TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Good morning everyone, and welcome to this latest edition of your Sunday Morning Liveblog of Those Shows That Are The Political-Talking Version Of The Russian Roulette Scene From The Deer Hunter. My name is Jason, and finally and at last, someone has made a sign depicting the path I take from 8:00am to about 9:15am every Sunday Morning:
Yes, that just about does it! So, today, we'll have the chitchat on...election results, I guess? Those primaries from Tuesday, and Their Great Importance? Maybe there will be some talk, of the oil? Dave Gregory will get his nads in a twist about "TEH DEFICITZ?" I have to say, I've not really enjoyed watching the World Cup and listening to those vuvuzelas blare and blare, like a swarm of bees, for the entire game, but I would not mind seeing these shows drowned out by vuvuzelas.
Okay, time to drown myself on black coffee and sentence fragments for the next few hours. As always, you are encouraged to participate as a community of internet heroes by leaving comments below, or sending an email. You could also follow me on Twitter, if you want. There may be cake involved. CAN YOU AFFORD TO MISS OUT? (Yes. Yes you can.)
Blah, gah! It begins!
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Today, Susan Rice is here, talkin' global threats, and Carly Fiorina will be on here to merge with another Fox show, ruin them both and then get paid thirty million dollars.
Susan Rice is here to talk about all the geopolitical Deepwater Horizon spills that could kill us in a million different non-oil related ways, beginning with Afghanistan! Loooong war there, home to Hamid Karzai, who doesn't instill a whole lot of confidence in people beyond the haberdashery. Is he looking to "cut his own deal with the Taliban?" Rice says that we have "every confidence" that we will defeat the Taliban and destroy al Qaeda. Karzai remains a "partner" and we continue to support a "political solution" in Afghanistan, no matter how much is-a-brother-with-a-drug-dealer that solution is.
But Karzai's been capping ministers who have worked with NATO? Rice says reports of trouble in strife from the New York Times are fallacious and the administration doesn't see it the same way.
McChrystal says that the mission in Kandahar is behind, because of Karzai, apparently? Rice says that more time is being taken to "condition the battlefield" post "lessons from Marja."
So, Iran. The UN has been a-sanctioning, and the Iranians plan to be enriching uranium. You know, maybe they are taking the uranium out of troubled homes and "enriching" its life, with knowledge? No, it is enriched with the violence. Poor uranium. Anyway, Rice hearts the sanctions and says they will "change the cost-benefit analysis," because I'm sure Ahmadinejad bases his decisions on what his guy from Deloitte tells him.
Wallace says that Iran is not isolated because Ahmadinejad had travelled to a bunch of countries, but Rice says that's irrelevant: cronies and allied companies are getting their assets frozen and their wings clipped.
Ban Ki-Moon wants to investigate the Gaza flotilla incident, and Rice says that it would be okay if Israel could just investigate themselves. No need to involve third parties! And the best part of an Israeli investigation of the incident is that it's already done. Rice says that's her view: no need to involve the world, but if Israel wants to invite the world to participate, that's fine, too.
Finally, on North Korea, Rice says that they will be discussing the recent belligerence from Pyongyang and will be making a determination as to whether or not they should be added back to the terrorist watch list.
Now it's time for incompetent CEO Carly Fiorina, who is here to be the next person who gets the Democrats to spend money on a race in California that they wouldn't ordinarily have to, because everyone is unemployed. OH BY THE BY CARLY IS SOOOOO SORRY ABOUT THE "HAIR" COMMENT Y'ALLS.
Wallace wants to know if she's called Boxer to apologize? Jesus, are we that delicate these days? That politicians cannot lightly insult each other? Could you imagine if I had to call Carly Fiorina and apologize for calling her an incompetent CEO? This would never happen. Anyway, Fiorina is yammering ironically about jobs. Wallace points out that she laid people off and outsourced jobs by the dozen. But she protests that she "doubled the size of the company" -- isn't that a nice way of saying, "I pursued a quixotic and ultimately terrible merger with Compaq?"
China and Texas and North Carolina are fighting California for their jobs, in Thunderdomes! And why won't Texas let California make "wind factories." "I know how to create jobs, and I know why they leave," Fiorina says.
I sort of hope that Fiorina talks about Ireland's corporate tax rates, just to get a taste of pre-desaparecido Fiorina jibber-jabber, circa 2008 election season.
But, WTF, asks Chris Wallace, you were totally okay with people on the "No Fly List" being able to buy guns! WTF? Fiorina says that Ted Kennedy and a "seven year old boy" were on the "No Fly List," though. She's making it out to be like: The No Fly List is terrible, but I don't know! DO WE REALLY WANT SEVEN YEAR OLD KIDS AND THE GHOST OF TED KENNEDY TO BE BUYING GUNS? Probably not! Though that does sound like a HELLACIOUS TEEVEE SHOW, doesn't it? Ted Kennedy's ghost and a kid roaming America, busting caps in fools? DAMN! I would watch the bejeezus out of that show!
Wallace says there are some bad guys on the list, and Fiorina allows that the bad guys should not be allowed to have guns.
What about the Mexicans? Fiorina likes that whole thing in Arizona where they just walk up to Latinos and ask for papers and junk. Fiorina's all: THE DAGGUMMED FEDRAL GOVUHMENT AIN'T DOIN' ITS JOB.
And Fiorina is pro-life, Boxer is pro-choice. This isn't surprising stuff, Chris Wallace, why are you hanging us out on these rather obvious points? She just said, "I believe what I believe." That would have been a good time to bring up her crazy flip-flops on the environment.
Anyway, Fiorina says that the people of California have had enough! So, it's time for a terrible business lady! Though I'll say this, Fiorina merely wants California to send her to COngress where she can get rich sucking off the legislator/lobbyist tit for the rest of her days and hopefully lock into the sweet, sweet perks of incumbency. Meg Whitman is the weird one: she actually wants to try to run that state! What a world!
Time for paneling, Fox style, with the standard Foxy panel of Hume-Liasson-Kristol-Williams.
Oil spill! Obama is going to talk to people, on the teevee, for some reason? Hume says it's a PR thing, and that Obama's been "unfairly blamed for what posture he struck, because there's very little the administration can do." That said, he thinks the administration has been slow. Hume includes on that regard, however, the drilling moratorium -- which is a smart move and quickly improved -- and approving foreign vessels to come in and "suck up the oil," which, admittedly is something I need to investigate further, but I have been given the strong impression this is a non-starter.
It really may come down to the relief wells being the only solution, and maybe we should have been told that from jump, and that going forward, the relief well failsafe needs to becomes standard, in advance of these kinds of spills.
Kristol says this is a blow to the Obama idea that government is "omnipotent," and who doesn't remember him saying that on the stump! Like the joke John Oliver tells in his stand-up routine: "Where is all the change that we made him promise?"
Anyway, one thing Obama can have a strong hand in, today, right now, right this very minute, is stopping BP from hassling, muzzling, and overall effing with the media, trying to report this disaster.
Bill Kristol will not stand for lawyers getting all up in BP's grill! Leave BP alone!
Even Williams is like, WE MUST CARRY ON AND DRILL LIKE THE DICKENS!
Wallace is like, "WHY WON'T OBAMA SEND ALL THE BOATZ TO THE MEXICO GULF?" Hume says that there are laws involved, that require waivers. But they also probably don't want random boats dumping their bilge in the Gulf right now, or blundering into the controlled burns the Coast Guard is doing. But, whatever: MORE BOATS.
Now they will talk about Afghanistan and the operation in Kandahar, which is turning into Can't-Da-Har, maybe? Can we win the war without Karzai? Hume says no, but the real question is can we win it with him, and, I don't know...Hume doesn't make that plan seem too happy and effective, either.
Liasson says that "it will be politically impossible for us to leave Afghanistan unless we are successful." Really? At some point, doesn't a lack of success make quitting a pretty exciting and approved of alternative?
Kristol says that the civilian and diplomatic assets in Afghanistan are a complete shitshow and that the Afghans are apparently terrified that the military will all bug out in 2011. Apparently they've not heard about our legacy of breaking promises on that regard. Williams points out that the American people are not behind the war, and are not "feeling" the nation-building. Hume, on the other hand, is arguing for nation-building. And Kristol wants more diplomacy! What a crazy, mixed-up world!
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW
Oh, hey, apparently I set up TiVo to record this last night, so, okay, let's watch it.
Anyway, oil! Can Obama use magic powers to stop oil? We're going to get into this with Savannah Guthrie, Richard Stengel, Helene Cooper, and John Heilemann. This is just the team you want fighting the oil! Stengel can make the hole in the ocean the 2010 Time Person of the year, and while the hole in the ocean is in New York City to meet Bono and Desmond Tutu, they can grab it and stuff it shut! Or alternatively, Heilemann could write an insidery account of how the hole came to be open that's really gossipy and goes out of its way to make women look bad!
Stengel says that there are "structural problems" between the government and the oil industry! OH NO, YOU DON'T SAY, RICK STENGEL IT'S NOT LIKE DICK CHENEY HAD HIS OWN OIL COMPANY CHAMPAGNE ROOM OR ANYTHING THAT WE ALL KNEW ABOUT! Anyway, this is exciting, breathless news that's been printed on sheets of paper, even!
Cooper says that she "thinks" Obama will change all of this, and man, can you feel the confidence build? "The White House will try to capitalize on the public anger." Or, you know, they'll RIDE IT OUT AS BEST THEY CAN.
Heilemann says that some people are now "all in" on getting an energy bill done, which really will only be thwarted by the people who are "all in" on doing the opposite.
Chris Matthews wants to know if the DESTRUCTION OF THE GULF OF MEXICO could be a "Game change," at which point he genuflects to Heilemann as if he invented the term "game change" because he wrote a book with the title. This question is directed at Guthrie, though, for some reason, and she says that there's a "rhetorical opportunity" to, I guess, help out the citizens of Planet Rhetorica. Also, she says, HA HA everyone hates the energy bill and it's a non-starter. "And people see it as a jobs-killer," Stengel says. If only he edited a "magazine" and could "convince people otherwise" with "his brain."
What can Obama give the "fossil fuel people," Matthews wants to know. Maybe some lovely parting gifts? 20% off the mountaintop removal of their homes?
Heilemann says that the energy bill will probably pass in a lame duck session, and Obama needs to turn energy into a crusade, and ride out to claim the oil spill's foreskin for America.
"If nothing had happened to this oil well we wouldn't be talking about [energy] now," says Stengel. So thank God this disaster has managed to get an election horse-race side to energy policy initiated.
Will Obama get on top of this oil spill, and go at it, in the missionary position? Cooper says he'll be like Jimmy Carter, and Stengel agrees, and now they are joking about how James Cameron and Kevin Coster have gotten involved. "How would Costner and Cameron direct Obama?" According to Chris Matthews, Cameron would have Obama be a blue cat person giving unintelligible speeches to other blue cat people. ("Well, somebody's seen Henry V," Chris Matthews says, apparently not being one of them. DO NOT COMPARE THE CARTOON CATS TO THE SAINT CRISPIN'S DAY SPEECH, PLEASE.) And now they are showing the "ass kick" clip and comparing it the Costner's character in NO WAY OUT. WHAT? Obama should be a traitorous Naval Officer/KGB mole? And seduce Sean Young? To stop some oil?
Onto the primary results! Matthews shows a clip of Sharron Angle on John Ralston's show out in Nevada? Ever watched his show? The cat runs a tight ship. Love watching him go at it. And there's Meg Whitman, who now hates the Mexicans as bad as polls say she should. And Carly Fiorina, has some terrible ads. And, uhm, I'm already bored with this segment.
Heilemann says Tom Campbell would be better than Fiorina, because Fiorina likes to "say stuff she doesn't really believe." He doesn't really care for Whitman, either.
Harry Reid is ahead in the polls, now? I thought the first poll had Angle ahead. Stengel points out that the Tea partiers have always existed and that now they have a name. Guthrie says that these candidates may be crazy, but the animating force is deficits. Cooper seems to disagree: it's time now for a post-primary move to the middle, and the Angle's of the world will not be able to handle it.
Is this the last year of "Tea partying?" Everyone seems to be of several minds of the matter, at the same time. Stengel says they have not yet peaked, so I am more comfortable than ever in saying that they have peaked. They won't fully fade into the background until the unemployment rate comes down in a more significant way, however.
Things Chris Matthews doesn't know, anyone? Guthrie says that $115 million worth of campaign ads have mentioned "deficits" and/or "spending," which just basically means that there's this thing called the "Republican party" that exists and has made some ads. Stengel says that the World Cup is happening! Did Chris Matthews REALLY NOT KNOW THAT? He predicts that the U.S. will get to the quarterfinals, which now makes me feel lousy about our chances. He also mentions the vuvuzela, which would come in handy for Matthews next question:
"Do we have any Americans on our team?"
Christ. YES WE HAVE SEEN THEIR "PAPERS," CHRIS. And also, this is for you:
That's from the heart, dude.
Cooper says the White House is working behind the scenes with Europe and the Israelis to lift the Gaza blockade. Heilemann says that Davis Guggenheim is making a movie about education.
And the Big Important Question of the week is who is the "Campaigner In Chief?" Guthrie says Obama, Stengel says Clinton, Cooper says Obama, and Heilemann says it's a "false binary" because there are some places where either would be effective. I've been told that the White House, at the end of the day, doesn't really want to be thought of as campaigners, because the media is going to torch them no matter if they do well or do terrible.
MEET THE PRESS
David Axelrod and Carly Fiorina and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Chuck Todd and Doris Kearns Goodwin and Roger Simon -- who is back in action after a double-amputation, so raise a glass for that: to many years of good health, for Mr. Simon and you all. (I am toasting with coffee because, disappointingly, I am not a madman who starts tippling this early on a Sunday.)
Meanwhile! Here's Axelrod. Obama is heading to the Gulf for two days and then talk to the country, because we are at an "inflection point" and it's time to "lay out the steps" of what's coming ahead. Will Axelrod preview this, so that maybe there doesn't have to be an address? No.
Will an announcement of an aid package to the gulf be part of it, Axelrod won't say explicitly, but the implication seems pretty clear. Axelrod says that it's important to the White House for area claimants to get paid quickly and through independent arbiters. As for direct assistance, Axelrod says that's going to come from BP.
Obama and Cameron have talked about this, are they in sync? Axelrod offers that BP has obligations to shareholders but also to the people who now have claims against them. The underlying reason of the Obama/Cameron discussion -- which I strongly suspect had to do with how connected BP is in the world of pensions in Great Britain -- doesn't come up, because that would be too deep-tissue for this show.
"There's no doubt in the minds of BP what our demands are," says Axelrod.
Now for some reason, Gregory is playing Tony Hayward's apology-ad. "Does the president trust him?" Gregory asks. Axelrod says he's not "here to make judgments about character." "Our mission is to hold them accountable in any way and that is what we are going to do." Tony Hayward is "not a partner, not a social friend."
Obama raised a "lot of eyebrows" on the Today show when he used the word "ass." Why did the President use such a doody word? It made the media go titter-titter, hearing the word ass! SILLY DOODY-PANTZ PRESIDENT AND HIS DIRTY DIRTY SWEARS, WE ARE ALL NINE YEARS OLD!
Gregory wants to know if Obama feels the pressure to connect. Axelrod says Dude, you want to know what pressure is? Think about the fishermen and what not. Everyone's feeling the pressure, okay? Pressure on! The only people not cognizant of the pressure are the people who were maybe STICKING BIG DRILLS IN THE OCEAN. It's the terror of knowing what this world is about! Watching some good friends screaming LET ME OUT! And so Obama will go on teevee and ask America to give love give love give love give love give love give love give love give love give love one more chance.
Hey, it makes you wonder why Obama hasn't taken Sarah Palin up on her offer to call her up for ideas, right? Well, this is probably how that would go!
"There's a tendency to just write this off to a Washington obsession," Gregory says. Well, the pussified lamentation over Obama not having a huge bleat of operatic emotion sure is!
But look, they've done a bunch of vessel maneuvering and controlled burning and boom laying. This is probably a good time for everyone to basically admit that Cord Jefferson is right about this disaster, in that we're coming face to face with a sensation with which we are unfamiliar: helplessness.
Will the President keep on a-stimulating the economy? Axelrod says the economy is growing, and if you ignore that last jobs report and subsume it into "averages," the employment picture looks semi-okay. But more stimulus? Ehhh, no one will call it that, I'm afraid. But Ax says we "will continue to take steps" to move the economy in the right direction.
But the private sector is "holding back," so isn't that a "phony recovery," Axelrod doesn't accept that.
What about those Tuesday primaries? Can Axelrod help a brother out, in terms of a massive media narrative that they can beat to death? Axelrod basically says there's no big message, save for the continued rightward march of his political opponents, like Sharron Angle, who he will probably make the 2010 election posterchild for Tea Party extremism. Axelrod says he considers Obama to be "the greatest asset" to the Democrats politically, but hedges and says it may not be a "uniform view." He also disputes that this is a rerun of 1994, in that the GOp is not as popular with the public now as they were then.
How about the Alvin Greene thing? Axelrod says "the whole thing is odd, and I don't really know how to explain it." He says the Dems in South Carolina deserve a "strong candidate."
And now that the critical matter of Alvin Greene has been discusses, HOW ABOUT THAT LONG ASS WAR IN AFGHANISTAN. And what follows is a harrowing replay of a report from Richard Engel.
So, what's up with Karzai, and his side-dealmaking with the Taliban? Axelrod says that "this mission is about al Qaeda" and not letting them have a haven in Afghanistan, and on that standard, he insists the war is going well. He suggests that Dexter Filkins' source for his report in the NYT this week is nothing but the commentary of a disgruntled ex-Karzai official. As for the draw-down deadline, is it a conditional deadline or a hard deadline. Axelrod says that there is no "open-ended commitment" to staying in the region forever.
Panel time with the aforementioned Carly Fiorina and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Chuck Todd and Doris Kearns Goodwin and Roger Simon. Simon looks very happy to be there, and for that, we are glad.
So, oil spill! Todd says that the White House is attempting to get "command and control" over a situation that's substantively not too eminently commandable or controllable. Simon says that the dilemma the White House faces is that the government cannot stop the leak any better than BP can, but our co-dependence on BP makes it hard to get too belligerent about consequences for BP and whatever mistakes they made.
Meanwhile, Fiorina is asked to Mitt Romney's criticism, which was in an op-ed entitled "We need a leader, not a politician," which is an interesting idea from a guy who is not much a leader himself, unless one can say that a weathervane "leads" the breeze. Fiorina says there's "much of that that's fair." She then expresses a newfound love for government regulation of business. Which is weird! And Debbie W-S points all of this out, pinging the GOP for establishing the laissez-faire regulatory rule.
I just realized that this panel has, in Fiorina, Wasserman-Schultz, and Simon, three people who have fought serious health battles and won. I wonder if MEET THE PRESS might take the unique perspective that's on offer here and put it to use? We'll see!
Meanwhile, let's get historical with Doris Kearns Goodwin, because the White House and BP are a total "team of rivals," right? She says that with all the mobilization that the White House has done for the region, if this was Reagan, there would be images to back up the mobilization so that the country can get a picture of how hard they are working and how big the response is. This is a good point. Goodwin notes that a bullet-pointed list of activity does not compete with the HD livestream of the oil, gushing into the ocean. Of course, a big problem with fighting the war of images is that BP is doing their level best to keep the media at bay. That's a "command and control" issue that Obama needs to assert himself on, right the hell yesterday.
Now Todd is talking about how Obama's use of the word "ass" was a direct response to media criticism, and it makes me wonder if anyone sees the fact that the underlying truth here is that the "media criticism" hasn't been worth a good goddamn! I mean, what drives the President to use the word "ass" isn't the substantive reporting being done in the Gulf by local reporters and journalists who have travelled down their to butt their heads against BP's iron wall of media blackout -- it's been from the superficial carping of those who have been watching this disaster from 30,000 feet.
Simon goes on to make the point that one of the great ironies is that now all of America's latter-day anti-Federal government types are now all suddenly fans of big time Federal intervention.
Fiorina says that "good government needs to be efficient and effective" and "not big" and not "vast unaccountable bureaucracies." Debbie W-S is quietly snarking all of that out, and points out that Liz Birnbaum went from the House to the MMS. She makes Birnbaum out to be someone who hadn't finished cleaning the Augean stables before she was forced out. Not sure that's a fair depiction, but who knows? Would anyone be talking about the MMS if there wasn't an oil spill? Maybe reporters should drive down on other regulatory agencies, RIGHT NOW, before a whole bunch of other stuff goes KABOOM.
Anyway, I think that Carly Fiorina should just take the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and enter into a merger with another, smaller oil spill, because that would obviously destroy them both!
Goodwin says that Obama's oil spill speech could be as important as LBJ's speech in Selma! NO PRESSURE!
Steady rollin', we're now into the primary results from Tuesday. People wrote headlines! And a lot of ladies ran for things and won, so it's a new trend, because it's the narrative that survived into reality. Fiorina says that "candidates are reflecting the diversity of America." Debbie W-S says that it's really nice for the media to occasionally give women a "Year" for them to have. "The underlying problem here is that this isn't the year of the woman." (Especially, she says, in the GOP.)
Todd says that what was "mechanically" interesting about the women that won is that they all had to withstand negative ads. For real? I mean, Blanche Lincoln did. And so did Meg Whitman. But Carly Fiorina was the only one up with ads during the last weeks of her race! What negative ads was she withstanding? Sharron Angle got hit with a bunch of very STUPID ads from Sue Lowden, none of which were particularly effective. Lowden's last strategic outburst was to claim that Angle was lying about a school at which she taught. Lowden was totally wrong -- she literally launched that attack with about one-third of the information she needed to have to prove her claim and was literally so desperate that she just went for it, IN THE HOPES THAT SHE MIGHT BE RIGHT. And Nikki Haley didn't withstand ads, she withstood claims of infidelity that never ended up getting proven to anyone's satisfaction.
Roger Simon points out that "all but two of the 217 House member who ran for re-election won their primaries." So maybe it's worth keeping the "anti-incumbent fervor" bandwagon in the garage for the time being.
Will Carly Fiorina "buck her party?" She says...uhhhh, platitudes. People want to see more platitudes. If she wins, it will be because the voters send her. So, no, she won't be bucking the party, at all, ever. She will instead be mouthing her party's talking points. And then she goes on a mini-monologue stuffed with those same talking points. Debbie W-S is quick to point this out. And WE WILL HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.
And that will do it for another day of me frantically typing while people talk on the screen. I hope everyone has a happy week, and if anyone out there wants to help our office figure out how to get a World Cup feed that doesn't look like it's being broadcast from a Cold War area numbers station, that would be pretty fantastic. In the meanwhile, go Team USA!
[If you have come to the end of the liveblog, and want more, pause for fifteen minutes and hit refresh, I guess?]