The Breakfast Table

David Frum and Danielle Crittenden

This setup reminds me, disturbingly, of that joint appearance we made together on C-SPAN’s Morning Journal a few years ago. Perhaps you have blocked it out. It was Memorial Day, and I suppose because every other sensible person in Washington was sleeping in or Rollerblading on the towpath, they called us and said they were having husband-wife couples on that morning. As you know, I find that show completely harrowing. It is bad enough to get up early and stumble in to a studio with inadequate caffeine and bad hair. Then you have to discuss topics like that morning’s news on the Water Bill. That day, remember, we had to haul the kids down to the station in their pajamas (they still talk about the green-room donuts, which I have to agree were very good). There was virtually no news. So Brian Lamb, just to keep things lively, kept asking questions like: “By the way, Danielle. You’re Canadian–How many casualties did Canada suffer during the Korean War?” (Thank God you were there for that one: “That’s an excellent question, Brian. David?”)

To be honest, it wasn’t so much worse than the more typical exchange, which goes something like this:

Brian Lamb: Caller from One Horse Town, Mo., on our “independent” line. Go ahead please.Caller: Thanks, Brian. I’d like to know what your guests today think of our governor’s position on XXX. We’re pretty angry about it up here [sound of gun barrel being polished]. And oh, I have a second question. What do your guests think of the circumstances surrounding Ron Brown’s death?Lamb: Well, let’s start with your first question. Danielle?Danielle: [deer-before-headlights blink] Uh, actually I haven’t been following that particular dispute lately. To be honest, what caught my eye this morning was … (frantic attempt to read headline on upside-down newspaper on desk). Perhaps my companion here from the Rocky Mountain Packet-Times has something to say to this caller.

I’m assuming there is some overlap between the audience for this Slate column and the viewers of C-SPAN. At least in topic matter. I should probably be launching into a long, informed opinion about–let me see here–Russian President Vladimir Putin’s surprising decision to name Mikhail Kasyanov as his prime minister. Or we could always go into our “Let’s talk about Canadian politics” routine–a sure party killer. What I don’t like to admit is that the most burning question I was left with today after reading the Washington Post was this: Why can’t they pay for a halfway-decent gossip columnist? Why does all our best local gossip have to come via “Page Six” in the New York Post?