BOOKERS IN NEED OF BIGGER ROLODEXES…. When it came to the 2009 calendar year, “Meet the Press” had one guest on more than any other: disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Gingrich, who left public office more than a decade ago, made five appearances on NBC’s Sunday morning show.

How about this year? There are still more than two months left in the 2010 calendar year, but Jon Chait notes this year’s MTP frontrunner.

Harold Ford was a guest on Meet The Press this weekend, marking the sixth time the former Tennessee representative has been on the show this year. That’s more appearances than anyone else (besides the pundit superteam of David Brooks and E.J. Dionne), including more than any other NBC political contributor, and more than any current officeholder.

Reviewing the list, Jon’s not only right, I’d add that no one else is especially close to Ford’s six (and counting) appearances in 2010. Even John McCain and Lindsey Graham — staples of the genre — have only been on twice each, at least so far. Gingrich, after five appearances in 2009, hasn’t been back at all this year.

So I guess the next question is, why Harold Ford? He was a congressman, but he’s also a failed Senate candidate from four years ago.

Why have him on six times in eight months? Jon argues:

What explains the ubiquity of the bland and notably un-incisive Ford? Part of it may be his preternatural ability to meld himself into the prevailing sentiment of whatever milieu in which he finds himself. But primarily I believe Meet The Press always invites Ford for the same reason there are so many Olive Gardens — you always know exactly what you’re going to get.

That sounds about right, but I’d add one thing: Harold Ford, Jr., is the chair of the Democratic Leadership Council. The Sunday shows tend to go out of their way to avoid Democrats, but when they find a conservative Democrat who’ll argue that the party should move to the right, the bookers are bound to keep bringing him back.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.