Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fake Bonhomie Is Alive and Well

As a respite from All Boston Bombers All the Time, cable news turns to happy talk with the George W. Bush Library dedication and the annual Correspondents Dinner of media strivers basking in their own celebrity with fake self-deflation.

It’s enough to make an old journalist cry (Tom Brokaw stifled his tears by staying home rather than hobnobbing with Lindsay Lohan.)

With production help from Steven Spielberg, the President got more laughs than Conan O’Brien (“Some people think I don’t spend enough time with Congress. ‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell ?’ they ask. Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?”)

The cable networks covered the speeches live but, for the full flavor of the event, C-Span showed the preening and mingling for hours before as would-be media stars and has-been pols babbled while looking over one another’s shoulders for bigger game. (Mrs. Newt Gingrich with her helmet of hair was towing her smiling mate like a beached whale.)

After the event, attendees left with a Hollywood junket-like swag bag of fragrance, snacks, candy, headbands  and other goodies.

Impressive, yes, but fake bonhomie had peaked earlier in the week at the Bush Library dedication where the former Presidents vied to rise above themselves in the glow of irrelevance while W maintained his “What? Me Worry?” smile with the certitude that his standing has nowhere to go but up, even as his mother blurts out about "too many Bushes" on TV.

All this may be cathartic, but why does it hurt so much when we laugh?

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