TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Good morning and welcome to your liveblog of those televised events that unfold on the Sunday morning chatfests as you sleep and dream. I have no preamble today. Can't think of anything to say to introduce this thing today. Obviously, Michael Steele is supposed to be on one of these shows today. Hopefully that will be magical. I worry about Michael, you know? He doesn't seem to be doing so well lately. On the other hand, I worry about the direction a lot of things seem to already be headed in 2010. Though Harry Reid is still saying dumb things! Did you know that guy is Senate Majority Leader? Wonders never cease! If by "wonders" you mean the exclamation, "Gah!" and a quickly planted palm on your face.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Hey, "election politics" is in full swing in 2010! SO AWESOME I GUESS. So that's why we have Tim Kaine and Michael Steele on the teevee today.
So, Tim Kaine, what's up with this Harry Reid, and his love of Obama's "Negro dialect?" WILL HE CONVERT TO BUDDHISM? And then back to Christianity? Kaine says that he doesn't want Reid to step down, because of all the wonderful legislative lifting, he's doing. He actually uses those words: "wonderful lifting."
Wallace wants to know why this is different from the remarks made by Trent Lott at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. Well! Reid didn't say: PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO THE GUY WHO LOVES SEGREGATION! Maybe Michael Steele should answer this question. Anyway, what Reid has going on is what I like to call "stupidity." I don't know if you've been paying attention to Harry Reid, all these many years, but from time to time, you get to confront the fact that he's kind of awkward and dumb. But he's not malicious.
Michael Steele is saying that Trent Lott and where Strom Thurmond was at, in 1948, as a Presidential candidate, were basically fine fellows. Kaine reminds again that Reid was praising Obama, and Obama has given Reid the pass. Steele says that if Mitch McConnell had said those words, people would be calling for his head, and he's pretty much right! Harry Reid is basically Michael Steele's best friend.
Moving on to Michael Steele's nonsense! The book was written in 2008, he complains! Wallace is like: Seriously, dude? I READ this book! Steele says he updated the book to reflect current events, and that the way he's getting paid is consistent with the way chairmen have been getting paid.
But Wallace aint having it. Cash reserves are bled dry. He's telling Hannity that the GOP won't win in 2010. And he's telling his critics to "shut up." Steele says, he's just totally PASSIONATE! About spending all the money! And well-compensated side jobs! The base is fired up, right! Pot stirred? Actually, dude, you are desperate to earn the love of the Tea Parties, who have so far, largely been, "UHM, NO YOU ARE THE PROBLEM." Also, the Tea Party people don't seem to be too cool with black people?
Okay, Wallace is tired of yelling at Steele, so he turns to Kaine and wants to know what's going on with the Dems in 2010. Kaine says, "Well, we're running up the hill." THEY HAVE BECOME PETER GABRIEL SONGS. "Presidential success is going to be our key theme this year," Kaine says, which is fine and dandy, but do you know what America's theme is going to be this year? This: "OH HAI! I CAN HAZ JOB, TO BUY CHEEZBURGER?"
Wallace points out that the Dems are going to "pivot" to jobs and deficit. That allows Michael Steele to say the word "pivot" way too many times. Tim Kaine says that the administration has done a good job saving jobs, and that the Dems have slowed the rate of job losses. Kaine says Virginia would be doing terribly without the stimulus...that could be true, but it would be great if he'd back that up with statistics.
Kaine says that the Dems will maintain majorities in the House and Senate. Steele says, surprisingly, that the GOP will retake the House. Wallace is all: "Oh, really," and Steele moderates it by saying, "Well, we're well on our way."
Okay, now terrorism! How is John Kyl and Jack Reed going to stop it?
While I have John Kyl here, let's remember how inanely petty he is!
Kyl says that we need a "renewed sense of urgency" in the war on terror. By which he means that the president should have some sort of operatic panic attack and the two-bit loser who tried to blow up his scrotum should be tortured into pulp. Jack Reed points out that law enforcement just didn't have any trouble getting actionable intelligence from Captain Crotchfire. Reed also basically says that Obama's more focused on terror than Bush was, which Wallace obviously cannot accept. But Reed points out: OH YEAH, A WHOLE WAR IN IRAQ REPRESENTS A LACK OF "URGENCY" IN THE WAR ON TERROR.
Wallace isn't letting this whole, "Let's treat Captain Crotchfire as a super-connected terrorist warrior-genius." Reed points out that the FBI did their job, they got their information, time to put the guy on trial and get him punished.
I couldn't be less interested in what John Kyl has to say about this stuff. Instead, I'll lament the weird way that law enforcement agencies have been transformed into inneffective or wussy by the media, because they do not take giant bombs and level whole communities in order to demonstrate their willingness to wage "war." We need more of a law enforcement response, not less. I cosign Spencer Ackerman in this regard:
And here's where it's become unfortunate that mainstream political discourse has created negative connotations around a "law enforcement approach to terrorism." I can guarantee you that if you said to someone, "Hey, do you think that in terrorism investigations, we should create the perspective amongst counterterrorists that their job doesn't stop until someone is neutralized?" they would say "Yes." Well, you goddamn hippie: you've got a law enforcement mindset. I guess people don't understand this enough, but intelligence analysts approach their craft rather differently. They look for patterns in information, and pass those patterns up the chain. They do not investigate in the sense of the word that you and I understand from TV. That's why there was no APB inside the CIA or the National Counterterrorism Center on Abdulmutallab after his father's walk-in. Abdulmutallab, in the intelligence world, is a data point. He is not a suspect.
Now, if you had the FBI handling the Abdulmutallab portfolio, or people who think like FBI agents, maybe it still doesn't go anywhere. But maybe they start compiling information and building a case and new information turns up and the guy gets yanked before he's on the plane. I gather that's what John Brennan meant when he said yesterday there was "no one intelligence entity or team or task force [that] was assigned responsibility for doing that follow-up investigation." None of this is to say the FBI has to be given the lead for these sorts of things. A joint approach is the right approach if you want to see everyone's information. But it is to say that within that joint entity, analysts need -- wait for it -- a law enforcement approach to terrorism.
Panel time! Brit Hume needs to bring John Brennan to Jesus, quickly!
Wallace actually makes an interesting point about the evolution of what how Obama has referred to Abdulmutallab. Hume lays this off on Obama being "slow to recognize" the threat. I think it makes the case for why maybe it takes six days to gather the facts about a case before briefing America. Naturally, Hume celebrates al Qaeda's efforts as a "harrowing near-miss." Great boosterism for an organization that is now pathetically attempting to emasculate themselves, with explosives. WHY WON'T HUME BRING CAPTAIN CROTCHFIRE TO CHRIST?
Bill Kristol, naturally, hopes that now Obama will torture people, and is now pretending that he -- really, some mysterious unnamed "we" -- had the goods on Captain Crotchfire from jump street. Kristol goes on to explain why al Qaeda is a really impressive organization.
A second later, Kristol and Juan Williams are now yelling at each other, about who "politicized" the event. Williams actually knows something about terrorism policy and how it is going to change. Kristol really, really wants GITMO to stay open, to the consternation of people like David Petraeus, who Kristol usually says should be listened to, because he is "on the ground."
Meanwhile, domestic agenda time, for the panel. Hume says that health care has nothing to do with the economy. He's wrong. Jesus should maybe tell him about the gigantic sinkhole health care costs are right now, and how bad they stand to get. Liasson says that the president is stuck with having to demonstrate "unrelenting effort" without any guarantees that it will show results. But Liasson, tells an unalloyed truth: Democrats will focus on the way things are trending in the right direction, the GOP will focus on the "absolute numbers" and how Obama couldn't snap his fingers and make it perfect.
Kristol says that the best news is that Scott Brown could win the Massachusetts special election and the health care reform package dies, and the economy will recover after many thousands of poor people die. The rest of America will, I guess, ignore the mounting costs of household health care debts. That would be an awesome situation. Anyway, Kristol is smart to not just come out and predict that Scott Brown will win, since that would totally doom him.
THIS WEEK, WITH SOMEBODY?
An emailer asks, by the way, that we all think of "Running Up That Hill" as a Kate Bush song, and that's probably the most appropriate thing to do. It's a testament to the original that it's stood so long and can't be knocked down by cover versions. As much as I'd like to hate Placebo's version of it, I don't. But I'd recommend Bush's original above the rest.
Oh, so George Stephanopoulos is actually here, today, at the Newseum. And here's Christina Romer, who will now tell us how everything is going to be okay. She declares the recent job figures as a "setback" that looks good in context. "The long term consequences are devastating, aren't they?" GSteph asks. Romer agrees. Specifically: there's a lot of long term wage loss for people entering this economy.
But, how big a setback? We double-dippin', Christina? She says "we are on a path of steady progress" and that she projects good GDP numbers in the next quarter. "The question is whether it will be strong enough to bring people back into employment." THAT IS THE QUESTION, RIGHT? GSteph asks, when all that is happening. Romer says we're on the right path. The private sector, she says, must "get their sea legs, again."
What about more stimulus, like Mark Zandi wants? Or no stimulus, but more patience, like other want? Where does Romer stand? Basically, Romer hopes that they don't have to pass anything called a "stmulus package." Rather, she'd like some targeted programs that help "move the dial" and "target private capital."
What about the "Cadillac plan" tax? Joe Sestak says it's gonna hit the "Chevrolets." Romer says that the president is convinced it's the right thing to do, and Romer is convinced that we're not talking about something that affects the middle class. And, naturally, all sorts of competing estimates are out there, and, as usual, everyone claims the one most favorable to their own position.
Already panel time! This Week's been experimenting with expanded panels lately. I've seen very little data, but what I've seen suggests that the panels on these shows are the more popular segments. I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. If you have thoughts, let me know, maybe?
Anyway, today we have George Will, Liz Cheney, Robert Reich, Al Hunt, and Judy Woodruff.
Will says that Obama should naturally deregulate the economy to save it. He rattles off a lot of statistics, suggesting a "lost decade" is on the wing. That's about the only part of it that Reich disagrees with -- what's going to be the state of play when the economy recovers? What will that economy look like?
Al Hunt thinks that Obama will be able to get Congress to take small bore steps, but the larger problem is one of psychology and confidence. Liz Cheney says that trying to drive down health care costs was a big mistake, and that the government is "in the way of the private sector." I guess that's what you call "shovelling billions of dollars into its maw" means these days...being "in the way."
Reich says that we'll continue to see populist anger, because in the Wall Street/Main Street battle, people perceive Wall Street winning, garnering huge bonuses, and taking their game abroad. Reich goes on to point out that the government cannot do anything to tamp down uncertainty, it can and should stimulate the economy.
Meanwhile, health care! Are the Democrats too confident that it will pass? Hunt says that in the "unlikely" event the Dems lose the MA special election, it's dead, otherwise "it's likely they'll get it." But then comes the framing! Woodruff says they'll win it, too, but that as soon as it passes, the GOP will run against it, forever and ever. Hope everyone can wait until 2013 to reserve their judgement on it!
Reich makes that point, and notes that upon passage, the spin machines from both sides will crank up. Hey! Can maybe a few ten thousand people tend these spin machines, as a full time job? Probably not. Spin machines are fueled by human dignity. But then, so are most jobs.
On the terror front, Will thinks that Obama's presser began to "dig out of the hole" by referring the Christmas Crotchfire away from "isolated extremist." Al Hunt does an admirable job explaining how difficult dot-connecting is...and, by implication, why having MORE intelligence doesn't necessarily make for better intelligence. Liz Cheney, obviously disagrees with Will. Reich points out that Yemen has incentives to keep from fighting al Qaeda -- a ton of international aid flows their way. Reich just outlined the economic/academic underpinnings of last night's SNL cold open!
Oh, can we take a minute here? AL HUNT, YOU ARE THE MAN:
HUNT: I think this story -- it was scary, it was awful -- but this guy was an amateur. This guy was a neophyte -- this guy who's name I can't pronounce, who tried to do the Christmas Day bombing...
STEPHANOPOULOS: A well-backed amateur, though.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A well-backed amateur.
HUNT: Well, I'm not even sure of that. I think a far scarier story was what happened to that CIA outpost in Afghanistan. I think that's a much more important story. What they shows, they were able to use a double agent to blow up and kill six or seven CIA agents. I think al Qaeda has been weakened -- someone said earlier -- we've killed an awful lot of those people over the last couple of years. But, I think it still shows their cunning, their relative sophistication, and what I worry about, is that with all the focus now on the airline security and making airplanes safer, that the next effort is not going to be an airplane effort, it's going to be bioterror.
Leaving aside the need for evidence that al Qaeda has a bioterror capability, this is a welcome piece of analysis. The CIA deaths ARE the more serious deaths. What they say about al Qaeda's capabilities are far more profound than Captain Crotchfire -- who is drawing far too much attention.
The clearest evidence that the CIA suicide bombing is the more serious matter than the crotchfire attempt? The latter is the matter that all the gutless punks in Washington, DC feel safe in politicizing. It's bad enough that guys like Peter Hoekstra are out there, trying to pad their bank accounts with Abdulmutallab...but that little wimp wouldn't DARE do the same for the CIA attack.
That said, Al Hunt is awesome for giving us that sort of path-breaking perspective on recent terror events. Two thumbs up, sir!
Will agrees that we're not applying the right resources to the problem by trying to beef up airport security. This is probably what al Qaeda wants, he notes.
Meanwhile, Dodd and Dorgan are retiring! Lot's more Republicans are retiring, but maybe they're only worth 3/5ths of a person now!
Al Hunt says that journalists should track every politician who says they'd rather spend time with their family, to see if they actually do this. Al Hunt is really going all in on his personal charm offensive with me!
George Will: "Suppose Ted Stevens were still in the Senate..." That body's collective IQ would be lower by about a million points?
Liz Cheney says that once a President starts to hear "too many charges of hypocrisy and incompetence"...you hope you get to run against John Kerry?
Will the White House be able to sell a change in direction as a jobs recovery? Reich says that history suggests it does, the White House sure hopes it will!
Woodruff captures Reid pretty precisely: "ear of tin, heart of gold." I might add: balls of gossamer! Reich says that Michael Steele is the greatest gift to Democrats. Liz Cheney says that Reid is a racist. George Will retorts: "I don't think there's a scintilla of racism in anything Reid said."
Maybe it's just me, but I think the real component to racism is malice. And I don't think there's a scintilla of malice in what Reid said. There are certainly, about thirty-two soupcons of AWKWARDNESS in Reid's statement. You know why things are still kind of awkward between white people and black people, though? ALL OF THE MALICE THAT CAME BEFORE IT. Reid's a nice old man, with an idiosynratic upbringing, that does plenty of stuff that makes me facepalm out of embarrassment, but almost nothing that makes me want to stab the guy with knitting needles.
I guess it's rather sad that American race relations were dealt with more maturely and more accurately in last night's MacGruber Sketches.
Liz Cheney denies the veracity of account that Dick Cheney called the selection of Sarah Palin as Vice President was a "reckless" act by John McCain. Which means, per Liz Cheney, that Dick Cheney is an even larger moron than you thought he was when you woke up this morning!
MEET THE PRESS
This is a "special edition" of MEET THE PRESS? What's special about it. They've had Schwarzenegger, Steele and Kaine on before. There's a panel, too. Nothing special: Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd. Is the special part of this the fact that they are in Los Angeles? GAME CHANGER! NBC News is now West Coast enabled! Meet The Press is bringing the weak sauce to the San Andreas faultline, yo!
By the way, here's all you need to know about the lessons of GAME CHANGE, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann:
But, okay: Steele and Kaine. (When their tenures are over, they should fight crime together!) Kaine says that the "case is closed" on the Harry Reid matter, because Obama's accepted his apology. Gregory is like, "What about Trent Lott, Michael Steele?" And Steele says it's a total double standard. Everyone knows that Lott was also talking about how Strom Thurmond thought that a black president would be a swell idea, and that his point of view on race in 1948 wasn't malicious at all! Anyway, again, Gregory takes time to ask questions the two men had already answered today.
Steele says the idea that Obama has "a Negro dialect that he can turn on or turn off," is "anachronistic language." Again, that's coming from the guy who said he wants the GOP to be more hip-hop.
Steele: "And it confirms for me a mindset that is out of step with where America is today." Again, I'm pretty sure that America has only recently made the movie CRASH, and given it awards, for expertly telling the world, "WORLD, WE ARE STARTING TO HAVE SOME FEELINGS, ABOUT THE RACE STUFF."
Steele says that the "mood" around the country is sour and angry. He's been checking his mood rings! Also: frustrated amd scared. "We have no health care...no jobs...no money." Well, he has a surfeit of all three, actually. But he really needs to connect with some teabaggers. In the non-traditional sense, I mean! He did go to seminary!
DAVID GREGORY: Chairman Kaine, it's a very difficult year to be an incumbent party, as the Democrats are.
Kaine is basically going to ride the tide of history the rest of the year, isn't he? The party in power is supposed to lose seats! How could we live with ourselves, if we didn't lose seats in Congress!
Kaine: The other side has more retirements than we have. I know we'll probably talk about that." No, you better bring it up. There's just no indication that Gregory knows these things.
Gregory does want to know why Steele isn't roaming around telling people that the GOP is going to do well. Steele serves up some word soup: "Well, no, the-- the rest-- the rest of that was if we're not prepared to do it. If we don't have principle candidates out there running-- as-- as we need to. And we have those candidates. We have those individuals out there who are already making a mark. Look, I'm excited about the fact that we're-- we're gonna engage in-- in a very healthy battle and campaign this year."
Also: "We won some governorships, and it only cost the RNC ALL THE MONEYS!"
Steele goes on to say that the GOP would "absolutely...take the COngress back this year." Probably because he spent the whole day Friday being told that if he didn't start saying that, he'd get dumped for Katon Dawson in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
Kaine defends the impact of health care on Virginia, saying that he's studied it "carefully." There will be some "cost to Virginia to expand Medicaid," but it will be well offset by the removal of "huge financial burdens out of state budgets" that are going to cover the uninsured. Kaine also says that the GOP will be running on repeal, while he will be promoting health care. "Let them defend that status quo," he says, seemingly unaware that the status quo will continue by design until 2013, in many cases.
Meanwhile, Steele says he's been an awesome RNC Chair, leave him alone, to drop mad beats, please? He won some governorships, that were giftwrapped, and which cost the RNC a ton of money. "I've got $8 million cash on hand when the budget I inherited said I would have zero, I would have debt." Is that what he was told? Because I think he was told: "Here's $23 million. MAKE US SOME MORE MONEY, THANKS."
David Gregory asks which party has politicized terror, allowing both guys to go on, politicizing terror.
Next up is AH-NOLD, who has compelled this sojourn to California single-handedly. He says that where the economy is concerned, "the worst is over," and that jobs are coming back and that home sales are up. He says, that "the worst" is people who have to go home to their families and say, I lost my job and we have no money, sorry, guess it's not enough to stride into the world determined to not be an "economic girly man," WHOEVER SAID IT WAS THAT SIMPLE! And so, the government must stimulate the economy. And, hey, if you thought that you were going to retire on a pension plan, from the state of California, better start rethinking that!
Oh, also? The rest of the country owes California money, now: "I mean, the California once got 94 cents to the dollar that we're putting in on Federal taxes. Now we only give 78 cents. But you have-- places like, for instance-- Alaska that gets $1.86. You have New Mexico that gets $2.03. So, we are subsidizing those states."
Just realizing this, are we?
Anyway, Arnold says the stimulus has been "very helpful" to California. And they are "very appreciative." BUT MORE MONEY PLEASE. PLEASE SEND MORE MONEY. ALL OF THE MONEY, MAYBE? Make out a check to "CASH?"
What is California doesn't get the money? "I never really think so much about the option B. Because that's a loser's attitude." Great! But seriously, what if REAL LIFE ISN'T A SERIES OF MOTIVATIONAL SPEECHES, and YOU DON'T GET THE MONEY? "Just because you didn't lift the weight one time, do you give up? Never try it again? No, there's no such thing." KEEP LIFTING, AMERICA!
By the way, HOW CAN YOU BE GIVING MONEY TO NEBRASKA AT A TIME LIKE THIS? "That's the biggest rip-off." OMFG! It's like a sitting Senator got his vote purchased, with favors!
Just realizing this, are we?
GREGORY: One of the things you talked about that got a lot of attention is your pledge-- to move money out of the state budget from prisons into higher education. I don't have to tell you that-- the University of California has raised fees for students. What is the future of education in California?
UCLA will become a lot like a prison?
Seems like as good a reason as any to post Game Theory's "Bad Year At UCLA."
Arnold says that Obama is "doing everything he can" to make the nation secure, and that Democrats "get a bad rap" on that regard. "It's not like the President has done something wrong. Or because he was in Hawaii or anything like that. It's nothing to do with that at all. What it has to do with is just simply they didn't connect the dots.
BORED, NOW: Arnold thinks both parties are more or less THE SUCK, claims the indie mantle for himself, and won't tell Gregory his future plans.
Now it's time for Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell. The conversation basically begins: "Hey Chuck, did you see that interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger?" And Todd replies, "Yes, David, that actually happened, in our lives."
Andrea Mitchell adds: "I saw it too. It was an interview! A real-life interview! David, I think you were even there!"
Gregory continues: "And Schwarzenegger said some things, about the economy!"
Todd: "He sure did. I mean, he LITERALLY did."
Finally, they stop talking about the things that JUST HAPPENED ON THE VERY SAME TEEVEE A FEW MINUTES AGO. Did you know that there is an anti-incumbent mood out there, in America? If you don't, you don't watch enough cable news!
And now, they are back to talking about the interview that they just did. WE SAW IT! WE SAW THE INTERVIEW. I can rewind my TiVo and watch it again!
By the way! Did you know that Dorgan's retirement was bad for the Democrats? But Dodd's is good? Because that's the awesome insight being dispensed, right now, on the teevee.
This is like watching two actors running lines. I'm going to "leave it here" before Gregory has the chance to "leave it somewhere" himself, since it looks like the place they are bent on "leaving it" was LIKE, LAST THURSDAY. GOOD DAY, GO WATCH FOOTBALL, AMERICA.