ABC’s “This Week” (American Idol Style)

ABC’s “This Week’s” guest host this past Sunday was Matt Dowd, chief strategist for Bush-Cheney ’04. Here’s what our judges had to say to him. This week HuffPost’s Jason Linkins was out of pocket. Don’t fret. He’ll be back with us next week when ABC’s Jake Tapper (in some corners of D.C. a front-runner for the job) will again return to the host chair for another tryout.

Washington Examiner “Yeas & Nays” Columnists Tara Palmeri and Nikki Schwab: Oh Matthew, we know you’re the new guy on the block. And, well, it shows. You started out rocky, using hokey cliches and long-winded questions in your interview with Sec. Sebelius. Did you really just say: ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore?’ Why yes, you did. You seemed to gain confidence as you went along, and you covered all the relevant health care reform-related questions — cost, abortion, etc. But you seemed too nervous to get punchy answers from your guest.

You picked up steam when prodding a guy on your own team — Sen. Mitch McConnell. When you asked why Republican poll numbers on health care were lower than both Democrats’ and the President’s and got back some silly answer about the health care debate being between the Democrats and their constituents (which still doesn’t explain the GOP’s low numbers…) you bucked up and tried again. You reminded us that the reason we liked last week’s host, Elizabeth Vargas, was because she was great at calling out the crap.

You were best at dealing with the roundtable, though often let the panel members take turns by themselves, without much interference. It’s good these folks were pros, and nobody hogged the discussion.

On a final note: “Avatar,” Donna Brazile? Really? We’re glad that was a prediction you didn’t get right.

Carol Joynt (former “This Week” producer; writer for New York Social Diary): Live TV can be a bitch. I’m sure you would agree, Matt. Its so much easier to be the guest/passenger rather than host/driver. So many technical details to deal with while also trying to hear your own thoughts and be at ease. Like riding a bike, over time it becomes easier. Next time, and I hope there is a next time, will be more comfortable. The roundtable showed real promise.