TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

09/19/2010 09:52 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We begin today with sorrow and with woe, because it turns out that Our Lady Of Perpetual WTFufflement, Christine "X-teen" O'Donnell, who was slated to appear on two shows -- which we now cannot bring ourselves to watch, such is the sadness (and the certainty that she will be replaced by whatever boring, bookable, Beltway elite happened to be laying around today) -- has cancelled. WHY OH WHY? Well, as it turns out, she has a super-important picnic that she must, must, MUST attend!

What's that Dave Weigel?

OK. These shows tape in downtown Washington and wrap early in the morning. The picnic is at Dave Wilson's Auction in Lincoln, Delaware, in the northern part of Sussex County. It takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes to drive from D.C. to there, and the picnic doesn't start until 2 p.m. So this isn't really an excuse at all.

The other odd decisions here come from the networks. Fox News responded to the O'Donnell diss by booking Joe Miller, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in Alaska. CBS responded by booking ex-Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson and GOP strategist Ed Rollins. CBS I get, because the O'Donnell originally balanced out an interview with Bill Clinton, but does no one want to interview Chris Coons? Really? Because, you know, he's winning the election so far.

Okay, so maybe Joe Miller would have been interesting, but wow, watching Gerson and Rollins flap mouths at each other? Those are the moments of one's life that go right to the DVD's reel of deleted scenes. But are you REALLY SAYING the Xtine WTFufflement could have made these shows AND the picnic? Oh well! I guess the new new thing of media avoidance, has a new adherent.

Oh well, we shall survive, hopefully, and even chance to thrive. My name is Jason, and I type as fast as I can, for this liveblog. You should LUXURIATE yourselves, if you can, by languorously penning comments to one another, drowsily sending me emails, or do what most people in advance catatonic states do -- follow me on Twitter!

THIS WEEK, with Christiane Amanpour

This Week is doing spots from Jerusalem and Washington and New York City! It's like Phil Collins, playing both Live Aid locations! HE PLAYED SUSSUDIO TO SAVE AFRICA. NEVER FORGET THAT. (Note, I am not actually sure if he played "Sussudio," or what, in fact, "Sussudio" means.)

But here's Amanpour, in Jerusalem. Happy Yom Kippur to everyone. Apparently, there have been "intense negotiations" between the Israelis and the Palestinians, including some talks that have gone to unprecedented areas. But: impasse over settlements remain and a deadline looms in the distance, because this peace process has to be done before the 2012 re-election campaign. (THAT'S HOW BAD THE FILIBUSTER HAS GOTTEN: the White House is now like: "Maybe we'll have better luck ending that intractable generational conflict? Anyway, it's not like Scott Brown can stop us!")

So, today, Amanpour is going to kick it with Hillary Clinton, who all the sad drunks in Washington think should switch with Joe Biden and become Vice President, because there's nothing better than upsetting the continuity of your diplomatic work at a time when everyone around the world is frayed to the breaking point!

HRC says that the talks have been "impressive" and "serious" and have already delved into "sensitive areas." Are there areas between Israel and Palestine that aren't sensitive? "Hey, do you guys like that new show, THE EVENT?" "BLAGH! NO! WAR!!"

Clinton says the U.S. is committed to the talks, and that both sides are really making a "psychological leap" to be engaged in these talks. She doesn't want either party to leave the negotiations, or do anything that forces the other to leave. GIVE THE EVENT A CHANCE, PRESIDENT ABBAS.

Meanwhile, in Iran, the Iranians released that lady who misread LET'S GO: IRAN-IRAQ BORDER. Clinton is happy about that. She's met with the mothers of these hikers. It probably was an easier meeting than the ones she'll have with the Iranians as part of the P5+1, because the Iranians will not be attending that meeting. Meanwhile Clinton is concerned that Iran is "morphing into a military dictatorship." There is "increasing power" being exercised by the military in Iran, especially the Revolutionary Guard, all of which raises concerns for the well-being of the Iranian people. Then Clinton basically takes two minutes to recap the movie PERSEPOLIS.

How to help the people of Iran? Why is there no "framework for pressing Iran on human rights," asks Amanpour. Clinton says that they have spoken out on human rights, and there was that time they made sure everyone could use Twitter. She says that the sanctions that have been implemented emphasize their commitment to human rights.

"We are trying to be effective" in the way they engage with the public, Clinton says, and relates the fact that there are experts who recommend a light touch in the region, with the ongoing and emerging counter-regime movement, and others who say, "full steam ahead." Clinton says it's a line that they are walking, but I think that more-or-less translates to "we are taking a light touch, because the smarter side is the one that tells us the American fingerprints on the resistance movement will result in that movement's instantaneous delegitimization."

Clinton actually makes this distinction very clear in answering why the U.S. reacted the way it did after the flawed election in Iran. Clinton says it would have been bad for the protesters to have been seen as "American stooges." BUT WHY DIDN'T WE BOMB THEM? BILL KRISTOL HATES IT WHEN OUR BOMBS ARE SO SLEEPY.

Oh, I love a little dose of anything on Sunday that's not the electoral horse-race! (Though you really need some Fareed Zakaria to make it a meal.)

Meanwhile, it's time to go to New York City, and interview Mahmoud "Sussudio" Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad is one of a handful of world leaders who schlep to the United Nations on an annual basis to deliver some squinty-eyed orations on their megalomania. These things would not be very important, except recently, the media has decided to turn it into a freak show and point cameras at the crazies, and so now these dudes have been accorded the privilege of being major players, when ordinarily the rest of the world would endure their gum-flapping and move on with their lives. OMG, IT TURNS OUT THAT THE CRAZY DICK DICTATOR OF WHATTHEFRACKLESTAN IS A BIT BONKERSAUCE, STOP THE PRESSES!

In fact, I have to say, until Sussudio here came along, did anyone in the world give a toss about the President of Iran? I thought we were always more concerned with the more powerful theocrats than whoever held this position. He was preceded by Mohammed Khatemi, who I do recall being in the news, but never to this extent.

Fun Fact: the Vice President of Iran is named Parviz Davoodi. I think I'd find it really hard to hate a person named Parviz Davoodi, but according to the Wikipedia, he "often refers to President Ahmadenijad as the world's 'bite size leader against king size Western corruption.'" It's hard to parse that -- I mean, "bite-sized." Curiously, he earned a doctorate in economics from Iowa State University -- or, as I suppose I should call it under these circumstances, Slytherin.

But, okay, here's that grinnin' fool, Ahmadinejad, who I'm going to now refer to as "Sussudio" for the remainder of this segment, because it's easier to type.

Clinton wants all of our hikers returned to us, immediately. But Sussudio says that we have Iranians being detained here in the U.S., and there should be a prisoner swap made as a humanitarian gesture. As Amanpour points out, those dudes were actually convicted as crimes -- is he saying that the hikers are criminals? Sussudio thinks otherwise.

Amanpour shows a video of the hikers' moms, shaming Sussudio into doing the right thing, but he isn't moved, and doesn't seem to have much desire to press the matter to conclusion.

Will Iran meet with the P5+1 over the nuclear issue, anytime in the near future? Sussudio says, "we've always been ready to discuss issues," but he believes there is not much to talk about. The IAEA, he says, is closely monitoring their nuclear plants, when they are not disclosing information to the world that Sussudio doesn't want disclosed. He also says that talks much happen inside some non-specified "legal framework" that he does not elaborate on, and consequently, I sort of have to conclude that he is referring to some arbitrary bullpucky.

Sussudio says he is not surprised that the world is sanctioning him, and he doesn't much care. Asked whether he has heeded former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who says Sussudio should not treat the sanctions as a joke, he initially, confusingly, asserts that people are free in Iran to say what they like (really?). When Amanpour explains the question again, he says he takes the sanctions seriously, but it's "different than believing they are effective." To no one's surprise, he doesn't find them to be effective or legal.

Amanpour insists that many have asserted that the sanctions are deleterious, but Sussudio says they are no biggie! Check back in a year, and ask again.

Sussudio says he's surprised that anyone in the world cares about how Iran is happy to watch people get stoned, for crimes. Sussudio doesn't much want to talk about it, he says that it's all not true, it was never going to happen. Amanpour says, no, you guys actually LIFTED the stoning sentence. Sussudio says, "Oh I'd think that I'd be aware if I lifted a stoning sentence!" Har.

What about the fact that Sussudio political opposition keep having their offices raided, with plans afoot to prosecute them for crimes of some sort. Sussudio says that his opposition is not going to take place. When Amanpour reads him back the quote from the Iranian judge who says such a trial is going forward, Sussudio throws the book of excuses at her: he has to stay independent from the judiciary, he is unaware of the details of the case which made news in newspapers that are now being read to him aloud, and also, maybe Amanpour is mistranslating it?

What is Sussudio's reaction to Fidel Castro's call for Iran to cut out the antisemitism? Sussudio says Castro can say what he likes, but Iran is not anti-Semitic, where did you hear that, from Sussudio's words and actions?

Will Sussudio accept the Obama's administration's invitation to engage with the United States? Sussudio says, "I was the guy who sent the invitation! WHY WON'T OBAMA RESPOND TO MY EVITE? HE CAN BRING UP TO FOUR FRIENDS!"

By the way, all of the translations sort of sounded like they were being delivered by Mila Kunis, which only made that whole interview all the more hilarious.

Panel time, with George Will, and Peter Beinart, and Tom Ross (!!! -- he is the Delaware GOP chair that said Xtine O'Donnell was not fit to be a dogcatcher!), and David "Does Not Rhyme With Danger" Sanger. If there's something in this world that's whiter than Adrian Fenty's supporters, it's this panel!

Will says that the settlement moratorium is likely to be something that will get "fudged," and reminds that Israel has already endured a grinding battle with its own people, settlers that fough extraction from Gaza.

Sanger reminds everyone that maybe Sussudio cannot be trusted when he gives answers about the Iranian nuclear program.

Was Christine O'Donnell a surprise? Will says that it's a surprise in a year of surprises, so it shouldn't have been a surprise. Tom Ross says he is "not happy" with what happened. He says that they did a lot of hard, diligent work, and they adhered to the "Buckley rule" -- which is find candidates who can win. And let's remember: Mike Castle won and won and won and won -- without regard to the fortunes of his party. When America was up on the GOP he won, and when America was waving the GOP out of office, he won. And in 2008, Delawareans were as enthusiastic about voting for Castle as they were voting for Obama -- probably more so.

But man, did the state GOP get rogered but good by the Tea Party insurgency. And you have to wonder, where did all that Castle support go? Will calls this a surprise -- but there's one thing at the root that's actually not surprising: the voters have once again turned on someone who voted for the TARP.

Ross is in a tough position. To his credit, he does not disown any of the mean things he said about O'Donnell. (At one point he tells Amanpour, "Put it on the screen.") His bottom line is that he stood by the endorsed candidate, Castle, like he was duty-bound to do, and now his job becomes supporting the voters' decision. He'll work, he says, for "each and every Republican elected." No mention of O'Donnell. I have to imagine that Ross' downticket charges are going to get much more interesting.

Beinart says Sarah Palin is the GOP's McGovern -- meaning that she'll be a non-compute with voters in a general election. Will points out that Palin has succeeded in "bringing the Tea Party voters" into the GOP, and thwarting the feared third party runs. That's true to an extent, but she's actually been very inconsistent in her support for Tea Party types: she supported Ayotte in New Hampshire, Branstad in Iowa, and McCain in Arizona.

Beinart points out that core Democratic constituencies don't turn out in midterms (except when they do, I guess) so it's no wonder there's more enthusiasm on the GOP side. Also, I think it helps that GOP leaders are very, very nice to their base, and refrain from those Obama White House moments where they pointlessly insult their own base because they need a way to feel good about themselves.

Ross says that O'Donnell's "path to victory" involved reminding voters that she won't rubber stamp the Obama agenda, but as far as Palin is concered, he'd really, really rather that the party activists and delegates in Delaware be allowed to conduct their business without being "bigfooted by outside forces."

Amanpour shows the clip of O'Donnell on Politically Incorrect, where she talks about her first date being at a Satanic picnic. OH NOES! AND SHE'S AT A "PICNIC" TODAY!

Ross seems to think that the time period proves the "fallacy of the moderate Democrat," but he's of the mind that the Obama legislative agenda didn't suit them, but on the facts and merits, the primary agenda items -- the stimulus, the health care reform package, FinReg -- were very, very "moderate Democrat" policies. The great irony of Evan Bayh quitting the Senate in a huff is that policy-wise, he got what he wanted! On one hand, there is the reality of needing a vote from Ben Nelson, combined with an overall disinterest in the White House in much beyond centrist policies -- the bigger fallacy here is that some sort of super-liberal set of policies have been enacted.

Oh well, time to move on to the next show.


Stuff like the Christine O'Donnell frenzy makes me itch to check out this show in particular, which is sort of the Apple Genius Bar of politics -- a group of pretentious gasbags preen at you for a half-hour in an effort to show off what experts they are, until you finally conclude that the thing you brought in for them to look at is broken beyond repair.

First some Chris Blakely:

So, Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney (and even Chris Wallace in his shiny, new, glow-in-the-dark suit) are all gaga over Sarah Palin because she is so good at picking and endorsing Tea Party candidates, who defy the odds, and hijack the GOP nomination. I will admit that if I were a Las Vegas odds maker, Palin's talent in this area is noteworthy. However, being able to pick political winners is not the top criteria I look for when backing a potential presidential candidate.

Nevertheless, Palin is so good at picking winners, the ongoing FOX News query of this political season remains "will she run?" I think Palin will run, but, unofficially (as long as she can), so she can operate outside of FEC rules. This strategy would then allow Palin to do the only things she is good at: cashing in on her hype without ever having to do any heavy-lifting, preparation-wise. Truth be told, Palin's recent trip to Iowa had little to do with testing the presidential waters and everything to do with research for her future reality TV show, "Running for President." Palin does not want to be president anymore than Palin wanted to remain as governor of Alaska. Sarah just wants to cash in on the idea of being president or anything other activity that takes money out of others' pockets and puts it in hers.

Entrepreneurially speaking, you have to give Palin kudos on being one of the few people in this country who is able to cash in during such tough economic times.

I am of the same mind, vis a vis Sarah Palin running for President. Every once in a while you'll see someone write a post about how Palin is definitely going to run for President or definitely not going to run for President, and I think -- why has no one considered that she might, sort of, "do both?" That is to say, run for President, but in a way that assures she'll never be President. The fact is that running for President is an extremely lucrative thing to do. Even Carol Moseley-Braun's making some bank, I'm sure! And Palin's perfected the barebones operation -- she literally does everything through ghostwritten garble on social media platforms. Pretty low overhead. And with an army of supporters that will subsidize her travel anywhere in the world, she's be stupid not to take this celebrity game to the next level and be the presidential candidate these reality-teevee times call for.

You know, in a way, Palin has already quit!

At the genius bar today are Chuck Todd and Gloria Borger and Kelly O'Donnell and Clarence Page. Can they explain the Tea Party, to me and the other seventeen people trying to turn this show into a drinking game?

Doesn't Tim Pawlenty sound strange, pretending to be a freaked-out fringer? To me, a little bit. To Chris Matthews, a lot! The challenge, Borger says is for candidates to appeal to these voters without becoming them. (Like, uhm, Reagan and Bush 41 did with the Christian right?)

O'Donnell says that "brands" are very compelling, in 2010. Matthews says that the Tea Partiers "don't want to hear this sophisticated talk." And that's their brand! Woo! It's like we all read Malcolm Gladwell's books today or something.

Borger says that it's O'Donnell, not, say, Joe Miller who the GOP says is a bridge too far. Todd says that getting a Palin endorsement is a brand! The "non-establishment" brand! (Terry Branstad, though! How do you figure him as a non-establishment type?)

Now everyone is throwing poop at each other. "Uh, guys, my iPod is frozen?"

Can a GOP figure come out and endorse Palin for President? O'Donnell points out that they sidestep that by referring to Palin as a "great ambassador" for conservatism. She may go ahead and run because it provides her (or her twitter account) with a bigger megaphone.

Chris Matthews seems to think that Romney will just not be very exciting to the people who gather at the GOP convention in Tampa in 2012. He has a point! Romney was sort of a bomb at the Value Voters Summit this week. "How can the Palin crowd get excited about Mitt Romney?" Page says that Romney could "Go Reagan" and rather than rile people up, draw people together. That would only require Romney to develop some sort of "rhetorical skill" between now and 2012.

Will the Tea Party last until 2012? Page says it will self-destruct in 2011. O'Donnell says that it will be diluted and moderated within the establishment. Todd agrees. Matthews says the unemployment numbers will determine everything. I say, it will be fun to watch all the Tea Party candidates learn how good it feels to suck on the K Street teat, and sell out whatever values they once purported to have.

Now we are watching speeches of O'Donnell talking about eating lice, and Trixie Klondike saying word soup, and Matthews asks if Tina Fey is going to play O'Donnell on SNL -- but dude! That role should go to Julia-Louis Dreyfus! They are doppelgangers.

Not that I care! I totally spaced on getting into the SNL ticket lottery in August and now I have the sads.

After commercial, we go back to Palin-O'Donnell speeches, with Mike Pence and John McCain horning in with their GOPenises, spittin' tea party lyrics. O'Donnell notes that the GOP is coming with the aggression, but can they repeal health care? Probably, Borger says, they will defund things, because the President still has a veto.

Todd says that we could have a full, big, wonderful government shutdown, which didn't work out very well for the GOP the last time it happened. I wonder what it would take for the GOP to come out a winner on a government shutdown, actually. My feeling is that if they want to pull it off, they have to find a way to do it while some sort of GOP comeback narrative in the media is cresting. The problem is, the media will be itching to write the Dem-comeback chapter shortly after the election. YES, THE POLITICAL MEDIA MOSTLY WRITES A LONG AND STUPID MELODRAMA.

I'm sure that someone is doing "messaging" and "dial testing" on shutting down the government right now, all the same. It's just something you should maybe look forward to, America!

Meanwhile, this week's additions to the Stuff Matthews Doesn't Knowpedia: Todd says the West Virginia Senate will be a toss up state. Borger says that the votes aren't there for a tax cut compromise, so the tax cut vote goes to a lame duck session (where it will also, in this set of circumstances, not have the votes, but nevermind that, I guess). O'Donnell says that Christine O'Donnell will not get made over by the RNC, and that the GOP will emphasize the fact that she's what they aren't and what they despise -- a pauper.

Can the GOP take control of the House and the Senate? Todd says yes, Borger says maybe, and then Matthews and Todd run each other off by saying that the "House has never flipped without the Senate." That's entirely true! This election, however, is shaping up to be the mother of all exceptions. I was pretty sure both were going to flip as well, but with Castle losing and Murkowski running a write-in campaign, I am adopting a wait and see attitude.


Here's some breaking news! We're told that the Deepwater Horizon hole, and the spill produced by it, is "effectively dead." Which is good news, I suppose! Speaking of holes that are effectively dead, here's David Gregory! Today he'll be talking to Bill Clinton and General Colin Powell and fretting over the Tea Party. Will there be no panel discussion today? I live in hope!

So, we start with a rehash of the Value Voters Summit, and the acknowledgement that Christine O'Donnell is, let's say, a controversial choice for Senator of Delaware. This is like a five-minute long Television Without Pity recap of the entire primary season. And that leads to an awkward segue to Colin Powell. What does he make of the Tea Party? Powell says that the tea party is a movement that's tapped into anger at everyone, whoop-dee-doo, but it won't "be a force until it starts" engaging issues. "I want lower taxes and lower spending, how do you want to do that." Powell says it's more sloganeering than governing, and will remain a "fad" unless they get serious.

The lost thing here? The Tea Party people think they are literally living in a state of tyranny. If they cannot let go of that central premise, they'll either die out or get subsumed within the establishment.

Powell states the obvious, he's a moderate conservative, akin to Michael Bloomberg. So he supports stuff like the DREAM Act and immigration reform. He wants America's minority kids to get good education, and draw their untapped potential into the market. He acknowledges that there's nothing wrong with protecting the borders, but there are millions of people working in the United States, and contributing to the economy.

"They're all over my house, when I need repairs, and I'm sure they are at your house," Powell says. Is he saying that he and Gregory maintain sanctuary mansions?

Powell says he's happy to call himself a Republican, but he's not happy with the "rightward switch." I'm beginning to wonder actually, if the potential exists for a Bloomberg-Powell third party option, which would probably draw 15% of the vote and be an interesting footnote in American history that will be called "SHARIA LAW" by the makers of Texas History Textbooks.

Shorter Powell on Palin: "'s okay if she talks and makes people excited, I guess, but she's not presidential caliber."

Powell reacts badly to Dinesh D'Souza's Forbes article, and goes on a jag against conspiracy mongers. KEY QUOTE: "I think that if the unemployment rate was down at 4.5%, very few people would think Obama was a Muslim." Powell says that "I don't think this appeals to all Republicans." Well, the Michael Brendan Dougherty wing of the party would probably agree.

Powell suggests that the President needs to now focus "like a razor blade" on unemployment, and that he's "lost some of the ability to connect with people." Powell thinks that Obama will start moving very quickly in that direction. Gregory says, "Well eff that! Will he move to the center, and squeeze me up some sweet, sweet bipartisanship sauce?" Powell suggests he wait until after the election.

Powell is pretty much behind the President's Afghan strategy, but just doesn't have a "good handle" on whether progress is being made, and maintains concern over the fact that the whole enterprise "rests on a very weak base" -- that is, the Karzai administration.

What's worse? An Iran with a nuke? Or an attack on Iran to keep them from getting a nuke? Powell says that the stars are not aligning behind an attack on Iran. But at some point, sanctions may not work. he thinks the best possible outcome is a scenario in which Iran has nuclear power, but not weapons. Powell admits that people find this naive, and he understands that, but he nevertheless believes that with strong international buy-in, Iran's nuke ambitions can be brought to heel. He also says that obviously, what we could do in retaliation far exceeds what Iran could do with a nuclear warhead. Cold comfort for some, right?

On education, Colin Powell basically thinks all you parents out there could be doing a much better job raising your kids so that they don't become a bunch of useless dropouts, okay?

Will Powell endorse Obama again in 2012? He says he'll base that decision when he knows who the two candidates are, and will judge it on who seems most fit for America's needs. Powell says that he's done some "transformational work" as President, and deserves credit for a lot of it, but thinks it's time for the White House to get into some bareknuckle governing.

And that's that. Up next, Bill Clinton. And I have to give him credit, there's really few as gifted as he is at just breaking down a complex political idea into something that resembles storytelling. I'm reminded that this guy was voracious reader of literature, and a speaker of same:

DAVID GREGORY: I'm looking forward to discussing the Clinton Global Initiative and your work in Haiti. But I just wanted to begin our political discussion with some reaction by you to hearing General Powell on what have been pretty significant developments this week, politically, inside the Republican Party, after this turbulent primary season. What do you make of it?

BILL CLINTON: Well, first of all, I think that a lot of the voters who are voting for the Tea Party candidates have really good impulses. That is, they believe that for years and years and years, the people with wealth and power or government power have done well. And ordinary people have not. That's true. They believe those in the Republican Party believe that they've talked a good game about balancing the budget, the debt was quadrupled in the 12 years before I became President and then when we paid down the debt for four years, paid down $600 billion on the national debt, then my budget was abandoned, natural you doubled the debt again.

So, it, there's, a good impulse there. They're worried that other, we've come out of this recovery to some extent, but 70 percent of our GDP growth has been regained from what was lost, but ordinary people aren't feeling it yet. And they want to see some help for ordinary people. I get that. The question is, what are the specifics? What really matters is what we're gonna do. And right now, they've elected a lot of people who are articulate and attractive, but it's not clear what their specifics are.

The gentleman that beat Senator Murkowski in Alaska, as I understand it, said that he thought unemployment compensation was unconstitutional. Well, putting ten million more people in breadlines is not my idea of how to bring the economy back or balance the budget. So, we need to hear more from them about where they stand on the Republican Party's agenda. Do they too want to repeal the financial regulations that were just enacted to provide more oversight and require more capital before risk can be undertaken? So we don't get in this mess again? We need to know where they stand.

Underappreciated political qualities, I think.

Gregory asks Clinton if he thinks that candidates like Christine O'Donnell will help the Democrats. Clinton's response: "Well, Karl Rove says they are!" He goes onto say that it's hard to get a fix on what Tea party types actually think about issues. Like I said, right now, they are pretty much against the tyranny that they believe is happening.

Clinton, on Gingrich: "Well, keep in mind, when after the 1994 election, one of the first things that Speaker Gingrich said was that Hillary and I were the enemy of normal Americans. Every time something bad happened in America, back then, he blamed it on the 1960s culture. Even one woman who drowned her children and it turned out she'd been abused by her stepfather, who was a local right wing Republican leader. He said, "Nonetheless, they were infected by all those Democratic bad things." So, that's just what he does, when he's running. He's out there playing politics and it's his shtick. He knows better. He's a smart man."

And now we get to the part where we talk about the Clinton Global Initiative. Clinton says the CGI is going to help "get real things done" and, AND! -- create jobs in the United States! JOBS? I remember those things! The elders speak of a time where jobs happened to people! Hopefully the CGI will be creating economic opportunities in some other field besides "betting on complex financial derivatives."

Clinton says that CGI will place a strong emphasis on domestic needs.

CLINTON: "For the first time in my lifetime, David, we are coming out of recession with posted job openings. That is, tomorrow Monday, you could get that job. These jobs have been offered. They're going up twice as fast as job hires in this horrible economy. Why? Because of two things. First, over 10 million of our fellow citizens are living in homes that are worth less than their mortgages. So, they can't move or their credit's ruined for life. We still need more efforts to fix that. And second, way the biggest problem, is there's a skill mismatch. The jobs that are being opened don't have qualified people applying for them. We need a system to immediately train them to move into that job. And I hope we'll have some commitments coming out on that. There are five million people who could go to work tomorrow, if they were trained to do the jobs that are open, and the unemployment rate in America would immediately drop from 9.6 to about seven percent or 6.9. That would have a huge impact on America's psyche. That would happen if no bank makes another loan. If none of this other stuff goes on. We need to go to work on these things. And get some action there."

Recommended reading, on that regard.

Apparently, in Haiti, CGI's donors are running behind! "Well, first of all, on the housing, it's always the slowest thing. You can go to after we had Hurricane Andrew, right before I became President, people were still living in temporary housing in Florida over a year after the quake happened. After the hurricane happened. So, keep in mind, you had a third of this country totally devastated. It was the urban third. It represented a loss of 70 percent of their G.D.P. So, we can't move 'em out any quicker than that. Secondly, all the rubble that is in the cities it's normally in places where the roads are broken. And thirdly, we haven't been given much money. A lot of people promised all this money. So, what I've done with the, this commission. We have a commission now that's half Haitian and half the donors. And they have approved an enormous amount of new projects. We have to have the donors give the money. If the donors don't give the money, we can't do the work."

Back to politics! Clinton said a year ago that the 2010 election wouldn't be like 1994. The GOP "can't make it that bad," he said. Does he still feel that way? LET'S GET CLINTONIAN! "Well, they can't make it that bad, but we can. That is, there is all this anger on the right and they're very motivated to vote. But all the surveys show that registered voters are about evenly divided." Maybe someone should do something, to motivate them? Just an idea I had! Or maybe Democratic voters are just naturally apathetic, and in 2008, they all just happened to wake up hungover at polling places on Election Day.

Clinton made a claim that a lot of people made, and which I thought would hold true, that health care reform would become very popular after it was signed. And for a time, it was, but it's gone down again lately. Clinton says he was "wrong about this for two reasons." The first being that the reform isn't going to be implemented for another few years. Of course, EVERYONE KNEW THAT IN ADVANCE. So maybe people should have either been plainspoken about that or strived to speed up the implementation. Are people down on this because they are apathetic or pessimistic? At some point, you have to factor in some strong degree of overpromising. Who knows what might be happening if reform proponents just got straight with people, and constantly reminded them, "This won't fully go into effect until 2013, there's a good reason for that, and here it is. Here's the order in which this bill is implemented. Here's why we made these choices. Here's what you can expect in the meantime. Here's some ways you can get help with paying for your healthcare in the intervening period."

So, yes, Clinton was wrong about that? But I'm straight mystified how he could have been, given the fact that he was privy to the same information I was a year ago.

The second reason, of course, is the "enormous and highly effective attack" on health care. Interest groups like the status quo, and they have the dollars to spread the disinformation they like.

Pretty good line, for David Gregory to have repeated at him every day: "You asked me about the politics. No one ever talks about the facts." Naturally, Gregory's next question is, "Do you think President Obama is as effective as he could be? Your friend James Carville said that he enjoys policy a lot more than politics. Does that have an impact on the enthusiasm or lack thereof of Democrats?" Everyone's favorite topic of conversation is how everyone's conversations about topics get perceived!

In lieu of having a segment on today's recession, MEET THE PRESS will run an archival clip from the 1960s in which they had a segment on that period's recession. These guys really think these "MEET THE PRESS Minutes" are the most brilliant thing they can possibly do with television cameras!

Okay, hopefully by now, most of you have moved on with your Sunday, so I am as well! Have a great week, and try to be careful that you don't stumble into Satanic picnics in Delaware, okay? THEY ARE A HASSLE!