Who I am a big fan of is Pat Caddell, Doug Shoen, and others on the left who see fit to point out the follies and fallacies of those on their side of the political spectrum. (And, no, it is not only schadenfreude.)
It was with great dismay, therefore, when I saw Hewitt try to shout down Caddell as he was about to make a point:
I believe Mr Caddell to be a soft-spoken, measured person whose statements are worth listening to. He makes his points politely and in measured tones. That Mr Caddell was driven to this level of exasperation is indicative of how insensitive Hewitt can sometimes be.
But Hewitt writes of his encounter with Caddell in his Town Hall column (emphasis added):
Then Caddell launched into one of his rants about everyone being irresponsible, which is just absurd cant, and when Caddell resorted to the old trick of demanding the right to talk in ever louder volume, I kept saying no. Bullies on panels are like bullies everywhere -- give them an inch and they will rant for an hour. Caddell's schtick is old and tired but the crisis is real and immediate. The president and his Democratic allies have been radically irresponsible. Speaker Boehner is trying to lead but without any other serious leader in play save perhaps Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl. When Caddell or anyone lumps in Kyl with Harry Reid, or Jim Jordan and Rand Paul with Bernie Sanders, and John Campbell with Barney Frank and Chuck Rangell, a gentleman rises to the defense of his friends. Caddell objected to be interrupted in his slander, and raged even to the point of grabbing my arm, an amusing breach of cable decorum.
Another excitable ideologue eager to impose some nonsensical theory on the simple problem of a president committed to a radical restructuring of the American economy no matter the chaos it requires.
I chose to juxtapose Hewitt's words above with the actual video of the Hannity panel so you could make the judgment for yourselves. I am not so sure that Pat was attempting to do all that lumping as Hewitt describes. I am sure that he was attempting to express an opinion and was the one who was being shouted down by Hewitt.
Of course, Hannity's Great American Panel is not a model of decorum when it comes to discourse and sometimes lively discussions and interruptions make for piquant viewing. But, it is the hallmark of this segment of the show that people get stepped upon, shouted over, and bullied -- most often by the host. Frankly, I was desperately interested in what Pat Caddell had to say, at that juncture, Mr Hewitt.
To be sure, Hewitt interviews well, asking penetrating questions, and eliciting responses that add to the political perspective. I often find myself thinking, "Gee, I am glad he ask that or brought up that point; I never thought of it that way." But these little epiphanies are more often than not offset by Hewitt's dismissiveness, condescension, and veiled arrogance. I always get that feeling that he thinks lesser of those of us who did not work in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, are not "Con Law" professors (an unfortunate term, I believe) or lawyers, and do not succumb to paroxysms of ecstasy at the sight of an Ohio State Buckeye, Cleveland Indian, or Lou Groza.
His attempts at wit and satire are frequently leaden. His merciless ridicule of his producer, "Generalissimo" Duane, and the rest of his staff is tiresome and borders on disrespect. (I wrote in a previous post on this blog that I find the weekly show that Duane does with Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air far more entertaining that most of Hewitt's efforts.)
(It also doesn't help that his show on KRLA here in Los Angeles has an onerous commercial load -- so much so, in fact, that I opted to subscribe to the paid content sans commercials.)
I will continue to listen to Hewitt; I will probably continue to pay for his material. But if we are to restore civility to the political discourse in this country, one needs to treat the likes of Pat Caddell and Doug Shoen with grace, kindness, and respect.
Sometimes, Hugh, that just plain means STFU.