Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson went nuts on “Meet the Press” Sunday. Don’t take my word for it.
Okay, “nuts” is a strong term. I’ll rephrase, but the video is really kinda shocking. In the “interview,” and I use those quotes advisedly, Johnson declared his independence from the norms that govern appearing on MTP or other similar shows, one of which is that you are supposed to at least pretend to respond to the questions you are asked.
The norms allow every guest to use every interview to express his or her viewpoint, however blinded by partisanship, although if the guest cares about maintaining what passes for credibility, they are expected to be smart enough to at least disguise their point of view, or blend it in such a way, that they appear to be responding to the question they are asked. That’s all. Let the interviewer ask a question. Acknowledge it in some way. At least pretend to answer it, and turn it into an excuse to segue into your preferred talking points. Johnson, in a don’t-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry performance rewrote or un-wrote or de-wrote those rules.
These rules are not in the Constitution. I don’t believe Johnson can be impeached, and probably will not be recalled, and having been narrowly reelected in 2016, doesn’t have to face the voters until 2022, but he seriously damaged any standing he may have had as rational, fair-minded or open-minded, or as able to attach any weight to any consideration other than rabid loyalty to some combination of Donald Trump and the Republican Party talking points.
It wasn’t subtle. Johnson wanted to rewrite the rules so he could deliver his talking points without even pretending to respond to or acknowledge the questions he was being asked. I fear it was more evidence of a certain kind of meltdown that is occurring in our politics/government/democracy under the insane new requirements imposed on Republicans by the Trump presidency.
Maybe I’m overreacting. Meet the Press went on the air in 1947, before most Americans had a television. It’s the longest-running TV show in U.S. (or world) history. It’s not the Holy Bible, but in the complicated norms of how our politics works, it has had a certain standing. But it, and the other similar shows, can’t really fulfill their roles if the new Ron Johnson rules for how to conduct yourself in an MTP interview become the new normal, which I think is actually quite possible.
Republicans who want to do that, should just go on Hannity and be straight about it.