Must-Tape TV: Letterman Books Rumsfeld, Paul

David Letterman doesn’t always look engaged these days, but the host tends to brighten considerably when he gets a guest who truly interests him, often from the world of politics.

So kudos to the bookers for landing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and new Tea Party-backed Sen. Rand Paul for next week’s show, on Feb. 21 and 24, respectively.

Letterman has earned hostility from the right for his merciless skewering of Sarah Palin (an easy target, admittedly), but as many a pol has discovered, he’s an exceptionally sharp interviewer with clear ideas on the tragedies associated with the war in Iraq. For that alone, the Rumsfeld interview ought to be pretty interesting, and I wonder if Rumsfeld’s people, touting his new book, “Known and Unknown: A Memoir,” entirely realize what their boy is about to face.

Paul, by contrast, should be a somewhat lighter affair, though I’d be surprised if Letterman doesn’t raise the old story about the Kentucky senator allegedly prodding a woman to pray to “Aqua Buddha,” if only because “Aqua Buddha” sounds awfully funny.

And one footnote here: Those who like to paint Letterman as a “far-left guy,” as Bill O’Reilly would put it, have short memories: The host was always extremely warm and kind toward GOP figures such as Robert Dole and John McCain, at least before McCain earned the 2008 nomination, skewed right and — worst of all — canceled an appearance on “Late Show” at the last minute, unleashing Letterman’s (comedic) wrath. Letterman also pretty mercilessly made fun of Bill Clinton during his presidency, though he seems pretty much in awe of the former president now.

On the plus side, if for some reason you forget to watch, not to worry. If the Rumsfeld interview goes the way I’m anticipating, it will be all over the Internet the next day.



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