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By Laurence J. Sasso, Jr.
Do they always talk that way?
After five months of observing the Trump administration at work, information junkies like me have become transfixed by the endless conflicts and controversies. We have consumed literally hundreds of hours of news and current affairs television shows while following every new development. Absorbing that much political palaver in a concentrated period of time makes you wonder – do those talking heads and commentators always speak the way they do on the interminable panel discussions that fill the cable-TV airwaves from early morning till late at night?
For instance, do the news people and expert panelists in our nation’s capital gather in a gaggle to go out to lunch? (Or do they just say “meetcha at the regular place”?) And when they get there, whether it’s at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, Martin’s Tavern, Off the Record, a lounge at the Hay-Adams Hotel said to be a favorite of Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, or The Blue Duck, where Andrea Mitchell reportedly likes to dine, what does the table talk sound like?
Might an eaves-dropping out of towner at an adjacent table hear something like this:
(Show Host) “Well, I think I will have the cherry glen feta marinated artichokes, peas, radishes, and shaved asparagus salad.”
(Waiter) “What would you like for dressing?”
(Show Host) “Oh gosh. Does this mean more drip, drip, drip? That’s all that’s coming out of Washington these days. The same old drip, drip, drip.”
(Frequent guest who is a regular New York Times reporter) “Waiter, I think I’d like to try the wood oven-roasted duck confit leg with strawberry rhubarb mostarda, but I need to know the tick tock on that. I’m on deadline.”
(Well-known expert panelist on national security issues) “That should be right in this waiter’s wheelhouse. He served that to me yesterday.”
(Former government official who now makes his living as a panelist on cable shows) “Oh I don’t know. I think you had better drill down on that. Duck is very tricky. It can take forever. Better take a deep dive before you decide.”
(Show Host) “Oh-oh. This looks like it could turn into another he said, he said situation.”
(Waiter) “I think everyone just needs to stay in their own lane on this.”
(Show Host) “Say, you sound like you’re in the media. Are you – and there’s no fuzz on this question, either?”
(Waiter) “I confess. I used to be with The Washington Examiner, but I need to eat and pay the rent. So, I’m your waiter today.”
(Former presidential ethics advisor who is a frequent panel guest) “My dashboard warning light came on when you said rhubarb mostarda. If the rhubarb is punky you’ll be sorry. Also, if it weren’t made at least 24 hours ago it won’t be nicely blended.”
(Washington Post reporter) “I understand the optics on this, but there might not be any there, there. I think you just have to take a chance.”
(Vivacious brunette columnist for USA Today) “Excuse me for interrupting, but I’m not awfully hungry. I’m thinking of just having an appetizer for lunch. Would I be getting out over my skis if I ordered the smoked trout rillettes with crème fraiche, pickled vegetables and country bread? If there’s a lot of bread with that, I don’t want it.”
(Waiter) “In my humble opinion that would be an excellent choice. Andrea Mitchell orders it all the time.”
(Show Host) “I’m glad we got that unpacked.”
(Washington Post reporter) “I’m not sure what it was we said, but Katy Tur is over there looking at us like her hair is on fire.
(Waiter) “I might be wrapping myself around my own axel but I think y’all are sitting at her usual table.”
(Former presidential ethics adviser) “Don’t be over-driving your headlights, young man!
(Waiter) I don’t need a dog whistle to get your meaning.
Finally after another round of banter, when all the orders are taken, served, and eaten the waiter returns with the bill:
(Waiter) “So who do I give the check to this time?”
(Show Host after a long pause) “I’m hearing crickets here, people. Hearing crickets!”
(Waiter) “Okay, y’all are starting to murmur among yourselves, yet I’m still seeing smoke, but no fire.” I need the money, and I’m willing to make my tax returns public to prove it, folks.”
Author’s note: All italicized words and phrases have actually been heard on cable commentary shows in recent weeks.