The Gabbo Incident
In the Simpsons episode titled Krusty Gets Cancelled, Krusty the Clown’s show is replaced by Gabbo, a ventriloquist’s dummy that has been described as being like “a demented Howdy Doody”.
In this episode, there’s a scene in which Gabbo’s show, which is broadcast live, cuts to commercial. During the break, Gabbo says “That ought to hold the S.O.B.’s.” Bart, seeing an opportunity to sabotage Gabbo’s show, lures the camera operator away from the camera, points it at Gabbo and turns it on just in time to broadcast Gabbo saying “All the kids in Springfield are S.O.B.’s.”
The incident makes the news in Springfield. After Kent Brockman reports the story, he repeats Gabbo’s gaffe by saying “That ought to hold the S.O.B.’s,” not realizing that the camera is still on.
The scene cuts to two newspapers spinning towards the camera. The first headline reads “Gabbo Still #1 in Springfield”. The second reads “Brockman Fired”.
Peggy Noonan’s “Gabbo Moment”
For those of you not familiar with the name, Peggy Noonan is a writer of several books, a Wall Street Journal columnist and conservative commentator. She’ll probably be remembered for her work as a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush (the Bushisms “kinder, gentler nation”, “a thousand points of light” and “read my lips: no new taxes” come from her speeches). I remember laughing at Jamie Malinowski’s comic, My Own Private Peggy Noonan, in which the character of Peggy Noonan boasted that only her writing skill could make Reagan seem coherent and Bush sound like a native English speaker.
Noonan had a Gabbo Moment with political consultant Mike Murphy while on Chuck Todd’s show on NBC when they went off camera while the microphones were still on. Here’s the video of the Gabbo Moment:
And here’s a transcript of that Gabbo Moment:
Chuck Todd: Mike Murphy, lots of free advice, we’ll see if Steve Schmidt and the boys were watching. We’ll find out on your blackberry. Tonight voters will get their chance to hear from Sarah Palin and she will get the chance to show voters she’s the right woman for the job Up next, one man who’s already convinced and he’ll us why Gov. Jon Huntsman.
The camera cuts away, but the microphones are still on. As far as everyone is concerned, we’re now “off the record”.
Peggy Noonan: Yeah.
Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys — this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it’s not gonna work. And —
Peggy Noonan: It’s over.
Mike Murphy: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.
Chuck Todd: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to [Texas Senator] Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.
Peggy Noonan: Saw Kay this morning.
Chuck Todd: Yeah, she’s never looked comfortable about this —
Mike Murphy: They’re all bummed out.
Chuck Todd: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?
Peggy Noonan: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this — excuse me– political bullshit about narratives —
Chuck Todd: Yeah they went to a narrative.
Mike Murphy: I totally agree.
Peggy Noonan: Every time the Republicans do that, because that’s not where they live and it’s not what they’re good at, they blow it.
Mike Murphy: You know what’ sreally the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism, and this is cynical.
Chuck Todd: This is cynical, and as you called it, gimmicky.
Mike Murphy: Yeah.
Standard operating procedure for gaffes like this, regardless of your political persuasion, is to issue a “clarification” (which you can read as “backpedalling”) as quickly as possible in her Wall Street Journal piece titled Open Mic Night at MSNBC.
I’m not sure what sort of cognitive dissonance you need to change gears from complaining about “political bullshit about narratives” to spewing your own, but Noonan shows that she’s got it in spades in her description of Sarah Palin:
Because she jumbles up so many cultural categories, because she is a feminist not in the Yale Gender Studies sense but the How Do I Reload This Thang way, because she is a woman who in style, history, moxie and femininity is exactly like a normal American feminist and not an Abstract Theory feminist; because she wears makeup and heels and eats mooseburgers and is Alaska Tough, as Time magazine put it; because she is conservative, and pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life; and because conservatives can smell this sort of thing — who is really one of them and who is not — and will fight to the death for one of their beleaguered own; because of all of this she is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy.
She could become a transformative political presence.
And on she goes, as she is wont to do. For such a long-winded reversal thrown together in such little time, Ms. Noonan, it’s time to break out my “Sarcastic Joker Applause” animation:
The insanity may have only begun.