti-war movement. He interrupts me.

“You’re a reporter. I don’t talk about this with reporters.”

Let no one say liberal activists are humorless!

Weigel on your internet TV

So, this is odd. Based on a blog post I wrote asking what was so wrong with Iran’s president visiting Ground Zero an upstate New York TV station had me on to debate it with host Richard French. I get the feeling I looked away from the camera a couple times, so I’m afraid to look at it, but it should be up here at some point.

UPDATE: I watched it and thanks the power of editing I sounded fine — modulated my voice, made 90% of the points I wanted to make. But I definitely need to work on the conversational tics I’ve built up. The first is looking a little bit to the side when I’m listening to someone speak. The second is this lip-licking eyebrow-raising thing I didn’t actually realize that I did. It’s odd. If I saw someone acting like that on TV I’d think “wow, that person making the intelligent points with a well-modulated voice looks uncomfortable.” I wasn’t actually very nervous, though, just acting like I normally act.

Give the people what they don’t want

I just now am seeing Rasmussen’s pre-Emmy poll on which shows Americans wanted to win awards. In both the drama and comedy categories, the least popular shows won. In a happy accident, though, they are both awesome shows. (“Were” awesome in one case.)

Related: I’m halfway thru S1 of Ugly Betty and I’ll hand it to the show. The Sofia Reyes plotline was handled perfectly. It had seemed pat and stagey and unrealistic… because it was, all along!