MTV Unplugged for the politically engaged

C-SPAN has always had a reputation for being unwatchable — a TV option only for die-hard political junkies, shut-ins, insomniacs. But it does have one excellent, consistently compelling show: Road to the White House, the weekly wrap-up of the presidential race.

Basically, it’s raw speeches and press conferences — a sort of MTV Unplugged for the politically engaged. You get to see the wannabes up close, in revealing real time, minus any cheesy cable-news filter.

This show is all about getting a pure, visceral, physical sense of what the candidates are like — their chitchat style with real people before they take the stage, the way they breathe or smack their lips. Even the biggest names are refreshingly unpredictable: An improbably charismatic Hillary Clinton, for instance, scored big in Iowa, while eerily baby-faced John Edwards bored his youthful New Hampshire crowd.

By the way, for Road-to-go, there’s also a free podcast version of the show.

“>VIEW the broadcast schedule for Road to the White House. It normally airs Sunday nights, but this Saturday it’s going live at 11 a.m. EST for Barack Obama’s official announcement from Springfield, Illinois

“>SUBSCRIBE to the free Road to the White House podcast

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<i>MTV Unplugged</i> for the politically engaged