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TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

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Well! Today is going to be a special little snoflake of a day because of the whole Juan Williams thing, isn't it. It's going to be a day when his FOX NEWS SUNDAY brethren gather together and almost treat him as an equal, and maybe not do that thing where they cut to a two-shot immediately when he begins speaking to reveal Bill Kristol, looking at him as if to say, "This, FOX NEWS SUNDAY audience, is the biggest idiot in the world."

What to say about ol' wan Juan? I'm very surprised that he's become a cause celebre. Here we have a guy that I didn't much think about until I started doing these liveblogs and got to know him for the first time. He was, to me, a sort of dull-witted guy who seemed to like mostly liberal stuff a lot. And his passion and enthusiasm ran far ahead of his intellect, and so consequently, he seemed to be passionate about stuff without being able to convincingly argue for it.

And then came this day where he said something moderately dumb about Muslims. And he didn't mean to be defamatory, he was just using his irrational fear of "people in Muslim garb" as a way to get Bill O'Reilly to like him. "Maybe if I can excuse Bill's worst behaviors, he will smile at me." Of course, it came out all wrong: instead of Juan saying, "I have this prejudice and here's what it taught me," he said, "I have this prejudice and it's pretty much awesome if you want to have it too." Subsequently, he's been going around saying "I was fired for telling the truth," but he really should say, "I was fired for telling my truth," but that's not "the" truth from my perspective and a lot of people. People are allowed their pathologies, and I understand it's human nature to try to force your pathologies upon other people, because community-making is a human-being-thing. But you have to recognize that subjective experience is not a "truth" beyond those that experience it.

Here's a pretty good tumblr that critiques Juan on this point. Me, I sort of wish that Juan had been on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 2009, because how would it feel today to be prejudiced against people who look like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, i.e. the people Juan Williams wrote about in books about civil rights.

Of course, what about NPR's particular pathology? Here they had a guy in their employ who apparently they didn't much like (and who didn't much like them). NPR really needed to man up and make a change or else have an exchange where they aired this stuff out and decided how to proceed. Instead they waited until Williams said the sort of moderately dumb thing about something that had gotten a whole lot of other people fired without much forethought or responsibility (the only novelty is that for the first time, someone was saying something moderately dumb about Muslims and NOT getting away with it).

That's sort of what NPR should be shame-faced about, today. They really should have conducted themselves like professionals and talked to this man's face about their problems. They really should have simply confronted some moderately dumb ideas with someone who could dispense some moderately smart ideas, because why not simply converse, as free people in a great nation, instead of firing the people who we're not sure we like? And really, NPR, does it feel good that all "people in Muslim garb" ended up being, to you, was a convenience by which you got rid of someone you didn't really like? I wouldn't run around pretending that you stood up for some sort of principle, if I were you.

Anyway, I think Tom Scocca summed up this moment in our lives the best:

So NPR fired Williams. This makes them look like prissy tyrants to Fox News, and it has Republicans yapping about cutting their funding. But this just demonstrates another one of the asymmetric assumptions surrounding the Fox News operation: why should NPR care what the Fox News audience thinks about it? Fox News looks like a bunch of idiot cavemen to the NPR audience, and it wants to look that way. NPR's disgust makes Fox News swing its caveman club around even more proudly. So why can't NPR be just as proud of offending Fox?

Who loses here? NPR gets rid of Williams, which it always wanted to do. Maybe it loses some funding for being so un-American, and Archer Daniels Midland will have to come back and help out. Williams gets $2 million and becomes a prize martyr for Fox News. Fox News has something to yell about. Howard Kurtz has something to offer evenhanded semi-opinions about. I get a blog post at the end of a long day. Why did Williams get fired so fast? Because everyone was having such a good time.

Here you go, Juan. A song that will define you, in some months time. You made the best of it. You made the best of it. You made the best of it.

Anyway, hello and welcome to this special little snowflake Sunday, which I now have to make coffee for in order to face. My name is Jason and as always, while I type words fast, you can leave comments or send an email or follow me on Twitter. Congratulations to all fans of the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants!

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

There's only nine days left until the midterms, after which we can all start giving a crap about the 2012 elections, which is what everyone wants to really get into. Plus, Juan, Juan, Juan! "When does political correctness become censorship?" asks Chris Wallace. Well, I don't know, but maybe we should wait until someone gets censored? Because Juan Williams didn't get censored, he lost a job. Presumably, he had the full freedom to speak his mind to whoever wanted to listen.

But first, we're going to talk to Pat Toomey, the creepy guy running for Senate in Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, who shoots legislation with guns.

Toomey's "big lead" in the polls has vanished, because of Sestakmania. Toomey says, "Heh, heh, I don't think we ever had a big lead," as his Frankenstein face crinkles into worry lines. He feels like the Democrats have spent most of their money trying to defeat him.

Is Christine O'Donnell been dragging Toomey down? Toomey says no, that Sestak is trying to run against O'Donnell because he is so extreme himself. And, apparently, O'Donnell is less extreme than Sestak. Wallace asks Toomey to state where he disagrees with O'Donnell and it takes him one or two tries before he says OH YOU KNOW THERE WAS SOME AMENDMENT STUFF.

Per a videotape, Toomey is against no corporate income tax, which Wallace says, "SERIOUSLY?" Toomey backs off, saying that he was just trying to prove a point about corporations garnering taxes from their customers, which is a lot like saying that you support shooting the sun out of the sky to prove a point about daylight.

What is Toomey going to cut to make way for the four trillion that extending the tax cuts to the very wealhiest would add to the deficit. Toomey says it's not clear this would add to the deficit, because what if you were some kind of moron who believed in unicorns and faeries and numbers and math that does magical things not currently witnesssable on Earth, by humans? Toomey "really believes" it will expand the economy, so just clap your hands or the terrorists get Tinkerbell. (He sort of doesn't remember how that age of tax cuts were an age where job creation failed to keep up with the expanding workforce.)

He will abolish earmarks! "That could be a big item," Toomey says, apparently unaware that it won't be a big item, to the budget, at all.

"Those things I added up will amount to several billions of dollars," Toomey says, leaving $3.3 trillion to be cut, by his army of magical teddy bears and elves.

Younger workers, Toomey says, can participate in a Social Security system with choice! Choice one: keep giving money from your paycheck to seniors. Choice two: invest your money in the stock market with a whole lot of moral hazard, knowing that if you screw the pooch and lose your life savings, you are getting a government bailout. So take risks! JP Morgan needs your bad decisions today to stuff into a hedge burrito, to take bets on!

Meanwhile, Joe Sestak, what does Toomey think of him? Uh, he's the suxxors! And is to the left of Pelosi, and likes Americans to have healthcare. Toomey really doesn't like Sestak's idea that KSM get a civilian trial in Pennsylvania...I didn't even know that's a thing we were talking about doing! It's too bad they tore down Veteran's Stadium, because we could try KSM in the circuit court for drunk Philadephia Eagles fans!

Toomey says the GOP will take back the Senate, and he will win, which means I'll be looking forward to crossing the street every time I see this deeply creepy guy walking up the sidewalk. OH NO, I SAID SOMETHING WEIRD ABOUT AN IRRATIONAL FEAR OF MINE, FIRE ME, NPR!

And now, here's Joe Manchin, who kind of looks like Han Solo, spliced with Joe Theismann's DNA. He'll be bringing his rifle and his think, Brillowy hair to Washington, if he can defeat rich, Randian pifflemonger, John Raese.

Wallace says that the West Virginia race is crazy-strange, because West Virginians love him, but he's not pulling ahead of Raese. Manchin can't explain it, but he thinks that finally, people are starting to come out to support him, because he's got the pablum about bringing people together.

So, Manchin has been running against Obama, because West Virginians hate Obama. Wallace wants to know where Manchin disagrees with Obama, and because this show is for Washington elites, and not West Virginians, he says that "Obama will not be on the ballot" and they "just respectfully disagree with each other on issues" like cap and trade. So he will not be shooting things with guns on the teevee, today? Drat!

Manchin, "I've always been patriotic...supplied the energy for this nation." Are we talking about you, personally, powering the nation? Or is this just the coal we destroy mountains to get to.

Machin is "for health reform: because there are "vulnerable" people in West Virginia (who die in coal mines!). There are things that he likes about health care reform, but they "reached to far' for things "in the weeds" of the bill. By which he means, "the individual mandate," which he claims to have "not known" was in the bill. Of course, the health care reform bill is a mimeograph of Mitt Romneycare that differs only in that it expands into Federal programs that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts isn't allowed to monkey with, like Medicare. And what is Romneycare best known for birthing into the world of healthcare policy? The individual mandate! So, Joe Manchin is basically admitting that he doesn't know even the most basic things about modern health care policymaking.

Obviously, cap and trade is looked upon negatively in West Virginia, because of coal. I wonder, sometimes, what would it cost for us just to buy out the entire coal industry?

Anyway, Manchin says coal pollution can be fixed with technology that doesn't exist yet, but could, if we only wanted it to.

What about John Raese? Is he a legal resident of West Virginia? SHOW US YOUR BIRF CERTIFIKAT, RAESE! Manchin says that the "legitimate question" is whether Raese has real interest in helpign West Virginia.

Raese hates the minimum wage, and Manchin doesn't, because it's the floor that people with second jobs depend on. Also: LASERS IN SPACE, which I think would be pretty great, myself.

Anyway, now it's time to talk about Juan Williams! Mara Liasson is not here, because, AWKWARD? Instead, we get Nina Easton, reporting live from the plutocracy, and Brit Hume and Bill Kristol and Juan. JUAN! WHASSUP? It's your day, dude!

Apparently, Mara has "long planned to take this day off." Heh. Okay.

Anyway, Juan Williams isn't really a bigot -- this is a solid case of the old AVENUE Q-ISM, "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," which I think Hamilton at Gawker has already invoked -- and it was really mean of the NPR lady to suggest that he's "unstable." So I'm with you, on that, Juan.

Juan has a little monologue. And NPR's "news analysis versus opinion" firewall obviously doesn't hold water with me. Let people be human beings, I say. (And how does Mara Liasson work, in this equation?)

Anyway, Juan Williams is slightly more interesting to listen to, talking about himself, than he is about anything else he usually talks about.

Brit Hume isn't happy about this either, the whole opinion thing, because other NPR-ites have also expressed opinions. NPR just doesn't like Williams, which is understandable, because he's not very good or smart, but you have to confront that head on and deal with it. Hume's wrong about this being a Fox News thing, because, hello! Mara Liasson, much? He's also weird about his whole "Juan is a Bill Cosby liberal thing," because where else are "Bill Cosby liberals" going to go, if not NPR? (The one they have on Fox News Sunday, for example, is cast in the role of "incompetent foil to Bill Kristol." The role is played by "Juan Williams.")

Conservatives in Congress want to cut government funding from NPR, which gets a teensy amount of money, and is a threat that's credible in these recessionary ages. But Americans love their Car Talk and their Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and their "Prairie Home Companion," so it will be okay.

Kristol says NPR is arrogant and lacking in self-awareness. And, uhm...my mind is right now, spinning and warping! Chris Blakely! Chris Blakely! Help a brother out:

Is there anything better than when Bill Kristol (in his most humble and modest tone) lectures us plebeians about the dangers of arrogance and especially the perils of being so lacking in self awareness that people can actually be completely unaware of their arrogance?

These insightful observations, courtesy of Mr. Kristol, are but one example of the "candy" (low-hanging fruit) that Jon Stewart spoke about in a recent interview with (ironically) NPR's Terry Gross when answering a question about the writing process on The Daily Show.

Oh, kay! That ends La Chanson de Juan Guillauimes, le liberale du Bill Cosbie.

Okay, so, stuff that maybe matters to people? Hume says that the race is tightening but that the GOP looks solid to capture the House, the Senate is tougher, this is nothing that you couldn't say on the teevees yourselves for money, but ask yourselves, do any of you possess the blockbuster, combustive, personality of Brit Hume, sex-machine?

Nina Easton hates the unions! And by the slim pickings they are able to steer toward electioneering, it totally undermines the case that billions of dollars from shady sources are bad for America. (Though unions are not anonymous, and they have much less money.)

I think that the major story about how much money gets into our elections, is that it points out how rare it is that anyone has the sort of good idea that sells itself. All of that money is essentially turd polish.

Juan thinks the exact same thing as Hume, just less convincingly, but it's his birthday today, and so Fox News Sunday waits a full minute before cutting to the Bill-Kristol-is-totally-laughing-at-you two-shot.

Juan Williams gets to have the last word today, because he is the special snowflake. Goodbye!

THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW

Yes, ha ha. I got the yen to watch this show today because I had to go to the Apple Store yesterday, and I was like, "Where's John Heilemann, to explain politics to me? It's Saturday afternoon and I've been drinking whiskey sours all day!" And everyone looked at me like I had grown three heads. (Much later, I learned that I had actually been in a Chico's, and not the Apple Store, as I originally thought, which explains why my iPod doesn't work.)

Anyway, today we will ask the question: "Is it easier to win delegates than create jobs?" THAT'S THE LEVEL OF THE DISCOURSE. Happily, we are here with Dan Rather, and Katty Kay, and Cynthia Tucker, and Andrew Sullivan, fresh off the mound in Philadelphia, where he retired the Phillies' top bats in the bottom of the ninth inning to secure a World Series berth for the San Francisco Giants!

Anyway, Obama: why isn't he doing more to help Democrats. Is it because the Democrats are bad or because he is bad or is it the natural historical tide of off-year elections combined with a bad economy. What? It's the last one? And that presidents aren't magical? And that contra many wags, the deftness and skill of Bill Cinton was of no use when he faced similar headwinds? And that once people started having jobs again they really liked him? That's the answer? So we can all move on? And maybe plan to grab brunch somewhere? Well, actually, that would be really fun, for us all to go to Perrys or something together. Anyone need a sitter? Oh, we could just come over, and bring a potluck or something. In fact, I've got some old childhood books that your kids would love! I'll put those in a bag, too. So, hey, everyone, let's say 1pm, bring your own -- OH CRAP SORRY, CHRIS MATTHEWS IS STILL TALKING, PARTY IS CANCELLED.

Dan Rather says that the election in Massachusetts proved that the White House is "tone deaf," because the clearest symptom of tone-deafness is the existence of Martha Coakley, who wouldn't talk to votes and who didn't know what the "Red Sox" were. Katty Kay says that Obama promised to change the world of politics, and because we are still left with a Congress full of dicks and fools, that's totally his fault. WHY DIDN'T BARACK OBAMA USE HIS HEALING TOUCH TO TURN BEN NELSON INTO A SOLON AND CHUCK GRASSLEY INTO AN EISENHOWER AND ERIC MASSA INTO...well, something less lumpy and creepy and bad touchy.

Andrew Sullivan says that this is all not really a rebuke of Obama but a widespread dissatisfaction with the economy. Remember: Andrew Sullivan is the only person who ever truly fought for our right to come over and have a potluck brunch together!

Did he get it wrong when he sent Christine Romer out to say that unemployment would be 8%. YES. THAT WAS DUMB. Cynthia Tucker seems to think that Obama squandered really high approval ratings from Inauguration. SO HAVE EVERY PRESIDENT. Sullivan defends him. Kay wonders why Obama's achievements aren't getting more credit. Rather says, "because unemployment is high." Tucker says, "No, he's not good at playing politics." No: unemployment!

Kay wonders if he could have gotten through the past period without health care reform, and been better off. I say, no, it was his signature campaign issue, and the thing that everyone who voted for him expected him to do. Sullivan gets into the stimulus argument, correctly pointing out that without it, we'd have unemployment in the 15% range. Rather says that Obama "could have fought for a bigger stimulus," and I agree with that! But realistically speaking, you need to disassociate the idea "could have fought" from "could have got." I think the president would have benefited from emptying his chamber of every round in getting the best possible stimulus package, but that doesn't mean Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe and Evan Bayh wouldn't have ultimately suceeded in doing what they do best -- which is drizzling their suck-ooze all over public policy.

One of the things that sucks about voting for President is that you can only vote for a President. You don't get to vote for the sixty Senators and the 218 Representatives you really need to get things done. And every four years, presidents sort of have to come and say something definitive about what they will do, in all of these policy arenas, when they really cannot do a damned thing, unless you happen to be bent on starting a huge war -- in which case you no longer have to listen to Congress at all. Getting it done is a measure of how much hell you are willing to raise, and Obama wasn't willing to raise all that much, Q.E.D. here's where we are today.

(The whole fact that you really don't get to vote for 51 Senators and 218 Representatives, but can be very easily deluded into thinking it's possible, is a key reason I think that the Dems do a better job turning out their voters in Presidential elections. Democratic voters often just don't think small enough!)

The President, Rather says, "didn't make jobs priority one." But the stimulus did address jobs, and health care addressed punishing household debt, and anyway, how do you "make jobs priority one?" Pass the "Make Jobs A Priority Act of 2010?" WAKE UP AMERICA, JUST HIRE SOME PEOPLE, PLEASE?

Now we are presented with the image of the GOP having sexual congress with the Tea Party, or something? Since the two are actually one and the same, let's remember that this is something that Christine O'Donnell is very much against! But maybe it will be difficult for the establishment GOP to chillax with the Rand Pauls and Sharron Angle's of the world.

Sullivan says that the GOP is "riding a tiger" and Palin is "licking her chops," and it sounds to me like this all should be sponsored by Mutual of Omaha.

Rather says that the Tea Party candidates will be "told to shut up" but they "won't listen" and will subsequently cause problems. But why can't John Boehner just introduce them all to some lobbyist pals and their duffel-bags full of money? That's the sort of thing that quiets discontent, very quickly.

Sullivan thinks Palin will eventually go ahead and win the GOP nomination. Kay thinks that's the one circumstance that could bring Michael Bloomberg into the third party candidate mode. Rather thinks Palin will be the nominee, too! God, that would be sort of nonsensically fun, wouldn't it? But I think Palin will run for President with an eye on losing the nomination. She's a quitter, but she loves being rich, and losing the presidential nomination combines the best of quitting with a whole new slew of lucrative opportunities. So I disagree with Sullivan, Rather, et al., Palin will run but will do something to ensure she ultimately comes up short of the nomination.

Okay, stuff Chris doesn't know! Rather says some stuff about electronic vote machines are dunzo in Europe, because they're unreliable. Kay tells him there will be GOP fractures over defense spending and social issues. Tucker says that there may be more Republicans of color in the next Congress. Sullivan says that Obama has realized that he won't be able to end DADT in the next Congress, but has reserved disacharge power in five Pentagon officials who will oppose DADT discharges, so he's got DADT in a stranglehold, without ending it. (THIS IS STILL A POWER THAT CAN BE ABUSED, SO, NO TICKER TAPE PARADES, OKAY?)

The big question today is: Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez and Helen Thomas. Are media companies too quick to react to heat? DUH DAN RATHER SAYS YES. Kay says that "we have to be careful" talking about Muslims in a context that would be not kosher (ha ha!) in terms of any other group of people. Sullivan says the firing was abrupt, but slags Fox News to boot. Obviously, the correct answer is that the media is perhaps the most quivering bunch of fragile, thin-skinned cowards that you'll have the misfortune to have to interact with, ever, in your lives.

I recommend, in situations like Williams/Sanchez/Thomas/Weigel/Nasr, that people just wait 72 hours. Give yourselves three days to make a decision. Let all the howling idiots -- who are really just as wussified as the rest of your colleagues -- have their three-day bray. Let it burn itself out. I promise you that every three days in America, someone else cocks something up so massively, that the press can't wait to cover the shiny-shiny. (I should write a book, premised on the fact that we can count on 120 monumental f**k-ups each and every year.)

Anyway. Wait three days. When the circus has moved on to the next pre-crucifixion pageant, do something very quiet and very smart and you'll be golden.

MEET THE PRESS

This show is just the WORST! Remember how two weeks ago they were going to start their "special series" on Senate debates, and they did two of them? Well, that's over! Does "two" count as a "series?" Anyway, we have Michael Steele (does he even count as the leader of the Republican Party anymore?) and a bloated roundtable of everyone who NBC could find laying around: David Brooks, E.J. Dionne, Harold Ford, Rick Santelli, and Rachel Maddow. It's like, Rachel Maddow against the Rich People Things today. And speaking of, I really enjoyed Rick Santelli in this video:

(Buy my friend Chris' book!)

Michael Steele exclusive time! Nothing like hearing from the one figure in the GOP pantheon who's had nothing at all to do with their coming success. He's subjected to a long video of Obama campaigning. Naturally, he thinks Obama "sounds more like a pity party than a rally." I imagine that is the most compelling thing I'm going to hear from Steele during this entire segment. I'm resisting the urge to press fast-forward.

Anyway, Steele thought Obama was mean to the GOP, the way he only incorporated some of their views into laws, and stopped short of just letting Mitch McConnell write the health care reform bill in its entirety.

Steele says that the coming wave will "surprise a lot of people," bringing up an underreported election year issue, the "lot of people" currently trapped under rocks and heavy furniture without access to teeevees.

Gregory, being the challenging interlocutor that he is, confronts Steele with...Christine O'Donnell! SUCK ON THAT, MICHAEL! A candidate that will have nothing at all to do with anything other than a Delaware Senate seat. Anyway, Steele says that he has 'foot in mouth" disease, and has said some stupid things too. Here's an example: "I think she would be." That's Steele, responding to the question, "Would Christine O'Donnell be a good Senator?"

Anyway, Nancy Pelosi says that the GOP winning would make our democracy into a plutocracy or an oligarchy and, oh, sweetie, that ship has sailed! Have you met Larry Summers and Tim Geithner? Good Lord.

But, whoosh! Special interest money washing into the election cycle, is Steele worried? No, because no one's presented any evidence that this is happening, because the system now prevents evidence from coming out. And why would Steele worry about it, when it benefits him. It's the GOP's saving grace, after his monumental reign of error over their traditional fundraising apparatus.

Is not disclosing the donors a problem? It's a good question from Gregory, given the fact that Steele just said, "put up or shut up." Nice work, David. Steele says it's a fair question, and the "put up" side of the equation has to come from Congress. Steele says he's "all for transparency," he's just not particularly interested in fighting for it.

Now they are talking about Juan Williams. Not even remotely interested in what Michael Steele has to say about this. Again: this dude was a guy who loves liberal stuff without being able to present a convincing argument for that liberal stuff. Having to take an interest in Williams is like having to take an interest in every sophomore at Brown University.

We're back to politics. What does the midterm say about 2012? Steele says some vague stuff about leaders emerging and harbingers and possibilities and the prospects of picking up more seats. Also, the two parties have "two different philosophical views of the country." Did you know that? Steele is here to tell you! Also, Steele is against the debt, so long as it's not his party running up that debt, and he hopes we can get back to running up the "good debt." Also: SOCIALISM IS BAD, give the rich people more money so they can make wealth, in investments in the non-productive economy of shadowy derivatives trading.

Fred Barnes says Michael Steele is "irrelevant" and Steele disagrees. "I said I would be a different kind of chairman," Steele says. And he was! A terrible chairman! And really, I think that Fred Barnes and Michael Steele should dress up in Halloween costumes and pummel each other with nun-chucks, for our amusement. I think a lot of Republicans would pay good money to see that, actually!

Panel Time, and then we can all go about our lives, again!

Have there been any questions on today's chat shows about the truly horrific reports found in the latest Wikileaks dump? #relevanceless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Ha, ha, no Ana Marie, because Juan Williams is ABU GHRAIB TIMES A MILLION BILLION!

David Gregory reads a bunch of polls, for like, a half an hour.

David Brooks says that the GOP is doing well on the national level but that locally, it is mixed. Everyone hates politics this year and so people are "flipping a coin."

Maddow says that the original Dem-turnout diagnosis has turned out to be incorrect. She doesn't think the country has changed that much, but it sure seems to me that the people she recognized as voters in 2008 have changed in that they are going to be outnumbered at the polls.

Is the country scared? Santelli says that the president doesn't act that fearful and that much of the fear was 2008, and now incumbents are going to go down, and those people are the ones with the fear. The Fear! I have a fear, and it's 30 more minutes of this blandness.

Dionne says that the Democratic candidates he sees succeeding are the ones talking about why they voted for stimulus, but this is because he's not looking at districts where the Democratic candidate is talking about the stimulus being a big mistake.

Harold Ford says that Obama is doing a good job reminding voters why they voted for him, which would be great, if this election was about voting for him and not about voting for, say, Alexi Giannoulias.

Now, David Gregory wan't to "dig in on some issues!" So: outside money! GO, DAVID BROOKS! HERE'S A VIDEO OF MICHAEL ISIKOFF TO WATCH!

David Brooks says the money is "tremendously corrupting in Washington" but the question is, "does it affect the electorate?" UHM, ONLY IN THAT THEY ARE STUCK WITH PUBLIC SERVANTS THAT ARE "TREMENDOUSLY CORRUPTED!" But because it has a negligible -- or, really, an unmeasurable effect on the horse-race politics -- it is of limited interest to the media. (Maddow points out that 72% of the voters are actually concerned about the non-disclosure of this money...probably because of all the corruption.)

Santelli says that any money in elections is a bad thing, and I'll happily agree to that.

Ahh, one reason I'm glad so many people watch MEET THE PRESS is that they get to sell so many ads that take up a huge chunk of the show's latter half!

Meanwhile, back to the panel!

David Gregory, on the O'Donnell-Coons race: "By the way, she's behind! Not that you'd know because of the way the media has covered it." YOU CAN STOP IF YOU WANTED TO? Anyway, Rick Santelli thinks that having a bunch of functionally illiterate candidates who think the Constitution says some stuff from TWILIGHT novels and cereal boxes running for office is GREAT. And how weird is it that everyone responds negatively to them!

In Nevada, everyone hates everybody! Maddow doesn't care for Sharron Angle. The GOP had to help her out, with money. People should Google their opponents. Harry Reid's powerful message is that he is not Sharron Angle! (Of course, he actively rooted for Angle to be foisted on Nevada voters, rather than face Sue Lowden.) No one is right and no one is sorry, that's the start and the end of the story.

Crimony, now David Brooks is asked about what Fortune Magazine things about budget balancing. It's like they focus-grouped topics and pundits that would bore me to death.

What does E.J. Dionne think about Juan Williams? Dionne has thoughts, none very original. Fox is terrible, NPR is a great news organization, when they are not stupidly firing people.

"Rick, does this belong in the campaign?" Wait, this is part of the campaign? "I don't think this is going to alter the election." Santelli goes on to say, "Maybe we can put some people we trust in [Congress]. And maybe they're not gonna fit the normal mold. That's a good thing. And maybe if we trust them, we'll actually pay higher taxes and we won't feel bad about it." Consider the weirdies running for Senate, and then quickly look away before credulity gets shot in the face, Dick Cheney style.

Maddow sort of nails this: "On this issue that the American People just need to be told that belt-tightening is the right thing, [and] we just need the right politicians...it makes a lot of sense here at Meet The Press. But in the real world, when you talk about the real politicians, and what they're actually putting out there, the prototypical, Tea Party fiscal conservative candidate, right? Is probably Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio's economic plan right now is to add three and a half trillion dollars to the deficit. That's what he's proposing. And he's being marketed as the fiscal conservative outsider new guy.

David Brooks, Harold Ford, and E.J. Dionne toss a few more pieces of crap punditry into the mix before the next commercial. (Brooks is excited about Chris Christie and his skyrocketing approval rating, which, when last counted, finally hit a staggering 51%!) I think that the right fart in the right elevator can get a 40% approval rating, depending on the economy.

Predictions: Ford says Dems will hold both houses narrowly, if a whole lot of things happen. Santelli says ANTI-INCUMBENT RAGE. Maddow says it's going to be closer than they think, but a lot more red. Brooks says 52 seats in the House for the GOP. Maddow says Fox's "XTINE O'DONNELL SHOW" will be a big hit. (And honestly, I give O'Donnell some credit: she is really, really good on teevee...a natural.)

David gregory will be moderating the Florida Senate debate on Tuesday, so get ready for all of that hairstyling!

Okay, that's that! Today, by the way, is the first day of my fourth year at the Huffington Post! Which means I've been doing these livebloggy thingies for nearly three years (it took a few weeks before we alit on the idea of me doing this fast-typing thing on Sunday mornings). I'm really very thankful to be here. I'm grateful to have editors and bosses who have, for whatever reason, come to believe that giving me all this editorial freedom is a good thing. I feel very lucky to have so many wonderful co-workers in two cities who constantly amaze and inspire. And I'm really extremely fortunate that so many of you have coalesced around this weird little liveblog of these terrible Sunday shows, to hopefully trade recipes and birthday cards with each other, when we are not talking about the politics. You guys really, really make my day! So here's to a fourth year of snap judgments and coffee and comical typographic errors!