TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

06/30/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog, your first of the now-official summer. Yes. Summer. In Washington, DC. It's as close to Hades as you want to get. We hope it's going to be a mild one, like we do every year. Sometimes we catch a break. Most times we get a sweltering bouillon of high heat and ungodly humidity. Why am I saying this? It passes for a clever opening paragraph I guess. Anyway, as usual, leave comments, send emails, and tell me more about this "Canada" place I've heard so much about.

Fox News Sunday

It's the battle of Toms! Daschle versus Ridge! Will Obama be hurt by flip-flopping on public financing? No! The panel will yell about it anyway.

But first, Toms. Daschle is wearing a too-bright tie for me, this time of morning, my hangover, et cetera. Ridge forces himself to offer a smile, and it quite literally takes every muscle in his body. He's not the happiest man!

Terrorism? Obama's against it. Wants to fight it in places where it is. Not Iraq. Ridge says that McCain bravely said, "No, President Bush! What is this? An Iraq War for ants? There needs to be at least 30,000 troops more!" And now terrorists have been a'scurred ever since. Daschle keeps specifically separating the "War in Iraq" and the "War On Terror." And he says that now is a good time to get out of the first and out of the latter.

Ridge starts speaking in straight gibberish. The Iraq War is going well, he says, and the government is making progress. But remember: progress only means we have to stay there longer. Then he worries about oil falling into the hands of terrorists - as if al Qaeda wants to open up oil refineries.

Now Wallace is talking gibberish. He asks if Barack Obama should be worried about top secret information coming out in a habeas hearing for the Gitmo hearings. Uhm, Chris Wallace? CLASSIFIED INFORMATION DOES NOT COME UP IN A HABEAS HEARING. It's not a hearing where evidence is presented, it merelyt establishes the terms for future legal engagements. Unfortunately, Daschle doesn't understand this either.

Jeez, they are moving from topic to topic with rapidity. Now it's drilling. Wallace wants to know from Ridge that if McCain wants to drill in thje ocean, why not ANWR? Why not Arrowhead stadium? Why not the Metropolitan Opera House? Ridge says that for reasons he cannot explain, McCain has seen the region and "feels strongly about it." Wallace really hates ANWR. "Most of us will never see it! How is it more pristine than the ocean?" MCCAIN WANTS TO BUILD HIS FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE THERE.

Wallace wants to know why Obama wants to protect the ocean anyway. Our oil derricks are tough and stood up to Hurricane Katrina. Shouldn't we ALL LIVE ON OIL DERRICKS? Maybe that's how the GOP will escape gay marriage. They'll move to oil derricks. Then they'll all gay-marry the oil.

Will either of these Toms be the VP? Daschle says that Ridge would be a great VP for McCain, but he isn't expecting the nod and isn't applying for it. Ridge says that he'll have a private conversation about whether McCain could really use a pro-choice vice president with no neck.

Now we get to the public financing issue. Wasn't it mean of Obama to try to win the election! Well, we have about twelve hours of outrage left in this...Daschle says that Obama didn't break his word - well he did - but he has a publicly financed campaign anyway with a huge donor base (try breaking a million and a half promises to them!). Ridge works up a little outrage, here, but even he seems to understand that this is more about McCain needing to artificially level a playing field with Obama and less about some sort of dirty promise breaking.

Daschle, on trade, tries to to connect Bush and McCain, and Ridge starts yelling about how "you're going to do that through the whole campaign." Ridge yells, Daschle talks over the interjection. There's a nice vision of what the future of pundit panels is going to like, and then it's over.

Panel time! Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Juan Williams, and the Kingdom of the Kristol Skull.

Know who really hates Obama for deciding to maintain his own funding mechanism? EDITORIAL WRITERS. Hume says that while it's a flip-flop, but "good for him." "Obama really has created a new form of financing and it shows how unnecessary this whole idea of public financing is." Liasson thinks that "the left" is being hypocritical on this. I think she fails to realize that plenty of people see Obama's fundraising as a direct person-to-campaign matter that they recognize as being rivetingly fair.

Kristol doesn't think Obama's money advantage will be the decisive one. Probably not! Especially since McCain doesn't really seem to "know anything."

Ugh. Now they're talking about David Brooks' column. "Did we learn something about Barack Obama?" I think we re-learned something about David Brooks. I mean, the idea that David Brooks could have been alive and on this earth for the past decade and a half, and it's Obama's decision to opt out of public financing is the matter that's finally crushed his precious innocence?

Surprise! Bill Kristol is useful today! I thought that in about an hour or so, I'd be writing a graf of bitchery about how the real good reason to be giving Obama your madface this week isn't campaign funding, but retroactive immunity for telecoms in the warrantless wiretapping case. Obama is on the wrong side of that issue. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And you shouldn't be surprised to learn that there are plenty of conservatives who think the wiretapping policies are straight LOONY, and that we can't go around immunizing criminality after the fact just because President Bush wrote a bunch of checks the law couldn't cash. Telecom immunity really is the sort of issue that transcends party lines, and it's disappointing to see Obama side with the 25% that still supports the Bush policies instead of the 75% that don't.

Well, Kristol brought it up. Good for him. Too bad no one else wanted to talk about it.

However, this sort of unfounded fearmongering is why we privately reserve Kristol a broom closet and a rubber suit to wear:

"It's just factually true that electing someone like [Obama] with the policies he's articulated...increases the risk of enemies testing him in his first month of office and allies being worried."

Naturally, there's no FACTS at the back of this "FACTUAL TRUTH." But Wallace let's it go, because that's what this show does best: let Kristol's nonsense go. Anyway, Juan Williams pushes back, and, in keeping with Fox tradition, anytime Williams speaks, there are a cutaway shots to Brit Hume sighing and shaking his head. Hume really hates him!

This Week, With George Stephanopoulos

OK. So we're going to have some sort of gas policy roundtable with some industry types who's names I didn't catch. And I'm not Tivoing this show, I am "f*** it, let's do it living" this show.

But, uhm...gas prices are high. Jeffrey Sachs, Ed Markey, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and some dude named Red. Markey says that the crisis is caused by Republicans. Okay!? Get it! They did it, the end, go home, good night. We have not yet unleashed out "technological giants."

Kay Bay says that the crisis is caused...by Democrats! They are big ol' Thwarty McThwartersons...always with the thwarting! Kay Bay want's nuke plants and oil refineries to be in any other district then hers. Red Cavaney (Cavaney is his name) says something about Nigeria and the need to stabilize that state, and that we like the "light, sweet stuff."

Jeffrey Sachs totally disses Kay Bay: "We've had no plan the past seven years...it was oil from the first day, and that was the big mistake." "I don't disagree with much of what he says," Kay Bay says. Also we are experimenting on waves and wind! THE WAVES AND WIND SHALL DO OUR BIDDING! Vote McCain/Poseidon, Lord of the Sea!

Can I get some public transport talk up in here? Please? Please?

Markey says we should use the strategic petroleum reserve and a massive technology investment to wean us off oil. Empty the strategic reserve? BUT WHAT IF WE NEED IT FOR SOME STRATEGIES? What if we need that oil to fight the Andromeda Strain?

Really, right now, I need Batman or somebody to come crashing through the roof of the Newseum and start yelling "PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, JERKS!" And also throwing Batarangs at people. Tell me you wouldn't enjoy seeing Batman chasing Stephanopoulos all over the Newseum, throwing Batarangs at him. That should be a regular feature at the Newseum, like the dancing mascots at Disney. Docents would say: "Right here is the memorial wall, with the names of fallen journalists...and, OH, LOOK! If you just peer over this railing, you can see Batman chasing George Stephanopoulos with Batarangs! This happens every two hours at the Newseum! Oh! Oh, no! Looks like George got himself trussed up again! That little dude never seems to get away, does he? Anyway...everyone clap for Batman! Yay Batman!"

Kay Bay says, "A windfall profits tax, which has been shown not to work..." Has it? Stephanopoulos says, "That's true from my studying.,." George Stephanopoulos studies? Did Markey just threaten to PEE on somebody? This is getting crazy!

Markey says that nuclear power is "on the table" but "dead on the table" because no one wants to invest in it. Kay Bay thinks this is all about stringent regulations, but it's also because NO ONE WANTS TO INVEST IN IT. And I bet you anything that if they proposed a nuclear power plant in Hutchison's neighborhood she'd fashion herself an Erin Brockovich outfit tout-suite.

Stephanopoulos laughs and says, "I'm sure we'll have many more discussions like this." And then I shoot myself in the forehead!

And now: YELLING ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE! Cokie Roberts says that Obama's flipped and flopped, but whatevs, he's raising money had over fist, so win. Also: the American people won't care about this. Sam Donaldson says he'd have rather Obama just said, "Folks, let's just win this thing." And I sort of agree. Just say, look, this is a great funding mechanism we've built, it's fair, it's legal, it works, you're engaged, let's close the deal.

Only Matthew Dowd seems offended by this, but his qualms are misplaced and his analysis is wrong. "The places where Obama outspent Clinton, he lost!" But he outspent her basically everywhere after Super Tuesday, and anyway, what's this an argument for? Not outspending John McCain? Be a different sort of politician that way? Dowd thinks that this is "brand damage" on the level of Mitt Romney, but no one believed in Mitt Romney's brand enough to GIVE HIM MONEY, Matt Dowd! Obama has a million more donors backing his brand than Romney ever did.

Brazile: This is a win-win for Democrats, and a win-win for Obama.

OMG. After calling out Obama for this campaign finance flip-flop, Dowd now believes that McCain needs to "distance himself from Bush on every issue." Well, I sort of agree but it's about six months too late for that, Matt! That is tantamount to about 700 flip-flops! GS says, "Isn't that impossible?" Dowd says McCain is better off "flip-flopping again." And then go on a speaking tour. A SPEAKING TOUR? With what money? Oh, Matthew Dowd. You really should have called in sick today.

Stephanopoulos defines "high racial sensitivity" as a "white person having a black friend!" Jeez, George! Do you not watch the Colbert Report? They have a running joke on this! Whites With Black Friends break hard for Obama! Whites With Black Friends would be an awesome band name. Still, I know plenty of whites with black friends who could step up their racial sensitivity game.

Sam Donaldson says that Obama's "friends.,.like Father Pflegler" could hurt Obama, and GS says Obama is "surrounded by radicals." Oy. Matthew Dowd says Obama could lost because he is an "elitist." If McCain loses, by the way, I plan on pointing out what an elitist McCain is. Because he is! Total multimillionaire elitist. Won't you join me? Dowd says that this election boils down to Obama "telling the people who he is, in an authentic way." And as soon as Obama puts forth the effort, he'll probably be back on this stupid show saying, "This election hinges on Obama speaking substantively on the issues."

Oh, hey. I think Brian Williams is doing Meet The Press today, but the word is that Tom Brokaw will be the show's moderator through the election.

Friend to the liveblog Chris Blakely writes:

At the time I read "The Two Obamas," OP ED by David Brooks, I knew I would be hearing about it come Sunday on FOX News Sunday.

From "Run, Barack, Run" from Springfield, Illinois, October 19, 2006, Mr. Brooks wrote,

"Coming from my own perspective, I should note that I disagree with many of Obama's notions and could well end up agreeing more with one of his opponents. But anyone who's observed him closely can see that Obama is a new kind of politician. As Klein once observed, he's that rarest of creatures: a megahyped phenomenon that lives up to the hype."

Then this past Friday, beginning his OP ED by calling Republicans "saps" for naively thinking they are running against an elite liberal, Brooks wrote,

"But as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there's Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who'd throw you under the truck for votes."

The above two quotes tell me that the Republicans got the opponent they wanted to run against. Hey, I'm not suggesting this is Watergate II, but Obama's meteoric rise to a national campaign reminds me of Gerry Faust jumping from head football coach at Cincinnati Moeller High School to head coach at Notre Dame University. For several excruciating years, we watched Faust bumble and stumble making ill-advised moves on the most visible of all national stages. Had Faust seasoned his coaching at some small colleges and made his inevitable mistakes in front of hundreds and thousands instead of millions on national TV at Notre Dame, he might still be coaching today.

That's very true. If Obama ganks on this attempt, he could be denying himself the future success he could have had. I think that even he realizes this. But hey, he's old enough to run, and we've had a number of Presidents with a lot less experience (Bush 43, Reagan, Carter, Wilson, Lincoln). In the choice between Clinton and Obama, there isn't a candidate there who's demonstrated political acumen by facing down a tough opponent (let's face it, Rick Lazio and Jeanine Pirro are as unimpressive as people come).

So, the Dems may have, indeed, made a "Faustian" (see how I did that!) bargain. But still, five of the people who died in the wars this week were only nineteen years old. It's a chance worth taking, because I'd like to see some nineteen year olds survive the next decade.

The Chris Matthews Show

Sad news! I think my coffee maker needs to be replaced. I think that when you need needlenose pliers to operate it, it's time to maybe think about getting a new one.

Ooh. I see Chris has updated his opening credits with lots of Barack and John being Barack and John! Cute!

Oh, you are kidding me. Jim Cramer? Jim Cramer on the show today? Argh. I hope we have a lengthy discussion of Bear Stearns. Also Katty Kay, Kathleen Parker, and Andrew Sullivan.

So, Chris' first segment. Can McCain be a "Houdini" and escape the bad Bush economy? And can he do it by any other means than to paint Obama as a tax-raiser? Cramer says that the Bush tax plan is a facade and that Obama's tax plan is great, and so now we need to conclude that Obama is DOOMED.

Sullivan says that Obama needs to be the guy who's taking us back to the Clinton years and he needs to talk about the debt.

Matthews namechecks the Portuguese escudo! What I wouldn't give for a wheelbarrow full of those right now! I think if the dollar gets any weaker I'd need a wheelbarrow full of dollars to just buy the wheelbarrow.

Kay says that the silver lining for McCain is that his ratings are not as terrible as Bush's or any other Republican. Then Kay weirdly grits on Parker for two cut-away shots. Can't we have two blondes on this show without a rift? The two balding gentlemen are getting along.

Sullivan: "The conditions are so overwhelming that it's very hard for [McCain] to get out of this Republican taint." COMING THIS SUMMER: "Escape From The Republican Taint!"

Cramer is yelling about stagflation. "We're sick of it!" Then he looks for a chair to throw. Matthews breaks the tension by showing a hilarious Amy Poehler/John McCain sketch. McCain does have a decent future in sketch comedy. Maybe Judd Apatow can work McCain into a movie or something.

Kathleen Parker says that McCain comes off as creepy. It's Saturday Night Live, Kathleen. Lighten up a little. Also, it won't end up on "YouTube a week before the election" because SNL clips are on Hulu, duh!

Do you ever think that "Hardball Across America" is just undoing all the good work done by "Hands Across America?"

Well, now we're going to have an extended discussion of Parker's new book Save The Males. It's a "broad view of male bashing" apparently. Parker says that brains is the new brawn, apparently, and she suggests that Obama will get the better end of that stick, but her foundation comes from the example of Bobby Jindal - exorcist-performing evolution denier. She says that the NOLA sheriffs told her that "after Katrina, they realized that brains matter." That Jindal is what passes for brains in Louisiana ought to terrify you, because the guy is as ignorant as a piece of dry toast.

Anyway, Obama's better at basketball than he is at bowling, but basketball is so ELITE. The Boston Celtics are all poshie millionaires, after all! (By the way, congratulations to Celtics fans! Please do not riot and damage my city, thanks!)

Chris Matthews praises Sullivan for predicting both nominees. I will praise him for letting the natural grey return to his beard. Sullivan predicts that Pawlenty will be McCain's veep, and, indeed, McCain has already made up his mind on the matter. He says Obama won't pick anyone whose "brand" distracts from his own.

Kay says the Saudis are poised to launch some trillion dollar fund that can't possibly all be invested in Saudi Arabia, so they'll buy America instead, the end. Jim Cramer says that the housing market will bottom nine months from now. Then he drinks raw wolf's blood and screams. Parker says the Obama campaign thinks it has a good chance in Florida and will be spending money there, so Charlie Crist may end up the Veep, but we've already established that Andrew Sullivan gets to wear the smarty-pants hat today!

Meet The Press

OK. Sorry for the delay. My wife and I just had a brief discussion on Entertainment Weekly's top 1000 records. We agree on the following things: Purple Rain is a worthy number one, Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes doesn't get nearly enough credit as it deserves, we're surprised that EW included a Replacements album (Let It Be), we're stunned there's no Jay-Z in the top fifty, and it's totally unfair that Michael Jackson gets to play with baby tigers and we don't. Baby tigers are CUTE.

All right, Meet The Press. With Brian Williams, one night only. Joe Biden takes on Lindsey "Jowly Dave Foley" Graham. Whee! I'm gonna get a Coke!

First of all, Luke Russert, Joe Biden wants you to know that his dad loved you. I'm still waiting for Joe Biden to tell me how my family feels about me. Probably he'll say, "Not too sure they approve of the liveblogging." And I'll say, "Huh. Uhm...shut up, Hairplugs." And we'll both nove on.

First: YELLING ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE. Well, in February, Obama said that he'd work with John McCain on a system that worked for everyone, and now he's decided instead to sit down with about 1.5 million donors and agree to a system that won him the White House, and this is a terrible flip-flop, this whole WANTING TO WIN stuff, and you know that John McCain, if he had any of his own advantages, would totally give them up to help his opponent out.

Biden says that he totally loves public financing because it gets big money out of politics. Biden says that he won't "color" it and say anything other than Obama has changed positions, but he's got a system that does what you want to old version of "public financing" - set aside $80million taxpayer dollars to have a campaign - to do, but in a different way.

BriWil says, so, this is a pragmatic decision. Plugz retorts that it is a "substantive decision" also, because his campaign is not owned by any large entity. "Where does this leave public financing?" asks Williams. Well, if every future candidate raises money the way Obama does, maybe we leave "public financing" in the same place we left zeppelins and steamboats.

Jowly Dave says, that Obama's word is broken "FOREVER! Do you hear? FOREVER! That's what it means! The change is a lie! McCain loved campaign finance reform! Loved it like his only son! Maybe more, even. After all, he didn't make campaign finance reform go fight in a war or write a daily blog about the campaign in order to earn his love!"

"For whatever reason, he has broken his word," says Jowly Dave, pretending that he doesn't a) know specifically why Obama switched positions, and b) secretly envy it.

"This is a game changer in the election. This will not go unnoticed by the American people," says Jowly. Would you like to bet your Senate seat on that? Because I'd wager that he's totally, 100% wrong on that. (That said, I do not, in any way shape or form, want to be South Carolina's Senator.)

Then, Jowly says, "I would argue that MoveOn.org has played him like a fiddle on Iraq." Huh, wha? Okay. On the Iraq War, Obama's position has been pretty clear for a while and really, that it dovetails with MoveOn.org is not surprising. What's important here, and what Jowly Dave is ignoring, is that Obama's Iraq War position also dovetails with A VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICANS. Timetables and benchmarks in Iraq? NOT A POSITION OF THE 'HARD LEFT.' This is a mainstream position. Withdrawal is a mainstream position. Fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a mainstream position. I'm not going to be so presumptuous as to call CONTINUING the Iraq War a "hard right" position (indeed, Bob Barr is as "hard right" as they come and he favors an end to the war as well), but those who would continue the Iraq War indefinitely, as McCain would, are CLEARLY the outliers in the voting public.

Anyway, Obama's hardly danced to the tune MoveOn.org has set. Actually, MoveOn.org has agreed to shutter their 527 operation because Obama won't have anything to do with it. Jowly Dave is completely out of touch with reality on this one.

Williams asks if McCain were in Obama's shoes, wouldn't he make the same decision? Jowly says that McCain would act in the best interests of the country, and Obama is a "calculating politician" who does things out of political expediency.

JOWLY DAVE: "The bottom line about Barack Obama, whatever the position...he's going to take a tack that allows him to win. He wants to win beyond everything else. Even more than keeping his word.

OH LINDSAY GRAHAM. YAAAAH. Okay, Lindsay? Straight up, YAAAAAH. The gas face, you get. Know why? Because your boy Straight Talk McSainty has been putting the negation on this G.I. Bill, big time, until this week, when it's passage finally became inevitable, and now the man is TAKING CREDIT FOR IT.

Biden runs down a litany of McCain flip-flops, and bottom-lines the finance issue by saying that the Obama funding vehicle is a public-financing advancement.

Oy. Now Graham is READING Obama's statement, and he says, "It wasn't worth the paper it was written on." Oh, these ironies are so rich, considering John McCain's "word", that I sort of wish we could harness the exchange rate to the irony. Then we could all have something in our wallets that WAS worth the paper it was printed on.

Now Williams is reading David Brooks' column. Let's see if anyone says anything substantive on it.

Okay, Joe Biden, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Biden says, "if everyone in America agreed that eighty percent of the contributions for House and Senate and President could only come from people making contributions of $100 or less, we'd have a pretty darned good system." I guess. We'd also have 20% of the contributions casting a considerable influence over elections.

Biden does make a good point in that it's hilarious to hear Obama's opponents calling him "naive" one minute and then a "calculating pol" the next. But then, they already say he's the most and the least liberal Senator depending on who they are talking with at the time.

OMG. Lindsay Graham is being SO melodramatic right now. "It's just sad...someone with this much talent...to have fallen this far, this soon." THIS IS AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE. He's tearing up! He's tearing up! Where's MSNBC when you need some sexist digs at the sight of an adult crying? Next, Jowly is going to start singing "Helena" by My Chemical Romance.

Now Brian Williams says we are going to "get to oil drilling by way of Canada."

Biden says that NAFTA needs wage and environmental protection. Jowly Dave says that Obama broke his word when he said he'd unilaterally renegotiate NAFTA, though all he really said was that he'd use leverage to get the protections America we needs. Biden points out that the president is allowed to withdraw from treaties that hurt American interests. And Biden uses a specific example of factories in the US and Mexico to drive home the point.

And right on cue, they put up the clip of Obama saying exactly what I just said. Graham keeps up his emo act. But I'll grant Jowly the undivided Jerusalem part. I did a few triple takes when Obama said that and wondered how soon they'd be walking that back. That was, I believe, significant. But opting for a superior version of public electoral financing and using commonplace carrots and sticks in negotiations...it's a joke watching Graham get teary eyed over this.

Now Biden and Graham yell at each other about offshore drilling. Graham, himself, broke his word about offshore drilling. He used to be against it, and now he's for it. And the whole thing...*sniff*...it just...it just...OH BLOG READERS! It just TEARS ME UP INSIDE! What this good Senator from South Caroline has been through! The things he's seen! The jowls he's grown! And now, because of gas prices, he has to break his word! The pain I feel is immeasurable!

Biden points out that we still haven't tapped 79% of the existing offshore reserves that the moratorium permits. REALLY, JOE BIDEN. Can't you see how sad Lindsay is? Have I been spelling Lindsay two different ways this whole time? PROBABLY. That's why I call him Jowly Dave Foley.

BriWi pulls out another clip from another paper, but look, we've driven home the point that Jowly Dave is the awesomest sort of hypocrite. I mean, circumstances change, and he's allowed to change his mind. But when circumstances change, Obama's not allowed to do the same.

And you know, Graham doesn't always deliver these sorts of pathetic performances on teevee. This is what prolonged exposure to McCain does.

Now they are talking about Iraq versus Afghanistan. Biden says that Iraq is, at bottom, a deployment of 140,000 soldiers at an expense of $3 billion a week, 250 casualties a month, and none of it addresses "the real threat of terror."

BIDEN: "John McCain is addressing this as if he were the Commander in Chief of Iraq...the President has larger security concerns."

And Biden has quotes from five generals despairing of the broken army and the misguided priorities, and offers to go down a list of others.

Jowly's response? A nice blend of Bush talking points "Iraq is the central front in the war on terror" and McCain mythology - John McCain stood up to the President and said, "You're not doing the war hard enough!" And now, the Iraqis want us to leave and they don't want our bases. And Afghanistan still is FUBAR.

JOWLY: "If we had lost in Iraq...it would have become chaotic. You would have had a Sunni-Shia civil war spread through the region, the biggest winner of our loss in Iraq would have been Iran, second only to al Qaeda."

Of course, the problem is, Iraq DID become chaotic, there WAS a civil war, in fact there was rampant sectarian cleansing and a huge resultant refugee problem, and Iran HAS become the big winner in Iraq - their government negotiates freely with al-Maliki, and Iran dictated the terms of the Sadrist cease fire in Basra when the US and Iraq failed to contain the Sadrist militia. Meanwhile, I don't know if al Qaeda has won specifically in Iraq, but they've certainly had an easy time of it in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they still threaten our security and always will, so long as we continue to appease them.

"You have to win where the enemy is at," says Jowly.

Biden responds by taking Obama off the hook for not holding hearings on Afghanistan: "I chair that committee." He also points out that Petraeus and Crocker both have said that the terrorist threat resides mainly in Afghanistan. He knows this because it was an answer to a question posed by...Joe Biden! He also calls the thinking that the Iraqis would allow al Qaeda to flourish in Iraq, "bizarre."

Good discussion, but it's on the Veepstakes. Biden doesn't want to be VP. He does not want to be asked, but if asked, he'd do it.

SIDE NOTE: I see that my attempts to get this section published are temporarily being thwarted by the Movable Type blog engine (much like the Democrats keep thwarting Kay Bailey Hutchison!) I hope it gets published soon, because I totally see what most of the commenters were saying about with all the comments and emails that say something to the effect of "Just wait for MEET THE PRESS."

I also sort of love the fact that you guys know I'm watching MTP on TiVo, while you all have watched it in real time, but you honor the spoiler conventions. By which I mean, I now get emails that say things like, "OMG, Meet The Press was crazy today," but assiduously avoid being specific about it. It's like you don't want to spoil the ending, and it's charming and thoughtful and hilarious.

Anyway, panel time, sort of. John Harwood (so hot right now!) and Andrea Mitchell (maybe Greenspan will buy her Meet The Press) will talk about stuff.

So, Newsweek has Obama up fifteen, but it could be an outlier. Harwood says the "drama of the summer" will be what kind of lead can Obama pile up.

Will campaign finance be an issue that resonate with voters? Mitchell says that Obama is hoping for. I say the average American doesn't care about this stuff. My wife says, "The Bush presidency is full of cronies, and there's no outrage from the average American about that!" Of course, lots of average Americans voted for Bush.

Know what my only problem with Obama's latest ad? Bad editing. When the ad starts, it alights on Obama's face, and he's making a strange face - his mouth is partly opened and his eyes aren't focused. It only lasts a second, and then it's all business, but that split-second beginning really kind of gnaws at me.

Oooh! Brian Williams proves that he can identify U.S. States on a map! He's sooooo dreamy!

When Harwood talks about "the terror deal," is he referring to the telecom bill? If so, that's the second mention of it today, again, it's glancing, and again, it's probably the most important issue in the race this week! It's also the issue that Obama should be getting some busting down on. It's the priorities. They always baffle me.

Oy. More Veepstakes. "Where is the making of the list these days, by the great mentioners," Williams asks. Mitchell suggests that Barr-Obama-Nunn are circumstances that could earn Obama Georgia's electoral points.

Williams asks Harwood to do some Veep picking. For the Dems, Harwood like Ted Strickland (uhm...John? He already said he wouldn't do it), Evan "Just Pretend Like I'm Not Even Here" Bayh, and Joe "RAAAWWWR BIDEN SMASH" Biden...and Sam Nunn. CHEATER THAT'S FOUR. On the GOP side, Harwood likes the sunburnt Charlie Crist, Tim "Mr. Cellophane" Pawlenty, and Rob "Who is Rob Portman" Portman.

Meet The Press ends with a tribute to Tim Russert. Apparently they played Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as the recessional music at the Kennedy Center tribute. Very nice choice. Especially since DC was full of rainbows that day. Which Williams now mentions, of course.

All right, then. I guess the weather in DC isn't all that bad. Anyway, that is that. Lindsay Graham! Wow. I, just...wow. What a performance. The only thing that melodrama lacked was a damsel tied to the railroad tracks. I imagine that YELLING ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE opened pretty well this weekend. But, like SPEED RACER before it, expect a box office drop off by next Sunday. We'll see. Have a great Sunday.

And yes, Tom Brokaw is coming.

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