03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning. This is your weekly liveblog of the events soon to be transpiring on your teevees, while you, hopefully live your lives. My name is Jason. Ever get the feeling that an overheated sense of super deep-fried significance tends to get attached to everything, until we're all practically dying of glucose-induced, candy-flavored ball-lightning shocks of the brainstem? Because earlier this week was election day. Hardly any elections were held, at all! And the significance of said elections was pounded into my face by mallet wielding on-air sea lions barking over and over again about WOO GAMECHANGERZ 2010 MAYBE 2012 DOESN'T THIS HIT YOU MIND LIKE A DAISYCUTTER.

Well, no! In fact, at the end of the week, even buffeted by the latest fad of Tea Partying, the House went right out and did what they were going to do all along -- ALL YEAR LONG, REALLY -- and pass their health care bill. And even then, that was a story told with RAW EMOTION AND INTENSE ECTSTACY as the MOST IMPORTANT PROCEDURAL VOTE OF ALL TIME went down exactly as everyone predicted it would (with an added cushion of votes gained from those elections on Tuesday that were supposed to be read as the TOTAL PULVERISATION OF HEALTH CARE REFORM IN OUR LIFETIMES!

Where were you when the House did this? Me, I was girding myself, with liquor, in advance of the moment when that saggy and unloved sack of malted bile, Joe Lieberman, ruins everything. GOOD TIMES, AMERICA.

Anyway, yeah, I've been looking forward to the toxic shock of this Sunday for a few days now. As always, you should feel invited, but not required, to do any of the following: leave a comment, drop us an email, or follow me, as some do, on the Twittering. Et maintenant...


Chris Van Hollen, Mike Pence, Joe Lieberman, and Bob McDonnell? I could get hypoglycemic on all the charisma I'm about to be dosed with.

Well, hey, health care passed by five votes, but there was a contentious vote over an abortion measure offered by Bart Stupak. For more on that, hie thee to Ezra Klein. Then, the GOP mainly recited the same talking points again and again, except for John Shadegg, who dragged a baby onstage with him in an effort to get written about on Wonkette, for being preposterous. I think he was successful.

Anyway, la: Van Hollen and Pence. Van Hollen says the message of last night's vote is that "it's time to begin to fix a broken health care system." Also, some more pleasant sounding boilerplate. Pense says the message is that the Democrats weren't listening to the yelly, Hitler-mustache drawing children at town halls OR the election day results in the two races where the GOP fared well. Also: TEH LIBRUL ESTABLISHMENT! WHY DO THEY ACT LIKE PEOPLE VOTED FOR THEM TO DO THINGS. Also, some more angry sounding boilerplate.

Van Hollen suggests that the 2008 elections are relevant, and that in 2009, the Dems got two YES votes from John Garamendi and Bill Owens. On health care, last night's vote was "one very big step on a long journey." The "public option" by the way, seems to be being rebranded as the "voluntrary option."

Pence is like, NO YOU DIDN'T GET THE MESSAGE. He thinks that people should be impressed that a "third party conservative" almost beat the Democrat in the NY 23rd race. That would be impressive if it weren't for the fact that no Democrat has actually won that seat since Amerigo Vespucci first scrawled his name on a map.

Meanwhile, unemployment: Van Hollen says that the outgoing administration ate killed the world, remember! We just sort of haven't succeeded in arresting that free fall, and hey, along the way, we conducted some bank stress tests predicated on the notion that everything was going to be a lot better. Mike Pence says, "the first thing you do in a hole is stop digging," which is like, his favorite cliche. I'm sure that there are dry cleaners in his district that give out free collar starch whenever he says it. Anyway, from Pence, we get LOLZ SPENDING FREEZE PLEASE? Pence would like a strong no-growth, pro-cyclical set of policies to exacewrbate the downturn forever.

Anyway, the Nidal Hasan shooting. "For answers, we turn to Joe Lieberman." Lieberman says that Fox is going to have tamp down their anti-Muslim fervor, it's too early, it's premature, but, you know what? MAYBE IT WAS THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE TERRORIST ACT TO BE COMMITTED SINCE 9/11!! OKAY? DID I MAKE SOME NEWS TODAY!?

Wallace asks Lieberman a bunch of questions about warning signs, and I'm like, "Shouldn't we wait for investigators to tell us what's going on here?" Lieberman's read reports and stuff that makes his all a'scurred! He'll hold some hearings with Susan Collins. That's because he chairs the Senate committee that deals with Homeland Security. Lieberman says that he will vote against the public option by not allowing the bill to come to a final vote, and if he does so, he shouldn't chair that committee anymore.

I'll let Chris Blakeley get mad at Joe Lieberman, because why not?

Every time Joe Lieberman, self-serving, opportunist of the first order, opens his mouth to take care of himself, I am reminded that he was Al Gore's choice for Vice President of the United States. Although I still see Sarah Palin as the worst VP choice ever, I now must admit that Joe Lieberman has moved ahead of Dan Quayle on that list. While I am thinking there is nothing self-serving Joe could do to supplant Palin, his performance this morning on FOX News Sunday has made me less sure of this.

It is no wonder the Democrats are so ineffective when they reward self-serving Joe's active support of the Republican candidate for president in 2008 by allowing him keep his Homeland Security Committee chairmanship. Joe, ever the self-serving opportunist, now expresses his gratitude by vowing to filibuster the Health Care bill if it includes the public option (Joe has to take care of himself by taking care of those Insurance company donors) and this morning on FOX News Sunday, spewing forth unsubstantiated claims to fan the fear of terrorism (to propel his committee into the media spotlight) by saying "if" Major Nidal Malik were acting as an Islamic terrorist, this was the worst domestic terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Then, as an after thought, self-serving Joe noted that we need to let the investigation go forward "before" jumping to any conclusions. Way to illustrate John McCain's recent presidential campaign slogan, "Country First," self-serving Joe!

I think that Joe Lieberman does exemplify two of the three syllables in McCain's slogan very aptly, though, Chris!

And now! Bob McDonnell! His victory was STRIKING! Can his success be replicated? Maybe! If you run to the center, keep the teabaggers away, and run against candidates who voters don't like and who make tons of structural mistakes during the campaign, then maybe!

Anyway, Chris Wallace is like, WHERE DID ALL THAT GREAT SOCIAL CONSERVATISM GO? McDonnell says, uhh...hey, unemployment is bad, mmm'kay? Wallace is like, are you going to forget about the crazy people, though? McDonnell more or less says, uhhhh...please stay out of our state! I'm POSITIVE! EVERYONE STAY POSITIVE! SMILE!

Wallace wants McDonnell to commit to jacking over Planned Parenthood, and expand Virginia's death penalty (which is ALREADY the deathiest death penalty in the world). Then he asks McDonnell about the health care bill, and all the times the word "Shall" is in the bill (THAT'S THE MEME, BY THE WAY?). Know what McDonnell's number one problem is, Chris? TRANSPORTATION. All of your crazy concerns are secondary to fixing Virginia's transportation problems.

Chris Wallace asks McDonnell is he wants to be Vice President, he doesn't. He pledges four full years as Virginia's governor.

Now, Panel Time! With Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Kirsten Powers, filling in for Juan Williams.

What about the health care? Brit Hume says that maybe there's some Democrats who are vulnerable now! Unless of course the economy improves? Or maybe the voters in their districts are okay with their health care vote? Anyway, that's Brit Hume, doing the best he can to scare. Liasson says that the bill continues to become a reality, and it's becoming more centrist.

Kristol, who's predicted failure for the bill, aggressively attempting to engage hsi pea brain, and comes up with reverse-engineered hypotheticals about how maybe if people who no one knew months ago were asked questions that no one was asking about a future outcome no one could have divined, maybe the imaginary people would have told their imaginary interlocutors that they would have thought health care would have passed the House by a wider margin. Of course it's just as likely that someone would have said, "Oh, yeah. The Speaker probably managed her cushion so that those who felt like they'd be hurt politically signing their name to it could pretend to not support it in the final vote...that's how these things work."

Powers says Obama might be better off by spending the next year talking about big picture. Hume says that health care doesn't matter, unemployment does, and that's fairly correct. Liasson says, well sure okay, look for Obama to talk about the economy, forever, all next year, cosigning Powers' "big picture" notion.

Kristol says, "THIS BILL BURDENS THE ECONOMY!" But that won't be an issue in 2010! The bill won't go into effect until 2013.

Apparently, during commercial, everyone was arguing with each other. Powers was apparently attempting to defend the administrations' efforts on the economy. She notes that unemployment is a lagging indicator. Well, it's pretty lagging! One of the fundamental electoral points I'd make is that time is more on Obama's side than Congress'.

It's too bad that the best part of this discussion happened during commercial. Maybe Kirsten doesn't just sit there, inert and sad, when the camera is off, like Juan Williams!

Anyway, the panel is now asking if "political correctness" -- a media created bit of faddish fussery that was passe over a decade ago -- played a role in the killings at Fort Hood. If a cultural relic can be loaded into a firearm and shot at people, then yes. Kristol goes on to bizarrely scoff at the suggestion that the incident shows bases need additional force protection. "We need soldiers to protect soldiers from other soldiers?" he asks, mockingly. No, idiot! We need LESS SOLDIERS TO DIE IS SOMETHING LIKE THIS -- AND BY THIS I MEAN "GUY WITH A GUN ON A MILITARY BASE" -- HAPPENS AGAIN.

Powers says that it's wrong to extrapolate the incident into "act of Islamic terror" without any evidence that goes beyond the suggestion that this guy just snapped. Brit Hume starts to object, but Wallace calls the panel short, telling viewers that anyone who'd like to see Brit yell at Kirsten some more will have to do it online.


Anyway, Gen. George Casey is here, to talk about the Fort Hood incident. He says his trip to the base with John McHugh was both "gut wrenching" but also "uplifting" in that he got to witness the way the soldiers there bore up under the tragedy and supported one another.

Casey begs off making comment on matters pertaining to the investigation, like whether or not there were any other perpretators. He does suggest that early reports that their may have been accomplices may have been founded on bad premises. SURPRISE SURPRISE, to everyone who doesn't remember Balloon Boy.

As far as warning signs go, Casey cautions about speculation based on anecdotes. "Let the investigation take its course." As far as Muslims in the military goes, Casey says that "what happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but it would be a greater tragedy if the Army's diversity became an additional casualty."

He goes on to say that the Army will "take a hard look at ourselves" to prevent similar occurences, and continue to take strides to improve the "mental fitness" of the force. I draw from this that while Casey feels obligated to leave all possibilities on the table, he's pushing the story in the direction of "guy who snapped" over "guy who was a stealth jihadist."

Meanwhile, Michael Steele and Tim Kaine. Will the health care bill wreck Democrats' electoral future? Kaine says no, this was AWESOME HISTORY, put it in the HISTORY CHANNEL, and the bill is amazing, and we should talk about it as if it didn't have to get reconciled with a Senate bill and survive another vote. BECAUSE: PRETTY.

Steele, of course, is all: GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF HEALTHCARE, BOOGAH-FOO! Why won't the White House meet with the GOP? What happened to all those days of fawning over Chuck Grassley, where did those times go? Kaine argues, Steele does his best "Bish, pls!" act. Kaine points out that the hastily offered bill didn't include rules getting rid of pre-existing conditions.

Steele says: "Where's your tort reform, where's your portability, where's your small business pools, where's your program for health savings accounts?"

Well, "health savings accounts" are an idea that would be mooted under a comprehensive health care bill, so the reason that's not in the bill is because it's unnecessary. As for the rest of those things, know what? They are IN THE BILL. Take it away, Igor Volsky:

3. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - POLICIES ACROSS STATE LINES: "Interstate competition allowing people to buy insurance across state lines." [Sen. John Thune (R-SD), 9/8/2009]

HOUSE BILL - POLICIES ACROSS STATE LINES: Allows for the creation of State Health Insurance Compacts - permits states to enter into agreements to allow for the sale of insurance across state lines.

4. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - MEDICAL MALPRACTICE REFORM: "Why not bring about reasonable restrictions and limits on medical malpractice claims to end the era of defensive medicine?" [Rep. Mike Pence (R-IA), 9/9/2009]

HOUSE BILL - ENCOURAGES MALPRACTICE REFORM: The bill establishes a voluntary state incentives grant program to encourage states to implement "certificate of merit" and "early offer" alternatives to traditional medical malpractice litigation.

5. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - HIGH RISK POOLS: "Senator McCain has a proposal sometimes called high-risk pools at the state level...These are efforts I think we can have bipartisan agreement on and deal with the question of pre-existing conditions." [Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), 9/10/2009]

HOUSE BILL - HIGH RISK POOLS: To fill the gap before the Exchange becomes available in 2013, the bill creates an insurance program with financial assistance for those uninsured for several months or denied policy due to preexisting conditions.


8. REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR - PROTECT SMALL BUSINESSES: "Helps employers offer health care coverage to their workers by reducing their administrative costs through a new small business tax credit." [Republican Health Solutions Group]

HOUSE BILL - PROTECTS SMALL BUSINESSES: The bill exempts 86% of businesses from the requirement to provide coverage. Businesses with payrolls below $500,000 are exempt while firms with payrolls between $500,000 and $750,000 would pay a graduated penalty. Small businesses would also receive a tax credit that helps cover 50% of their health care expenses.

I don't know what Steele means by "small business pools," so I went ahead and guarded against whether or not he's conflating "small business protection" and "high risk pools." Read the rest of Volsky's piece for seven more things that the GOP requested...and GOT, in the House bill.

Steele says that the Democratic bill should be compared to the GOP bill. OKAY! Take it away, Matt Yglesias!

The good news is that the House GOP bill does reduce the deficit. CBO says adopting their plan would reduce the deficit by $68 billion over ten years relative to current law. The number for the Democratic bill, however, is $104 billion. So in exchange for that lesser deficit reduction, the Republicans must cover more people right? Well, of course not. Instead, under the Boehner Plan the number of people without health insurance will stay steady at 17 percent. The Democratic plan will see that sliced to just four percent.

The CBO also says that for most people the GOP plan won't lower premiums: "In the large group market, which represents nearly 80 percent of total private premiums, the amendment would lower average insurance premiums in 2016 by zero to 3 percent compared with amounts under current law." And insofar as their plan does reduce premiums, it's by making your coverage worse:

The second source of change in average insurance premiums is changes in the average extent of coverage purchased. Those changes can reflect both changes in the scope of insurance coverage--the benefits or services that are included--and changes in the share of costs for covered services paid by the insurer--known as the "actuarial value." With other factors held equal, insurance policies that cover more benefits or services or have smaller copayments or deductibles have higher premiums, while policies that cover fewer benefits or services or have larger copayments or deductibles have lower premiums. Provisions in the amendment that would reduce insurance premiums by affecting the amount of coverage purchased include the State Innovations program, which would encourage states to reduce the number and extent of benefit mandates that they impose, and provisions that would allow individuals or affiliated groups to purchase insurance policies in other states that have less stringent mandates.

To repeat myself from yesterday, this is basically a plan that works well for you if you never get sick.

There are days where I imagine a time where Sunday Morning interlocutors read things like the above and resolve themselves to be armed with actual information, should their guest attempt to glibly slide by some talking points they've been honing for a month. I think to myself: such a talk show would be neat.

Anyway, Tim Kaine is doing his pirouette around the election results. Steele is carving up statistics and inflating the results. "The Democratic Party had better pay attention!" he says. I'd like to extend some congratulations to the people of THIS WEEK. GREAT JOB, GUYS! This is precisely the sort of discussion you could have pre-scripted. It's all terribly terribly unpredictable.

Apparently, small business owners have "roosts" in their "back pockets." Maybe they should give tax credits for building aviaries.

Kaine says: "I am a governor!" Steele says, "I was a Lieutenant Governor." Kaine says, "We are building things!" Steele says, "That's government contract work" and it's not permanent. I say: Do you want it to be permanent? Temporary work until the private sector is growing seems like just the thing to keep people at work without adding permanent government jobs. Steele says "what about the brother on the corner by the grocery store." I think he just plugged the new Clipse album!

Kaine calls NY 23 the "gift that keeps on giving." At least for a year! Kaine is actually pretty hilarious, saying that Sarah Palin supported the Democratic candidate, by helping to drive out Dede Scozzafava. But that's that. Bye, you two.

Panel Time! We got Will, Luntz, Brazile, Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. George Will is concerned about TEH JOBS. Card check will kill jobs, as will health care! Sam Donaldson says that Paul Volcker will save us, and Obama is "odds on" for re-election, and someone needs to tell Sam that Obama isn't LISTENING TO PAUL VOLCKER, and that's uhm...what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yeah, "PROBABLY STUPID." I guess that's TWO WORDS.

Frank Luntz says we are all teabaggers, except for the youngs, and that 1994 is going to rise again! Brazile says, it's not 1994, because there's not a bunch of crazy scandals and widespread retirements. Also, the GOP in 1994 had a plan, whereas the GOP in 2009 is deciding on whether or not they should band together with the crank faction. The lesson of 2009, by the way? NO! DON'T DO THAT.

Sam Donaldson agrees with me, so he gets a lollipop. Someone give him one.

Will says, OH YEAH? EVERYONE HATE TEH INFLATION. Donaldson says, "We have no inflation." Alex Tabarrok says: "I wish ...that inflation [was] around the corner. We could use some inflation to get back on track. Nominal wages are simply not flexible enough to get the job done in short order and there is much to fear from populist backlash."

Now the panel is sort of generically attempting to kick off 2010 coverage. It's going to happen, folks.

Sam Donaldson, meanwhile, is trying to fill in for the absent Paul Krugman: "More stimulus!" Frank Luntz is reeling off his version of Superfreakonomics. Roberts says, "Whatever, check your demographics, they are awful." Will agrees that it's a problem, and that the GOP needs to be the party of ideas...and, uhm...well, CHECK OUT FAIRFAX COUNTY! So many schoolbuses! So much McDonnell support! And Sam Donaldson is yelling about Glenn Beck and the poster comparing health care reform to Dachau.

And then, for no reason, we get Jon Voight, being totally mental. Luntz tries to make a point about how that comes from a lack of faith in "American exceptionalism." Cokie Roberts counters by saying that if people like Jon Voight are any guide, then American exceptionalism isn't too exceptional.

Donna Brazile explains to George Will how buying health insurance across state lines, like firecrackers, isn't the end-all-be-all he thinks it is. Frank Luntz is now wandering out of his crank-Sabermetric pocket to complain about how long the bill is, "LONG BILLS SCARE AMERICA." Whatever, Frank, I made it through INFINITE JEST just fine.

Sam Donaldson is like a Cialis commercial today! He can go all night long!

Frank Luntz feels sorry for Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu -- all they've done is stand in the way of fixing problems so that they can continue to run on a platform of the urgent need to fix those problems again and again!


Okay, so, let's get through this, shall we? Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell? Ugh, DO NOT WANT. Tom Brokaw has found Berlin! But first, here's General George Casey. This runs in the same direction as the earlier interview on ABC. Casey has to limit comments on the investigation, he's worried about "speculation based on anecdotes," there are professional investigations going on, they "will take a hard look at" themselves.

On the larger issue of combat stress, Casey says it's a matter that the Army is keenly aware of, and that they are working hard to restore the 'balance point." He highlights a number of programs to indicate that the Army is working hard to get help for people who develop post-traumatic stress disorder, and do more in advance so that soldiers have better coping skills ahead of trauma.

As far as a concern about backlash against Muslim soldiers, Casey says: "Yeah. I think those concerns are real. And...they're fueled, partially at least, by the speculation about-- based-- based on anecdotal-- evidence that people are presenting. I think we have to be very careful with that. Our diversity, not only in the Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse."

GREGORY: Do you have any reason to believe that having Muslims in the Army-- puts them in a very difficult position? Makes them more conflicted, fighting a war against Muslims in Afghanistan or Iraq?

CASEY: I think that's something that they have to look at on an individual basis. But I think we as an Army have to be broad enough-- to bring in people from all walks of life.

Oh, my. Ed Rendell is not looking well.

Haley Barbour thinks health care is doomed. Rendell says it will. LET'S BATTLE!

Rendell points out that Arkansans LOVE THEM SOME PUBLIC OPTION, so Blanche Lincoln should vote for it. Barbour insists that the people who defeat the bill will be popular. There's nothing interesting being said, because these two guys are saying the same things that have been said for months.

Meanwhile, the MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER happened right? Barbour thinks it was good for the GOP, Rendell thinks it's anti-incumbent but not anti-Obama. Barbour has got even more obscure election results to spin gold from. Rendell says, "A year in politics, is light years." This is like Mark Halperin's The Page got up and started talking. By which I mean, starting boring the bejeezus out of me.

Here's a great question formulation by Gregory: "Is the President going too fast on the economy, when unemployment is at 10%" No, no. Of course, slow down. Gregory is part of this new strain of moron who doesn't believe the president can do more than one thing at a time. This vision of management did not exist until it was clear that was how Obama was going to have to govern -- two wars and no health care and a decade-long employment crisis and a collapsing economy exacerbating all three -- and the media felt obligated to inveigh against MULTITASKING. On a long enough timeline, Meet The Press and David Gregory could potentially mount the case that almost everything we've settled as possible and doable is actually rimming with stupidity.

Let's watch Barbour run away from Sarah Palin:

DAVID GREGORY: Sarah Palin got involved in that race. She endorsed the independent conservative. What role does she play right now in the Republican Party?

GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR: Well, she doesn't play any official role in the Republican Party, but a lot of people care about her. A lot of people are fond of her. And she's like a lot of voter-- politicians who are very well regarded in our party.

DAVID GREGORY: What do you think of her?



GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR: Don't always agree with her, but, you know, my wife doesn't always agree with me, either.

DAVID GREGORY: But is she an important Republican leader in your book?

GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR: Oh, I think she is. I think she's got somethin' to offer.


GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR: One of the great things--

DAVID GREGORY: Do you think she could be President?

GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR: One of the great things about when your party's out of power, you don't have a spokesman. You have a lot of spo-- I don't want to say (UNINTEL) 1,000 flowers bloom. But you have a lot of different people. And that's healthy for your party.


GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR: The Democrats do that when they're out.

DAVID GREGORY: Do you-- do you think she speaks for the party?

GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR: I think she speaks for herself, just like I speak for myself.

DAVID GREGORY: Do you think she could be President?

GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR: Look, it's a long way away from there. Every time we-- every time people ask me about President, I remind them, David, any Republican who cares about the future of our country, they should be focused on the elections in 2010. Those are the elections that matter. We'll worry about President after 2010.

Gregory somehow restrains himself, limiting the number of times he asks Barbour if he's running for President to two.

Rendell says no to a second stimulus: "I don't think we need a second stimulus. I would like to see our transportation infrastructure spending, which is the best job producer, I would like to see that front-loaded-- and start in January or February of this year." He gives Obama a "solid B" on the economy, because of the stimulus.

Barbour says that regardless of what Obama does in Afghanistan, he's not going to criticize him, which is interesting: "But right now, if the President does the right thing here, I'm gonna applaud him. If he doesn't, I'm not gonna criticize him."

Okay: Panel time! Today we have David Brooks and EJ Dionne and Rachel Maddow and Ed Gillespie.

What is the state of the LOLSURGE? (34,000 troops, by the way, is the leak.) Brooks says Obama is wondering who he is supposed to partner with in Afghanistan. Maddow says that Obama is not going to find a magic troop level number that will stop the GOP from criticizing him.

Gregory, in a rare feat, points out to Gillespie that Bush 43 took a lot of time, dithering, before his own LOLSURGEOMGZ. He says sort of what Haley Barbour said as far as politicizing the war, but darkly reminds that Bush paid a price for Iraq.

Will there be momentun from the House health care bill? Maddow says that Bart Stupak's amendment is a poison pill that will lead to a "revolt" from female Democrats if it's not stripped in conference.

EJ Dionne does a great job retelling history, pointing out that all the dire warnings of TEH SOCIALISMZ came up when Medicare was being passed, and the GOP ended up not just not repealing Medicare, but defending it. He predicts that years from now, Ed Gillespie will be on MEET THE PRESS, telling viewers that the GOP would never cut the bill "he is now calling Pelosicare."

That's a bleak vision from Dionne: I had sort of counted on Meet The Press being off the air, 20 years from now!

Maddow points out that the more fiscally irresponsible choices are implementing the GOP bill or doing nothing, and predicts that anyone who votes against the bill will pay a price. That leads to Brooks, agreeing, but saying that the bill is "fiscal insanity" and that the "system" -- what system he refers to isn't clear -- needs to be fundamentally changed. Where that places the solution - beyond mere doomsaying - isn't clear. Perhaps Brooks has some fifth-dimensional health care plan he can only communicate to aliens.

Here's a hot scoop of conventional wisdom jizz on the MOST IMPORTANT AND FEARFULLY SYMMETRIC OFF-OFF YEAR ELECTION OF THE LATTER HALF OF THE FIRST DECADE OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY OF ALL TIME. Dionne says the "substantive lessons" for Democrats are in Virginia, not New Jersey. Gregory suggests that McDonnell kept his alienating social conservatism hidden behind a run to the center. Gillespie says, UHM, LET'S AGREE TO CALL THAT, "transforming conservative principles into practical solutions." So, I guess that means McDonnell will fix Northern Virginia's traffic infrastructure by fighting its homosexuality.

Maddow says, WHATEVS, CREIGH DEEDS WAS TEH SUXXORS. Reporting from Sam Stein backs this up:

A Research 2000 Virginia Poll conducted for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee reveals that 64 percent of Virginia voters who supported Barack Obama said that the party's gubernatorial candidate, Creigh Deeds, was "not progressive enough." Driving the point home even further, 58 percent of Virginia voters who are registered as Independent but supported Obama in 2008 election, likewise, said that Deeds was "not progressive enough."

The findings cut against the conventional wisdom that emerged from the 2009 gubernatorial elections, which held that Democrats lost in Virginia and (to a lesser extent) New Jersey by not pushing more moderate positions.

Only eight percent of Democratic Obama voters in Virginia and 16 percent of Independent Obama voters in Virginia said they thought Deeds was "too far to the left."

In its survey, PCCC also looks at how a public option for insurance coverage played in the Virginia governor's race. And it concludes that Deeds was hurt by his opposition to the public plan. Forty-one percent of respondents said that Deeds declaration that he would "opt-out" of a public plan as governor made them less excited about his candidacy. Only Six percent said it made them more excited.

Brooks mislays the voting shifts by independent voters. They aren't shifting away from the White House because they're worried the White House is spending too much, or "moving too fast." They are getting disillusioned by the White House's timidity and incrementalism.

Maddow says, "Job numbers are the holy grail of the next election," and points out that they should be aggressive in combatting unemployment, because there's no scenario in which the Democrats AREN'T going to get criticized for spending. It's a good point. I remember driving from Charlottesville to Ithaca, and going through Pennsylvania, and seeing all those threatening signs for how much the ticket was going to be if I got busted for going even 56 miles per hour. So I made myself miserable, driving the speed limit. On the way back, I realized that under those conditions, I could get a big ticket by ACCIDENTALLY speeding. Given those circumstances, it actually made more sense to just speed like the dickens.

That was the smart decision. If you are going to get damned no matter what you do, don't get damned having done nothing. Go big!

Dionne has this crazy idea that the Democrats should point out that government actually does good things. And then Gillespie all but proves Maddow's point: "HEALTH CARE WILL BE A JOBS KILLER." Well, the day is never going to come where Ed Gillespie isn't going to insinuate that the policies the Dems put forward are going to kill jobs, SO THEY MAY AS WELL BRAVELY PUT FORTH THEIR POLICIES.

Meet The Press ends with old footage from the show, and Tom Brokaw, revisiting the Berlin Wall, I guess because they wanted to remind us that the NBC News Division was once capable of vital news coverage or something?

Oh well, I guess we'll all remember where we were when NBC News remembered where they were when the Berlin Wall fell, unless the internet explodes! Have a great week, everyone!