TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog. If you are like me, and going to be in town for inauguration, but are unlike me, in that you aren't smart enough to leave well enough alone and watch the celebration from the comfort of your own homw and coffee-making technology, you probably have the same wish: that the day be an unseasonable 65 degrees, partly cloudy, with tiny flakes of Hope and Change falling from the sky in a mid-afternoon squall that gently drops housing prices at the bottom of their fall. Naturally, none of that is going to happen, especially the part where I stay at home and watch the inauguration on teevee. If you choose to come to the inauguration some resources: first, no one has a better handle on the weather than the Washington Post's Capitol Weather Gang, who have defeated all other meteorological gangs, with knives and zipguns, for area supremacy. Here's a great post describing how weather and the Inauguration have gone hand-in-hand. Also, for details on the coming Inaugurapocalypse, tune into DCist, for all of the terrifying details.
OK, Today's liveblog is a Fox-free affair, for purposes of my sleeping. As usual, send emails, leave comments, and cook up Crock-pots full of hot stews for me, on Inauguration Day.
President-Elect Barack Obama is on today, as the exclusive guest, and Stephanoupoulos warns him that he has received approximately 1.5 billion questions, two thirds of which ask some variation on "Can you fix our miserable lives, which are laying in a puddle of squalor. The other third want to marry off their daughters to Obama, to save them from the squalor. There's a lot of talk about "birthing hips." Those letters aren't all that different from the letters that Stephanopoulos usually gets.
GS asks a nice question, are the business tax cuts there because they will help, or are they in there as GOP-bait. Obama avoids answering directly, giving a rundown on specific investments - environment, public health, environment. He says that the quest for the big bank for the small buck collides with a reality that not all shovel-ready projects are shovel ready. Business tax cuts can play a part in stimulus. Obama says that he takes no "pride in authorship," other than that line about pride of authorship.
But what about this whole Museum of Organized Crime, asks George, sitting in a Museum of the Media, which was funded in part by newpaper moguls and which will play host to the Huff Posts's inaugural party. Obama says that money needs to be spent wisely and prudently. Will some stupid projects find their way in? Yes. But he won't let it become a Christmas tree. More like a Maypole.
Obama has big plans for the remaining $350 billion of the TARP money, which is probably why President Paulson wants to spend it all, quickly, on Goldman Sachs, where he's gotten a return on investment that's CRIMINAL. My God, it's criminal. Twice as much as the money Buffet put in, for one-quarter of the paper value.
What about all of Obama's ambitious campaign goals? With a ballooning deficit, surely he must be scaling things back. Obama says that he'll mine all operations for fiscal efficiency, but that he'll not be able to expand on his ideas on the pace that he'd hoped. "We're going to have to take a look at our structural deficit and decide what we can do. Everyone will have to sacrifice, everyone will have to have skin in the game."
On Gaza, Obama is going to relax in the last few days of not having to offer an opinion on Gaza. GS points out that the Arab world takes his silence as indifference, or even antipathy. Obama says he's determined to break the deadlock that has prevented peace. Will he take a clean break with the Bush approach? Obama stipulates that he'll be following a basic outline that's been in place for decades, but really, it'll be a clean break, in that Bush did nothing about the peace process, save for a last-ditch effort that involved a lunch in Annapolis. I'm sure it was a delicious lunch, but still.
Iran will be a top concern of the Obama administration, also: "I think that Homeland Security has to be our number one priority," Obama says. "That's something that doesn't change, from administration to administration." I wish we could change the term "Homeland." It's a little too "Berlin 1941" to me. I feel like it's a skip and a jump away from everyone singing, "The sun on the meadow is summery warm...the stag in the forest runs free!"
Cheney has been insisting that the Bush counter-terror policies were successful, and has been advising Obama to keep on torturing people. Obama has no quibble with the idea that he should find out what Cheney and Bush did, and not rely solely on campaign rhetoric, but that he's not going to waterboard and torture. That said, he says he agrees with John McCain, and like John McCain, he seems unwilling to stipulate that the CIA should follow the guidelines of the Army Field Manual. They should. The major comfort where the CIA is concerned is that Leon Panetta, who opposes torture, will be running the Agency.
"I don't want to be ambiguous about this," Obama says,
GS offers up Bob Fertik's question, on whether he'll pull out and bring down the rain of holy hell on the people who tortured and tapped my telephone. The short answer is that no one is above the law, but no, there's not going to be much in the way of accountability for past actions. "Looking forward, not backward." This is the reality that I've been unable to square with myself by the way - I want people held responsible for those crimes, but I also realize that the incoming administration may not be able to spend any man-hours on anything other than getting the country out of the hole it's in. Which is why I think these torture and wiretap trials should be viewed as a giant public-works project, with the defendants having to pave asphalt for free whilst standing trial.
Obama doesn't have a church in Washington, yet, so, look for a hundred-billion blogs on the topic from the people at Politico, who are the most Godly group of writers on Earth. Yea, they all do the St. Vitus Dance, with their stigmata!
Apparently, Sasha and Malia are running amok in the Newseum at this very moment, asking questions about when the family is getting a dog. Obama says they are looking into getting a Labradoodle or a Portuguese Water Hound. The former is a terrifying genetic experiment gone awry, the latter, an elitist hound that hunts water for lazy Portuguese. They will be searching area shelters for such animals, but will probably end up bringing home a lovable canine grifter, named Rod Blagojevich.
Panel Time, and it's Republican-tastic! With George Will, and Peggy Noonan and Newt Gingrich, and Kucinich liberal Tom Friedman. I'm kidding! Maybe Friedman will get some more stuff on the Iraq War wrong!
Gingrich is cautioning against waving grand wands, which should be gently and firmly thrust into other men's wives. Noonan is talking about big, huge clouds of dynamism and emergency, borne back ceaslessly into the past. Will is happy that Obama gave his speech at George Mason University, with it's uber-conservative Mercator Institute. Gingrich says that Obama's tax cuts must have "confused his left." Actually, the GOP's willingness to help out with all the infrastructure spending is enraging their right, but you'd have to have a totally different panel.
Tom Friedman says that the Israel-Palestine conflict is about two peoples who have warred for a long time, because it's Obvious Day at This Week? Actually, he thinks that a new approach, and a NATO trusteeship is needed in Gaza and the West Bank. Noonan is very optimistic of Obama's chances on the diplomatic front. "He's buying into a very low market."
Will says, "The problem isn't that Israel is being provocative, it's that Israel's being is provocative." And yet, Israel's provocations are also provocative. But that's a great line, George. Peace through bumper sticker quips! Gingrich, I hope, in comparing Hamas to the Nazis, understands that the elimination of Nazi rule STILL LEFT THIS THING CALLED 'GERMANY' in EXISTENCE.
Will notes that the problem of Guantanamo is that there's no place to put the prisoners, so the only choice is to keep people charged and convicted with no crimes in stir in perpetuity. Except there are countries that have offered to take them.
Peggy Noonan, what's wrong with reading KING LEAR? Lovely play, actually, about the redemptive nature of love! Anyway, Noonan just wants something short, something nice, that gives her maybe one-half of an orgasm, that she can later finish off in her own way, hours later, as she writes her column.
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW>
It's been a long time since we checked in with this nerd, so let's see how he's handling these last two weeks before Obama is sworn in and he loses it completely. Joining Matthews is Norah O'Donnell, Clarence Page, Kathleen Parker, and Reihan Salam.
So, Obama? Greatest thing since sliced bread? Or is he CHANING THE WAY WE SLICE OUR BREAD ENTIRELY? Or is he finally ending White America in favor of a whole grain America, with lots of fiber to aid in our digestion? With special considerations made for those who have wheat and gluten allergies? Clarence Page says Obama has confirmed that America is becoming a race of Super Mulattos, but has also confirms that we're in a world where black culture assures the rest of the country that it means it no harm - it's okay to listen to, and even enjoy, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx or to be glad Living Single is on the Oxygen Network. It was a pretty good show!
Norah O'Donnell says that we are at the cusp of a dramatic cultural tipping point, where white people won't be the majority in America anymore, no matter how many babies she has. O'Donnell says the GOP can't survive as the party of a white, rural rump, though it can still visit that white rural rump from time to time, and freak it, if the mood strikes the GOP just right, like maybe some Keith Sweat comes on the radio and the mood just feels right, and they've got some of that KY warming gel or something. Yeah, then the GOP can can go nuts, go crazy on that thing.
Kathleen Parker then says that she spent her life trying to be the color of Clarence Page, with baby oil. She just might be the freakiest woman in town. By God, she's become a strange and wonderful Republican lady, much to Sarah Palin's chagrin. She says that she doesn't know what "white culture is," other than Lawrence Welk is not hip-hop. She knows this, because she is on the VIP list at the 40-40 Club, and Jay-Z refuses to sample Lawrence Welk. Though really...Coldplay? Anyway, I am totally hooking up Parker with that Wale mixtape about Seinfeld. That's going to blow her mind.
Salam says that Dora the Explorer is huge in America and in France, and that our pop starlets look Latin, with dark hair, especially the hair above the waistline, sunshine.
Chris Matthews says that the Senate is still a vanilla festival of whiteness. And it is, but it's also LAME. Kids don't grow up idolizing Senators, because they are old and have bad hair and wear frumpy suits. I mean, they just took Byrd off the Appro Committee and replaced him with Daniel Inouye, a vital octogenarian, who has large patchy days of numbness and who eats everything in marm form. Nevertheless, Matthews turns it into a discussion of the "smell of Roland Burris' skin." You know, this show's first five minutes, two years ago, would be the crazy racistest thing in the world, but really, now, it's just sort of cute. Which is why I feel allowed to make jokes about Kathleen Parker bootyclapping at Jay-Z's New York City's nightclubs.
I'm sure all of this is of great political value to all of you!
Page, on the whole Burris thing, reports that the death of the Race Card are greatly exaggerated, and that Blago's play will likely work. Salam says Blago is a gift to cable teevee, and he is right: Blago is really magical. Like Dark Arts magical. Then he talks about his concern that the Senate will continue to get whiter and colder and more in need of prunes, and that the youths will hate the Senate, and cold diss it on their blogs, between Gossip Girl recaps.
Now we're talking about the bitters and their clinging to guns and religion. AND KATHLEEN PARKER IS SAYING THAT SHE CLINGS TO WINE. She is like Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married today or something! O'Donnell, Page, and Parker says our economic needs are going to cause a cultural shift away from racial fears, and Salam seizes the opportunity to be the top in this scenario by saying that demographically, people will have to accept a new racial paradigm or "tough luck." Parker says that Obama has an "inner WASP," with a big, hot stinger. O'Donnell then shouts, "Let's all take a few minutes to explore the tastes of each other's bodies," and they cut to commercial.
Meanwhile, Obama met with the four living Presidents, and the rug, which Bill Clinton dreamed of defiling. What did Obama learn from them? O'Donnell says that Obama called the meeting so that he can get their phone numbers, and ask what they did without Blackberries. But Matthews wanted to know about Jimmy Carter, and O'Donnell doesn't give a crap about Carter, or Matthews' weird framing device for questions.
Page is asked what Obama learned from Bush 41, and he answers something about being a regular guy, who eats pork rinds. Kathleen Parker is asked about Bill Clinton, and makes a joke about interns, so that she can keep her job at NRO. She says, "Someone had to say it." Matthews says, "No you didn't." And it's hilarious because COME ON KATHLEEN. Salam, talks about Presidents as either building their party or depleting their party, and that Bush tried to build the party and ended up wrecking the brand, but that Obama, long term, seems to be of the mind to build a lasting progressive majority. Lots of progressives disagree with this premise, because the immediate unfolding of Obama's policies will not be as progressive as they nominally could be, but I think the strategy is to establish a record of core competencies and build on them, as the electoarate moves more progressive ideas into the de facto mainstream. But again, lots of people disagree with my take, and that's okay, they aren't bad or dumb people.
Parker says that the big lesson from Bush 43 is that "certitude is not good." Well...when you are George W. Bush, that's very true!
That segment wasn't nearly as DIRRTY as the previous!
Anyway, things that Matthews doesn't know! O'Donnell says that it's interesting that Obama's become a de facto endorser of the Blackberry. Coincidentally, I've finally bitten the bullet and ordered one of my own, so if you see me over Inaugural Weekend, don't forget to introduce yourself and let me know what a disgusting whore I've become!
Page says Blago got impeached and Reid is in an awkawrd position and...what's the thing we don't know? Oh, Obama's people asked Reid to give in so that his "base would not be divided."
Parker says that people come up to her and say that they voted for a Democrat for the first time in their life. Even Reaganites! And they are whispering. AND THAT CONCLUDES THIS WEEK'S EPISODE OF: "I Voted For Obama Myself But Can't Come Right Out And Say It Because I'm Terrified Of Losing My Job In This Economy, Maybe When It Rebounds I Can Blog For The Observer Or Something But For Now I Really Have To Make it Work At National Review Because Let's Face It It's Not Like I Have The Buckley Family Fortune To Fall Back On And So Even Though I Can't Stand K. Lo Or Any One Of Those Nimrod Palin Fetishists -- And, OMFG Jonah Goldberg...How Do I Explain To My Grandchildren How It Came To Pass That My Life Led To Me Having To Refer To That Total Nimrod With Instant Oatmeal For Brains As A 'Colleague' I Mean You Do Your Best To Make Choices And Yet Still, You Unavoidably Cannot Fully Escape From The Indignities Of Your So-Called Peers -- I Must Must Must Do What I Can To Keep My Job And Muddle Through So For Now I'm Keeping How I Voted On The QT But Every Once In A While I'm Going To Drop A Hint Like An Anvil That YES I WAS ALWAYS IN THE TANK FOR OBAMA: The Kathleen Parker Story."
Salam says that a lot of the Democratic national security folks are being frozen out of the team for the sake of having a big tent.
Finally, Matthews' big question. Why are the Democrats speaking out more than the Republicans? O'Donnell says it's because they can, these days, though I still think you can shut the entire Democratic Senate majority up by whispering the word "filibuster," and REALLY HARRY REID HOW ARE YOUR HYDROPONIC "CHIA BALLS" COMING ALONG? Parker says that they want some attention, which is pretty ironic coming from Parker. Salam says that they want Obama to know that they won't be taken for granted. And so the show ends, and the panel can all go find a room at the Hay-Adams to get POST-RACIAL in.
MEET THE PRESS
I've already gotten an IM today saying "GUHH, MEET THE PRESS IS HORRIBLE TODAY" and you people really must stop doing that because it really saps my willpower to watch the show on TiVo. Y'all should do something like say, "Dude...get ready for Meet The Press!" or "Meet The Press...WOW" or "Hey, Jason, A bunch of us liveblogged Meet The Press for you today because within the first fifteen minutes, you are going to want to get hammered so badly that we figure the nicest thing we can do for you is give you a chance to get out to some bar really early this Sunday, so you can start managing that pain with self-medication."
OH! I wanted to celebrate Friend Of The LiveBlog Chris Blakely, who was responsible for last week's on-air email submission to Fox News Sunday, suggesting to Bill Sammon "whining about the main stream media savaging Caroline Kennedy and giving a pass to poor, maligned Sarah Palin." Not only did Wallace read his email on the air, but they drove Sammon out to some remote field, shot him up with horse tranquilizers, and dressed in a petticoat. All of you should strive to have the same effect on the world as Chris Blakely.
Anyway, today: Economy is killing us. Can MEET THE PRESS kill us faster? David Bonior, Paul Gigot, John Harwood, Bethany McLean and Mark Zandi will try. Also: BLACKS...they walk among us! MTP talks to some leading blacks: Bill Cosby, Maxine Waters, Adrian Fenty and Alvin Poussaint, only one of whom gets to eat for free at Ben's Chili Bowl, along with the Obama family.
But first, the white people have to talk about important things, namely, the economy. Harwood runs down the package, leading Zandi to wonder, "Is it big enough?" Shouldn't we be talking about sums in the eleventies? The Sextillions? Bonior says that the size of the package is not the countries biggest concern, there's also "what do we want to recover to," better known as "the motion of the ocean."
Will it create jobs? Because DAVID GREGORY TOTALLY HAS A GRAPHIC SAYING IT WILL. And yet, Wednesday, Obama said that unemployment will still be high through 2010. McLean is terrifief that none of this might work. But Paul Gigot says the two trillion dollars the Fed has alreay thrown at the economy is quietly working.
Now they are talking about infrastructure spending. Zandi says it's efficacious, but you still need to get tax-cutalicious to have a full stimugasm. Gregory LOVES THE SOUND OF SOME TAX CUTS, and so does Gigot. Not so much the building of trains, because NBC has a sled, pulled by magical interns, that drive him around.
Gregory's got no end of trite questions! Does Bonior think that some tax cuts are included to ramp up some GOP support? Bonior says that it also sets up future cooperation on other projects. Bonior helps out the entire world by mentioning that talking and worrying about the effects of infrastructure improvments don't stimulate anything, but his experience teaches him that when the trigger is pulled, the stimulus flows.
Harwood is surprised by the lack of flak Obama's receiving from the GOP, of course, he quotes Tom Coburn, who generally disagrees with Obama ideologically but who is also one of Obama's closest friends in the Senate, strangely enough.
Gigot wants everyone to make sure that public sector dollars will get a greater bang for the buck than what the private sector would spend it on. Would it be fair to bring up GMAC? They got a pot of our money to spend on private sectortacious stuff! What use did they put it to? BUILDING THE TRUCKS AND SUVS THAT AMERICAN CONSUMERS NO LONGER WANT. It makes you wonder if sometimes, the private sector doesn't raise all boats because the people who make decisions in that arena are a little bit on the totally fracking moronic side!
Bethany Mclean is worried, because the issue of moral hazard is off the table! What happened to everyone sitting around, philosophizing about this stuff? Then Zandi and Gigot start yelling at each other. I think, actually, that we get to a point on panel discussions about the economy where everyone starts intoning things that were written on flashcards for them, regardless of what's being asked.
Bonior, says everything that's done should be put through a "green economy prism" because that's the innovative footing of the future. That's very Clintonian/Stiglitzian. Hope it's also Rubinian, because that's the economists we're working with.
What's the new deficit policy? Gigot says it's spend what you can and worry about it later, as long as you concentrate on getting the right things bought. He thinks buying aircraft carriers for the Cold War represent a "big payoff down the road," but what lay even further down the road is the end of the cold war and a set of defense needs centered on counterinurgency strategy, for which aircraft carriers are of little use.
Bethany McLean is also scared that China will pull back from buying up U.S. debt. What is this "Bethany McLean" all about? Gregory asks her a question, and she says, "Yeah. I'm worried. What are we gonna do about that?" Uhm...he's asking you!
Paul Gigot is like, the most charismatic person on this panel. They really need a bailout of personality, or something.
Okay, McLean says that aritifically holding housing prices up artificially will keep the economy out of whack for a long time and so they should be allowed to find a bottom no matter how "traumatic" which makes perfect sense and I am now glad she was on this panel. Hurrah!
Now it's time for the second panel, and Gregory is going to generously open up the topic of the economy to the non-whites, because that's totally post-racial. He asks Cosby about it, and he tosses it to Poussaint, who reminds that many public services, like schools, get cut during a downturn, and this is going to have a deleterious effect on the students who make it to the job market. Cosby adds that if it's cheaper to educate a child than to incarcerate a child, that on balance, adding money to public education makes sense.
How does Obama take on the problems? Maxine Waters says that his stimulus package could be the "rising tide that lifts all boats" and that construction projects can put all manner of people back to work. (I think specifically, PEOPLE WHO WERE ONCE BUILDING HOMES!!) Adrian Fenty adds that really likes Arne Duncan, and that Duncan's appointment indicates that Obama's going to move on education initiatives with as much alacrity as he does the economic issues.
Cosby then tells a lovely story about his day of voting for Obama, in which he took pictures of his mother and father and brother into the voting booth with him, so that they could be there in spirit. "It was wonderful," he says.
What does he expect from Obama? "Change, challenge for all of us....he's asking for all of us to be honest...about what we can do. I think it's time for all of us to do things in term of community, to stop worry about what other people think of us...to go right on in and talk to our youngsters about correct choices, do not be afraid to challenge them, and be honest with them. And to not be afraid to just stand with him and work with him...to make change, and choices, and challenge." And if all that happens, Obama can keep his Blackberry.
Poussaint also thinks that Obama could fill a crucial role model for the black community, something with which virtually everyone on the panel agrees. My wife has predicted that Obama in the White House is going to spark a sea change among young elementary school students, and their minds remap a world in which an African-American is president - black students will receive an aspirational boost and the entire student community will draw closer together as their perceptions change. Fenty echoes this: "These images of Obama sending his daughters off to school are going to resonate in people's psyche." Indeed. Wait until Sasha and Malia start living in the White House people. Sometimes, I think that they are there is more important, symbolically, than their dad being there.
"The beauty of [Obama's] story is that it hits all colors, all religions," Cosby says.
Ha, but I really love Maxine Waters! Gregory reads one of Matt Bai's dumbassed editorial thought-exercises, about how maybe Obama's ability to govern will be hampered by his post-racial stance. How will Obama fight to improve the black community if everyone's looking for signs of racial parochialism. (WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? I can't be desirous of improvments in the black community?) Waters says, "That's one of those arguments that's developed by pundits," meanwhile, Barack Obama is working on a stimulus package to help the entire country. She goes on the elucidate the way Obama "developed a language" that made everybody "stop and listen."
Fenty compares him to Deval Patrick, Corey Booker, and Martin O'Malley, that he's vowed to represent all the people. Gregory, off camera, suggests Fenty is cut from the same cloth...I think Fenty keeps his name out of it because of modesty and because he knows his constuency isn't quite the same as the others.
Poussaint: "I feel very comfortable with Obama as an African-American president who's concerned about African-American problems, I think that's part of him...I think we should ask what the black community could do for Obama."
Wow! There's a shot of DC's own Ben's Chili Bowl! I'm looking right at the patch of street corner where I was standing when I thought I might start blogging, maybe. AHH, but WTF, Barack? You don't know what a half-smoke is? "I'm taking my vote back," Cosby jokes. Well...at least you'll be getting yours for free from now on! Which Cosby jokingly grouses about, saying that Michelle and her mom have earned the right to eat for free, but Barack has a while to go. Then he dogs Fenty out for bringing him over in attempt to "boost his name" to the free-food privilege. This is all great fun for me to watch, so naturally, Gregory ruins it by shifting the conversation to Roland Burris. Man. We should have gone out on that last segment!
Anyway, this was a fun and provocative panel - I'd have had those four on the whole time, and let them work over the economic questions that Gregory gave to the earlier panel. Bet we would have gotten a more eye-level look at those economic issues.
Anyway. That's it for today. I think I need only end this thing with these words - Next week: the last Sunday Morning of the Bush Administration.