David Brooks is no Paul Gigot. I like Brooks, and I probably agree with his social laissez-faire more than Gigot's rock-ribbed conservatism, and besides, both of them shine next to the ever lumpier, confused, and tongue tied Mark Sheilds (who last night mentioned the famous rebel/actor/nutfudge Dennis "Hooper"). By the next convention, Shields will be able to boast that he is "now 95% jowls." (I loved watching Sheilds seethe with hatred, jowls a-jiggle, when seated next to Karl Rove. You could see the look of disgust on Marky's face as he sniffed at everything Rove said.) Anyhoo, back to Brooks. He always looks a bit embarrassed, like his mother is backstage ready to cuff him for shaming the family. ("My son who could have been a doctor is arguing with this fat goy?")
Mike Beschloss is well informed, but is as strange as Dick's hat. Some of the things he chooses to say ("I just have to say, Gwen, that was a really great transition") must be jokes. But all said deadpan. Plus, the Vulcan ears are creepy. His co-panelist Richard Norton Smith is much easier to listen to, much more of a raconteur. Rounding out the panel, Meena Bose reminds me that I never had a professor I could really lust after, at least not in a French-farcy sort of way. (I was, briefly, infatuated with one in a whip-me-beat-me sort of way.) I think it is the great tragedy of my college years.
Elaine Chao -- who's pretty cute herself -- edged out Liddy Dole for the Sesame Street voice award. (Sing along now: "President Bushie-wushie wants to give us all more training grants! Yay! Job training is gooooood!")
Finally, I could use just a touch less of the commentators remarking on how "staged" the conventions are. Isn't that observation itself getting to be a little staged? Whattya want, smoke-filled rooms with unknown wranglers rolling logs to come up with a nominee? If you want surprises, you've come to the wrong barbecue.