I realize the Andy Rooney-esque grumpy-old-man schtick is a perennial favorite among political commentators--and presumably popular with the public, or else we wouldn't be subjected to it over and over again. But CNN's Jack Cafferty seems one step away from descending into total parody. Check out today's sour yet largely pointless and completely stale grumping about the state of the American Dream/economy or better still, yesterday's even crankier, staler excerpt from Cafferty's book about how eternally adolescent Baby Boomers are raising spoiled kids with no manners who annoy poor Jack when he's trying to eat out.   

Then again, in the pantheon of predictable pundit personas, Grumpy Old Man is far from the most dangerous. That honor probably goes to Outraged Populist. (Think Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs.) The Eternally Condescending Wise Man is harmless enough, if boring (Bill Bennett, David Gergen). Preternaturally Chipper Hottie (Amy Holmes) is equally benign, even as the type tends to get overshadowed by Sassy Conservative Bomb-Thrower (Coulter, Ingraham, Malkin). Similarly, Earnest Liberals (Bill Moyers, Chris Hayes) and Good-Humored Conservatives (Tucker Carlson, Jonah Goldberg), seem to occupy a shrinking niche in the era of Unhinged Ravers (Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Keith Olbermann).

And God only knows which category Chris Matthews fits into. Irrepressible Bad Boy? (Nah. That's more Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan). Increasingly Embarrassing Uncle? (Think John McLaughlin). Suggestions anyone?

--Michelle Cottle