Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: This weekend my best friend, my lifelong friend, Treva came for a visit.

I've known Treva forever. We went to summer camp together. We went to college together. She was the maid of honor at my wedding. I was the matron of honor at her wedding. She was there each time I gave birth, usually staying for a couple of weeks after, and vice versa.

I say all that to make two points:

1) We're known each other forever.
2) We're old, really old.

With regard to the second point, Treva and I were talking about NPR's Morning Edition and the loss of quality that coincided with the departure of Bob Edwards. Treva made the point that Steve and Renee are the Mouseketeer. There have been other versions of The Mickey Mouse Club; however, Treva and I grew up on the original.

The one with Karen, Cubby, Annette and the cute, but gone too soon, Johnny. They were chipper and chirpy. They smiled wide. They always gathered round in that beaming circle.

But you never thought that they had a lot on the ball. Even Annette Funicello never seemed to offer much more than sweet.

Now all I ever knew about Annette was that, supposedly, her contract with Disney forbade her from wearing a bikini in those beach movies with Frankie Avalon. Possibly, the contract also is the reason why Annette and Frankie never did more than kiss onscreen?

Two summers ago, my granddaughter Tracey discovered those beach movies and asked me, "Grandma, is that what the sixties were like?"

"Yes, Tracey," I told her, "in the sixties America was nothing but beach front. The only person of color was Stevie Wonder. Otherwise, it was nothing but goyim for the eye to see from coast to coast. In fact, the whole point of integration was to provide Stevie Wonder with a date so that he didn't have to go stag to the luau mixers. And, of course, no one did the deed before marriage."

Fortunately, Tracey gets my dead-pan sarcasm.

To repeat, Annette seemed like a sweet person, always has. Which is probably at least partly why we all think of her as "Annette" and not as "Ms. Funicello." The other reason is she appears to have never left Disney.

No matter how old she gets, and she is older than me, she never loses that child-like purity in her persona. That might be a endearing, if perplexing, trait in a friend but it's not really what we look for in a news provider.

Steve and Renee are like that. They are two Mouseketeers who, though they're older now, remain Mouseketeers through and through.

This morning, as on The Mickey Mouse Club, it was time to gather round and listen to the wisdom of the elder. On The Mickey Mouse Club, that would be Professor Wonderful but, each Monday on Morning Edition, that part is played by Cokie Roberts.

This morning [Monday] you could just hear in Mouseketeer Steve's voice that he was practically jumping up and down with excitement as Professor Cokie came on, begging her to explain what the talk of a resolution against the war was all about.

Political Analysis By Cokie Roberts
Political Wrap: Republicans on Iraq, Democrats on Democrats
Morning Edition, June 6, 2005 · News analyst Cokie Roberts discusses Republican divisions over progress in Iraq and behind-the-scenes conflict among Democrats and their party chairman, Howard Dean.

Professor Cokie: The situation there which they, they have some skeptism about administration's assurances that the situation is getting better when they see the news reports every day and uh the polls which are showing that voters are saying the-the war isn't worth the cost either in terms of dollars or lives. Look, any kind of resolution like that if it happens would be more symbolic than anything else.

You could almost hear Mouseketeer Steve whimper in disappointment, as though he'd just learned Jiminy Crickett wouldn't be dropping by anytime soon. But he was a brave little Mouseketeer and quickly turned to a topic he could get excited about again, those Democrats!

Professor Cokie: Well there is some sense of optimism. As one senior Democrat said to me the other day "Things are looking good for us because they're, meaning the republicans, are screwing up." There is a sense with social security, the president once again is going to be tauting his social security plan this week which seems to be going nowhere, the problems with majority leader Tom DeLay, all of these things are things that would be working for democrats in the next election. but as we've talked about before, Steve, there are problems with the discticts being so safely drawn that there aren't many seats in play and the and the luck of the draw in the senate is that it's going to much tougher for Democrats to gain seats than Republicans.

That "as we've talked about before, Steve" touch might come off as a pat on the head to some but to me, it was Professor Cokie scolding the Mouseketeer for not paying close enough attention.

Which may explain why the Mouseketeer went into overdrive to please the professor as Cokie offered as fact, though it's her opinion, that Democrats can't come up with a message. Chuckling and practically dancing on the balls of his feet, I'm sure, Mouseketeer Steve gloated that Howard Dean didn't have any trouble finding a message. Professor Cokie chuckled "True enough" because she likes it when Mouseketeers laugh with her about Democrats.

Professor Cokie: He has said in recent weeks that uh people who were waiting in line to get into the polls in-in Florida, uh, the Republicans didn't understand why this was a problem because Rep had never done an honest day's work in their lives. And, uh, he also said that Congressman Delay, uh, should go home to Houston where he can go to jail. Now Congresman Delay has not been, uh, accused of any crimes. And, uh, and as the Republican National Committee Chairman said yesterday, "Insulting people in red states is probably not the way to win them over."

Uh, it was certainly not surprising that Professor Cokie quoted the RNC Chairman. And, uh, I believe the word Cokie was struggling to find in the sentence prior was, uh, "charged." Tom DeLay has not been, uh, charged with anything. Not, uh, accused. Tom DeLay has been accused.

But the professor was not yet finished explaining to America how, in her opinion, that Howard Dean was, uh, out of the mainstream.

Professor Cokie: Now, uh, Mr. Dean has said that, uh, he was talking about Republican leaders not Rep ... regular Republicans. But yesterday Senator Joe Biden said he, Dean Dean doesn't speak for him. John Edwards, the vice-presidential candidate last time around said that Dean doesn't speak for him. Even Dean's own spokeswoman has said that he is a voice for the Democratic Party not the voice for the Democratic Party.

Since Disney can get a bit testy about their copyrights, possibly Morning Edition might need a new nomer for the kids. Possibly The Cokie Roberts Gas Bags?

It was as though Professor Cokie was explaining to Mouseketeer Steve that Tinkerbell could fly and would live if we'd all just cup our hands around our mouths and boo Howard Dean.