September 22, 2003

Down the K-Hole of K-Street

And the star of our show is....

I was late to the party when it came to K-Street, the new HBO Pseudo-Reality show that “ventures inside the world of powerful political consultants--a world that few people ever experience first-hand.” Viewers that experience this show at first hand will find themselves wanting to wash those hands at the end of the program.

So far, the chief achievement of this bit of cultural blight seems to have been feeding Howard Dean a line from the show for use in real life. Or the reverse. Or the inverse. I wasn’t paying attention, but it had something to do with Dean.

It seemed strange to me that all the effort that goes into putting anything on the air would come down to slipping a stinger into a politician’s stump speech, but, hey, George Clooney’s gotta do something with his free time. Still, after watching K-Street’s erstwhile “cast” bumble through a half-hour episode last night my first thought was, “At least it isn’t an hour even though it seems like three.” But why did it seem like three? Then it struck me. K-Street had slipped some “K” into my caffeine-free Diet Coke and I had fallen into the K-Hole.

I’ve never taken Ketamine ( “K”) but from what I’ve read the effects are similar to what we see on K-Street. An online guide to drugs lists the effects of K as: “Users may babble or speak gibberish. They may believe that their mind has separated from their body or that they are outside themselves and watching their own actions.” In the case of K-Street players, not only have the minds separated from the bodies, but the morals as well.

I yield to nobody in my cynical view of professional politics as practiced in the US, but it is stunning to watch an entire a chunk of people playing themselves (more or less) that comes up with a show that is about as edifying as watching remoras look for places to attach themselves to sharks.

The role of the "political consultant"

Last night’s episode dealt with the James Carville trying to find a way to suck some money out of the RIAA by helping it in its quest to arrest children and ruin their families financially. Carville snaps and snarls about in a meeting room. He slaps in some down-home insults to his staff and glowers at them like some oversized ferret with not enough fiber in his diet. Others in the room are silenced, confused or contrite. This stumbling state continues in and out of the room for the rest of the program. Muffled sound competes with cheap video tricks (That blue tint to the scene -- so edgy -- in 1993.). Actors or real people acting as themselves. (Curb your enthusiasm, congresspern!) lurch about the offices and various Starbucks of DC with enough issues to render them utterly incomprehensible. This show seems to be about a meeting and a pitch for money for nothing. The meeting doesn’t come off and they’ll have to get money for more nothing somewhere else. A focus group of kids gives us some insight into just how lame the adults are, but other than that the show has the staying power of a Post-It doused with WD-40.

Unless you are treated to another view of the “powerful political consultants” poster boy for their reptile theme park, James Carville.

It isn’t news that Carville revels in his standing as Lizard King of DC. What is shocking is discovering that he is actually looking more and more like a lizard with every passing year. The camera isn’t doing the shaved head look any favors, and of his on-screen persona the less said... well, suffice it to say that it is little wonder that his wife, Mary Matalin, spends a lot of time away from home. Even if that means she has to hang with career Republicans.

Be that as it may, it is more than evident that the show is suffering from a deep moral disconnect. Check that. It is more than obvious that this show portrays the entire political profession is suffering from a deep moral disconnect. There’s not an instant in this show that has an iota of elevation associated with it. It is almost as if the producers have a policy that anything that even hints of idealism or real service to the public be ruthlessly chopped out. I imagine that they believe that bringing the actual venal aspects of politics to the attention of the American people is somehow worthy in and of itself.

From my couch, however, it just looked like another parade of self-impressed actors and assorted ego-maniacs preening and preparing for a close-up that will forever elude them. It is as if the HBO pitch meeting for “K-Street” centered around the premise: “We’ll show them the ugly process of making the sausage of politics. It will be really ugly. It will star James Carville. What do you say?”

I say that if I want to see sausage made I’ll wait for the rerun of the Hormel Pork Packing Factory on “Industry on Parade.”

Posted by Vanderleun at September 22, 2003 11:47 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

That's what I was trying to say.

Posted by: Cobb at September 25, 2003 1:37 AM

Oh, God! Exactly!

Posted by: Charyl at September 25, 2003 5:52 PM