Look who’ll be on the teevee (again)

LOOK WHO’LL BE ON THE TEEVEE (AGAIN)…. ABC News announced the guest list for Sunday’s episode of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” and you’ll never guess who’s going to be on. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will go first, followed by the guy who didn’t win last year’s presidential election.

Then, an EXCLUSIVE interview with Republican Senator John McCain, who is leading the call to send more troops to Afghanistan. Senator McCain has been supportive of the President’s Afghanistan policy, but lately he’s expressed concern about the current strategic review and says now is not the time to pull back.

Really, an exclusive interview with John McCain? What a rare occurrence!

Or not. For those keeping score at home, this will be McCain’s 13th Sunday morning appearance since President Obama’s inauguration in January. That’s 36 Sundays, for an average of a McCain appearance every 2.7 weeks.

Since the president took office, McCain has been on “Meet the Press” twice (July 12 and March 29), “Face the Nation” three times (August 30, April 26, and February 8), CNN’s “State of the Union” twice (August 2 and February 15), and “Fox News Sunday” three times (July 2, March 8, and January 25). His appearance on “This Week” on Sunday will be his third visit in five months (September 27, August 23, and May 10).

I can appreciate the fact that Stephanopoulos may perceive McCain as having a unique perspective and/or expertise on Afghanistan, but he doesn’t. For one thing, there are plenty of other congressional Republicans who’ve supported the president’s policy, but are worried about a shift in direction. For another, when it comes to U.S. policy in Afghanistan, McCain is frequently confused.

But it’s the Sunday shows’ obsession with McCain that continues to be so absurd. The Arizona Republican, after a wildly unsuccessful presidential campaign, is just another conservative member of a 40-seat minority. McCain isn’t playing a role in any important negotiations; he hasn’t unveiled any significant pieces of legislation; he isn’t being targeted as a swing vote on any major bills; and he’s not a member of the GOP leadership. He’s just another far-right senator, with precious little to say that couldn’t have been predicted in advance. Indeed, we already know exactly what he’s going to say this week.

And yet, the networks can’t seem to help themselves.

Eric Boehlert recently checked and found that John Kerry, in the eight months after Bush’s second inaugural, made three appearances on the Sunday morning shows. McCain’s total, obviously, more than quadruples that number.

As Boehlert concluded, “[A]fter Kerry lost in November, the press walked away from him. After McCain lost in November, the press still crowds around him.”