05/21/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

So, remember seven years ago? I do! But I have a weird feeling that none of the people I'll be watching today will. I'm prepared to be surprised but consider this: seven years to the day after we launched our first blistering offensive in the second War in Iraq, this is how frivolous we've become:

Yes! Those first days of that war were exactly like that time I lost $20 in an office pool because some basketball games didn't end up working out!

Anyway, it's health care that's the more exciting thing, as we enter the stage of it finally being over. I really, really can't wait. Maybe today! And then: grueling fights over financial regulatory reform! But soon, I'll get to watch Christiane Amanpour on Sundays! It will all have been worth it!

Anyway, my name is Jason and I'll be playing live-ish Chatroulette with political yammerers today, as always. Please feel free to send an email, or leave a comment, or follow me on Twitter, or dedicate a portion of your census form to me, why not?


Chris Wallace says today is JUDGMENT DAY on health care, so get yourself ready to meet your maker, with Paul Ryan and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Wallace says the outcome is "still uncertain," but Representative John Larson told ABC News today that they "have the votes." Deem and pass is off the table -- so glad I went to the trouble of learning what that was!

Carl Cameron: "Democrats say they have the votes, but the margin of victory is likely to be very small." I'd go so far to say the margin of victory will be one! Major Garrett affirms the same thing. As to the possibility of an executive order to make Bart Stupak happy, Garrett says that Obama is prepared to do it if it means the difference between win and loss.

Now, here's Ryan and DW-S. DW-S says that she "thinks" the Dems will have the votes, but they don't have a "hard 216" votes, but that it's in flux. Paul says that the GOP will, if the measure passes, work to "fix the damage" done to the health care system. DW-S reiterates for the five millionth time that this bill SHOULD totally satisfy Bart Stupak, but it doesn't.

Ryan points out that the problem with an executive order is that it only takes another executive order to undo it, and that would mean it would not be "permanent" law like the Hyde Amendment. Of course, the Hyde Amendment is not permanent law, either. The next Congress, should it wish to, could repeal that or any other law. (In fact, I thought that the GOP was going to try to do that with health care reform?)

Different Catholics say different things! Bishops versus Nuns! St. Mary's vs. Villanova!

Ryan has his chart of double counting, and seems to be attributing a fake doc fix memo that circulated on Friday to Nancy Pelosi. Ryan needs to read some newspapers! He should also really take his newfound love of number crunching and, say, put it to work on his own budget plans! Here's Ryan's tax plan, raising taxes on basically everybody!

And here's Ryan's budget plan, failing to balance the budget. (This is not entirely surprising: Republicans aren't into balancing budgets.) All of this makes me say, "Wow. It's really ADORABLE that Paul Ryan stepped up to try to be the "numbers guy," but he really should reconsider if just being the "hair guy" is more his thing!

Anyway, DW-S is the "breast cancer woman" for the Dems, and now we're deep "in the weeds" of her personal take on the matter, and I'm like "DUDE, I KNOW, DEBBIE," but there's no convincing left to be done! Just chill!

HA! But DW-S is totally right about Ryan's plan's to raise taxes on 75% of Americans and scuttle Medicare and privatize Social Security. (She leaves out the part that doesn't balance the budget. And the fact that Ryan's "health care plan" is to give out a subsidy that grows less valuable as time goes on. Basically, his policy is to slowly stop paying for the health care that's already being provided to people through Medicare, who will slowly, under his plan, lapse into poverty, sicken and die.)

The hilarious thing, of course, about the fake doc fix memo, and it's warnings to not talk to the media about draconian cuts in Medicare, is that as soon as we're shot of this health care debate, the GOP will revert to their more typical position that there needs to be draconian cuts to Medicare.

Now we're getting into some of the side deals that remain in the bill. Chris Wallace seems to think, for example, that a pool of money that several states are eligible to compete for is a special deal for a single hospital in Connecticut. One of Wallace's strengths, I've found, is exploiting the confusing regulations that govern government contracting, that few Americans are in the position to appreciate, and tell wild lies about people, knowing that the explanation of what is going on is too complicated to explain in the eight seconds allotted. I'm quite sure that if you leaf back through some old Liveblogs that I've made this point before.

Anyway, I suppose it doesn't help matters that the rule the govern government contracting ARE terribly confusing and often stupid, and that government contractors are basically white-collar, bottom-feeding grifters.

Wallace brings up some North Dakota bank thingy that I've never heard of, and that DW-S is like, "Huh?" It turns out it's about the student loan part of the reconciliation package, and it affects Representative Earl Pomeroy. DW-S points out that this cannot be a special deal to get health care passed, because Pomeroy was already on board with the health care reform package.

Now they are back to fighting about parallel universe CBO reports.

I imagine that one thing that the Dems are going to HYPE HYPE HYPE is this whole staying on one's parents insurance, because the Dems need to have the Youngs excited about politics again, LIKE VERY SOON, if they want to win in 2010.

Paul says that they will work to repeal the bill, DW-S dares them to, and they're off to vote on it.

By the way! I hear Marcy Kaptur is a yes, now!

Also! Still getting emails asking why things I haven't yet WRITTEN aren't published on the site yet. You guys are sort of dumb! I wish that the time-space continuum worked like that, because I'd be in bed right now. But no, I am watching these shows. YOU ALL REALIZE I NEED TO WATCH THE SHOW ON TEEVEE BEFORE I TYPE SOMETHING ON MY COMPUTER BEFORE I PRESS "PUBLISH" ON THE BLOG ENGINE, RIGHT?

Aaaaaanyway. John Cornyn! Tall, slow, cowboy of the Western plains! Cornyn says that reconciliation has never been used in the way it's being used here! Everyone should panic! But what violates the Byrd Rule? Cornyn says the excise tax does, and that the Senate GOP will fight on that line. They will also submit "hundreds" of amendments to the process. Wallace says, "Uhm, you know that your amendments won't pass," but that's not the point. This is what the Senate GOP have left to work with, so this is what they are going to do.

It will probably be hilarious the next time someone asks, "Why isn't the President working across the aisle on immigration/military commission/education/jobs/banking reform?" No one will probably bring up that time the GOP brought hundreds of stupid amendments to the floor.

As for weird states bringing weird lawsuits against health care reform, Cornyn says that there will be lots of states' attorneys general filing suits about it, and that this will demonstrate the "audacity" of the administration. HEY, HE PUT AUDACITY RIGHT IN THE BOOK TITLE. By contrast, Spiro Agnew probably put, "F*ck The Hippies" in all of his book titles.

Cornyn says that health care will be the defining issue on 2010, and in 2012, when the world ends according to movies about ancient Mayans.

I sort of think it's a bad thing for Cornyn to constantly point out that certain benefits don't kick in until 2014. First of all, they'll have a hard time answering for those benefits that DO kick in before then. Second, he's INFORMING PEOPLE THAT THE BENEFITS WON'T KICK IN UNTIL 2014! One of this bill's big weaknesses is that too many people PERCEIVE that it will change their lives overnight. If anything, the GOP needs to OBSCURE the fact that there are delayed benefits. The White House plays up only the benefits that kick in immediately. It's weird that Cornyn's decided to help them out.

Standard panel today. Bill Kristol once again predicts that health care reform will fail, which basically means it will pass. Kristol is always wrong in his predicting!

Liasson says that in the end, "because no one was fooled" by deem and pass, Pelosi wisely dropped it. Of course, it's not really accurate to say "no one was fooled." The media did a great job fooling people that "deem and pass" was something unsavory. Can't wait till the next time someone uses "deem and pass." IT GETS USED ALL THE TIME!

Hume says that health care reform is a "dream of the left." Williams counters by saying it's the "dream of the American people." Wallace counters with polls that say American's don't approve of the plan. But I remind you that many of the those who disapprove of the plan just want an even better plan. Hume's contention that if the "waste, fraud, and abuse" in the Medicare system were significant, cost-wise, it would have been eliminated a long time ago. Why does he think that?

BARKING BARKING BARKING from the panel now, resolving itself briefly so that Bill Kristol can yammer about how America has great cancer recovery rates and how health care reform wasn't needed to see those rates go up. That's probably true! Health care reform is needed so that millions of Americans can get their cancer treated. Tell you what: I bet that when you add more patients to treatment, those survivability rates go down. People will say, "OH NOES OBAMA RUINED THE HEALTHCARE." I'll just say, "No, doctors have to treat patients who are actually unwell."

What are the survivability rates of mofeaux crawling off into the woods to die because they can't afford to get health care? I'm guessing they are REALLY HIGH, because crawling off into the woods to die is so NOBLE and RANDIAN.


Jonathan Karl is back today, as we wait for Christiane Amanpour to join us on Sunday and either get inexorably sucked into its crapulence and end up looking like the "Nightly...at the Bellagio" version of her former self, or make my Sunday mornings a much better place. FINGERS CROSSED!

Here's Eric Cantor and John Larson. They have been counting whips, hopefully not at the Finnish Embassy, where I have learned is where all of DC goes to explore each others bodies and get up to some Eric Massa nonsense. FINNS! I just KNEW you all were behind it somehow!

Larson says: "We have the votes, we are going to make history today." He adds, "We have the votes now." Cantor says, "There will be no Republican votes for the bill," and alleges that the Dems will be using powers they shouldn't have to pass it. "Like what?" Karl asks. Cantor says that there are kickbacks. I'm GLAD THAT THE GOP HAS EMERGED AS THE ANTI-KICKBACK PARTY. I look forward to their no-dealmaking/no-armtwisting/no-pork style of legislating going forward.

Cantor raises one concern with me: I worry that future generations will not know what the actual "Louisiana Purchase" was, probably because a bunch of slow-witted Texans are re-writing the history books for America.

Larson: "The only political kickbacks that are coming are to people like Natoma Cantfield."


Larson says it's a choice between America and insurance companies. Cantor says Americans are scared of the bill. It's nice that we've finally reached the point where no one is even pretending to attempt substance anymore.

Larson says it's "possible" that Democrats will lose seats because of health care. LE SIGH. This will be the dumbest thing that the dumbest people will obsess about for the rest of this dumb year. The Democrats basically have to approach life like this: they will lose seats this year. No matter how many they lose, the losses will be blamed on health care. Even if they hold even, people will say: "You would have won more, had it not been for health care." Even if they add to their majorities, people will say, "You would have colonized the moon and figured our a way to poop mint-chocolate chip ice cream by now if it had not been for health care." THE MEDIA WILL ATTRIBUTE ANY NEGATIVE OUTCOME TO HEALTH CARE.

"This bill will take Medicare benefits from seniors, it's a scary thought," says Eric Cantor, who supports cutting Medicare benefits.

Larson says that everyone needs to ratchet back the racism. Cantor says no one "condones that," which is weird why Cantor didn't immediately condemn that stuff as "scary" yesterday.

Oh, now I have to watch David Plouffe and Karl Rove talk about the campaign horserace nonsense. Rove looks like he is being beamed live to this show from inside a Panic Room. Speaking of, maybe I will watch Panic Room this afternoon. Pre-TWILIGHT Kristin Stewart! Or maybe I'll watch ADVENTURELAND, which is post-TWILIGHT Stewart, and much better movie than PANIC ROOM, or TWILIGHT (NO ONE GLITTERS). Speaking of glitter, Plouffe says it's premature to call the 2010 elections.

Rove says that the country is better off if the bill doesn't pass. This makes me think: "MAN, I HOPE EVERYONE MAKING PREDICTIONS, PRO- or AGAINST, KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING!" Anyway, Rove says that this bill is like Bernie Madoff, and should be beaten up in prison, by racists.

Plouffe wonders why Rove is complaining about expanding deficits, since he loves expanding deficits. But Rove is going nuts on Plouffe! "You will bankrupt the country if this bill passes!" Plouffe says that Karl Rove has about "as much credibility as the country of Greece." Rove yells: "STOP THROWING AWAY EPITAPHS!" Plouffe won't deal squarely with the charges of double-counting though! Rather, he stands by the CBO score. He's right, though, that the status quo presents unsustainable deficit burdens on millions of American households.

Plouffe is sucked into the decisions of Democratic interest groups targeting the Democrats who are voting "no." Plouffe basically says that he'll help Democrats out as best he can.

Plouffe really makes Karl Rove mad! I don't think either one is making much sense right now, but if you like watching normally unflappable people become CRAZY FLAPPED, this is exciting teevee. But this is total empty-calorie news.

Jonathan Karl has a poll that indicated Americans think the "system is broken." Plouffe says that Obama has tried to change the system, but that people recognize that his attempted to reach across the aisle have been foundered by an intransigent opposition. Rove says that Obama only met with Republicans twice.

Plouffe says that if the GOP thinks the election is set, they should "break out the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner." That gets Rove super-angry, and he starts lying that the banner was just there to honor the one ship's successful mission -- which I guess is why they placed it in the shot and then prevented the ship from finishing the mission, making it puddle around in the ocean so that Bush could have a photo op and give a speech (where he declared the mission of the Iraq War to be accomplished.)

Hey! We came close to talking about the Iraq War just there! Now in its eighth, useless, costly year!

Panel time! Today, a reunited Pavement. Mark Ibold says that it will be impossible to measure the impact of health care on the 2010 votes. But Stephen Malkmus warns that the Dems could face a backlash if they don't lead on other important issues, like immigration and banking reform. Bob Nastanovich agrees, "Democrats can't afford to leave leadership just laying around after this day is done." Scott Kannberg, however, disagrees -- OH I AM JUST KIDDING THIS PANEL HAS TOM DASCHLE AND TRENT LOTT AND I JUST WANT TO DIE.

Also, George Will and Sam Donaldson. JONATHAN KARL'S "FRIEND" SAM DONALDSON.

Will starts by getting all shirty about Social Security, and how "we'll be wallowing in the health care system for years to come." Also: Will says, "from now on, complaints about the health care system will be complaints about the Democrats." Sam Donaldson asks to be tagged in, and says, "That is the weakest argument for keeping millions of Americans from receiving health care I have ever heard."

In fairness, isn't everytime someone complains about how black people get to go to schools and ride buses and drink from water fountains really a complaint about Lyndon Johnson? Actually, in fairness, this is true! But those complainers are like anthropomorphic distended rectums, spilling out with waste and bile, and I hope they all get back to their hometowns safely after they leave Washington DC today, after another day of spitting on Representative John Lewis.

Oh, during all this time, the panel has debated health care! Trent Lott says it's ideologically motivated and will not reduce costs. WOULD YOU BELIEVE DASCHLE THINKS THE OPPOSITE? Ahh, the teevee, on Sundays!

Trent Lott is SO WORRIED about the "weight" we're putting on Medicare, a problem he'd solve by eliminating Medicare!

Will says, OH NOES PREMIUMS ARE GOING UP. Daschle says that we'll replace "value for volume" however, and that it good. Trent Lott says, "Let me make another point," as if he had previously made one, besides that one time he said that America would have been better off if they had elected the segregationist Strom Thurmond to the White House.

Donaldson says, of the bills imperfections, "You have to take a first step."


And that's when I sat back and waited to see if anyone on the panel would mention Iraq.

Aaaaand: No.

I have a cloud of words that Jonathan Karl and ABC News can suck on!


I think that MEET THE PRESS is going to talk about health care! And, great! The politics of health care. I really think David Gregory will finish the entire health care debate without understanding a single thing about the way actual Americans experience health care in this country, or how the policy would work/not work to solve these problems.

So, on with an hour of DUH! Steny Hoyer says the Dems will have the votes. He's confident because of history. "We've come the furthest we have ever come." So that means something. "We will pass this bill."

Boehner says that they don't have the votes, even after talking about it for a year and making speeches. This big change will be "purely partisan," like so many things that he helped pass during the Bush administration.


Steny Hoyer says the health care reform bill is good, for reasons he's already elucidated for years. He tries to offset Boehner's criticisms by pointing out that the GOP kept the votes on the prescription drug bill for hours so that their members could be "bludgeoned" into supporting it -- I gather that contrasts favorable, in Hoyer's mind, to the process his colleagues are going through right now. But then he says, "Guess what, people like that prescription drug bill." DO THEY? Because you all always complain about its lack of cost controls, when you want to point out the Republicans are hypocrites on budget reduction.

Oooh. Now David Gregory wants to get all serious about the tone at the debate. The racism and the spitting! Boehner says these are isolated incidents. Hey, maybe people shouldn't have pointed so many cameras at these people over the past year, pretending that they represented a reasonable side of a debate! My experience is that when a dog shits on your bed, if you CELEBRATE it, the dog keeps on shitting on your bed. Just a few gentle raps on the snout fix everything.

You'd be surprised to learn that Hoyer says this bill will reduce the deficit and Boehner says that it won't. Boehner also wants to know why different steps weren't taken to save Medicare, a program he does not want to be saved.

Hoyer is talking about "Harry and Louise" commercials now. This is the day to relitigate old campaign ads! He goes on to say that yes, Democratic legislators will have to show "courage" and bring down the deficits. Boehner says that the GOP will repeal the bill. Hoyer says that the Dems won't lose the House over this. None of this is that surprising, or interesting.

Gregory concludes by asking how many votes Hoyer has. Hoyer won't say specifically. Gregory says, "Okay, trying to pin you down." I say, "Yes! Pin him down on that one thing, and fail as always. GREAT JOB!"

Boehner's orangey skin is a big reason I haven't bought an HD television set yet.

Oh, yey! An "exclusive" debate between Michael Steele and Tim Kaine. You just have to trust me when I tell you I am basking in the rich, nougaty EXCLUSIVITY of this moment!

Gregory wants to "ask a larger" question: if the president wins today, what does it mean? Steele says it means defeat in the fall, which is why Steele has ordered his fellow Republicans to not to anything to prevent the bill from passing, right?

Gregory points out that the current health care bill isn't even as "radical" as the one Nixon proposed. Steele responds, "That's not the way the American people see it!" Of course, the American people could be "seeing it" wrong, based upon what they've been told. Kaine says he would "love to run" on health care this year, it will be a "big win" for the American public and that Democrats will get a "tailwind."

Gregory says that Kaine should reconsider, based on the way the stimulus is being perceived. And there's a poll that indicates, once again, that Americans aren't bullish on the stimulus. I think that David Gregory just wouldn't exist without polls! In a parallel universe, there's probably a David Gregory of Substance who reads newspapers and rigorous policy analysis who's reporting today that business forecasters are very bullish on the stimulus. And in that universe, maybe he tugs at those threads with non-hack guests.

But we get Kaine and Steele, who I geniunely hope one day become a crimefighting duo, if only because I've been thinking about getting into crime and am pretty sure I can outsmart these two.

Kaine points out, if we're going to jabber about polls, that the overall bill is getting steadily more popular.

Michael Steele is awfully handsy! Now he's complaining about how pro-reform people haven't been listening to the American people. But really: the teensy number of Americans who show up to shout and jibber at town hall meetings about socialist plot are honestly some of the most over-listened to people in the world. To Steele, the rest of America just doesn't exist. Public option: MORE POPULAR THAN MOST OF HIS CANDIDATES. Tim's too!

Steele is the second person today to confuse the words "epithets" and "epitaphs!" That really limits the "exclusivity" of this debate.

Kaine says that the Democrats are the "problem solvers!"

Tim Kaine's gonna bust out some MAD SOLUTIONIZATION!

We arrive at the point where David Gregory reads someone else's reporting and asks people what they think about it, today it's Ron Brownstein of the National Journal. Steele thinks that Obama is a socialist, Kaine thinks Obama is a DEPROBLEMIZER FROM THE PLANET SOLUTIONEER. None of this is surprising. THIS IS ACTUALLY A TEEVEE SHOW!

"Do you think that you'll be back on this show talking about the two parties working together for consensus?" Both Kaine and Steele say, "I hope so." Good work fellas! Not even that moment had any meaning, whatsoever.

Oh boy. Hopefully this is the last Sunday Panel of the health care reform debate ever! Until next week's panel: "Health care reform: What does it mean? Will health care reform run for president? How many albums does Will.I.Am have in him, about health care reform? Later, projectile vomiting!" But for today, we have Chuck Todd and Ed Gillespie and Anita Dunn and Tavis Smiley.

I'm guessing it will not be interesting. To summarize:

Anita Dunn supports the president, and likes health care reform, and thinks it will be a good issue for Democrats to run on. Ed Gillespie does not support the president, or health care reform, and thinks that it will hurt the electoral chances of Democrats and Obama. He also seems to thing that the Senate is getting rid of "majority rule" today, which is weird, because it has always only taken fifty-one votes to pass anything in the Senate.

Chuck Todd has many observations to make: apparently, America is a place of great philosophical division.

Tavis Smiley says the President showed courage for taking up an issue he promised to take up if he was elected, even if the bill has some "good things" and some "bad things."

Smiley relates that Newt Gingrich hopes that reform passes because it will have the same effect on the Democratic party as when the Civil Rights Bill passed. On that occasion, Democrats lost the next election, pretty badly. On the other hand, the Civil Rights Bill passed. Sort of what we call a "net win." (By the way, the Democrats would eventually return to win some elections.)

Chuck Todd says the mistake here was letting Congress write the bill -- and yet his examples of Presidents taking the ball themselves ended in failure. He also says that it wasn't "bipartisan." No one will care about that, ultimately.

Gillespie thinks that the Dems will lose the House and the Senate. On the other hand, health care reform!

David Gregory just said, "Let's play a little bit of politics here," so let's see what the segment looks like when I put it in fast forward.

Gregory reads and then there are protesters and now John Boccieri is on the screen, and Chuck Todd is shaking his head from side to side and looking down and now he's shaking his head slightly less vigorously. Gllespie has his left hand on his mouth. Todd is nodding his head. Gregory looks stern. Tavis Smiley is waving his hand in the air. Now he's mashing his hand on the table. Now he's doing invisible karate chopping! CHOPPY CHOP! Now he's mashing his hands again. MASHITY-MASH! Close up! Somebody raises a cup! Gregory looks like a duck! Gillespie bobs his head and his hands in the air like he's cupping invisible teats. MMMM. RUB DEM INVISOTEATS! Now he's making little "C"'s in the air with his hand. SEE THESE CEE's? Anita Dunn is all serious! She is strenuously nodding, and massaging the air. RELAX, AIR. ANITA IS HERE. Gregory smiles and waggles his head in the air, haughtily. Then he leans in on Dunn! Dunn cocks her head to the side and gently bounces it. Big smile from Gregory and he throws to commercial.

Okay, well, that's actually the entire show! I wish now I had liveblogged significant portions of this day in fast-forward, and so do you. Now everyone can go back to their day of monitoring the #hcr hastag on twitter.

PLEASE MAYBE GO OUTSIDE? It's nice today! And if you're in DC, the outside needs more people walking around who aren't racist? So, go see some monuments or something. That is all. Good luck!

(And no one mentioned Iraq today. Fail!)