Television is clearly an integral part of the current political scene. Many believe that Lincoln's homeliness and FDR's wheelchair would prevent either of them from succeeding in the TV age. But the debates and the endless advertising are only part of the deal. Regular programming on TV, far beyond the news shows, has also been a part of the process. In 1968, Richard Nixon did a cameo on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Laugh-In was a variety show that spent a great deal of time with endless cuts to clips of people telling jokes, doing mini-skits, reciting catch phrases, etc. "Sock it to me" was one of those catch phrases. The cut to Nixon saying "sock it to ME?" was hilarious and helped soften the humorless bastard's image. Bill Clinton went on the Arsenio Hall Show, donned shades and played sax.
Today they all want part of the action. Fred Thompson declared his candidacy on Leno. Hillary Clinton was on Letterman multiple times. They all seem to make it to Oprah, Ellen, etc. Additionally, Saturday Night Live has experienced an unprecedented revival, not only having guest spots but doing some spot-on impressions (Tina Fey's Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler's Hillary Clinton).
One of the biggest impacts, though, has been a cancellation. John McCain's non-appearance on Letterman has been the topic of Dave's monologue pretty much daily since it happened. It has gone beyond the running joke phase into clear criticism of McCain. McCain is scheduled to appear tonight. I am hoping that it will result in some probing questions. "Just what were you thinking when you suspended your campaign?" and so forth. Don't miss it.