Cable news -- the really early years:
"Welcome back, and good morning from Washington, where we're going to spend the next hour much like we've spent the past several hours -- the past several weeks, in fact: talking politics."
"That's right, Matthew. It's all part of our wall-to-wall coverage marking 100 days since the swearing-in of America's ninth president, 'Old Tippecanoe' himself, William Henry Harrison. Our regular panel of pundits and spinmeisters is on hand to bounce things around, so let me get started with James. One hundred days in, James -- what say you?"
"I'd say disappointing, Osgood. I mean, you look at what he's accomplished -- actual accomplishments, not just fancy promises -- and you have to say that Harrison's been a bust."
"Not cutting him any slack, are you?"
"Hey, you run for the top office, you've got a job to do. I don't want to hear any excuses. I -- "
"Let me get in here."
"He doesn't want to hear any excuses -- fine. But we're dealing with some pretty extraordinary circumstances here, and I think anyone who expected a lot out of this president was setting himself -- not to mention Harrison -- up for failure."
"You're talking about...?"
"I'm talking about the pneumonia, first of all. You put a 68-year-old guy out in the rain and cold for two hours on his inauguration day -- "
"That was his choice -- nobody said he had to be out there that long!"
"And if he'd cut it short, you'd be the first one calling him a wimp! Anyway, you get a guy that age standing there in that kind of weather making a two-hour speech, you're just asking for trouble."
"Let's hear from Hobart. So you think the pneumonia got him off on the wrong track?"
"Absolutely I do. Just look at the Cabinet appointments -- how are you supposed to make your Cabinet appointments, let alone filling all the other jobs you've got to fill, when you're wheezing and coughing your guts out? And it only got worse from there."
"I mean dying! Harrison's the first president to get to 100 days and be dead for most of them. You can't kick the bucket one month into your term and expect to make a positive impression on people -- that's just reality."
"So you think he's underperformed."
"Six-feet-underperformed, if you ask me!"
"Hold on a minute, James. Hobart?"
"Look, it is what it is -- he didn't get much done. But I don't think we have to be nasty about it."
"Who's being nasty? I just said he -- "
"Now, this vice president of his -- "
"Right -- John Tyler. This Tyler is carrying himself like he's the president now, rather than just a placeholder -- "
"Talk about padding your resume!"
" -- and who knows? Maybe he can pull it off. But Harrison? The best I can give him is an 'Incomplete.'"
"He tried, he died -- I give him an 'F.'"
"You gotta deliver. Politics ain't beanbag, you know."
"That'll never catch on."
"Just you wait."
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at email@example.com.
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