TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

08/11/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog. This morning's session of psychological terrorism is the only thing standing in the way of me packing for the beach and taking a much needed break from the political figures and media personages that by now I'd like to take a rusty brace and bit to in defense of my own sanity and innocence. And I've looked over the landscape, and if I recall correctly, I will have to begin the morning with Chris Wallace and Lindsay "Jowly Dave Foley" Graham. Honestly, I deserve better. But you go to war with the enemy you have. If you'd like to leave a comment, have at it. Want to send an email, please do so. If you'd like to offer me a Irish blessing of the road rising to meet me and the Sunday morning yappers being always at my back, or preferably, locked in a tool shed, that would also be nice.


I think one of the worst things about this show is the screeching, dated music that it begins with. It just rips right into your brain and leaves burning tracks of lye-like scarring. Ugh.

"The presidential campaign went negative this week," Wallace said, leaving out the fact that it went juvenile. And they'll take Obama's joke - god help him, one of the few lighthearted moments he's been able to muster - and blow out the race card. Jowly Dave does the whole, "I'm so disappointed" act. He says that John McCain would never do that. Never!

John McCain has done it, though:

Daschle says that you "can't quote Obama saying that John McCain is a racist" and that it was all about a "person who doesn't fit the political mold."

Now they get into the "celebrity" ad, but Graham wants to keep up his fatuous mock-offense at Obama arguing that people might dare suggest John McCain be underhanded in his tone. At the same time, Daschle says things like, "John McCain hasn't said One positive thing about Obama in two months," -- well, it's not John McCain's job to say nice things about Obama!

Then, Wallace takes Dana Milbank's misquote of Obama and tosses it up on the screen as if it were true. And unfortunately, Daschle doesn't seem equipped with the knowledge to say, "Chris, that quote is incorrect. It came from a reporter who seems to be some sort of idiot." And that quote found its way into the "Messiah" advertisement, as well. Le sigh. The bad journalism seems to always outlive the good.

Graham is now talking about how if you want to be a leader, a good test is whether you can spearhead the effort to present an offshore drilling boondoggle that won't help the American people one whit.

We return from commercial and Daschle and Graham are still there. Great. And they're talking about Iraq. Great. Daschle doesn't know what McCain wants to do. Jowly Dave says that McCain will listen to General Petraeus, because General Petraeus is apparently the king of the world now, and not an employee of the people of the United States. I think that not knowing that you are the person who gets listened to when they're in a room with a run-of-the-mill general, is a de facto disqualification.

How adorable! Jowly Dave doesn't realize that Iran HAS been the primary beneficiary of the Iraq War! He doesn't understand that Iran has filled the vacuum he describes. Then he questions Obama's judgement in one breath, and in the next talks about getting "Russia to bring pressure" on Iran. I guess that we'll ask Russia to do that before they find out they're being thrown out of the G8. Ssssshhh! Nobody tell Russia that John McCain is going to do that! If they find out, they may not WANT to play the critical role we need them to play to keep us safe.

Now Jowly Dave is ranting about debates. "Get your hands dirty!" he yells. Keating Five dirty?

Oy, Daschle. Could you do a little more than mutter under your breath? This guy gets worse as a surrogate as time goes on. Graham's an utter Drama Queen, and he's nary a fact at his disposal, but he's probably had the better morning, in a final analysis.

Graham then says Obama is the "worst prepared person to run for President in a time of war." But remember, JOHN MCCAIN WOULD NEVER TRY TO MAKE YOU AFRAID OF HIM!

Panel time! And I wish they would have a Ron Burgundy-style street fight. Bill Kristol says that McCain won the week, even though he hates it when pundits use that frame. Then he spits a torrent of conventional wisdom about how Obama shouldn't have gone to Europe. Of course, McCain went to Europe, and had Obama not gone, there'd probably be an ad about how Obama "arrogantly" decided not to meet with important world leaders.

I missed everything Juan Williams said about race, and somehow, I feel all the richer for it. Apparently, Obama played the race card.

Mara Liasson says that McCain has played the "I'm a cranky old man who doesn't care about my honorable brand" card. I want to play my "I get the punch both presidential candidates in the throat" card. Instead, I am playing my "I an pissing off to the beach" card.

Chris Wallace speaks of "Democratic strategists" that suggest that Obama is a second run of Kerry and the Swiftboaters. Bill Kristol even looks incredulous on that regard, "The Obama campaign is plenty tough." I don't really believe that Wallace REALLY talks to Democratic strategists.

Know what I'm not going to miss whilst on my brief vacation? These "FreeCreditReport.com" commercials. Oh, how they pain me. Throatpunches for all involved!

Goodness. I have already drunk an entire pot of coffee.

Now the panel is talking about offshore drilling, and how the Democrats "position is untenable." Barnes is throwing around words like "arrogant" and "extremist." Wallace says that they "shut down Congress" (they went on a scheduled recess). Of course, Obama being open to a compromise ("Gang of Ten") is now A BAD THING even though Obama NOT being part of such compromises ("Gang of Fourteen") used to be a BAD THING.

Anyway, I'm just going to point out that in 2006, the president talked about how America was "addicted to oil" and so we all needed to eat switchgrass and set out flatulence on fire or something. Now, the president is like, "I just needs me a SWEET TASTE O' OIL, BABY! Come on Nancy Pelosi! I can handle a little sip!" All Pelosi is doing is keeping an addict from backsliding. Hey, I think that's Laura Bush's full time job, too.

Bill Kristol has flip-flopped - like a dirty quisling! - on Obama's Veep pick, now saying it could be Evan Bayh OR Tim Kaine. Wallace treats the whole matter as if it were UNUSUAL for Kristol to be wrong about something. Kristol does get a chance to think his typically dirty thoughts about Sarah Palin, however.


Okay, the bitter taste of waking up to Fox News Sunday has passed. Now it's time for THIS WEEK, which is more of a nougaty helplessness.

Here's good stuff from Jonathan Alter:

In the middle of John McCain's dopey Britney & Paris attack ad, the announcer gravely asks of Barack Obama: "Is He Ready to Lead?" An equally good question is whether McCain is ready to lead. For a man who will turn 72 this month, he's a surprisingly immature politician--erratic, impulsive and subject to peer pressure from the last knucklehead who offers him advice. The youthful insouciance that for many years has helped McCain charm reporters like me is now channeled into an ad that one GOP strategist labeled "juvenile," another termed "childish" and McCain's own mother called "stupid." The Obama campaign's new mantra is that McCain is "an honorable man running a dishonorable campaign." Lame is more like it. And out of sync with the real guy.

Nancy Pelosi joins George and UGH MY GOD...I hate when people in the media talk about "straight up or down votes." Whenever I hear that, I feel like I'm going to get misled, perhaps unintentionally, by people who oversimplify the governmental process. "We have a debate every single day about this," Pelosi corrects, saying that this week was "the war dance of the handmaidens of the oil industry." I admire the pleasing, yet sarcastic, imagery of that metaphor! That's probably the most brain-pleasing sentence I have ever heard on a Sunday morning.

Anyway, Pelosi knows that the score is that she has a responsibility to not mislead the American people on a measure that will neither lower the price of gas or lessen our dependence on oil. Stephanopoulos harangues and harangues on the process, but he's being fatuous - when he was in the White House, he hung the Congressional Democrats out to dry enough times to know how the world works.

Pelosi continues to offer compelling reasons why she's not allowing the vote - briefly stepping to the high-faluting "save the world" rhetoric that I don't think serves the purpose well - but she finishes up with an involved explanation about the existing permits that aren't being used, the lack of will at the White House behind a cogent energy plan, and the fact that price drops would be a decade away in the McCain plan.

Pelosi has been pushing Chet Edwards as Veep for Obama, and I have to say, Pelosi may be on to something there! Hero to veterans, good on proliferation issues, Texas Democrat (and at Netroots Nation, the Texas Dems we met were all among the nicest, smartest, and most prepared people at the conference)...I could maybe get behind that.

Tom Ridge is in the house, now. Rocking pinstripes. But he's way too reasonable on the issue of a woman's right to choose to ever be vice-president. Could a Republican ever put Ridge on the ticket? Well, you'd have to find one hell of a MAVERICK to do that! That's what Maverick Republicans do, I guess: align themselves with mainstream America on the issues they care about!

Ridge isn't worried about McCain's trivial ads, and why should he be? Well, George S. notes that the whole "Obama will raise electricity taxes" part of the ads is complete BS. Ridge says, unbelievably, that the Britney ad "elevates the energy discussion." Jesus wept! You'd probably strain yourself to find ten people outside the beltway who even think that ad contained CONTENT related to energy policy! "Let's get serious...it's substance time," says Ridge. If this is "substance" then I will pay someone to repeatedly hit me in the head for a manhole cover for the next 90 days. That's the only cure I can think of for three more months of that brand of "substance."

If anyone has vacation reading suggestions, I'm open to them. I was going to choose between I Am America And So Can You by Stephen Colbert, I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crossley, and The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made by David Hughes. I think I may not read a single blog! Which means, who knows? Maybe my brain will start working again.

Chris Blakely is appropriately up in Tom Daschle's grill this morning:

This morning, I was clearly reminded why, a sitting Senate majority (then minority) leader was not re-elected. Simply put, Daschle is a terrible communicator. Now, I am no fan of Lindsay Graham. I have not forgotten his role in the Clinton impeachment, but when it comes to delivering a message -- no matter how much I may disagree the topic and/or position, he is head and shoulders above Daschle. Of course, it did not hurt that Lindsay was never cut off by Wallace, while Daschle was repeatedly reminded by Wallace that "we don't have much time" and one time Wallace said, "I don't want to go there." Nevertheless, Graham got right to it, delivered his message, and put Daschle on the defensive. Maybe Obama ought to stay true to his desire for change -- not the "usual politics of Washington D. C." as well as its practitioners (Daschle) and send out more effective spokespeople. I found it ironic that Daschle's best and most impassioned delivery was saved for the Anthrax investigation, which of course, affected him directly.

Panel time! David Gergen says, "Something is working against Barack Obama." OH MY! Well! Please leave your best guess as to what that is in the comments, won't you!

Donna Brazile says that McCain's ads are "funny" and "may be effective" but could damage McCain's brand. Jake Tapper says that McCain wanted to compare Obama to "a ditz," a term which he has to explain. A ditz. Like, the people Tapper dates.

I don't think you have known chagrin until you have heard David Gergen attempt to laugh out loud. It sounds like a salmon being gutted with a toilet brush.

"John McCain has been scrupulous in keeping race out of it," says Stephanoupoulos. "He's been hesitant to endorse ads that even allow the tinge of race," says Tapper. Has he? We remind you:

Brazile, smartly, notes that Obama's injections of race have been positive...not ones that present it in terms of animus. Gergen at least allows that there has been an attempt to paint Obama as an outsider. And he actually goes ahead and calls out the "Messiah" ad as an attempt to tag Obama as "uppity." Will says the irony is that Obama is too "upper crust" to be a credible black candidate. Yeah! Obama needs to "keep it real!" Drop Wu Tang references into everything! Wear a chain! Cap somebody! There's just not enough FLOSSING for George Will. OY! A thousand OYS!

Donna Brazile says wow, a black person gets into Harvard and all of the sudden they're uppity. NO ONE ON THIS PANEL WILL BE DONNA'S BOO TODAY, BECAUSE THEY ARE IDIOTS.

Jake Tapper apparently has two black friends who he invites to his apartment because of their willingness to agree with him.

Are polls understating Obama's support? Overstating it? Why isn't Obama winning by more? Why hasn't Obama met the new standards for winning we come up with every week. Maybe he's actually, simply, winning in a non-dramatic, true-to-form way? Dare anyone suggest it? Uhm, yes. Someone durst.


Wow. It's been a long time since I've sat in front of this show. Let's see how it goes! Today's panel is Gloria Borger (who I often spell Borgia), Eugene Robinson, Elisabeth Bumiller, and Joe Klein. Mixed. Bag.

Oh well. It's post-election America that concerns Matthews this week. And people say Obama is presumptuous! Actually, real people don't say that. Bad journalists do!

Eugene Robinson says that if Obama wins, Iraq will have to be dealt with. Borger asks, "Do you want to go big and get a big win? Is he going to do Iraq first...is he going to do the environment first?" Klein is all, THE ECONOMY WILL BE TEH SUXXORS! We must boost it! Elisabeth Bumiller says, "The Republicans aren't going to give Obama any breaks! He'll have to deal with politics!"

I may as well be eating Velveeta. Maybe I should chronicle this show in terms of whether anyone says anything remotely interesting, or that even deviates from grade-school, cliched stuff that everybody knows. Let's see!

MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton said HEALTHCARE! But then there was FAIL.

JOE KLEIN: We are moving forward in time! Clocks move, for some reason.

GLORIA BORGER: You have to look at things. And issues. And stuff. And things.

BUMILLER: This is almost good! She reminds that Bush set a precedent for governing without a mandate. He got massive tax cuts through! True! He also very badly flailed once he got it in his head that he HAD a mandate, let's not forget.

ROBINSON: Democrats in the Congress could win in more substantial fashion than Obama does. Somehow, Robinson manages to mention this without claiming that Obama should be winning by more. Yes! It's possible!

KLEIN: I agree with the smart man and his words!

BORGER: Obama better get some change done!

BUMILLER: I think maybe foreign policy will happen. Big time negotiator will do work!

KLEIN: Why everyone talk about Afghanistan! It's Pakistan! I'm going to pretend that I'm the only person who ever noticed Pakistan!

I don't understand the framing of Chris' "Matthew Meter" question: Will Obama cut deals with the GOP, or will there instead be roadblocks? Uhm...one would imagine that a roadblock might be the cause for a deal. One might also imagine that there might be enough natural support on hand to avoid any substantial deal-cutting. Anyway, Obama's always signaled a desire to have the other party at the table, so why wouldn't there be a deal, now and again. And why wouldn't there be a roadblock, now and again?

But then, why am I overthinking this? This is THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW, for crying out loud. I am having a hard time, though, trying to figure out whether this is a particularly bad instance of this show, or if I just want to go on vacation and disconnect from the fracking Borg for even a day.

Now they are talking about Joe Lieberman, for some reason.

WIFE: I do not understand Joe Lieberman.

ME: What's to understand? He's a [redacted] quisling. His principles are all founded by what direction the wind is blowing.

WIFE: But the wind isn't blowing in McCain's direction.

ME: Right. I forgot to mention that he's vastly stupid.

By the way, as of August 1, 2008, my wife and i have been married for ten years! It's the aluminum anniversary people! Quantitatively, I believe that she and I have demonstrated ten thousand times the constancy of Joe Lieberman.

Anyway, the panel spends a few minutes talking about how Lieberman is like McCain's remora (SHARK WEEK! YEAAAHHH!) and I pretty much think that Joe's time as being even remotely associated with the Democratic party is coming to an end.

Joe Klein says that Lieberman is this year's Zell Miller, except that Zell Miller was an awesome ball of FRACKING CRAZY. I mean, the Democrats sort of look bad with Lieberman out there stumping for McCain. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama came to his rescue against Ned Lamont (in an instance that proves Lieberman style stupidity isn't necessarily the most perplexing stupidity out there), and he was once the Vice-Presidential candidate for the party. That's way different from Zell Miller. With Zell Miller, you actively encouraged him to cuddle up to the GOP, because he was an utter nutbag. You couldn't wait for Miller to strongly disassociate himself from you.

Also, Zell Miller challenged Chris Matthews to a GODDAMN DUEL WHICH IS AWESOME. I don't care what your politics are, I am in support of challenging Chris Matthews to a duel. MANHOLE COVERS AT TWENTY PACES. Let's do this thing!

Oh, sadness. We still got fifteen minutes of this show left. Another idiot question: would a President McCain meet with resistance from the Democratic Congress. I am amazed these questions need to be asked! I want to know who the idiot was that said it wouldn't happen! Bet you it's David Brooks.

Chris Matthews, ever the idiot, says McCain is a "romantic" and that he wants to be "one of our great Presidents." UHM...have you seen McCain's ads, lately?

Borger says that McCain's chief selling point is his willingness to "reach across the aisle" and then asserts that Obama lacks a history of doing the same, which I'm not sure is correct. It's just that McCain's got a longer Senate career, and has made the most of playing up the work he's occasionally done with Democrats when he's in front of people for whom that would be positive sounding. Otherwise, McCain plays up all the work he's done with Bush.

"Romantic's not a word that comes to mind when you cover him all the time," says Bumiller, who's probably more apt to think of McCain as an angry, head-chomping arachnid.

Borger predicts that no matter what happens to McCain, there will be a good old sectarian Civil War to look forward to in the Republican caucus. So, we've got that going for us! Should we root for Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam's vision of the GOP to win?

Now they are doing the whole "Tell Chris something he doesn't know" thing. Borger says that Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada will be battleground states. And...thanks for joining us, Gloria, live from June 2007! Robinson predicts that the economy is going to determine the shape of the election and it will probably get worse,and if it's terrible in October, then Obama wins.

That, of course, is the argument for calling Congress back in session and giving McCain what he wants on drilling, maybe. Demonstrate in real time just how badly McCainomics exacerbates our economic pain. The drawback being exposing us to McCain pain, or "McPain", and being saddled with the McBlame.

Bumiller says Tom Daschle might be Obama's White House Chief of Staff.


Joe Klein says troop withdrawals will continue in September. Well, why not? The only party interested in staying in Iraq appears to be John McCain!


OMG. What would you do if the only thing standing in your way of packing for vacation was a single episode of MEET THE PRESS. My goodness, I do not know if I can take it. I have set the TiVo replay up, cooked up a gardenburger (you know, special ARUGULA flavor) for sustenance, put another pot of coffee on...and all I can think about is that paradox we learned in math class about how a person who can cover half the distance between two points with a single step will never arrive. Then, that causes a lot of Rush lyrics to fill my head, further confusing things. Then, I admit to all of you that I used to listen to Rush, thus impugning my own credibility.

Well, before we begin, let's decide which instance of journalism was worse! I chronicled at length about how Dana Milbank, who typically does decent work, went all intellectual cripple on the world this week, racing with a badly bowdlerized, misattributed quote to construct a tinker toy column on Obama's presumptuousness. The misquote was bad enough. Worse was the fact that over the course of his article, Milbank attempted...

...to make the case that foreign travels, adherence to Capitol Hill protocol, Secret Service protection, and meeting with Cabinet officials and foreign dignitaries are all signs of "pride" and "presumptuousness," when in reality, these are the simple, entirely protean tasks that any Presidential candidate performs. McCain has done all of those things. Milbank would have a case were he to bring up the stupid "Presidential seal" the Obama campaign briefly deployed before realizing how asinine a gesture it was (and, as Ben Smith points out, the McCain campaign is no stranger to similarly inane gestures), but Milbank would rather fill his readers' heads with misleading pastry where commonplace activities take on some sort of diabolical dimension.

Worse yet, is this part of the case Milbank builds against Obama:

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reported last week that Obama has directed his staff to begin planning for his transition to the White House, causing Republicans to howl about premature drape measuring.

But, once again, planning for the transition in July is not something Obama is doing out of presumptuousness, he's doing it because that is what presidential nominees are supposed to do. In the summer of 2000, both George W. Bush and Al Gore did the exact same thing.

Since then, Milbank did a chat with the Washington Post readership in which he tackily refused to own any of his mistakes. And that's what they were. Mistakes. For my trouble, I've also since then received an email from Jonathan Weisman, saying: "Perhaps before you make scurrilous untrue charges, you might want to shoot a note to the target you are impugning. You have no idea what happened, but you wrote anyway." I'm assuming that Weisman intended this email for Milbank, otherwise, the man is an ass.

But maybe Dana Milbank wasn't the worst this week! Maybe that honor goes to the Wall Street Journal's Amy Chozick, for her SUPER INANE "Is Barack Obama too skinny to be President?" Sadly, No! has the, uhm...skinny on the weak underpinnings of this article, which come from Chozick wandering onto a Yahoo Message Board and posing the question, "Does anyone out there think Barack Obama is too thin to be president? Anyone having a hard time relating to him and his "no excess body fat"? Please let me know. Thanks!"

The article apparently then followed forth from a SINGLE reply to her dumbassed question: "Yes I think He is to skinny to be President.Hillary has a potbelly and chuckybutt I'd of Voted for Her.I won't vote for any beanpole guy." Chozick replied: "Love your response and your username (onlinebeerbellygirl). Would you mind shooting me an email so I can ask you a few more quesitons [sic]?"

It is not known whether Chozick and this Sage Wit Of Our Modern Time, "onlinebeerbellygirl," got around to asking and answering any of Chozick's "quesitons." But what we do know, thanks to Sadly, No! is that everyone else on that particular thread thought that Chozick, and her "quesiton," were stupid, and that Chozick (or perhaps someone who wants to preserve her reuputation) has apparently taken pains to cover her tracks.

Oh. And we know that whole "Obama=Too Skinny" idea came from John McCain.

So, who wore their journalism uniform worse this week? It's a tough call! If we were to judge the effects each of these instances of piss-poor journalism have had, you'd have to weigh which was worse: the blasphemous "Messiah" ad, which has Milbank's misquote at its center, or today's column from Idiot Princess Maureen Dowd, which follows hard upon Chozick's chicaneries. Tough call.

I guess, in the end, I have to give Chozick a little more credit, because at least she showed some initiative, whereas Milbank just took an unverified quote and started making crap up. In the end, I guess Chozick's not the type that assumes, "If something is important enough, it will be brought to my attention."

And now, you all have MET YOUR PRESS.

Now let's see what the fracking show has to say about this.

"The battle for the White House takes on the most negative tone yet!" You know what? I've had such a negative opinion of this "race" and its "tone" for so long, that I find my patience for obsessing over this particular drop in the ocean is wearing thin. There was a moment, probably about eight to twenty years ago, when the press could have stopped all this negativity in its tracks, and nobody had the balls. So, now, we get to pretend that these fusspots really do sit in judgement of these "negative" turns, and that their comdemnations are supposed to be sincere. Know what? They aren't. This is what they look forward to, hunger for, slaver over.

Like David Rees says, grownups did this stuff! Never forget that!

Oh boy, Lieberman versus Kerry! It's jowls versus crags!

What about McCain asserting that he wanted a "respectful" campaign? What about that celebrity ad? Lieberman says that's totally respectful! It's just humor! Hey, Joe Lieberman! Have you tongued the inside of George W. Bush's mouth enough to determine whether it's kosher or not? JUST A JOKE!

Hey, Joe Lieberman! Did I just hear a suicide bomb go off, or was that just your career?

Hey Joe Lieberman! I wouldn't call you a brownnoser. The way your head is wedged up John McCain's ass, your nose is probably the color of whatever his trollop wife is feeding him!

Hey, man! Just jokes! Lie back and enjoy it, Joe. (Isn't that the Bobby Knight rape line?)

Besides, who am I kidding? There's only one way to offend Joe Lieberman, and that's to say: "There exists in America a powerful and vocal pro-Israel lobby that exerts influence over our foreign policy." OH NOES NOW I HAVE DONE IT!

We return to Lieberman, endeavoring to explain the whole Paris Hilton-Barack Obama connection. Like Rick Davis, he seems to think that it's an apt connection after Obama's Berlin appearance. But both men are OUT OF TOUCH and LOSING THEIR BEARINGS, because Hilton and Spears are no longer huge draws with massive global fanbases. Spears is a humiliated receptacle of cigarettes and Red Bull, and Hilton is universally reviled. If you used death rays to try to horn in 200,000 Berliners to see Paris Hilton in Tiergarten Square, about 150,000 would choose death.

"We're doing something very serious!" Lieberman says. Then he invokes the "Islamic terrorists" that we are fighting, who John McCain will defeat with withering comparisons to pop singers! Watch out, evildoers! John McCain's bringing the power of the Catskills!

Apparently, Howard Wolfson is being no help:

"The McCain campaign has obviously been watching our primary very closely and recognized how damaging it has been to be tagged with the charge of race baiting."

You know what else is damaging? Having Howard Wolfson, the most unpleasant man in America, working on your campaign.

Anyway, John Kerry is pushing back on the "race card" charges, pointing out the obvious fact that McCain has really drifted away from the honorable guy he used to know. Then he throws it in Lieberman's face: "You went into the floor of the United States Senate and said that our public discourse was coarsening...that our society's values are shrinking. That's an ad that plays to our worst instincts." Then he invokes Karl Rove's country club metaphor (which one might argue hinges on the idea of the "black guy we didn't want in the club"), and links it all together. And once again, I have to wonder where this thorough, convincing, on the attack, tireless defender was four years ago.

Oh, snap! Joe Lieberman LIES: "Karl Rove doesn't work for the McCain campaign." YES. YES HE DOES. YOU LYING SACK OF LIEBERMAN. (Did I compare Lieberman to feces? Just a joke! Enjoy it!)

Kerry goes on to enumerate a number of important foreign policy points - well, really, just one: REALITY seems to be aligning against McCain. The Iraq War is headed for withdrawal, Afghani/Pakistan is finally earning attention. Negotiations with Iran have become essential. "We'll get to that in a minute," says Tom Brokaw. Why, Tom? What is it you want to get to?

OH FOR CRIMONY'S SAKE. He wants to bring up Wes Clark and his month old comments again. And Kerry throws Clark under the bus. Great! Just great. And you can tell that Kerry KNEW he was spitting dung, because his surrogacy game dropped off by about a million miles.

Kerry sort of saves Obama's response on offshore drilling - but this is old Kerry. A great point (McCain's rejection over corporate taxes) gets fronted by a wave of froth that appeals to people who like nuance...rich, creamy nuance. Hey. I likes nuance. Even still: LEAD WITH THE STRONG STUFF.

Lieberman's response is much stronger, capturing McCain as the "action" guy. Nevermind that McCain's "action" is all "psychological relief."

John McCain will make BAD DECISIONS FASTER! He will drill for unnecessary oil BOLDLY! John McCain supports nuclear power that no one will pay for and the no one will build in their backyard.

Lieberman is now doing the garment rending Lindsey Graham routine. Oh, how ridiculous the John McCain White House would be! Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman would go out and CRY THE TERRORISTS TO DEATH.

LIEBERMAN: "We got a big problem in Washington that we've got to solve." What, your continued career? I'M KIDDING JOE JUST RELAX AND ENJOY IT LIKE A RAPE VICTIM WHO BENEFITS FROM ALL OF CONNECTICUT'S FINE HOSPITALS.

Kerry finally gets around to the fact that there's no reason to expand offshore drilling when the existing permits have not yet been exploited. Kerry also gets to an in-depth explanation of the Anbar Awakening and how it predated the Surge...but for my money, if you want to demonstrate how little effect the actual Surge of American troops have had, you'd be better off pointing out how the Anbar Awakeners (our "Enemies With Benefits") are now raising the price of not killing Americans.

"Maliki and Obama are not on the same page on this," Lieberman says. YEAH. Keep on kidding yourself, Joe.

Kerry goes ahead and makes ALL the arguments against the Surge when one will suffice: the Surge was a thin sliver of tactic amid a larger enterprise that has failed on every conceivable spectrum. It's appeased al Qaeda, strengthened Iran, empowered Hamas and Hezbollah. And it's come at great cost. And that's why there's a "Joe Must Go" website...because that's what those who got Iraq wrong deserve.

Panel time. Rocking the trapezoid today: Andrea Mitchell, Judy Woodruff, Mike Murphy, and Chuck Todd.

Murphy says that the McCain ad was "a dumb ad." He says for a Republican to survive in November, "Everything needs to build to the case" that McCain is a different kind of Republican, and that these juvenile tactics detract from that. And that's probably the smartest thing that any Republican has said about the ad (though John Weaver takes a close second).

Todd says that McCain needs to paint Obama as an elitist or as "the new guy," but that McCain's problem is that he isn't sufficient contrast to those ideas. Todd banks mainly on the "newness," but I have to say...you want to talk "celebrity?" How about "famous for crashing planes?" How about, "Wears $500 shoes?" How about, "Owns more homes than most people do fingers?"

Judy Woodruff says that Bill Clinton is signalling that he's ready to play his part by...running off to Africa? Here's how she sizes up the Veepstakes: FOREIGN POLICY=Jack Reed/Joe Biden, or CHANGETASTIC=Kathleen Sebellius/Tim Kaine. Mitchell says Kaine is still in the running despite Kaine's Lieberman-love, but that he is not experienced. But what about Evan Bayh?

What about all of the Clinton voters who will stay home? Todd says that idea is a "creation of the Upper East Side of New York," like luxury dog-walking and the Nightingale-Bamford School, except those two things are substantial.

I have come to believe that Eric Cantor would likely be the smart, game-changing choice that John McCain SHOULD make. But he seems poised to make the mistake of choosing Tim Pawlenty. And I'm being HOPEFUL there. You want to know if McCain has lost what remains of his soul to Karl Rove and Steve Schmidt? You'll know if he picks Romney. The Romney pick is the clearest sign you can have that McCain's presidential ambitions no longer contain anything authentic anymore.

Mitchell and Todd get into the price of gas a little bit, and I think that Mitchell is absolutely correct to notice how consumers' behaviors have changed, but she should recognize that Pelosi's move only honors those changes and realizations.

Todd thinks Chuck Hagel will be the keynoter at the DNC. That would certainly raise a lot of interesting comparisons to the last DNC keynoter: Barack Obama. Andrea Mitchell hasn't gotten the news yet about how unpopular Lieberman is with American Jews.

We end up with a round of Veepery from the Panel. Woodruff says Obama will pick Bayh, Biden or Kaine, McCain will pick Cantor. Mitchell says McCain will probably get "stuck" with Romney, and Obama will pick Bayh-den. Todd says Biden or Kaine for Barack, and Pawlenty or Mitt Fraud Bot for McCain. Murphy says Kaine ("Unfortunately," he says, long of the opinion that Kaine is the bringer of GOPocalypse) for Obama, and that while "he's pushing Ridge," McCain will end up with T-Paw or the Fraud Bot.

And then we came to the end! Woot! That is it, that is all, I am done and now officially on vacation. Thanks for the comments and the emails and the reading suggestions! I will be back on Sunday next to do liveblog my fingers off, but I for one am looking forward to missing a news cycle in its entirety. If it's important, I hope Dana Milbank will bring it to my attention! Have a great week, everyone. Try not to play the race card!

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