John McLaughlin, the talk-show host, Nixon speechwriter and bombastic political commentator, died today. He was 89.
Like many people who stumbled on his PBS public-affairs show in the early ’90s, I watched him, Jack Germond, Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Clarence Page, Morton Kondracke and his other guests more out of a sense of amusement than for information. I’m sure McLaughlin, a Jesuit-trained former priest and natural ham, was aware of the joke — after all, “Saturday Night Live” had a lot of fun with him. (Besides, he wasn’t above starring as himself in a number of movies.)
It’s been a (long) while since I watched “The McLaughlin Group,” but though I disagreed with the host’s political views, his very delivery of “ISSUE ONE!” makes me smile. Besides, half the fun was watching Jack Germond shift in his chair, wondering why the hell he was wasting an afternoon in a D.C. TV studio instead of pounding away on a typewriter — or watching a ballgame.
In the meantime, I can’t sign off without posting this.