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TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

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Good morning everyone and welcome to your Sunday morning liveblog, where we appease a bunch of talk show hosts by watching their shows. You know, for many months, the going concern has been the totally endless Democratic primary and the damage that it was doing to Democratic party. Would they be divided? Will they come together? Well, this week, we got a heavy dose of the reason why the Dems will eventually unite: the Republicans' propensity for saying a bunch of stupid crap!

It all began with George Bush in the Israeli Knesset, working hard to make sure that he said something idiotic enough to drive all the Democrats back into each others' arms. It was a fitting reminder of the fact that George Bush is the first American president for whom a whole other dude, Karl Rove, was tasked with being his "brain." And of course, as we know, having someone else's brain hardly helps in the area of developing cogent policy - probably because as Bush's brain, Rove has to spend so much time controlling Bush's autonomic functions. "NO!" Rove has to constantly remind Bush, "Don't soil yourself! Don't choke on that pretzel! Chew your food!"

A ton of other Republicans followed suit on Bush's merry march down the stupidberry trail. Mike Huckabee reminded the nation of the rich Southern tradition of shooting black people, some idiot talk radio gabber gave Chris Matthews a chance to redeem himself on the air, and, of course, we had John McCain, attempting to give us a glimpse of the year 2013 in the style of Back To The Future, inadvertently reminding us all of Logan's Run.

So, a good week. So don't ruin it by watching the Sunday shows yourself. Let me do it for you! As usual, send an email or leave a comment.

And, on a side note, DC-area liveblog fans are encouraged to head on out to venerable institution Politics and Prose this evening at five to my friend Matthew Yglesias discuss his new book, Head In The Sand. It all starts at five this afternoon. You should totally ask him if he feels that new Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni should negotiate without preconditions with the Knicks current roster, or just bomb them.

Fox News Sunday

In the first place, Ted Kennedy is doing fine. He's been visited by his family and has been watching Red Sox games and eating clam chowder. It's all a part of a highly effective treatment protocol of "Boston cliches." We're glad the Senator is doing well and wish him a full recovery.

So, Chris Wallace is moving on to the McCain-Obama matchup, so this week, we get a classic inter-partisan Battle of the Surrogates between John Kyl and Chris Dodd. Kyl is asked why it's so crazy that Obama would meet with rogue leaders. Kyl thinks it's outrageous. "What would Obama talk to Ahmadinejad about?" I bet you he doesn't bet about selling him arms, like, say, a Reagan would! Dodd quotes Kennedy and talks up Nixon's opening China, and smartly mentions that the Iranians generally favor the U.S., but that Bush foreign policy has made it difficult for reformers to take the lead.

"Is it fair to tie McCain to President Bush?" Wallace asks. Well, if it's fair to tie Obama to Hitler! What a question!

Kyl wants a second chance to answer the first question he got, and answers it no better. Then he basically gives credit to John McCain for opposing Bush's Iraq plan on the grounds that it wasn't crazy and stupid enough. Dodd probably thought to himself, "Yeah, and that's why we'll continue to paint McCain as an idiot."

But McCain used to hate the Bush tax cuts also! Kyl says that his opposition was an attempt to negotiate without preconditions with the GOP on crazy spending. He's since come around to understanding that the new GOP way is to claim to fight spending while fighting a useless and expensive war that enriches Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Dodd hears this, smiles and asks, "What happened to the Straight Talk Express?" Dodd's just great at hitting the Bush administration where the most fatty and vulnerable targets are: "This is the worst economy in decades!" Then Kyl complains that Obama opposed Roberts and Alito, basically reminding everyone that Obama is better on making Supreme Court judgements, too. I look forward to McCain surrogates constantly promising America more Sam Alitos.

Next up is undisclosed McCain advisor Karl Rove, who's on hand to explain why the GOP is getting their ass handed to them in all sorts of special elections and why Representative Tom Davis is predicting the GOPocalypse. Rove says the GOP needs to do "three things strategically and three things tactically." I thought strategy and tactics mean the same thing? [Nope! I'm totally wrong...scroll down for the correction!]

Here's his great plan: have a plan, scare people on the Iraq War, and show contrast with the Democrats' plan. The tacticaly change: treat the Democratic argument as substantive. Then he basically goes back to suggesting that Americans are better off scraping by for their healthcare, because it means freedom.

Rove emphasizes that the "Democratic" Congress has a worse approval rating than Bush. But that's because there are still too many people in Congress repping Bush's policies.

Will the GOP be able to win by demonizing the gays, Wallace asks? Rove says no, there are fewer battlefronts, and the whole Gay marriage as a driver to elections sort of wheezed out in Arizona.

Rove gives Obama credit for opposing Bush as a way of winning in Oregon. Long term, he thinks that the issue will make John McCain look smarter. What will Obama say to these leaders? I think Obama might say, "By the way, we're ending this stupid war that's helping al Qaeda." Anyway, Rove is off to help Bush regulate his bladder.

Panel time! And maybe this show will get entertaining or something.

Hume says that is the GOP can't win on their stupid middle east policy in the fall, that they can't win, period. Liasson thinks, yeah, I remember this whole "Commander-in-Chief" argument coming up before, and Obama winning it. Also, she recognizes that what was really important that Obama shot back immediately, sending a message to voters that their wouldn't be a return of Kerry's Swift Boat response. Hume thinks it's totally ridiculous, but Liasson shuts him down, reminding that Obama got the whole Democratic party on his side.

Kristol sees a wisdom in Obama relentlessly connecting Bush to McCain, but thinks that voters will make a "forward-looking decision."

Wallace asks Hume: "Hasn't the Bush policy made Iran stronger?" Hume says that's a fair point, but thinks that a "Bush meeting" would have elevated a WILD AND CRAZY guy to the level of a statesman. You can't meet with someone without offering them nice things! It won't work! You can't talk to people! You can only follow a bunch of inane policies that allow CRAZY PEOPLE TO RULE COMFORTABLY.

Argh. Basically, it boils down to this. Bill Kristol and Brit Hume have so little confidence in the American Argument that they do not think there's any place to lay it alongside the crazy Ahmadinejad argument. And it makes sense that they feel this way, they've backed policies that have continually undermined America. So let's have John McCain continue to strengthen and spur the rise of these Middle East hardliners. I guess it doesn't take "negotiation without pre-conditions" to eventually say, "We surrender."

Meanwhile, the GOP is having a hard time negotiating with the American public, who keep sending Democrats to the House as a part of the 2008 regime change. Kristol thinks that helping McCain will help the GOP downticket, even though there's a lot of current analysis that suggests that McCain's largely protected by his own brand. Then Kristol throws Davis under the bus: He used to be a big fan of Tom DeLay! Now he wants to be a hero!

Kristol is just having a bad day, today. He seems consigned to the idea that the best thing he can do is to keep sounds of some kind emanating from his word hole. Hume's trying to pick up the slack, but even Wallace seems to understand that the sunny side of the street this week is with the Democrats and Obama.

All of this really hurts Brit Hume, who can't come up with a way to help the GOP, other than to suggest that McCain vow to ban earmarks. Of course, those that already favor McCain probably think of him as some sort of spending hawk already. I guess that's why Hume is now sputting and grousing. "They can't even hold seats where Bush is not unpopular!" Yahhhh, Hume, pop some Effexor!

Man. That edition of Fox News Sunday was sort of sad and boring and listless! Unless of course you were Chris Dodd, Mara Liasson or Juan Williams.

The Chris Matthews Show

Well, today, Chris Matthews is taking up the question: "Can Barack Obama sound like a Democrat? And will he have to stage a DeathMatch between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton to decide who will be vice-president." His panel includes the perpetually glowing Norah O'Donnell, who does all the same insighting and analysisizing while simultaneously nurturing another human being in the womb--mad mom-to-be props!--Clarence Page, Gloria Borger, and Andrew Sullivan, who, as a gay-marriage early adopter, has probably been even more fist-pumping excited over the California Supreme Court decision than I have been this week.

So, Chris takes up the white-working class problem Obama's had, and - give him credit - he actually shows that section of Obama's speech-on-race that discusses how they've been left behind by the economy. Matthews says that Obama has to go further and remind people of the "common cause and common enemy" that he shares with them. So, this is looking like that whole show is going to be a Barack Obama prescriptive.

Gloria Borger agrees with Matthews' point. So, she'll be back on the show! "He got to tell them who he is...that he's paying off college loans, that he's not born into wealth." How his mom was the sort of person who used to compete on the old game show "Queen for a Day." In other words: more of this!

Clarence Page says that Obama's ability to penetrate the surpassing, unbelievable stupidity of the "gas tax holiday" was an important moment in American politics, because he convinced people to forego the empty promise of a freebie. Of course, it's also just as critical to note that the promise was a false one, and that it would have led to Americans getting more and more cynical and resentful. For my part, I'm just glad that I haven't had to write a thirty-third post on how stupid the "gas-tax holiday" was. Believe me, if you had told me a last year that I was destined to spend a significant part of my life writing about a "gas tax holiday," I would have, right then and there, started up a scorching heroin habit.

Matthews says, "But West Virginia said gimme!" Okay. I'm going to leave that one totally alone. It's not going to be me, making the obvious hackneyed commentary. Matthews says, "If the voters are a part of labor you promise them better wages, less trade...if they're Jewish you talk about Israel...does [Obama] know how to do that?" What...pander?

O'Donnell notes that Gore and Kerry lost the "white-working class" by wide margins and that Obama will have to do better in order to win. (Not much better, though! I seem to recall that Kerry just got pipped at the post by Bush...and, well...with Gore, there was this whole ordeal that played a lot larger part in his losing the presidency than his appeal to the sons and daughters of coal miners...though let's acknowledge that if Gore had, say, held his own state the world would be a lot different place.)

Andrew Sullivan notes that Obama is doing better than John Kerry, suggesting that there might be a "white-working class" in places like Iowa and Virginia. I guess Sullivan hasn't heard that here in Virginia, white people spend five days each week fox hunting and eating brie off of one another! And that's just our "working-class!" You should see the elaborate orgies that wealthy Virginians stage in their mega-zeppelins that float above Richmond, powered only by truffle oil and the tears of textile workers.

Actually, Matthews and O'Donnell seem to miss Sullivan's point, which is that if McCain's only doing seven percentage points better than Obama with the "white working-class", that's substantially better than Kerry or Gore did. Borger gets it, saying that if Obama were to go into full on pandering mode, he loses his appeal with everyone else.

What no one seems to realize is that Obama's crazily amped-up "Vote For Change" social networking approach to campaign organization addresses many of these problems by putting 750,000 campaign proxies on the ground to make these sorts of targeted appeals.

Should Obama adopt the "enemies list" strategy (which, I think we can safely say is distinct from the "Emily's List" strategy!)? Sullivan says, no, his whole campaign is about bridging gaps and not demonizing people. Borger says Obama has to have arguments with McCain.

Should Obama start playing up his biography? OY. Really? There are people who don't know this stuff, yet? I guess what Matthews' is driving at is that Obama should play up his caucasian side, like his love of county fairs and the hits of Air Supply. Norah O'Donnell says that they did a focus group where independent voters said the two things that they knew about Obama were "Reverend Wright and that they though he was a Muslim"--so Obama needs to "educate people." THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MINUTE. "Independents" see Obama as both a crazy Christian AND, simultaneously, a crazy Muslim. Is "independent voter" the politically correct term for "idiot?"

And, of course, it wouldn't be a Chris Matthews show without a dumb pop-cultural reference, in this case, True Lies. Could someone, anyone, please take Chris to the movies this weekend? Update his frame of reference, maybe? Take him to see Iron Man or Forgetting Sarah Marshall or something?

By the way, thanks to the emailers who provide the etymology lesson I needed earlier: "Strategy is the goal. Tactics are the plan to get to that goal." Boom: well and simply stated. I think my inability to grok this distinction, goes a long way to explaining why I've ended up in a job where I am encouraged to stay in my pajamas and never leave the house instead of one where I venture out into the world dressed as a respectable adult. This is why I tell my parents I am a carnival barker.

Anyway, that means my "strategy" each Sunday is to provide a sometimes cogent liveblog so that people don't have to feel like they are alone and unhappy watching these often terrible shows. My tactics are to get sufficiently caffeinated and to make sure I have a suicide prevention hotline number nearby, in case things take a turn for the worst. If you have any good tactical suggestions, please let me know.

A commenter points out that I failed to mention Karl Rove's mathematical struggles: "Wallace quoted a poll which gave Democrats a 50/32 edge over Republicans on a generic party vote. Rove said that was less than the 13 points difference it had been in 2006. Wallace then sheepishly pointed out that the difference now is 18 points, which would make Karl wrong." Argh. That's why I prefer "TiVoblogging" to "liveblogging". Of course, that's also why the "live" blog concludes at, like, two o'clock in the afternoon!

Should Obama take Clinton as the Vice President? Page thinks that Clinton wants the invitation...but maybe Edwards does, too! Maybe Obama should select McCain and promise that he won't do the country any harm if he's on a four year tour of mall openings and yard sale visits.

Gloria Borger just hates the idea of a Clinton-Obama pairing, and that the Obama campaign isn't really excited about the idea either. Sullivan thinks that Obama can make it work, and that Hillary is dangerous to him whether she's on the ticket or off, so keep your enemies close. Chris Matthews then basically suggests that Clinton will be the next Dick Cheney, with her own man-sized safes and slew of lawyer friends too terrified to go hunting with her.

Tell Chris something he doesn't know! I guess we can all agree that he knows enough about how Hitler came to annex the Sudetenland. O'Donnell says that John Edwards is privately saying he'd be willing to be the vice-president or Robert Kennedy. Page tells Chris that one way Obama could reach working-class people is to talk about how he's the product of a crappy marriage just like all of them apparently. Sounds...pretty...dubious, unless we're also going to have a cabinet-level support group for children from broken homes. Borger says House Republicans are traumatized and that a shake-up to the leadership is coming. Sullivan says al Maliki is doing better and that there might be political progress in Iraq really, really soon. So take heart Thomas Friedman!

Matthews finishes up by basking a little bit in the appeasement issue. Is Bush going to keep up this "the Democrats are going to cuddle with terrorists" rhetoric? Borger says that if it works, he'll keep doing it, but Sullivan basically points out that it won't work...in fact, it only provides Obama with the one great thing that election law and fickle circumstance prevents: a chance to run against George Bush.

That's means it's time for Meet The Press. Better pop an Effexor!

In the meantime, a simple comment that really grabbed my attention from "Scooperss": "Yawn.............why watch? Same OLD speakers on FOX every Sunday." DUDE. TRUE THAT! Fox News Sunday definitely could use a little variety on their panel. They should spell the panel regulars once a month and bring on some different folks once in a while. It's gotten to the point that I'm not sure Hume, Liasson, Kristol, and Williams are even all that excited to be on the show either.

Meet The Press

We lead off with Senator Jim Webb, who I'm always glad to see on Meet The Press. Webb is keeping mum on his superdelegate endorsement and believes that either Obama or Clinton will make "a fine president" and that both could carry Virginia. Russert pulls a book blurb and is all "GOTCHA, DUDE! It says right here that you are a part of the VP conversation! This blurb says that you'd be a good one! Go ahead, Webb: tell us how bad you thirst for the vice-presidency!" Webb, as has been his wont, demurs, saying that he is not interested in the position. "I would highly discourage" Obama and Clinton from asking him to be VP.

Webb strongly disagrees with Bush's comments and then sort of quietly lowers the boom on the entirety of Republican thinking. "if President Bush were to use the right historical example, he should probably be looking at China in the 1970s." Rogue regime: check. Got nukes: check. Marginalized from the respectable international community: check. Spouting dangerous rhetoric and fomenting agression: check. But diplomacy, coupled with the strength of solid international alliances, brought China back from the brink. Can I get a what-what at the contrast between Bush's nonsense and Webb's ability to think and speak in complete sentences from the crowd!

See, Senator, THAT's why so many people think you should be vice-president!

Webb talks up how the Democrats are coming around on understanding the nature of military service, and is plenty aghast at Bush's plan to veto the benefits bill he's authored. And, true to his promise to not politicize his new-G.I. Bill further, doesn't ding McCain for his lack of support, even though he could, preferring to point up the bipartisan support for the bill. He says, with real reluctance, that if Bush vetoes it, it will affect the campaign.

How do the Democrats argue withdrawal from Iraq without being seen as weak? Webb says that the Democrats need to pursue robust diplomatic mechanisms, and that stability in the region really depends on demilitarizing the region. "I don't think there is a downside for the Democratic party to be" backing withdrawal.

So, newish Meet The Press panel, featuring Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy, as always, with Harold Ford and Mike Huckabee standing in for James Carville and Mary Matalin - and, yes, I know that drawing an equivalency between Ford/Huckabee and Carville/Matalin opens up a whole new line of frankly disturbing commentary.

Shrum, by the way, reaffirms that Ted Kennedy is doing well. You know, he's ALIVE like Tim Russert's father in real life. Not dead like Tim Russert's father is in the addled imagination of Terry McAuliffe. Russert waves hello to Kennedy, but I'm pretty sure that the only medical professional that allows their patients to watch MEET THE PRESS is Jack Kevorkian. Maybe Claus Von Bulow would recommend the treatment, but we remind you, he is a layperson.

Richard Engel apparently had this exchange with George Bush this morning:

ENGEL: Were you referring to Senator Barack Obama [when you made your appeasement comments in the Knesset]? He certainly thought you were.

BUSH: You know, my policies haven't changed, but evidently the political calendar has.

Translation?

BUSH: Look. Even I am sort of glad I won't be running this country much longer.

And John McCain basically said: "YES! I am exactly like George Bush! Remember that, voters!"

He also went so far as to mention that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has gone so far to call Israel a "stinking corpse." How can Obama sit at a table with that guy? Meanwhile, John McCain sits at a table with John Hagee, who supports Israel only because he wants Armageddon to be visited upon it.

Obama mentions that Osama bin Laden is "sending out videotapes with impunity," which sort of sounds like something Joe Esterzhas used to do in the 1990s.

Harold Ford says that if you look back on Bush's policies and ask yourself if Bush's policies have made Iran more dangerous "you probably have to answer the question yes, and emphatically." Of course, Ford answers the question as if he's been narcotized. Huckabee disagrees that we are worse off because of Bush, because...SOMEONE ELSE HAS BEEN IN CHARGE? Then he says that Obama should have...uhm..."deflected" Bush's punch and said that Bush wasn't talking about him. Obama, to Huckabee, made the mistake of "taking the punch" and now somehow this makes McCain look tougher because...tough people don't take punches I guess? What?

Shrum disagrees with Huckabee. "John McCain acquired a new last name: John McCain Bush." Hold on, everyone...I have this funny feeling Mike Murphy's going to disagree with Shrum!

Oh, snap! The Huck steps on Murphy's obvious turn in line, saying that John McCain is his own man and that it's going to be difficult to say that he's like Bush even though here at the Huffington Post anyway, we've basically proven that we can tie McCain's dumb policies to Bush's dum policies like, every day! Seriously! Wanna bet we won't be able to do it again THIS WEEK? Anyone can do it! McCain himself only points to like, TWO KEY DIFFERENCES between he and Bush every time he's asked to account for some. He keeps citing, again and again, his support for the Surge (which, in McCain's imagination is not a Bush policy), and the fact that he's willing, on occasion, to get worked up over the environment.

Reporters keep bringing up OTHER distinctions between McCain and Bush, like the fact that he used to not support Bush's tax cuts and used to not support crazy, slash and burn Rovian tactics, and McCain won't even avail himself of the opportunities these differences present! So, SNACK ON 'EM, Huckabee.

Murphy says that Barack Obama's weakness is his "naivete on foreign policy," but, dude: if cutting edge foreign policy means strengthening every bad actor in the Middle East, letting terrorists get away with murder, consigning our troops and our money to a hopeless enterprise, and never ever avenging the dead of 9/11, then I'm reading to sign up for a helping portion of naivete! How soon can we get naive?

Ford is feeling me, mentioning that Obama seems to think we ought to go after real-life terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Shrum mentions that SECDEF Gates says we need to talk with Iran. Murphy says, "all talk is not the same." Shrum says that's balderdash, "talk is not reward." Then they all fight about how McCain said he'd talk to Hamas. Murphy argues that there's nuance to those remarks that's being missed, but Ford says, a little exasperated, "Can't you just concede the point?"

Meanwhile, everybody hates the GOP and Tom Davis says the GOPocalypse is imminent. The Huck says, "Yes, the party is in trouble." But the "silver lining" is that "John McCain is not the traditional, establishment Republican." "Thank God he's going to carry our banner!" Uhm...dude. Let's get real. The McCain brand Huck is talking about is about eight years past its sell-by date. Also, McCain's banner isn't sufficient to get him big primary victories even as the announced candidate of the party! He's leaving 25% of the votes on the table! He's ceding votes to Ron Paul! He's ceding votes to Mitt Romney! He's ceding votes to, uhm...Mike Huckabee! And he's got Bob Barr coming at the rear guard.

This isn't like, "Damn, this New Coke tastes like crap and everybody hates it, so let's rebrand as 'Classic' Coke and reap the reward of everyone coming back to our brand?" No, no. McCain, circa now, is an attempt to get people to think that the New Coke is 'Classic' coke. Huck's like, "Hey, American people, that lousy taste is all in your mind, baby! This is old school McCain you're drinking, not old Bush is a new package!"

Ford's funny: "I know you're trying really hard to stick to those talking points." But Murphy returns to this delusion that McCain is a "different animal" from Bush. "He's a change agent in Washington!" OH LORD. Your "change agent" isn't even sure he's removed all the lobbyists from his own campaign! he says he's going to "re-vet" his whole staff to make sure that no more lobbyists have snuck in. I think the easiest way to identify the lobbyists in McCain's campaign is to walk into a room with them and swing a stick--everyone you've hit is a lobbyist.

So, Russert then calls Huck on the carpet for his HILARIOUS point a gun at Obama joke. Huckabee says it was a "dumb, off-the-cuff" remark in response to a "Bobby Knight incident offstage." What? Did some NRA member get called for handchecking or something?

He says he apologized "immediately." I guess a FIVE HOUR WAIT is the new "immediately." I can now travel to Manhattan by train "immediately." He also says, "anyone who knows me knows that I would never ever try to inject something like that...for any candidate." I guess, then, the process of "getting to know" M ike Huckabee involves learning less and less about the things he does, since he DID, in fact, "inject" that sort of commentary into the race. He then goes on to talk about how Reagan and McCain have also said stupid things, to which the Obama camp replies: "THANKS FOR REMINDING EVERYONE!"

"I apologize, I don't know what else I can do." Here's a thought, Huck. Something you can "do" is agree to be mercilessly hounded by the media over the matter. But, hey, that won't be happening, if this show is any indication, because Russert is moving on. Gotta get that taste of Reverend Wright in your gullet before you get hungry for the fight, eh, Russert?

Huckabee says, "I think it's interesting that no one's jumping on this very blatant cross that's in this ad." He says he's still taking grief for his "floating cross" ad. "It was a bookshelf, for Heaven's sake," Huckabee complains. Well, look, Mike, maybe people give you grief because Jesus wasn't crucified on a bookshelf!

Huckabee says that he doesn't want to be coy about "running for vice-president." Right before he reminds McCain that he was always his own "number two choice!"

SHORTER HUCKABEE: "Hey, John...I'm not saying I'd be the best Veep, but remember that time we teamed up and deactivated Mitt Fraudbot Romney version 4.0? Good times, brah, good times! You're my number two, John. I would rather be on a ticket with you than even my Lord and Savior, who died for my sins upon the bookshelf!"

Also, apparently the McCain/Huckabee White House will help small businesses with their paperwork.

Harold Ford reminds that today, despite the fact that Obama is a secret Muslim who likes loud preachers and is scared of bitter blue collars with guns and religion, he's TIED with McCain among white voters. WOO! Let's hear it for that strong McCain brand! Shrum reminds that God is not going to help the Republicans this year.

OMG! Russert shows HRC on the stump in Kentucky. Look: if continuing her campaign is going to put Hillary in the position where she has access to CASKS OF MAKER'S MARK that hell yes she should continue campaigning!

Oh dear, Mike Murphy makes the same joke as me. I better spend five minutes re-examining my life. My strategy will be: getting my quips differentiated from Murphy. My tactics will include enjoying many, many glasses of Maker's Mark with Hillary Clinton.

Murphy jokes that McCain is more likely to pick Clinton as a running mate than Obama. Let's revisit one of my crazier ideas: Maybe Obama should pick McCain as his Vice-President! That would be some crazy jujitsu right there! Tell the voters, "I'm going to take this Bush-McCain Third Term and lock it up at the Naval Observatory."

Mike Huckabee then makes the most awkward Blackberry joke in the history of the world. Harold Ford thinks Phil Bredesen would make a great vice-president, which would open up the governor's mansion to...Harold Ford, maybe?

The McLaughlin Group

Okay. Presenting, "The McLaughlin Group: A Tragedy in Two Acts."

ACT 1: "OMG HAMAS!"

McLaughlin: ISSUE ONE: Appeasement!

Buchanan: Obama is helped by Bush! But the brainzaps in my skull also say he's hurt by Bush! And HAMAS endorsed Obama! Hamas also "endorsed" cooking with cumin and cilantro! SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT TERRORIST SPICES!

CLIFT: Maaaaaaaaaaah. George Bush makes me feel sour inside. Diplomacy is not appeasement.

CROWLEY: OBAMA IS PRICKLY. And this kettle is black! He's a "girly man" because he wants to use things like "words" to solve international problems.

PAGE: "Don't sound like Anne Coulter, now Monica."

CROWLEY: How dare you! I am hale and well-fed!

BUCHANAN: Better not be eating those Hamas spices! They will fly terrorist shishkabobs into our apple pies!

CROWLEY: Syria and Iran are terrorist sponsors, and Republicans, who talk to them, know the secret "tough" way of talking to them, whereas Democrats ask them to please come bring more wonderful terrorism.

PAGE: Yahhhh, Crowley, yaaaaahhhh!

MCLAUGHLIN: OMG! I, too, shall prove myself unable to separate a Hamas endorsement with the reality that Obama cannot control what idiots at large say about things.

HAMAS: We also endorse Kennedy! And kittens! Ha-ha to all Americans who must now throw their kittens in woodchippers! Hamas also officially endorses the movie THE SEARCHERS. It is vastly entertaining!

MCLAUGHLIN: OMG! Did you hear that?

CLIFT: Flehhhhhhhhh. Are you serious? Really?

BUCHANAN: The Republicans are going to manipulate the Jews! Like with our genius butterfly ballots!

MCLAUGHLIN: What's the better approach? Talking with people? Or sending our troops to die and spending money hand over fist?

CROWLEY: "Talk time" is bad! The terrorists use this "talk time" to lull us into a false sense of security! We must continue to defeat the terrorists by spending all of our money! Why hasn't the U.S. Treasury made out a check in the amount of "ALL THE MONEY" to defeat the terrorists? BECAUSE THEY ARE TALKY-TALK TRAITORS. Anyway, Bush has talked to the Iranians and it has failed!

ME: Yeah. Because he cannot complete a sentence in ENGLISH.

BUCHANAN: Shut up! QADDAFI WAS A MURDERER! Bush said, "GIVE US YR NUCLEAR STUFF!" Now we're friends with crazy, murdering Qaddafi! This is proof of something, I think!

MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe Bush said this crazy stuff to trick the Democrats into supporting Obama so that McCain can defeat him!

CLIFT: Uhm...no.

MCLAUGLIN: COME ON. I thought I was really onto something with this crazy convoluted plan that assumes that Bush is some insanely genius political strategist.

CLIFT: You always think your crazy suppositions are just brilliant, John. Part of the reason this show is so popular is because people tune in to see what nutty-ass stuff you are going to say! A few months ago you yelled that "MITT ROMMMMNAAAAAAY" was going to be the GOP nominee despite the fact that he wasn't able to WIN anything and he dropped out like, three days later. This is what the people expect from you.

MCLAUGHLIN: LOUD NOISES!

PAGE: McCain is totally a Hamas-talking lover of Hamas-talk who's writing the book TUESDAYS WITH HAMAS and the SIX HAMAS PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN.

MCLAUGHLIN: Did Jimmy Carter do the right thing?

BUCHANAN: NO!

CLIFT: YES!

MCLAUGHLIN: Is Hamas the new Reverend Wright?

ME: Really, John? Really? Hamas is a terrorist organization that sponsored suicide bombers. Jeremiah Wright is a loud preacher from Chicago that never threatened the Republic ever until someone found forty seconds of objectionable material to put on YouTube. I'll tell you right now: I HOPE HAMAS DECIDES TO BECOME THE NEW REVEREND WRIGHT.

Act 2: My wife escapes the madness.

MCLAUGHLIN: ISSUE TWO. HILLARY IS STILL RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT I THINK! Let's not treat West Virginia as any sort of outlier!

PAGE: Pish. He didn't campaign in WV.

MCLAUGHLIN: I will not let this go!

CLIFT: Edwards is going to carry Obama's appeal to those voters.

MCLAUGHLIN: NOPE. Can't let it go!

BUCHANAN: Don't let it go! I likes the tribalism!

MCLAUGHLIN: Obama looked like a Black Kerry!

MY WIFE: Do people actually understand this show? Can they follow the conversation?

ME: Some people seem to.

MY WIFE: I think that I understand Cylon religious mysticism is easier to follow.

ME: This show is why the Cylons sought to destroy mankind.

MY WIFE: You sure are pandering very hard to the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fans in the blogosphere, aren't you.

ME: That's not my intent. You just started a conversation that's a million more times interesting than the one they're having on this show.

MY WIFE: I can believe it.

ME: You should have seen this a few minute ago! They were all talking about Hamas. Here's let me rewind it--

MY WIFE: Uhhhh...well...I gotta go! Somewhere! Right now! KTHXBAI. [quickly gets up and leaves]

ME: Sigh.

CROWLEY: Obama cannot win any states! Nevermind the fact that he's won about thirty of them.

MCLAUGHLIN: I think that West Virginia is being dismissed because of "bizarre math."

ME: What "bizarre math?" Addition?

MCLAUGHLIN: Aren't the caucus states inflating his strength?

CROWLEY: Yes.

ME: Haven't we had caucuses forever?

MCLAUGHLIN: The bizarre arithmetic is skewing the appearance of who is ahead!

ME: Or...it's revealing who is ahead! If the situation were reversed, would we be having this conversation? NO.

Act 3: Predictions

MCLAUGHLIN: "OUT OF TIME BYE BYE!"

Oh, thank Mike Huckabee's bookshelf-impaled God that this show is over for another week. So, too, unfortunately, is our liveblog. Thanks as always to the people who spend the morning both with me and at me. We'll do more of the same next weekend, after the Oregon and Kentucky primaries change nothing. We'll leave with a great comment from "AirmanOne," who notes:

"I am amazed that none of the talking heads Repub and Demo has not seized on the fact that the repugs are not used to being attacked so quickly in return...He didn't think the public would buy the slam that he was a traitor...He went wind surfing. Karl Rove ate him alive with the so called Swift Boat Veterans for TRUTH (What a misnomer that was) Al Gore didnt defemd himself against the charge that he invented the internet. (Although he did have a big hand in its growth) The[y] lied and obfuscated like crazy and the Public bought it hook line and sinker. So Obama was quick to answer back at Bush and McBush and it had them bactkracking so fast they left skid marks."

Bang--right there: That's definitely the lesson of this past week, where the Democrats are concerned. And credit the whole party for coming out quick, not just Obama. (AND LET ME ADD A POSTSCRIPT: If you recall, after Bush's remarks drew a flurry of roundhouse punches from every Democrat who could get in front of a microphone, let's remember: the Bush/McCain response was to whine, "But weeeee weren't talking about Obamaaaaa." SO WHO WUSSED OUT THIS WEEK? Ha! Not the Democrats!)

Have a safe week, people!

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