In an election season filled with pundits yapping on our TeeVee screens like a bunch of ankle-biting poodles, Chuck Todd is the majestic Golden Retriever who enters the room, nudges your hand, then politely walks away.
When the talking heads are yelling and screaming at each other (memo to Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan–we can hear you, so dial it down a notch, okay?) and I’m about at the point of yelling and screaming at them, my head on the verge of exploding from trying to process all the useless back and forth and my jaw clenched tightly enough to wear down my fillings, someone suddenly says “Let’s turn it over to Chuck Todd for a check of the delegate count.”
And I exhale, the boiling blood draining from my face at the sight of Chuck Todd standing in front of what looks like the world’s most complicated overhead projector, dry erase marker in hand, ready to hurt you with the sweet, sweet pain of incontrovertible math. He circles a few key counties that have yet to report, he writes the projected delegate pick-up near the candidates’ names, and then he offers some analysis (which is occasionally hilarious, such as last night when he highlighed West Virginia on the map and then said something along the lines of “Hillary Clinton is projected to win in these key areas of West Virginia.” Then he circled the entire state. Brilliant.). Then he tosses back to Chris Matthews, who proceeds to spend the next twenty minutes foaming at the mouth about how he knows everything to know about Pennsylvania because he grew up there and how he’s a North Carolina insider because he went to college at Chapel Hill, all while Keith Olbermann looks slightly bemused.
Chuck Todd never yells (although he does occasionally look slightly bemused, which is probably unavoidable for the vast majority of MSNBC employees who have to share air space with Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough). Chuck Todd doesn’t have to yell. His dry-erase map of the U.S. and his big red marker speak the truth, and when you speak the truth, you don’t feel the need to scream about it.
I actually had to laugh a little at reading how befuddled Chuck Todd seems to be by his newfound celebrity given that he’s practically a rock star at my house. My spouse and I watch election coverage and find ourselves saying “Where’s Chuck Todd? How come Chuck Todd hasn’t been on yet?” if the broadcast seems to have gone on too long before an appearance from The Chuck. And when he finally emerges, we both yell “Chuck Todd!” as if we’re sitting in a bar and one of our old college drinking buddies has just walked in, the one who was mild-mannered and had good stories and always knew when he’d had enough, unlike Buchanan, who’s passed out cold at the end of the bar, and Matthews, who’s just puked vodka on your shoes and is screaming at the barkeep that he can handle one more drink, and Scarborough, who’s slurring and hitting on the ladies and is too much of a dick to spring for cab fare home even though it was his stupid idea that everyone go out in the first place.
So now, to that long, improbable “Things to Do Before I Die” list of mine (not long after “Sit front row at a Dave Matthews Band concert” but definitely way before “Pay off my stupid car”) I’d like to add “Have a beer with Chuck Todd.” I’d bet he could fascinate me for hours with a discussion of the significance of the demographic breakdown of California’s congressional districts. And I can only imagine the stories he could tell about his co-workers after a brewski or two.
More Amy Martin can be found at her own blog, The Aimster Blog