Sunday punditry

When I was a boy, Saturday morning cartoons were a thing. There were no cartoon channels, no every day any day any time access to cartoons, but instead they were all packed into the early morning hours one day a week, on Saturday, when our parents were sleeping in and grateful for distractions that would give them an extra hour or two of rest. So we’d scamper out of bed, fetch ourselves a bowl of sugar-frosted chocolate sugar bombs, and lounge about glassy-eyed watching cats and ducks explode. We weren’t totally vapid, though, we contemplated important questions. Like, why is this ancient Bugs Bunny cartoon so much better animated and funnier than this more recent dreck? Or, this cartoon about a toy seems to have segued into a commercial for the toy in the cartoon…what are boundaries? How do we define the edges of meaning in our existence?

But those days are no more. Now the cartoons have moved to Sunday morning as we get a parade of political pundits, rich old white guys, who sit around and babble about polls and suck up to other rich white guys who have polls done about them. The questions are still the same. I thought the old Hanna-Barbera crap was cheap, badly written, and tiresome, but these guys make them look like Tex Avery. I still wonder where the boundaries are: if rich white guys argue about whether a candidates polls will go up or down if they adopt policy X, is that the same as actually discussing policy X? Is declaring a candidate electable or unelectable identical to discussing the viability of their ideas?

Back when I was a kid, there was an afternoon shift into a different kind of entertainment, the horror matinee — rubber-suited Japanese monsters and 1950s era atomic monsters. We get that on Sunday morning, too.

Watch the eyes of these pundits: half of them are now terrified that their elitist dreams are being taken over by populist demagogues — I expect them to go all Ray Milland on us any day now, with eyeballs exploding all over the set. The other half, of course, are just counting their money and cackling over the stupidity of the American public.

I’ve also been developing a theory about Wolf Blitzer. That’s not his name, you know: that’s the name of the beard. Every couple of weeks, CNN executives pith a hobo and stuff his corpse into a suit, and then graft the Wolf Blitzer onto his face to animate the dead-eyed cadaver for another little while, until basic autonomic functions start to fade and the smell ripens, and then they just go get another one. Watching the zombies shuffle and moan on Sunday morning is just another way America endorses necromancy. I might start watching again when The Walking Dead gets around to that season where Rick and Michonne and Daryl and Carol and company stumble onto a series of broadcasting studios and deal with the walkers appropriately.

But not today. I did not finish my work yesterday, so I’m going to retire to my office and ignore the Sunday morning noise on the telly until I do. I have an excuse! You should find one, too.

Jeez. If you want to watch some white dorks go at it, you should at least insist that they be more theatrical.


  1. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    I remember the Saturday morning funnies. Living out west (as you did), of course, we had to get up vewwy, vewwy early to hunt wabbits. er, whatch the cartoons. Now, I work calendarnormative Saturday and Sunday which means that I cannot watch the Old Rich White Cis-Gendered Straight Men explaining just why their viewpoint is the only one that is Patriotic, Christian (or, occasionally, Jewish (but always non-Islamic Abrahamic)), Right, Common Sense, etc. I have caught them occasionally (not recently), but I think that I preferred the idiots and falling anvils. At the very least, it was far less harmful.

  2. millssg99 says

    I just happened to turn on the TV before reading this when one of those shows came on. I agree with everything except it was 3 rich old white guys, 2 rich old white women, and 1 rich old black woman.

  3. Holms says

    “Sunday mornin’ my head is bad
    But it’s worth it for the time that I had
    But I’ve got to get my rest
    ‘Cause Monday is a mess”

    You’re doing it wrong!

  4. laurentweppe says

    Back when I was a kid, there was an afternoon shift into a different kind of entertainment, the horror matinee — rubber-suited Japanese monsters and 1950s era atomic monsters. We get that on Sunday morning, too.

    We don’t get to see giant dinosaur-robots rampaging through Dixie, though, which is kinda disappointing

  5. Snidely W says

    Your explanation of the Nature of Wolf Blitzer is more entertaining than mine.
    I just peg him as “dumb as rocks”.
    The kind of dumb that if you could sit down and explain it to him in detail, complete with many examples, he would still not get it.

  6. Bob Foster says

    I fondly remember those Saturday mornings long ago when my mom would make sure I was properly clothed and fed, stuff two quarters in my hand, lead me to the front door and tell me to come home for dinner. I would happily march down to the local theater, pay a dime to get in, load up on popcorn, candy and coke and watch god knows how many shorts and then a Sci-Fi or horror double feature and shriek at all the scary and gory bits. It’s truly amazing how much fun I got out of that 50 cents.

    As for Wolf Blitzer, is there anything that can be done about that voice of his? I remember returning to the States after a month overseas and one of the first things I heard after deplaning was this bellowing voice filled with near hysteria coming from one of the lounge areas. Yep, I thought, I’m back home. That’s Blitzer going on about dead puppies or something. Appropriate name when you think about it.

  7. leerudolph says

    Brother Ogvorbis@1: “I think that I preferred the idiots and falling anvils.”

    Yeah, we definitely need to bring back the falling anvils.

  8. says

    Wolf Blitzer, and a lot of other pundits, take the banal, sound-bite approach to analysis. You can find better analysis, but not usually on TV.

    This article covers some familiar ground, but it presents a new emphasis on the racist foundations of conservatism. Here is an excerpt:

    […] for generations Southern bigots remained Democrats because they wanted nothing to do with the Party of Lincoln. […]

    After the plank [a platform plank calling for passage of the Civil Rights Act] was passed, some Southern delegates walked out. They were led by South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond.

    A lot of people don’t remember that Thurmond once was a Democrat. But in 1948, he helped create the Dixiecrat Party, and became its presidential standard bearer. In that famously volatile election year, Thurmond won the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

    But the realignment of the parties was only beginning. A lot of Southern conservatives still hated the Republicans that much. Thurmond himself found his way back to the Democratic Party, and served as a Democratic senator until 1964. When President Lyndon Johnson succeeded in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he told aides that they had lost the South for a generation. Thurmond was among the first to leave. But the realignment still took time. A lot of Southern conservatives still hated the Republicans that much. But times were changing.

    Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign’s Southern Strategy was designed to capitalize on the evolving loyalties of racists, and segregationist Democrat George Wallace ran under the banner of the American Independent Party and won five southern states. Still, changes in party affiliation continued to lag. In 1980, Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan cynically and despicably launched his general election campaign by invoking “states’ rights” in racist fire zone Philadelphia, Mississippi. The people he wanted to impress were duly impressed. In 1988, the kinder, gentler George H.W. Bush nakedly race baited his way to victory. The Bill Clinton presidency completed the realignment. […]

    Donald Trump is nothing new, but for his being open about it. […]

    [The Republican Party] can’t keep it hidden anymore, and they can’t pretend. Donald Trump has torn off the modern Republican Party’s mask. It is neither accident nor fluke that he is becoming their leader. Donald Trump is the modern Republican Party. They own it, and he owns them.

  9. says

    Article for free inquiry: DONE.

    Answer keys for student homework: DONE and POSTED.

    Genetics exam for tomorrow: Uh, working on it. Yessir, back to work.

  10. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    If you’re ever in Santa Fe, check out the Chuck Jones gallery. As an extra added bonus, it’s got a nice collection of Dr. Seuss artwork.

  11. unclefrogy says

    I saw this the other day on democracy now

    GYASI ROSS: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Donald Trump—I happen to be one of the folks who—you know, he was called into question. His Republican bona fides was called into question many times during this debate and many times during this campaign. I happen to believe that he’s neither Republican now Democrat. He’s a capitalist. And ultimately, he’s going to do whatever is best for his bottom line and to protect his capitalist interests.

    uncle frogy

  12. jack16 says

    Ahh you young guys. Now for me the frame was roughly five by six (or larger!) and it was Sunday in the newspaper!

  13. rietpluim says

    The simple fact that only rich people are running for president should scare the shit out of everybody who is serious about democracy.

  14. jimbo2k7 says

    Funny to see the “Man With the X-ray Eyes” reference.

    It just happened to show up on tv last week. Freaked me out as a kid when I first saw it.

    Just like the republican freak show does now…

  15. says

    And thanks to the 24-hour “news” networks, if you don’t get to watch pundits on Sunday, you can watch them any day of the week!

    It is interesting to note though how many of these good Christians are on TV Sunday morning instead of at church…

  16. says


    Ahh you young guys. Now for me the frame was roughly five by six (or larger!) and it was Sunday in the newspaper!

    I love me the Sunday funnies, but the are but a shadow of their former selves, at least locally. The local daily has three reruns running on the front of their comics page: Peanuts, beating poor Sparky’s corpse into dust, Hi & Lois and one other one I don’t recall. Amongst those corpses are stale farts that have been around forever and long outlived their humor, Blondie, The Lockhorns, Beetle Bailey, Wizard of Id, Heathcliff, Garfield (yes Garfield stopped being funny 15 years ago) and the deplorable Family Circus.

    I can be thankful, though, that Berke Breathed has revived Bloom County, publishing it himself online only (his FB group has an unbelievable following) and has lost not one bit of his edge or wit. Now if we could only breathe life back into Gary Larson and Bill Watterson we could have the holy trinity of strippers take back the funny pages.

  17. DLC says

    Cartoons went from clever to banal to insipid ads for toys you didn’t really want but your parents might buy you anyway.
    As a child, after about 8 years old, my father would roust us out of our seats around 9 am to do chores, insisting that we weren’t going to lounge the whole day away, and goddammit the days’ half over !

  18. amandajane5 says

    Only good thing about Catholic childhood, I was always up in time to see the cartoons before church. Plus, we were actually allowed to watch them then, because getting four kids dressed for church was the only time my dad would use the tv as a babysitter. And it gave us something to think about before the rote memorization of ridiculous old men! :)