Good morning, interwebs and a happy Oscar day to you all. It's Sunday, and for those of us without the good sense to go to church and pray for deliverance, that means political shows on teevee. And that means this: your Sunday morning liveblog - thinly sourced, packed with intimations, and filled with sexual innuendo. If anyone out there is knee-deep in lobbyist genitalia - or if you just have a question or comment, please feel free to emailM. And now, on with the show.
Fox News Sunday
It's governor a go-go, with Tim Pawlenty, Mark Sanford, John Corzine and Tim Kaine. Pawlenty and Sanford could be auditioning for the McCain VP slot, and all the illicit tail that comes along with it. Pawlenty says that his state is purple and competitive for the GOP. Sanford is asked if Barack Obama could win South Carolina--politely, he reminds Wallace that there's not a popsicle's chance in hell of Obama winning South Carolina, like, ever. Kaine says Virginia is also "purple." John Corzine says "Wear your seatbelt." Actually, he doesn't. But he should.
Because the question needs to be asked, again and again, for all time, Kaine is put on the spot for whether Hillary Clinton should drop out without a big win in Ohio and Texas. Kaine won't "presume to advise the campaign," but basically goes on to say that the trailing candidate should get lost after next Tuesday. Corzine, who is a Clinton supporter, seems more optimistic about Clinton's chances, says more or less the same thing. Both Corzine and Kaine say that the superdelegates will not hand up a nominee through some parlor room deal, but rather, they will follow the general will and "momentum" of the electorate, because that will give them political cover, because superdelegates are wusses.
To the Republicans: apparently not all the conservative cranks penning pennysaver op-eds like Pawlenty! Ha-ha! Your support is founded on electoral fissures! He says, "I think he'll be a great President...not because I want to be Vice-President." But we agree on a lot of issues! So maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for me to be his running-mate. If Governor Sanford doesn't mind.
Sanford apparently brought two pigs named "Pork" and "Barrel" to the statehouse to protest spending. He claims that he had run through all the "cerebral" methods of making his point, which in South Carolina means he tried grilling out and taking out ads in Guns and Ammo. So the pigs got brought to the statehouse. I'm sure there's a whole goddamned chapter on pig-based political theater in Mark Penn's book on microtrends (which he sells to impressionable elites across the nation).
No one on the panel gives even the smallest dribble of drool about the Ralph Nader campaign.
Then there is a discussion of the problems that we are having on the state level. Apparently, the states have no money, either. Maybe if enough HuffPo readers pool their money, we can have a leveraged buyout of South Dakota or something.
"We have made certain sectors of our society better off than others," says John Corzine, former chairman of Goldman-Sachs.
Wallace accidently calls Tim Pawlenty, "Governor Polenta." Which would a delicious dish for tonight's Oscars!
Mark Sanford says the Dems "math does not add up" as far as program proposals. Corzine suggests that the right attention to domestic issues could mean increased pay for Americans. Governor Polenta apparently is a sneaky, Al Gore-loving "Green" candidate and is a renewable energy freak. Sanford is a "conservative conservationist." Whatever that means! Kaine has pledged to cut greenhouse gases by 30% - easily achieveable if we tell George Allen he's not allowed to talk anymore.
The reflection from Corzine's $2M watch momentarily blinds me.
OMG. We come back to Hillary Clinton angrily waving Obama's flyers in the air (and naively reminding Ohio voters of her position on NAFTA). That must mean panel time!
And it is? Brit Hume wonders if they have another debate if she'll be "scrappy and combative." Brit Hume says that she closes well and that "late-deciders break to her" which is a TOTAL SHOUTOUT TO ME BECAUSE I'VE BEEN POINTING THIS OUT ALL ALONG! YES! YES! I DID IT! I GOT BRIT HUME'S ATTENTION!
Bill Kristol says that Clinton needs to "puncture" Obama's "euphoria." And for once, you should listen, because no one's punctured more American euphoria than Bill Kristol. Basically, his suggestion is for Clinton to run a crazy, fear-based Giuliani-style campaign. "Obama will get you killed. KILLED!"
Hume thinks that she should embrace being the "underdog" and show some "emotion." Kristol says they need to put up an ad, and OMG, here's his suggested content:
"Hello. My name is John Q. Ohio. I went to an Obama speech and I thought he was great. But then I did some research. Did you know he likes Zbigniew Brzezinski? That just won't stand with us in Ohio, where the relative career footing of obscure Carter-administration principals is our most paramount, statewide concern. Also: Narnia. What if they find the wardrobe and all of the sudden we're overrun with fauns and beavers that talk? Clearly, Obama needs to stopped with some sort of sledgehammer."
No one on the panel thinks the New York Times article on McCain was a good piece of journalism, but Kristol doesn't think the scars McCain has suffered makes his it a given that conservatives will flock to his side. Oh, wait, Juan Williams is going to "stand up for the journalism," but he immediately gets the implications of John Weaver's quote wrong. Everyone yells at Juan. Nobody loves him.
Lanny Davis apparently sent Bill Kristol an email from Bucharest at 6am this morning, which, I don't know...that's maybe the saddest thing I ever heard.
This Week With George Stephanlopoulos
Joe Biden is back and the terrorist yeti of Afghanistan were not able to kill him. Credit a great chopper pilot for getting Biden and his colleagues down safely.
Anyway, let's get on with Biden's vice-president audition already. Biden has news about Pakistan and Musharraf, who fared poorly in the election. Biden is shown McCain's clip, saying that Obama wants to "bomb Pakistan." Biden pooh-poohs it, saying that it's been longstanding policy that the United States will move on actionable intelligence, regardless of what permission other countries give us. John McCain seems to be unaware of that policy, Biden says.
Are both wars winnable? Biden says, yes, but not militarily. The militarily has done a great job, he says, but it's all about the politics. A political solution in Iraq is critical to us being able to get back to work in neglected Afghanistan.
Isn't the political system starting to come together, GS asks. Biden points out that de-Baathification is running in the wrong direction. He doesn't mention how Kurdistan is poised to crap the bed, but it is.
On Raul Castro, GS mentions that Obama says that he'll meet with Raul with "preparation, but without preconditions." Biden says that's wise - so we sort of know whose administration he'd like to work for! "Preparation," to Biden, means that Obama is ready to lay out a rational plan for engagement. Is Biden obligated to back Obama as a superdelegate? Biden says no, but he suggests that the people are going to decide the matter, and not to worry about the superdelegates.
And now we have Kay Bailey Hutchison - another Vice Presidential possibility. Once, she supported the Surge! Now she supports the Pause! The Pause, people! Get behind the next great monosyllabic plan from that sage miltary super-genius, David Petraeus. We shall Pause them in the desert! We shall Pause them on the banks of the Tigris! We shall Pause them in the streets of Baghdad! 54/40 or Pause! And you shall know us by our TRAIL OF PAUSE.
Oooh. Hutchison says that talking to a hardcore enemy might actually help. That obviously includes Raul Castro.
KBH says she doesn't want to be vice-president, no matter what glassy-eyed space alien Steve Forbes says about it.
BTW: Emailer Chris Blakely has got me thinking that we should all pay attention to how well sourced all of Bill Kristol's pieces for the New York Times are. Speaking of, what has Bob Novak said about the McCain story? It was actually better-sourced than most of his work, which widely quotes people who are either a) non-existent, b) people he has to keep secret because to do otherwise would expose what a Gunga Din he is for administration water, or c) sleestaks from the children's show Land Of The Lost, who my sources say are Novak's roommates/sex partners.
The This Week panel takes up the task of the New York Times article on McCain. George Will suggests that the sex-angle the paper took was a benefit--it overwhelmed the legit aspects of the story, bookending it with a splashy story that just wasn't sourced or proved. I think that's a good observation, though I don't think McCain's derived any "good luck" from this. Ron Brownstein points out that inconsistencies in McCain's subsequent statements have proven this story has legs - to me, that's just proof that the Iseman side of the story was a mistake. The whole matter could get swept away on the sails of a bad story.
For that matter, I really pity any NYT reporter who's currently working up a big investigative piece: this story just sold that out.
They move on to Obama and public financing. Obviously, McCain wants to push Obama to a decision prematurely because it will advantage McCain. Obama wants to hold off because a) he hasn't won anything yet anyway and b) why advantage McCain ever, least of all now?
George Will says that Clinton's chances at the nomination are not good. "The arithmetic is Huckabeean." Oh, please. Let's not start using that as a term.
Dionne characterizes the Democratic race thusly: Obama can play to win. Clinton has to play for a tie and hope for outside circumstances (Florida, Michigan, superdelegates) to all break her way.
Cokie Roberts wonders if the enthusiasm that's gripped the Democratic side of primary season is going to last until November.
Ron Brownstein worries that Obama will not win the vote of white waitresses because they are all apparently McCain-leaning national security experts. George Will insists that no one in America is "despairing." Sure, nothing like thousands of home foreclosures to kick up a nationwide square-dance, George!
Meet The Press
Are you ready for some RALPH NADER, America? Excited about unleashing his dwindling number of pathologically self-congratulatory nimrod supporters on the electoral math? Maybe they'll buy him a blimp or something.
Is he running for President? First Ralph needs to put in context. People aren't satisfied! They're marginalized. Disrespected! Enron! Iraq! Energy bill! "And you have to ask yourself, as a citizen...": ARE YOU SMART, or at the very least SMUG enough to vote for Ralph Nader? And the answer is? Uhm. The answer is? Wait, wait. Taft-Hartley. Corporate crime. Mainstream media. It's outsider politics Bingo night on Meet The Press! Corporate lobbyists! "One feels an OBLIGATION, Tim..." to recite diluted talking points from Howard Zinn, spoken as piously as possible...so...
He's running! Everybody drink!
Russert pointed out that he stood in the way of Al Gore winning the Presidency. Nader is having any of that. Because the current occasion calls out for him to influence the outcome of the election! Until he's asked to account for the influence he had on the outcome, anyway. Then it's all everyone else's fault!
"Let's have a third party! Like Canada and Europe!" Uhm, okay! Why don't we also come to the apparent logical realization that America has no interest in Ralph Nader being a part of that third party.
Obama get's Nader exactly right: "My sense is that Mr. Nader is someone who if you don't listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you're not substantive...He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work. But I do think there's a sense now that if someone's not hewing to the Ralph Nader agenda, you must be lacking in some way."
Nader starts in by bragging that his website comes with a dot-org suffix. Then he stops, starts to praise Obama, then decides that because he doesn't blindly evangelize for the Palestinians without regard to any of the political conditions in the region, he's unfit for the presidency. In other words: if someone's not hewing to the Ralph Nader agenda, you must be lacking in some way.
Nader says that if the Democrats can't "landslide" the Republicans this year, then they ought to give up. Yeah! That's the spirit!
Then he launches into an extended monologue about how he's better and smarter and stronger than everybody else in the United States, but it's really clear that a Nader presidency would be an empty, egomaniacal set of rock-chiseled stands that no one in Congress will support without some sort of compromise, and Nader clearly won't compromise - even on minutia. So everything grinds to a halt. Brilliant!
Oh, and everything that ever happened that was good happened because he came to Washington. And everything bad that's happened would have been forestalled if he had been elected president.
Not related: one of my houseguests relates to me that her father used to call Spiro T. Agnew "old Thumbhead."
And now Ralph Nader is gone.
Man, I don't know how they are going to top that. But Michelle Norris, David Brooks, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Delegate Crunching Chuck Todd are going to give it a shot.
Todd notes that just by winning states won't help Clinton. If the wins in Texas and Ohio aren't blowouts, she's only going to net a handful of delegates. Texas and the vagaries of it's weird prima-caucus loom large. This is where the criticism that her campaign didn't have a plan past Super Tuesday - which is sort of overhyped - at least has a little merit. It was Karl Rove, of all people, who gave the distant early earning about Texas. This wasn't a state that Clinton should have tied her hopes. Ohio and Pennsylvania are different stories, though!
Russest brings up Clinton moving from conciliation to anger. Goodwin thinks that protecting the Democratic Party brand was the motivation behind her comments at the debate, but that she amped up the energy the day after because, what the heck! She still had a shot at this thing.
But David Brooks says that Clinton's problem is that she hasn't a consistent message and that her campaign has never taken a stance that Clinton was a must-win candidate. I don't think the latter idea is true. The people who power her campaign absolutely see Clinton as the must-win candidate. I don't think they've ever really equivocated on that.
Okay, the whole plagiarism issue. I'm surprised we're still on this on Meet The Press when the New York Times story looms much larger at the moment! I'd like to hear NYT employee David Brooks hold forth on the topic. But, okay, plagiarism. Let's sum up. This was a bad issue for Clinton because it takes a complicated explanation to make the charge, whereas all Obama has to do is say that he had permission from his campaign co-chair to use the line. For voters, the Obama explanation is, as they say, a "shorter walk in the park."
Nevertheless, there are people out there who feel that Obama using Patrick's lines diminished him to an extent. And people should realize: those that feel that way have every right to feel that way. I think it's a perfectly understandable reaction. And it's reasonable for the Clinton campaign, who likely know that most Democratic voters are sort of ga-ga for both candidates and will enthusiastically vote for either, to work the issue as a wedge to break the tie that lies in the hearts of a lot of voters.
What they did wrong, however, was to call this PLAGIARISM. Point blank: no "plagiarism" has occured. To call it plagiarism is a vast overstep. It goes well past proving the original point. But then, there's a pattern here. When the Clinton campaign wanted to demonstrate that Obama had early designs on the presidency, and was not running just because he felt a call to do so, they found three documented examples where the candidate expressed an interest in running for the office. But then, they just HAD to overdo things, and bring in grade-school and kindergarten "essays" as well. All that did was make the Clinton campaign look ruthless to a fault (subsequent attempts to walk that back on the grounds that the kindergarten essay was included as a joke fell flat).
So: there's hitting your target squarely, and then there's NUKING THE SHOOTING GALLERY FROM SPACE. When the Democratic primary-season base is so enthused - so giddy and excited at their choices - the more subtle plays can help to gradually bring enough voters to your side. But when you go around, at this stage of the game, scorching the earth, the electorate wonders why you can't be as happy and enthusiastic as they are. Ironically, Hillary Clinton is well-suited to the task at hand. If she loses, though, I believe she will come to rue and lament some of the things done in the name of her candidacy. I know I do.
And, "change you can Xerox?" Good lord! A line that terrible only makes the case FOR plagiarism!
Russert is just going on and on and on and on about this, too. Goodwin says, "You can't make too much of this."
We finally talk about the New York Times, but it's about David Brooks' column on "Obama Comedown Syndrome." I wonder why it doesn't occur to anybody that one of the after-effects of Obama's rhetoric is that it keeps his own organization inspired?
FINALLY. We get to the McCain story. Russert suggests that McCain has successfully "pushed back" on the Iseman-affair angle, but not the lobbyist angle. Todd thinks the Obama is stronger at countering this issue with McCain than Clinton is.
Goodwin says that the press used to let public officials get away with no end of whoring and dalliances. Uhm...maybe that's because the press corps used to be all men, maybe? Just saying.
Brooks hopes that the Democratic nominiee won't cherrypick McCain over this issue, saying, "If someone aims at purity and hits 95%, how much should we fault them?" Enough to win the election, David. And don't go around pretending that the GOP won't do the same cherrypicking with the Democratic candidate.
Chuck Todd notes that McCain needs to get out of the part of the election season where he and Obama are giving speeches on the same nights. Hey! That sounds like a plausible strategy going forward! Never let McCain get off a speech without a response!
Okay, well. It's time to draw another one of these to a close. I'm so sorry it had to end on Nader. And, really, how can you call yourself "Meet The Press" with only a few minutes given to the media story of the week: the Time's sketchy McCain story? Pretty cowardly, if you ask me.
Anyway, thanks to you all for the comments and emails. Enjoy the Oscars tonight!