09/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Oh, hi! And welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog! I am Jason Linkins, and if you are a regular here, you'd know that I am now back from vacation, which is all I ever wanted. And it was lovely, thanks for asking! It featured beach and sun and peace and quiet and Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake and a well-earned break from all non-Project Runway news (that Kenley, by the way, I feel is a BAD EGG - DO NOT LIKE!). Also: the Olympics! WOO! And Pineapple Express!, also WOO! But all good things come to an end, and for me, it ends, like so many dreams of a better future, on Sunday Morning, with political talk shows.


What a way to end your vacation! With an interview of Rick Davis. Oy. Anyhoo, Rick Davis is proud of all his weirdo negative ads, which has "galvanized attention" - I'm guessing that anything that reminded people that McCain exists is a good thing. And, wow! Here's Chris Wallace pushing back on Rick Davis, who is playing that '90 tax increases" game - I'm guessing that many, indeed all, of those "tax increases" are simply "instances in which the Senate voted to spend money." Wallace also specifically points out two falsehoods with the ads, and incredulously asks whether or not the McCain camp really believes the country feels they are better off.

Davis is armed with tropes! GROWTH GOOD! MCCAIN IS MAVERICK! MCCAIN HAS A PLAN! I have to admit, I'm starting to become enamored of the idea of a McCain presidency, just for the comedy of a guy who apparently is going to solve all our problems by yelling "GET SOLVED! I HAVE A PLAN!" at them.

Davis says the John McCain is the "one guy who stood up and yelled" about all the bad things that have been going on, and he yelled so much for so loud and so long that by the time he was done he was just too tired to do anything else but vote with the Bush administration 95% of the time.

Davis also says that McCain is "not going to take retaliation or retribution" against anyone. This from a guy who's basically said, "Oh, yeah! What a shame that the race has gone negative! Guess that's what happens when you don't agree to town hall meetings with me!" Yes: Let us give this man the keys to our nuclear arsenal with all deliberate speed!

Also: "You'll never see John McCain changing his stripes!" OH I MISSED THIS CRAZY STUFF ON VACATION!

Wallace asks if there's any chance that maybe McCain will agree to serve just one term. But no, it appears that the plan is for eight angry-faced years of flip-floppery and lobbyist feasting.

Now here's Dick Durbin, yelling about windfall profits and how there should be a limit to them, which is always the best way for Democrats to campaign. Of course, Wallace is confusing the matter by suggesting that the "beverage industry" is earning twice as much money when in truth it's their percentage that is twice as much. And airlines aren't hamstrung by the price of Diet Coke.

Wallace and Durbin get into that old trope: Why isn't Obama kicking more ass? Which Durbin parries by saying, "It's August." An answer that sounds a little lame, but probably only because it has the benefit of being true. Then he asks about Hillary Clinton, and wow, my dear...uhm, the Clinton delegates are getting exactly the respect they deserve! THEY ARE DELEGATES TO THE CONVENTION. That's pretty special! If you know a "Clinton delegate," by them a cookie, okay!

Wallace asks if John Edwards' affair is the same thing as Mark Foley using the page program as his own underaged stand-and-model sweatshop. Uhm, NO. There is a difference between stupid and skeevey.

And, so, panel time: with Bill Kristol, Jill Zuckman, Byron York and Ruth Marcus. NPR must be on vacation this week! I hope they are not at the same redoubt as Brit Hume, because he is Captain Bringdown.

Okay! Well, let's get into the John Edwards stuff. Jill Zuckman says that it's a "story as old as time" like the song "Beauty And The Beast." "I can't believe we're talking about this," Wallace says, as if the panel TRIPPED AND FELL IN A PUDDLE OF ADULTERY. Marcus says, that it's "not great for Democrats but not terrible."

But John Edwards could have been the nominee! It's always weird to hear people say that, because in my opinion, there was no way, in fact, that John Edwards could have been the nominee, because there are more actual voters than there are liberal bloggers. FACTS: they are interesting!

Jill Zuckman seems to think that the Obama campaign isn't successfully reaching women voters, which she backs up with nothing, and I think that's because it isn't true.

Kristol also seems to think that it's bad that Obama hasn't expanded his lead in the two months since he clinched the nomination. He seems unconcerned that McCain hasn't pulled off this feat either. McCain polled better when the Democratic primary was still going on, and took no advantage from being the only candidate in the field.

By the way, there's a new advertisement from those FreeCreditReport.com people, and it has just hurt what rremains of my soul, very badly.

Byron York yells at Bush for the "negative two-fer" of criticizing the Chinese one the one hand and then going to the Olympics on the other. Ruth Marcus adds that the real problem is China getting the Olympics in the first place. Bill Kristol doesn't like badminton. He prefers worseminton! I'm actually surprised by this whole conversation! Who on earth out there really believes that President Bush gives a toss about human rights in China? I mean, we're going to make a big deal about a few sentences worth of effort in eight years.

Meanwhile, the "other big issue": Georgia. Congrats, foreign war! You made the conversation. John McCain has been to South Ossetya, which is probably why it's a war torn debacle right now. Kristol seems to think that Russia invading a neighbor is somehow unprecedented and astounding. Naturally, everyone thinks that McCain's statement is "strong" because we are apparently allowed to forget that McCain talks about Russia's role in preserving our peace in one breath, only to talk about kicking them out of the G8 with his next breath. That's foreign policy coherence for you!


President Bush discussed the conflict by telephone with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, for about an hour after attending the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, the White House press secretary, Dana M. Perino said. Mr. Bush held another conference with Mr. Hadley and his deputy, James Jeffery, on Saturday morning before attending beach volleyball practice.

Oooh! Jake Tapper is hosting This Week this week! I forgot!

When the president talks about how the territorial sovereignty of Georgia must be respected, isn't that taking no side at all? Bill Richardson is on, anyway, touting Obama's diplomacy over Bush/McCain's policy of "isolation" (which isn't the most precise term in the world). I'm not sure it's fair to the people of Georgia to have Richardson use this as a political football for Obama, but Tapper is asking the questions! And everywhere Obama goes, the foreign policy game plan is resolving itself in his favor. But you aren't hearing word one about what the hell the U.S. is going to do in Georgia. Frankly, I'm astounded that no one's noted how nobody's had the need to even pretend that Medvedev needs to be brought into the discussion.

Nothing like segueing from the war in South Ossetya to Rielle Hunter/John Edwards! Guess we're not REALLY worried about this at all! You know, before I went on vacation, I knew very little about South Ossetya, but one of the things I seem to recall is that it is the locus for a lot of very troubling arms smuggling. If you want to get a feel for how dire the situation in that region is, I recommend this article, from The Atlantic. I think you may conclude that it's high time President Bush left beach volleyball practice!

Anyway, now we have Bobby "The Exorcist" Jindal, who says the situation in Georgia proves the Surge worked! THE SURGE! It gets out those tough stains! Jindal continues by saying: "HAVE SOME LIFEGIVING PLATITUDES, GEORGIA!"

They get into the politics of energy. Tapper asks Jindal why he supported a bill that McCain decries as an industry giveaway. Jindal says that it was the right vote for Louisiana, but Obama (who also voted for it) "can't have it both ways." Uhm, isn't Jindal having it both ways? Siding with McCain's contention while asserting his own right to vote for the bill? It's a pity that Tapper doesn't just say, "Really, Bobby Jindal? Really?"

Truth be told, I left for vacation very disappointed in Obama for seeming to switch positions on offshore drilling. Since then, Sam Stein happened. I have to echo the great Sarabeth of 1115.org, and admit to feeling "one week older and wiser."

Jindal praises Obama for his ability to "speak well and motivate people" but that it's "not enough." Interestingly, I just had coffee with a friend of mine, well versed in ground-level campaign politics, who reminded me that the dirty little secret of the Oval Office is that "inspiring and motivating people" is basically the job in its entirety.

Panel Time! George Will, Torrie Clark, Matt Bai, and Cokie Roberts. George Will is not worried about Obama's "aristocratic langeur!" Know what, I was not worried that Will was worried about that! Cokie Roberts thinks that Obama should go to Myrtle Beach instead of Hawaii! NO HE SHOULDN'T! I've been to Myrtle Beach and it's a dirty little pisshole filled with puking college students! Never go there!

Now they are talking about tire gauges, and Clark of all people is talking about how in practical terms, mentioning tire gauges actually got people to go to gas stations and inflate their tires. Naturally, everyone knows that people who give good, practical advice with tire gauges are ARISTOCRATIC ELITES. I have a tire gauge in my glove box - I used it just yesterday, as a matter of fact! - and all I think about was, "Well, if this tire gauge can't help me, I'm not worried, because I have a tupperware full of arugula in my car that surely will."

Meanwhile, JOHN EDWARDS. Clarke wonders why Elizabeth Edwards is "standing by her man." Yeah, what's HER angle? What's Elizabeth Edwards' LONG CON? I guess it doesn't occur to Clarke that "standing by" her husband really doesn't offer Edwards anything as far as political clout goes. His career is over, so, I guess maybe she just wants to work on her marriage, or something (which they've been doing for two years now!).

Well, this panel is giving more substantive play to Georgia than Fox did. I agree with Will that Bush is demonstrating a massive lack of leadership by not returning home to "conduct the West's response" to Russia (and credit Will for not pretending that Russia's move is somehow unprecedented, like Bill Kristol does). I think that Bai is correct that the negative for McCain is that the conflict reinforces the Bush White House's mismanagement of world affairs. If Obama is clever, that's how they'll frame the debate. If Obama is SMART, he'll have something comprehensive to offer of his own, WHILE HE IS ON VACATION. Obama can't afford to be reinforcing the same images of Bush on vacation as New Orleans drowned. I think that Obama would win big by coming off vacation and working this issue.

I have to say, also, I agree with Clarke: it was depressing to hear Richardson, who touts his international experience, reduce the entire Georgia matter to a set of glib campaign talking points.

ABC reminds that somewhere in the afterlife, Bernie Mac and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn are about to stage their first joint symposium. Heaven: sometimes it's no wonder that everyone's trying to get in!

By the way, Jake Tapper did a pretty good job! CUE DISAGREEMENTS IN COMMENTS IN 3...2...1...


So, FACE THE NATION is all Tivoed up, but the McCain campaign's "Economic Communications Plan" just arrived in my inbox! [Actually, as it turns out, it arrived much much earlier. VACATION, remember?] Let's look at some of the parts, shall we?

It's not news that the economy is the most important factor affecting the election. With conditions likely to worsen as we head into the fall, the economy will only grow in importance as an issue.

So! Despite what you may have heard, the McCain camp is aware that economic conditions are worsening! What's their big idea to solve the problem?

Economic Surge - While maintaining the branding of "Jobs for America," the construct of an "economic surge" to tackle the urgent problems affecting American families allows us to:

  • Underscore the urgency and seriousness of the problem Draw the parallel with the same kind of bold leadership that McCain demonstrated in pushing the surge strategy that allowed us to win in Iraq.
  • Need that same vision, intensity and leadership to attack our economic problems.

Amazing. You know, Matt Yglesias has a term he uses to describe Bush foreign policy: the "Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics," which means "that, roughly speaking, we can accomplish absolutely anything in the world through the application of sufficient military force. The only thing limiting us is a lack of willpower." I'm afraid that with John McCain, problem solving isn't even going to possess this level of depth. If there is a McCain presidency, we'll be talking about his policies in terms of the "Shazam Theory of Efficacy," in which problem solving is reduced to how often we repeat the MAGIC WORD. In this case, "SURGE SURGE SURGE."

If only the first SURGE has solved anything!

Anyway, here are the McCain policies with regard to "The Family Budget":

--Gas tax suspension, drilling, Lexington Project

--Double the child tax credit ($3,500 to $7,000)

--Provide $5,000 in tax credits to help families buy health insurance ($2,500 individual)

--Encourage portable health insurance

--HOME Plan to support housing market, keep more Americans in their homes

--Help with rising college tuition

So: A scam, two insufficient "tax-relief" band-aids, an "encouragement" that won't help anyone who's uninsured, and two platitudes.

The memo also gives some insight as to what McCain plans to do on the stump. More visits to grocery stores, where he'll knock jars of food to the ground, accusing them of not coming to his town hall meetings. More photo-ops on oil derricks! McCain will be choosing one lucky off-shore oil derrick as his version of the Crawford Ranch. A speech on "lawsuit abuse," which will probably now contain some great Rielle Hunter tangents. He will call Obama the Job Killer! I'm just happy that he won't be called the Job Killah, with gangsta rap soundtracks!

McCain is also planning "Virtual town halls in target states interact w/ JSM via satellite or webcam," which, if his earlier attempts at technology are any indication, are sure to be localized, fiery disasters.

By the way! I've been away for a week and the brains behind BarackBook have only managed to add FIVE items to the "FriendFeed." I really should be allowed to mock these people to their face.

Anyway, the best part of this whole memo is McCain's plan to gather "prominent economists to bolster intellectual case for the McCain plan." Remarkable, considering how often he shrugs off the advice of experts. But then again, he's had some mixed results with economists: you cannot find a single one who'll back up his energy plan apparently, and you'll find a lot of skeptics even among those who have offered their tepid support for his economic plan.

You know what would really be embarrassing? If someone did a side-by-side comparison of the "Gas Tax Holiday" and "inflating your tires!" Because the latter is a money-saving, safety-conscious move that could probably save you money in the long run, while the former is a scam.

Still, in the interest of being FAIR and BALANCED, I will give McCain the benefit of the doubt by taking my wallet out later and yelling, "SUUUURRRRGGGE!" at it. If it leads to increased income, I'll fully endorse President Shazam next week in this space.

Now...oh yeah...Face The Nation!

Actually, wait. Here's yet another way of thinking about the "Surge": a SURGE of "walled ghettos keeping a lid on Baghdad's rolling boil." Sounds like mission accomplished, right? Wonder if these were the streets that John McCain walked down during his last Good News Trip to Iraq. No matter: Spencer Ackerman has walked down some of those streets, and has the essential background on the glorious victory your tax dollars have ensured.

PULL QUOTE: "In my three weeks back home in Baghdad, 179 people were killed. And no Baghdadi ever mentioned 'the Surge' to me."

And yet it's all John McCain wants to talk about!

OK. Fine. Nation facing.

By contrast, FACE THE NATION gets right into the crisis in Georgia. Reporter Jim Axelrod says that "top White House officials" are concerned about the "disproportionate" response from Russia. Since all of President Bush's stern warnings have been made between attending beach volleyball practice in Beijing, I'm a little concerned about the proportion of our own response! "This doesn't have the feel of something that's going to end anytime soon," Axelrod says.

Apparently, the Bush administration is "100% committed to resolving the matter peacefully." What? Hasn't that horse left the barn?

Oh, well. Four minutes on the matter, anyway. Now it's Veepstakes? No! Schieffer wants Tim Kaine to respond to the news. Does the situation in Georgia mean good things for McCain? Kaine says that Obama's judgement is better, but Kaine's way too general here! He needs to emphatically state that the poor judgement that has impacted Georgia, is a President Bush who "looked into the soul" of Vladimir Putin and didn't see any danger, extended to a GOP nominee that cannot decide if Russia is going to play a major part in ensuring U.S./global security or be tossed from the G8 and ostracized. On that regard, McCain can't distinguish hawk from handsaw.

Sadly, Schieffer digs into the whole, "shouldn't Obama be doing better" meme. Here's Kaine's on stronger footing, "I'd rather not spin Obama's lead in the polls as anything negative." And then he pulls out Virginia as an example of Obama's strength.

Does Kaine recommend a harder push-back on McCain's ads? "I hope the McCain camp does more of those ads!" Uhm...I don't! They put one of yours in the hospital, you put two of theirs in the morgue!

I have to commend Kaine on compensating for his tendency to raise that incredulous eyebrow. The brow keeps popping up, but Kaine's holding his head to a slight angle, and it goes a long way to diminishing the weird looking faces he's made in the past.

Also: don't worry about the Clintons! Heh. Okay. Here's some interesting perspective! Seems to me that on one day, it was announced that Bill Clinton was going to speak at the convention. Then, on the next day, it was made clear that John Edwards was NOT going to speak at the convention. Funny how these things work!

"We need a civilian leadership that's as excellent" as our fighting men and women. OH, TIM. You are so close to another essential way of framing the so-called Surge: our soldiers snatched minimal gains from the jaws of a failed strategy, authored by civillians who don't know what they are doing including John McCain. Why is it that I'm always left with the feeling that the Democrats always get close to the powerful stuff and then back away. It's like they see that all the dots connect to make a picture of a duck, but remain content to just tell us that, instead of going to the trouble of actually connecting the dots.

And that's the sort of terrible analogy that liveblogging leads to. Stand up, writers of polish, and clean my mess up, maybe!

From commenter 3rdCitizen, I endorse this suggestion:

"How about videos (or even a whole tv show) of you & your robot friends (whom we see sitting in silhouette at the bottom of the screen) having to watch all of those pompous talking heads while making pithy remarks that point out their inanity to save your (and our) sanity? Maybe call it 'Misery Spin-Fest Theatre 3000'?"

Brother, this is something that my dear friend and talented mentor Ana Marie Cox have discussed at length. She says, by the way, "YES I HAVE." Emphatically. With a little all-caps enthusiasm, adding, "Great idea." We are searching out the proper technology. Suggestions and grant money to our political comedy laboratory are always welcome.

Karl Rove is sitting in now, with Sheef failing to acknowledge Rove's role as an advisor to the McCain camp. But Bob makes up for it by being a rare media personage who's willing to say that even amid the constant repeated declamation that Obama should be doing better, McCain "hasn't exactly caught fire" himself.

Look, here's the astounding quote from Rove:

"The race is closer than it ought to be. With a restive electorate, with an economy that's sort of chugging along, with a war in the background, at the end of eight years of Republican rule in the White House, Obama should be well ahead."

WHAT. THE. FRACK?! Who was it that engineered those eight years of Republican rule that were SO CRAPTASTIC that they ought to make Obama a shoo-in? IT WAS THE JERK ON MY TEEVEE SCREEN. Really, if I were Bob Schieffer, my next question would be, "I'm sorry. MY BRAIN JUST EXPLODED INTO A MILLION SCARY AND COLORFUL SHARDS. DO YOU HAVE A BROOM?"

I really can't believe the stuff people say on teevee sometimes! There are days when the idiots for whom this "idiot box" was named should form up a class-action suit for defamation.

Now Rove is talking about Obama's "appalling judgement." How can I take this seriously when the man just said, "The political climate I created for America should be MORE THAN SHITTY FOR OBAMA TO WIN IN!"

OH, KARL ROVE you need to step off Richmond, Virginia!


Comment from jsinclair:

As for Obama cutting his vacation to talk about Georgia, I'm not sure. You know half the media would talk about how "presumptuous" he was when he's not even president.

The other half would say, "What took him so long? It's just like Bush in New Orleans." He can't win with these people.

Plus, what if our ally (Georgia) is in the wrong? Seems like a lot of confusion in public (I suppose he gets some kind of half-hearted briefing from the State Dept.)--maybe he's better off waiting to see what Bush says?

It seems to me the U.S. is going to be on the wrong side of this ("No independence for South Ossetia!") and if that's the case, there's not a whole lot Obama can say.

On the latter point of whether Georgia being in the right or not, and the U.S. maybe getting stuck on the wrong side, I think all of that is worth heeding. But on the more general campaign point: I see what you are saying about Obama not being able to win - if he shows initiative, the opposition will say, "Oh, dear, the man thinks he's already President" and Dana Milbank will mewl, "Yeah, yeah! And he's even got a White House transition team already, which I've decided to pretend is something unusual!"

But here's the thing, I believe it's best to err on the side of seeming "presumptuous." Obama is eager to lead the country? He wants to demonstrate that he wants to be president? Really? That's not apparent? I think demonstrating such eagerness, to rise to challenges, to actively seek them out and offer yourself to them, is absolutely the way to go, if for no other reason than that there's no way for McCain to contrast it. What's he going to do? Assert a studied disinterest in state affairs as a selling point? Suggest that a lackadasical approach to governance is a strength? If the American people wanted that, Obama would be running against Fred Thompson right now.

Oh, saints preserve me. Hank Paulson in Beijing. Tom Brokaw drops the bad news from the housing market, Freddie and Fannie. Paulson basically applies Friedman units to the economy. Just a few more months of pain, people! If you sniff homemade glue, you won't want to eat as much!

Fannie and Freddie are "a key to our getting through this" and so we'll be bailing everybody else out. Oh! But not homeowners.

I don't know why Brokaw even bothered to ask if "nationalizing" Freddie and Fannie was on the table. This is Hank Paulson we're talking to! We now have a regulator! And he has got a Freddie and a Fannie voodoo doll! And we will make pagan subprime housing zombies!

Brokaw goes Russert, throwing quotes in Paulson's face. Back in April 2007, Paulson said that the subprime problem would be "largely contained." Paulson's riposte? "Well, hindsight is 20/20." OH NOES! Fearless Russert-style journalism defeated! "I've been playing the hand that I've been dealt...it's my lot in life." Yes, Mr. Paulson. You are such a brave little toaster.

Poor America! All those "complex instruments" that nobody understood! That CERTAINLY weren't being pushed on people!

"I understand the importance of regulation, and I understand the importance of moral hazard," says Paulson, who clearly understands dodging responsibility even better.

Now Paulson is talking about how even though we're in turmoil, even though the "regulatory system" is something he deems out of date, and even though the global economic picture is tending toward FUBAR, he thinks that "we have the right people in the seats." Does that make Paulson a Pervasive Pollyanna of Prosperity?

Paulson says that he takes issue with calling the economic stimulus package like confronting a bear with a BB gun. I agree! It was like confronting a bear with honey-scented doily. By the way, I used my stimulus check to pay down debt, because I hate America.

I like that Brokaw notes that the show the Chinese put on to open the games was "a little terrifying." In a way, it was. It was an intoxicating display of wealth and technology and commitment. It was also a real reminder of how easy it is to paper over real corruption with a pretty picture.

Of course, the real terror now resides in the hearts of the residents of Vancouver, who must follow that opening ceremony with one of their own in two years. Mind you, Vancouver is a gorgeous city, but it's probably best known for giving THE X-FILES its dour, oppressively rain-swept vibe. Hopefully, Douglas Coupland and Guy Maddin (who's actually from Winnipeg, I believe, but has the right sort of vision) and the New Pornographers will draw on the work of Emily Carr and, of course, Loverboy (!?) to create an opening ceremony that people will remember. Of course, Vancouver already has such an influx of Chinese emigres that they could just restage what China did, only with Celine Dion instead of Sarah Brightman.

And what has happened/is happening/will continue to happen to Sarah Brightman's face anyway? She makes Bjork look like Joni Mitchell! Who was born in Alberta! AND THUS I HAVE COMPLETED TODAY'S HOLY TANGO OF CANADA REFERENCES!

Another comment, from Johnbo:

Someone please explain how a whole gaggle of Sunday-morning pundits and so-called political experts can pontificate on current political happenings without mentioning the mind-bending revelation in Ron Suskind's new book that Bush and Cheney concocted a scheme to forge a letter purporting to support the Saddam Hussein-Al Qaeda link complete with hush money to the Iraqi general who signed it. This isn't newsworthy? Just like the Downing Street Memos, I guess. What part of treason do these people not understand?

And this comes on the heels of the revelation by Seymour Hersh that a plan was discussed in the inner sanctum of Cheney's office to stage a "false flag" attack on an American ship using U.S. soldiers in Iranian flagged boats.

I couldn't even begin to explain why this isn't newsworthy. Maybe I just don't understand the very real pain that John Edwards has inflicted upon our high-toned media figures!

Anyway, here's David Gregory, "playing with" a panel that consists of Paul Gigot, E.J. Dionne, David "The Young Mister Grace" Broder and Erin Burnett.

Gigot says we need growth zombies to feed the growth that growing Americans need. Naturally, Gigot thinks Obama's tax increase on the super rich is bad. Burnett and Broder then do a little dance, which Dionne finally provides the tune: saying that there's been a sea change in thinking on the government's role in the economy that can't be denied. Gigot is right there with a predicted, "What are we going to nationalize everything?" Remember, these sorts of responses in extremis were at the WSJ long before Rupert got his mitts on it!

Dionne says, "No, we need rational rules." Gigot jumps on the statement to pretend to agree.

Shorter David Broder: What's bad for Georgia is good for John McCain. Oh, yes, David. He's so prescient. I can count on NO FINGERS the number of times he challenged the Bush administration to get serious in their dealings with Russia.

Here's a statement that I'm guessing will sail over everyone's heads:

Paul Gigot: "No matter who is president...the good news is they'll probably have a united Europe...Europe has kind of figured out - they have some experience with imperialist Russia. Whoever the next President is can unite them and fashion a tougher foreign policy."

Really? Hmmm. Well, can we now, AT LAST admit that going over to Europe to inspire this sort of unity is precisely the sort of thing that needs to be done? Perhaps we can go so far as to call such a trip "prescient?"

See! It did sail over everyones head! Gregory is going to get into McCain's ads and what they say about Obama. Does he not realize that if we accept Gigot's premise as true (and no one on this panel countered it), then the thesis behind McCain's ads goes right out the window?

Well, at least we have E.J. Dionne to assail the ads for being very unbecoming for McCain and lacking in truth. Still, I would have said something like the preceding paragraph.

Ohhh, Broder...

"Obama's basic message is it's better to talk to our enemies than get ready to fight them, and here's a case where talking clearly did not dissuade Russia from this act of violence."

That's because the "talk" was underpinned by terrible judgement - Bush's stare into Putin's soul - and disastrous inattention! What sort of "talk" was offered in Beijing? I saw Bush and Putin sitting in the stadium as bombs fell on Georgia. Didn't seem like a matter of great importance to the president! It was another great example of Now Watch This Drive Diplomacy. Oh, but it's Obama who isn't demonstrating a "readiness to fight!" Right, David Broder. Sure!

Then Broder goes on to suggest that the campaign has gone sour because Obama chose not to pin his campaign logistics to the McCain's peripatetic plan for town hall meetings all summer - a gambit which I believe McCain mounted because if Obama had agreed, he could dictate where and when his opponent's campaign traveled and negated the monetary advantage he had over McCain. To Broder, however, McCain is allowed to have a nationwide snit-fit over this grievance, nevermind the fact that it clearly demonstrates the sort of intemperate, juvenile vindictiveness that should preclude people from being Hall Monitor, let alone President!

Paul Gigot says that Obama would be well-served to let Clinton's supporter's come to the convention have their little "scream and shout." My wife grunts, "Pandering." Dionne points out that the Democrats are going to want to point up the successes of the Clinton years, so someone's going to have to agree to be Bill Clinton's cigarillo receptacle this time around.

And now, the John Edwards pile on. David Broder feels that Edwards will "deepen the cynicism" and make it harder for the next president to ask Americans to make sacrifices.

Wow. David Broder has a low opinion of Americans! They won't make sacrifices? They're ruled by cynicism? What a Blame America Firster! What a bunch of crap. This was Broder's 400th appearance on MTP, and appropriately, they capture him back in 1963, armed with a question about JFK and the Oval Office not being a place for "on the job training." Portrait of the Conventional Wisdom Ghoul as a Young Man.

You know, about a week ago, the Chinese denied a visa to Olympic speedskater Joey Cheek, pretty much because Cheek was a founder of the Team Darfur organization and the Chinese government has been doing everything they can to steer attention away from their part in that particular atrocity. The Americans Broder described would have wallowed in cynicism and, I guess, given up.

But the actual Americans weren't having any of it, and in response, they gave the privilege of carrying the U.S. flag into the stadium to a distance runner named Lopez Lomong, one of the famed Sudanese "Lost Boys" who fled the genocide at great personal sacrifice. The sight of Lomong entering the stadium reminded me of a quote from Oliver Goldsmith, "Pride in their port, defiance in their eye, I see the Lords of human kind pass by." Go read about Lomong's story. And be proud of your American team, whose decision in this regard is a greater thing than any medal they will win at the Olympic games. You will find yourself hoping that Mssrs. McCain and Obama might come to understand what a privilege it will be to serve under such Americans as their President.

Okay. I am going to pretend for the next nine hours that I'm still on vacation. See you in a week!