Gavin Newsom's opening comments on the Saturday debut of his Green960 radio show flow thusly: "Who would have thought?" Newsom asks, "I've got my own radio show."
It's true that this meticulously coiffed and low-profile politician's turn towards punditry has caught everyone by surprise.
"Look out Bay Area!," he adds ominously, "Finally, I’m able to share with a larger audience, my PASSION and my purpose."
Finally! At some point during what were probably many meetings, someone was like, 'let's really plug his passion,' because even though the rest of this speech sounds a little wooden, Newsom really punches it in on "passion."
And we're off!
Newsom's first guest is columnist and pundit Arianna Huffington. She's really honored to be his first guest. Here comes the part where Newsom tells Huffington about Huffington. He tells her that even her "worst critics" would have to "acknowledge how prolific" she has become, not just on the book scene and in politics, but also as a syndicated columnist and through her participation in the "extraordinary revolution- the blogosphere." (Woot!) Then he springs this question on her: "What's the motivation? Where's your PASSION come from?"
The Passion Train has officially left the station.
Huffington makes a crack about taking over the world which is accompanied by throaty chuckling from both parties and then makes the observation that "…It's hard to move societies without leadership, and we're at an interesting moment right now where I really feel the people are ahead of their leaders…"
And this sort of puts a nice point on why it's weird to give a reigning official a talk show. Because when Huffington makes this statement, she's talking about Newsom and his peers, but Newsom doesn't comment. Instead he grabs onto a passing remark she makes about the war in Iraq and manages to ask this question:
"Is there a growing understanding that this war…has had a profound impact on the current state of the economy or has that been exaggerated by progressives like myself and you?"
Huffington's surprising answer? No. Phew!
The rest of the hour continues in like fashion.
Newsom manages to get a plug in for both gay marriage and environmental issues. At one point Huffington points out how problematic it is that right-wing politicians are being handed positions by news outlets like CNN and Newsweek without any apparent irony. Towards the end of the show, Newsom, who sounds literally astounded that people are still considering voting for McCain when they have the option of voting for Barack Obama, asks what Obama can do to clinch the election. Huffington says that during the ABC debate, he could have "done a Michael Douglas in The American President." I would like to add that he should also do a Kevin Kline in Dave, a Martin Sheen in The West Wing and even a little Bill Paxton in Independence Day.
Thus ends the first Gavin Newsom Show. Amen. Pass the hair gel. -Andy Wright
Photo Credit: Green960