Mediaite picked up on this little exchange with Reagan/Teddy Roosevelt biographer Edmund Morris and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. Unfortunately, their focus was less on the content and more on the adolescent giggling over the use of a naughty word on the part of Morris:
Although the clip below from CBS’s Face The Nation is not as confrontational as the title to this post might suggest, it’s actually much funnier. Bob Schieffer annually hosts a roundtable in an attempt to bring together for an intellectual conversation four authors who wrote serious historical or political books. This year authors Ron Chernow (Washington: A Life), Arianna Huffington (Third World America), Edmund Morris (Colonel Roosevelt), and Bob Woodward (Obama’s Wars) participated in the thoughtful and sedate conversation, that is until a sound rarely, if ever, heard on a Sunday morning news show caught all viewers by surprise: a censor bleeping.
Earlier in the show, Schieffer probed Theodore Roosevelt biographer Morris about what Roosevelt would think of the Tea Party movement. Morris bristled at the idea of attempting to do the impossible and predict what a dead President would think of current events. However, that did not stop Schieffer from trying again with this exchange:
Schieffer: What would Teddy Roosevelt think of today’s politics, Edmund?
Morris: You keep asking these presentist questions Bob. As the immortal Marisa Tomei said in My Cousin Vinny, ‘that’s a bullshit question!’ because you cannot pluck people out of the past and expect them to comment on what’s happening today.
Not only was the expletive jarring, but so was hearing the erudite author change the tone of his voice in an attempt to mimic Tomei’s movie accent.
Kenyan-born Morris may have difficulty contorting his mouth to sound like the Brooklynite Mona Lisa Vito, but the point of his response is apt. Why does the media keep seeking to legitimize the tea partiers as a political movement by looking for historical validation? Here's one of the country's leading authorities on Teddy Roosevelt, who faced his own set of political issues and faced them soundly, establishing himself as one of the greatest American presidents, and you want to know what he'd think about a bunch of yokels who don't even realize they're doing the bidding of corporate forces like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks? Mediaite goes further to be outraged at Morris for slamming Americans for not being intellectually curious enough to know or care about anything outside their insular world.
The moment got even stranger as just seconds later the American film buff launched a devastatingly serious critique about what he sees as unattractive about the American people today:
I see an insular people who are insensitive to foreign sensibilities, who are lazy, obese, complacent and increasingly perplexed as to why [Americans] are losing our place in the world to people who are more dynamic than us and more disciplined.
Wow tell us how you really feel Morris. Maybe if America gave him a sequel to My Cousin Vinny he would be happier with our country?
Yeah, that's what Morris is looking for. Honestly, has Mediaite writer Matt Schneider not been paying attention? Americans ARE intellectually incurious and too wrapped up in their own lives to see how the country is falling behind. I promise, a couple of hours at a mall during Black Friday ought to convince anyone of that. Of course, instead of following up on that notion and perhaps leading the panel into a substantive discussion (that would include the delusions of the tea parties), Schieffer immediately goes to commercial. Because, you know, we wouldn't want to shock Schieffer's viewers out of their complacency.