Dennis Miller’s no help for grieving McCainites

If there was one place where disappointed Broward Republicans might expect to find a little solace the day after Election Day, it should have been at an invitation-only performance by comedian Dennis Miller. The short, graying comic with the sniggering, spit-flecked delivery is an avowed conservative, though he bridles at being called a "right-winger" or an "ideologue." But an Obama supporter he definitely is not.

Several hundred distraught voters steered their Jaguars and SUVs to the Coral Springs Center for the Arts for the event, sponsored by News-Talk WFTL-AM (850).

In a rambling, spacy monologue, Miller got more claps and cheers than chuckles. Maybe nobody here was really quite ready for Miller time. Or maybe the comedian's from-the-top-of-my-head rap just wasn't that funny.

Miller is, of course, a former Saturday Night Live news spoofer, a current Fox News commentator, and a former color man for ABC's Monday Night Football whose pigskin observations were so eclectically obscure that a hypereducated fan ran a weekly web entry deconstructing Miller's game references. In one game alone, Miller dredged up references to Lewis Carroll (and Alice in Wonderland), skier Franz Klammer, ultrathin model Kate Moss, pop poet Rod McKuen, and The Patty Duke Show, all to describe game situations. A 2006 ESPN poll declared Miller the worst-ever host of the popular football program.

But Miller is still a popular voice among conservatives. He took questions through moderator Joyce Kaufman, the WFTL afternoon host.

Does Miller think Sarah Palin has a political future?

"Sure, I like Sarah Palin." The crowd clapped wildly.

What about Palin's treatment by the mainstream media?

"Sorry," Miller said, "but Katie Couric is not a significant enough historical figure to damn Sarah Palin for eternity. Edward Murrow must be turning in his grave."

Now he was getting somewhere.

It was time for a little snark directed Obama's way, though. The thwarted John McCain crowd thirsted for it, like thirsty travelers in a desert.

Instead, Miller talked about Obama's sex appeal. "I look at Obama and think he might be the first president with his own Guess campaign. He's going to be cool."

Say wha'?

"I hope the guy works out. I mean, I didn't vote for him. But I don't mind giving half my money to total strangers."

A classic Miller trope: saying one thing while meaning its exact opposite. Or at least leaving the audience groping for exactly what Miller means.

Er, next question. "How has being right-wing affected your career?" Kaufman asks.

Miller fumes. "That's bullshit. Do you think I'm right wing? I'm not anything. I think every issue through. If somebody who is gay wants to get married, that's fine with me."

Hmmm. The show isn't nearly over, and yet people are starting to edge toward the exits. Miller eyes the retreating patrons nervously and urges Kaufman to pick up the pace. "What else you got here, doll face?"

Maybe these folks just weren't in the mood.

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Edmund Newton