John McLaughlin, the host of the syndicated political talk show The McLaughlin Group has passed away at the age of 89.
McLaughlin had hosted the program from its inception in 1982 until missing the show for the first time this past Sunday due to illness.
It was a program that my family watched regularly. When I first saw it, I wondered why the hell this old dude was constantly yelling. But in time I began to appreciate it (even with the presence of Pat Buchanan). I must confess that I didn’t know the show was still on the air until last month when I caught it by chance while my brother was in town visiting. It had been years since seeing the show and we were both struck by how weak he looked and sounded. By all appearances, it looked like he had suffered a stroke or perhaps several of them. It was a far cry from the booming voice which bellowed, “Issue Number One” and inspired Dana Carvey’s parody in the late ’80’s & early ’90’s.
If anything, SNL’s version of The McLaughlin Group was probably toned down.
Before appearing on television, McLaughlin was a Jesuit priest and later worked in the Nixon White House.
Let me end here with President Reagan. Speaking in October 1985, The Gipper said of McLaughlin, “I once described John by saying the United States needs a tax increase like John McLaughlin needs assertiveness training. John took a simple Sunday morning discussion format out of the issues of our day and, using the insight, skill, and great humility that have become his trademarks…managed to turn it into a political version of “Animal House.”