Naturally, Kathleen Parker used her Sunday space on the Washington Post to do what every other Parker column in The Washington Post has sought to do: prepare for the next career step. That would mean proclaiming her humility, shock and/or horror that she would get a nightly prime time hour on CNN, defending/excusing Eliot Spitzer, and declaring that she’s keeping her syndicated column (after all, the ratings might not be promising). Her tender solicitations for Spitzer and his genius in tackling Wall Street are the pink-nausea-pill part:
He was prescient about Wall Street, in other words, long before the recent financial crisis. Who wouldn't be interested in what he has to say about financial reform today?
I'm not defending Spitzer or condoning his behavior. [Ahem, yes, you are.] Ultimately, I decided that his obvious intelligence, insights and potential contributions outweighed his other record. As far as I'm concerned, especially given that he has resigned from public office, the flaws that brought Spitzer down are between him and his family. Like most Americans, I believe in redemption.
In the Parker career plan, then, this is the motto: I don’t believe in the creepy G-O-D people who are ruining the Republican Party with their “oogedy-boogedy armband religion” of redemption, but I do believe in the redemption of people who can be my meal ticket on CNN at "almost $700,000 a year."
In addition to that number, the New York Post also reported that former CNN host Connie Chung dumped on the new project: "It's sadly comical...and this is terribly disillusioning. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will give you more solid journalism than this program could possibly give." Ouch.
Parker's Sunday column-slash-commercial has moments that are beyond parody. Mrs. Parker writes from "The Bunker," and she is so writerly and anti-social that "Except when out for interviews and reporting, I mostly keep the company of one tiny blind poodle recently adopted from a shelter." (Please report this to the NutraSweet Toxicity Information Center.) She loves shelter dogs, and those drooling, cheating politician dogs.
But the commercial continues. You'll love this CNN show, she promises, because it will be like a "very interesting dinner party" (without the food or drinks). She is overcoming her quiet life with the Bunker and the poodle to be the Republican version of Alan Colmes:
That relatively quiet life is about to end, and I leave it with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.
The trepidation is no mystery. It is the same for me as it would be for you. The excitement has to do with trying something new and challenging, as well as having resources at my disposal to explore the issues that really matter. For me those are the things we consider on our deathbeds -- not who is up or down on a given day but how we have occupied our allotted space. Did we leave it better or worse? Did we cause someone to smile or laugh?
Although the show is still in development, we intend to include regular contributors and guests selected in part from our own Rolodexes. Think of it as eavesdropping on a very interesting dinner party.
It will be "interesting" because it won't be a "food fight." I'm sure that's what CNN promised with the last several failed shows in the 8 pm hour. At this point, they ought to promise that watching Eliot and Kathleen fight will be almost as interesting as Mr. and Mrs. Spitzer fighting. If you're going to build a show around shameless tabloid adultery, you ought to go whole-hog. But Mrs. Parker is above all that. In fact, she's above the demeaning sphere of television:
I'm on record about my general dislike of the food-fight mentality of most television programming, which we hope to avoid. I've also expressed my kinship with aborigines who believe that the camera steals the soul. I think they're on to something.
If she really believed her own sales talk, she would have turned down the job, and the embarrassing you'll-love-Eliot talk that comes with it.
The first time I attacked Parker for selling out the conservative side to get on TV, she e-mailed me protesting that she wasn't doing this to appear on the Chris Matthews Show, which she then began regularly doing. I would hope she's beyond pretending now that she's not selling out to get on liberal TV.