MEDIA

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

05/15/2011 08:45 am ET | Updated Jul 15, 2011

Good morning and welcome, one and all to this week's rendition of the fast typing snap judgment semi-live blog of your Sunday Morning Political Talk Shows And Grab Ass Fiestas. My name is Jason, and because I just generously assume that since all of you come here for your Sunday politics that you all have lives, I'll let you know right now: Mike Huckabee is running for President. [WAIT, WHAT? SORRY EVERYONE! He is NOT running for President. UGH. First rule of liveblogging: never start typing until I've had coffee. The sad thing is that most of you probably thought I was setting up some elaborate joke. I wish!]

Yes, yes, it's true: last night, you knew who was cool and who wasn't, and what genetic stock was worth mating with and what was worth avoiding, solely based on whether or not you actually knew at 8:56 on a Saturday night whether or not Mike Huckabee was running for president. That's how awful, as a species, so many of us have become. DO NOT BREED WITH US, I BEG YOU, YOU NORMALS OF AMERICA.

Anyhoo, you know the drill: relax, unwind, make yourself a nice cocktail, and let me type addled summaries of the stuff I see on my teevee! And if you want to leave a comment, have at it. If you want to send an email, be my guest. If you want to follow me on Twitter, that should work out okay for everyone, I'm sure. Let's get this on and over with, shall we?

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

It looks like there will be a discussion of all the latest in 2012 presidenting, with Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. Plus Dick Durbin and Jon Kyl! And some panel people yammering. What a morning in America!

So, Mike Huckabee is not running for President. I learned this by looking at Twitter whilst having cocktails. Other people learned it because they felt obligated to watch his show on Saturday night. I basically beat those people in the game of life. Many of you don't even know or care about the fact that a guy who didn't seem like he was running for president isn't running for president. Maybe you still don't know. Maybe you'll never know, or care. You are the greatest winners of them all. But yeah, Mike Huckabee is going to "take his talents" to his rec room at home, and play bass guitar for the rest of his life.

Why has Fox booked him, then? GOD ONLY KNOWS. Wallace asks him if he wanted to be President? Huck says yes! And that he would have been awesome! But he "believed deep within him that it wasn't the right time." Wallace is like, "what do you mean by spiritual decision?" Huckabee says something about indigestion, and clarifies that God "does not speak to him in an audible voice," but basically God said "NO! NO! Don't run!" And so Huckabee slept "peacefully last night."

This is really a complicated way of talking about the fact that he just bought a big house and needs to pay for it, and wasn't very good at raising campaign money even while God was telling him it was okay to go to the Iowa caucuses.

At any rate, he's not prepared to make an endorsement, but the people in the race includes: Santorum, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Bachmann, Palin -- basically, he hates Romney. Also, "all social conservatives are fiscal conservatives," so, that's maybe a sign that Mitch Daniels won't be earning the endorsement.

Wallace notes that he didn't mention Mitt. Huck says that Mitt sent him a "very nice voicemail." If Mitt gets the nomination, though, he will support him over Obama.

What about that weird appearance of Donald Trump? Would he support Trump? Huckabee would support him over Obama.

Oh, hi, here's Ron Paul. He is running for President. What does he think about the arrest of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, for sexual assault. Paul says it's "ironic" because the IMF is "not my friend." He figures this reflects poorly on the IMF, and maybe we should "look into the IMF" and stop "sacrificing our sovereignty" to them.

Does he believe he's ready to be President? He says that no one has all the answers, and that he doesn't want to run people's lives. Rather, he wants to guarantee the protection of liberty and let people run their own lives.

So, where does that leave people who, say, live in flood-zones and whose lives get devastated in the manner they are getting devastated today? Paul said earlier this week that helping those people wouldn't make sense, so Wallace asks if President Paul would tell those people that they were all on their own. Paul says that he gets more complaints about FEMA than he gets support. He would attempt to manage these programs, and not change them overnight. But he's no fan of FEMA. Nor is he a fan of the government solving anyone's problems.

Wallace points out that this is a big complaint against him. Michael Gerson called it "social Darwinism", to which Paul says, "I have no idea what he's saying."

Paul says that he wants to legalize freedom of choice, enforce states' rights, end all prohibitions, and basically deregulate everything -- and that with everyone left to make free choices, most people will make good choices. I admire his faith in humanity and in freedom, but I think that given the ultimate choice, most people would just eat nachos. And a few a-holes would eat nachos at "whites-only" nacho counters.)

Now they're arguing over Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution -- Paul says "general welfare" doesn't mean start the Social Security program, because that's "specific welfare." He calls that an "extreme liberal position that's been mistaught." Wallace points out that the Supreme Court said Social Security was Consititutional. Paul says, whatever, the Constitution once said that slavery was legal and we had to reverse that. (So, Social Security is like slavery?) "Just because a Supreme Court went liberal on us and expanded a role of government" doesn't mean we can't start limiting it.

Paul told an Iowa radio station that Obama was wrong to go after bin Laden without telling the Pakistanis first. Does he believe we could have trusted the Pakistanis? Paul says, "Well not under today's circumstances," and goes on to say that Wallace distorted his position -- Paul says that he just said that the mission could have and should have done that mission differently.

"I'm saying that when you bomb a country you violate their national security and their sovereignty. At the same time, we're giving them billions of dollars. And you wonder why the government gets in trouble with their people?"

Wallace says that Judson Phillips of "Tea Party Nation" doesn't support Ron Paul. Paul writes Phillips off as a "Johnny come lately" who doesn't understand basic things. Paul is right. Judson Phillips is basically the guy the media tracks down when they want, say, someone from the "tea party movement" to say something negative about Ron Paul. People more firmly affiliated with the Tea Party movement consider Phillips to be a troll and a crank.

At any rate, Paul has plenty of fans that rally around him, so he's not sweating Judson Phillips.

Are you ready for a debate between Dick Durbin and Jon Kyl? Let's hope so. And let's remember that we have no way of knowing, ever, if anything Kyl says is "intended to be a factual statement." Which is his way of addressing the fact that he likes to lie. LOVES THE LYING, apparently.

But, PLEAH, the debt limit. Kyl has been meeting with Fightin' Joe Biden and his Deficit Squad, and reports that their work has so far been "small ball."

Durbin says that everyone should be careful with the debt ceiling because if we "play politics with it" (too late!) it could "plunge us into a new recession." Durbin of course, wants to "look at revenue" and not "privatize Medicare," and having no tax cuts is part of the GOP's hostage taking on the matter. And Kyl comes through immediately by saying that he won't permit any tax increases -- basically ever. Like, until the end of time.

Oh hey, may as well celebrate the fact that the CBPP has updated that chart we all love!

I get a little bored repeating over and over that our short-term deficit is almost entirely not Barack Obama's fault. It's mostly the fault of the Bush tax cuts, the Bush wars, and the financial collapse that happened during the Bush presidency. At this point, though, this is more in the nature of a religious debate than a factual one, and conservatives are going to keep repeating the same tired disinformation about the deficit regardless of any evidence one way or the other.

Still, just on the off chance that a few people are still persuadable on this, it's nice of CBPP to update its chart showing the source of the deficit over the next decade. (Farther out than that, Medicare is largely responsible for most deficit projections.) As you can see, by 2013 or so, virtually the entire deficit is due to Bush-era policies/disasters. So cut this out and post it on your refrigerator.

A problem: here in Washington, DC, we don't have a whole lot of policymakers who think that the war in Afghanistan or the Bush tax cuts are anything other than total awesomesauce, or at the very least, not so terrible that anyone would rick losing their seat over to stop.

Durbin isn't willing to "eliminate" social programs, but definitely is willing to "reform" them. And he thinks that there's a "conversation" that can be had about it. Whoo.

What about expanding drilling, and eliminating tax subsidies for gas/oil companies. Kyl is a big fan of drilling, and offers up my state, Virginia, as one he'd like to see despoiled in pursuit of oil. (I'm guessing, anyway, since he hasn't actually called for tighter regulation on deepwater drilling yet today.) Kyl says that the Democratic party's policies on the matter "will not decrease gas prices one dime." (Neither will the expansion of drilling, of course.)

So why focus on the tax subsidies? Durbin says that you can't possibly have a serious discussion on the debt without talking about ending those subsidies.

Jon Kyl didn't like Obama's "moat joke" about the border fence. "That kind of mocking demagoguery doesn't help to reach a solution," says Kyl, reknowned for "lying demagoguery."

Can Kyl support comprehensive immigration reform? Kyl complains that he and Ted Kennedy authored a comprehensive immigration bill years ago, and then Senator Obama voted against it. Good point. Way to draw a distinction. So I'm guessing that Kyl would still support that bill? "Not today, I wouldn't, because the effort to secure the border was never sincere." Basically, we have to first succeed at ending all sneaking into the country ("turn off the faucets") before we decide what to do with the immigrants that are here. Since there's no way to guarantee perfection in the pursuit of keeping people from legally entering the country, that does establish the impossible standard that Obama alluded to.

Of course, if Jon Kyl hit up his campaign donors for enough money to fund additional marshalls and ICE agents at the border, then Obama should go ahead and permit that. Maybe Kyl could have a bakesale, or something!

Anyway, Durbin says he'll work with Kyl on border security if Kyl will help with reform and the DREAM act. Kyl says that he'll be happy to do that.

So, hooray! Happy ending! Dick Durbin and Jon Kyl will move in together and adopt anchor babies!

Panel yammer time, with Brit Hume and Nina Easton and Kimberly Strassel and Mort Zuckerman. The B-team in the house!

So, did Romney solve his RomneyCare problem? Hume says no. Why didn't Romney just flip his position? He is great at that! That works for him! (He could have also stood up for his idea, but I guess that horse has left the barn, or maybe the barn burned down with the house in it.)

Easton -- who's husband is a Romney advisor -- says that sure, Romney's got problems, but everyone's got problems. Hey, lookit Mitch Daniels, y'all? He's the "flavor of the month" but maybe his budget record under Bush won't be that great! Or TPaw's cap and trade position. Anyway, the unemployment rate is so high! And incumbents with unemployment rates as high as the one that Obama will run with tend to not win elections. And that's true! The Obama re-elect team should not be that comfortable. But they will all privately enjoy watching the rest of the GOP field dig out Romney's innards with shishkabob skewers.

Strassel says that Mitch Daniels actually has less baggage than most of the candidates, but then, Strassel isn't married to a Romney advisor.

Zuckerman also things Romney has troubles. He's a "serious man and was a talented governor," but has the tendency to go from one state to the other and change his positions depending on who he is talking to.

Mitch Daniels' prospect depends on his family and his wife, and Wallace calls this all a soap opera. Hume says that Daniels may be genuinely undecided. He can't divine a decision one way or the other in Cheri Daniels actions. He figures that they are happily married, so who cares about their past being rocky. I sort of feel the same way! But there's another GOP campaign out there, pushing the Daniels' family troubles as oppo, and reporters got around to writing it.

Zuckerman says that Wall Street is "absolutely concerned" about the debt limit and the IMF is concerned too -- so concerned that they're cold sexual-assaulting people, I guess!

Hume says that Wall Street is concerned about the debt, not the debt limit. And that the idea that we'll default on out debt is "nonsense." That's apparently just "scare talk" from the White House. Ha ha. But the White House isn't the one doing the hostage-taking.

This panel, obviously, is full-square behind whatever John Boehner wants to do, so tra-la. I don't even know how you bill this as a "panel discussion." Zuckerman is here, according to Wallace, to be the contrasting voice...of New York City financiers and investment moguls! What? Nina Easton isn't sufficient to the task?

Anyway, the full spectrum of America is represented here: from Boehner fans to Wall Street bankers. All the people who really count. Sorry, poors!

This panel discussion will continue on the web, so if the lemon party videos you typically enjoy on Sunday afternoons aren't cutting it for some reason, go check that out.

THIS WEEK, WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR

Nikki Haley is here today. I don't remember when it was that Nikki Haley became a "key power broker" in the GOP, since it was months ago her entire career was dependent on actual power brokers, but whatever, I guess that's like in America, circa now, you got to please Nikki Haley.

"Her endorsement will be one of the biggest prizes of primary season," says Amanpour, and I guess this is just all about South Carolina having an early primary, and that Haley will be on everyone's Veep shortlist, in all likelihood. Whatever! What does she want in exchange for her endorsement? Besides support in the state's ongoing dispute with the NLRB? Let's find out.

First, the debt ceiling, should it be raised? "Absolutely not," she says. The federal government must "balance their budget like every other state." What about Wall Street and the Fed who say it would be a disaster? Haley likens this to Chicken Littling, and says that governors can balance their budgets, so why can't the Federal government? (Because the state of South Caroline and the Federal government are two different things.)

Is Nikki Haley excited about Newt Gingrich? She once said that he was played out. But now she says that Gingrich is awesome. So why not Gingrich. So, Gingrich is okay, now. Amanpour doesn't quite know how she squares her previous dismissal with her opinion now, and Haley doesn't really help by answering the question.

Is Romney "compromised and not credible" when it comes to being a nominee? Haley says that he could be a fine nominee. He made a courageous policy decision. It's just not one that anyone should want or support. But that's okay! That's guts!

What about Daniels and his social truce? Haley says that...uhm. Nothing. Basically, social issues are cool. Financial issues are cool. Mitch Daniels is cool. News stories that focus on Cheri Daniels are "ridiculous" and distracting (I agree with her on that). Daniels needs to be clear about where he stands on "family values," she says, but his own family life is a stupid thing to harp on. She warns that the "distractions are not welcome in South Carolina."

Also, it is not appropriate to use the f-word in South Carolina, either! No one ever swears in that state. All those hats that say "GO COCKS" are not sold because there's an underlying, outre irony.

There will "always be a place" for Sarah Palin, says Haley, but "now is a time for policy."

Will she be a veep candidate? Haley says no, she wants to be the governor of South Carolina.

So, Mike Huckabee is out! Isn't that crazy? How to make sense of it all? Start by asking George Will and Cokie Roberts and Amy Walter to sit around the Newseum and talk about it. What's to be done, now, about our lives in America, now that Huckabee will just be a dude with a teevee show on Fox.

Will says that Huck was a first tier candidate, now gone -- he was ahead in Iowa and South Carolina, so he was, potentially, the candidate of momentum, as far as the early primary states are concerned. Roberts says that there are plenty of folks who can fill that hole, however. But who? Walter says that Donald Trump was the first to offer thanks (by pretaped message), and will head to South Carolina in short order. But seriously, Donald Trump taking the Huckabee voters? Good luck with that.

Mitt Romney, though! What about him? Will says, "The Romney of the 2012 cycle is hostage to the Romney of the 2008 cycle." And "the tense of his verbs was everything." YOU ARE NOT GOING TO OUT GRAMMAR GEORGE WILL. That's like getting into a land war in Asia!

Will goes onto reject the notion that Romney will benefit from the fact that there's a pecking order. "This is the most wide open scramble since 1940, when Wendell Willkie came out of the woodwork and swept the field." (And lost! Huntsman campaign capo John Weaver already made the Willkie joke, by the way: "This is the weakest Republican field since Wendell Willkie won the nomination on the sixth ballot in 1940.")

Will says that the election is going to either "Obama, Pawlenty, or Daniels."

Speaking of, what's Daniels' deal? Roberts says that he's been a very quiet conservative force in the Midwest and has gotten the outcomes most GOP governors have sought without being seen as a guy who strapped his body with explosives and drawn a lot of attention.

Are we really going to compare Mitch Daniels' love life to Newt Gingrich's? I guess! Roberts doesn't seem to buy it, considering that Gingrich has almost as many religious conversions as he has had mistresses, and that Catholics probably won't buy it. Will says that "Newt Gingrich's problems are so far beyond" his marital woes, and goes on to cite his support for ethanol and his flip-floppery on Libya, and the fact that his criticism of Obama is based on the Dinesh D'Souza claptrap. "This is just not a serious candidate," says Will.

Walter says that Paul Ryan has replaced Newt Gingrich as "the idea generator." That's great news for everyone, I know!

Will the bin Laden bounce propel Obama to the Presidency? Will says "10 points for 30 days, maybe." Roberts says it's likely to change the way people think of him, but it's not something he can win an election with.

Now here's Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Paul Krugman, Sheila Bair and Roger Altman to do a live panel jam about the deficits.

What should Obama do in the face of the debt ceiling threat? Krugman, naturally, advises not giving an inch: if he does, "he's setting himself up for repeated blackmail."

Is it playing with fire? Douglas H-E says that there's no real "desire to hit the debt limit," just a call for "real solutions for real problems." Which involves short and medium and long-term promises (in that case, entitlement reform).

Bair says that both sides of the debate have a point, that debt could precipitate a financial crisis, but that blackmailing on the debt ceiling is irresponsible, and the key is to find a solution that "distributes the political pain equally among all parties. (Hilariously, she says, "There's too much testosterone in this debate" -- and I find it hard to believe that we wouldn't be better off if Bair and Liz Warren and Brooksley Born teamed up to form "The New Committee to Save the World, For Real This Time.")

Altman says he "rolls his eyes" at people who say they won't vote to raise the debt limit, as it's the decisions of prior Congresses that will have precipitated the need for a limit increase. He says, yes, it would be really terrible for the economy. Krugman follows on, and says that it's a potential catastrophe.

Douglas H-E says that the Democrats need to show leadership. Altman points out the the financial community, who are basically Republicans, are also the ones saying, "don't trifle with the debt ceiling." H-E comes back by saying that "9 out 10 Americans oppose a pure raising of the debt ceiling." So, ha-ha, in case you were wondering, demagoguery works!

What's the best case scenario? Altman says there will have to be a serious budget agreement -- a down payment -- to get to a debt ceiling vote. Bair says that the Bowles-Simpson plan was a good plan, and some "down payment" in the short term might restore some overall credibility to the process. Krugman says that it "might be necessary to take this up to the limit," and not give in to the blackmail. Altman says, "I respect Paul, but I don't agree with that," adding, "default would be a profoundly negative step" with long-term consequences.

Krugman says that the enormous budget dispute shouldn't take place with a bomb over their head.

Bair however, says that's a frightening prospect for any number of reasons: we'd lose our AAA rating, people holding U.S. treasuries would no longer be able to hold them, interest rates would spike, borrowing costs would go up, the recovery would stall, etc. Krugman answers that this is sort of the point. That's the essence of the blackmail, and it should not be given in to.

Now we turn to foreign policy and the coming speech from Obama on the Middle East. So here's Robert Kagan, Richard Haass, and Anthony Shadid, who is in Beirut.

What's the best that can happen in Pakistan? Kerry can help preserve some sort of relationship, but it has to be conditional, because of how difficult to trust them. Haass isn't to bullish on the future of the relationship. Kagan says that we should "try to need [Pakistan] less." If the U.S. started favoring India, the Pakistanis might come back to the table.

Haass insists that this should become a different relationship. "We should start banning the words 'ally' and 'partner' when it comes to Pakistan. It doesn't mean you jettison the relationship. We just have to become more sober and critical and conditional here." I feel that Haass has this matter pretty square.

Out to Shadid: is there any sense that the Syrian government will step back from their violent pushback? Shadid says that they are in pure "survival mode" and won't compromise from anything other than a "position of strength." We'll see the violence continues, and it stands to be unpredictable.

What are the people in the Middle East looking for from an Obama speech? He says it will be a challenge for Obama to have a role in the Arab Spring without being seen as a major part of it -- the fact that these uprisings were an organic product of young dissidents and not a push from the United States. Going back to the first Iranian uprising, one thing that keeps coming back is that heavy-handedly stamping the American brand on these events was seen as a bad thing. One of the worst things about being involved in Libya is that we've altered the expectations. How do we stay out of Syria, exactly?

Haass says he's not a fan of the term "Arab Spring" because it pre-supposes a positive conclusion while suggesting that the world can get reordered in a season's time. It will take "years, if not decades" for these events to play out, so Obama has to lower expectations, set the table so that people understand that the U.S. involvement may be different in a lot of cases. "He almost has to sell inconsistency, in a way that ensures it won't be confused with hypocrisy."

Kagan says that Obama also has to speak to the American people, and the American people need to know that this moment will have a large impact on our lives, and that we "cannot let it pass" despite our problems at home. And we need to be "on the side of the people, not on the side of the dictatorship."

Post bin Laden, will the Islamic world be one of less radicalism or more? Haass says that the uprisings make it clear that bin Laden wasn't an important figure in the lives of everyone throughout the Middle East, and that creates an opportunity for the President.

Kagan says that the reality is that in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is going to have a larger share of the government, and that the United States will have to have a "varied attitude toward Islamism." "There's bin Ladenism, and there's Islamist parties that may be compatible with democracy."

Israel-Palestine? Kagan says it's "just fine that there's no progress" on that, because right now, most of these nations in the Middle East are dealing with matters closer to home.

MEET THE PRESS

Meet The Press is going to interview Newt Gingrich and then feature a panel discussion with, among others, David Brooks and Mark Halperin and Peggy Noonan and Matt Bai, proving once again that this show isn't so much produced as it is dredged from a swamp and smeared on your retinas. You know how I know torture isn't an effective means of interrogation? I watch this show almost every week and haven't yet given up my darkest secrets.

So, Newt Gingrich. Let's meet him, as if he's never left. (Because he never has, he's been on this show 35 times, which is like a normal person being on a normal show 3,500 times. Also, you age in dog years when you watch Meet The Press interview someone who basically has the keys to the studio. You also get dog diseases, which is why I will spend an hour getting de-wormed after the liveblog is done today.

Why does Gingrich want America to give him a "second chance at a life in American politics." Because we are "at a crossroads" and this will be "the most important election ever," and this will be about "history," and "to not seek to help would have been a failure of citizenship." SO BITE IT, EVERYONE NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT! You are all failures of citizenship.

I would like to meet a candidate who is just, "Whatever, this isn't the most important election ever and we're not at a crossroads, I just really want to see what the thread count on the White House linens are, really bad."

Gregory reads Gingrich some of his own books, and asks if he would tell his colleagues to not threaten blackmail on the debt ceiling. Gingrich says that Boehner's plan is great, because it insists on making the president give ground to their demands, while at the same time insisting that the president give even more ground to their demands. And in that way, it is a constructive and bipartisan solution!

Should the GOP buck public opposition and turn Medicare into a system of vouchers (that get less valuable as time goes on, until you might as well just toss the voucher in the toilet)? Gingrich says, "right wing social engineering is no better than left wing social engineering," and there needs to be a "national conversation" that begins with doing stuff that he's already written a book about. Paul Ryan, he says, is too big a jump. He's also opposed to ObamaCare, duh.

Will Gingrich ever raise taxes? He says, no. That is, at least, honest. Most people come on this show and imply that it's crazy to raise taxes in the middle of an economic downturn, when naturally they also think it's crazy to raise taxes at any other time, and Dave Gregory just sits there like a mop-handle that learned how to read book-excerpts aloud on the teevee.

Gingrich says that during his speakership, he brought the unemployment rate down under 4 percent? I am quite sure that's not true!

Ha, I'm right, of course. Gingrich's House career went from 1979 to January of 1999. By the end of 1999, the unemployment rate finally hit 4% (per the Bureau of Labor Statistics), and it did briefly dip under the following year, but...no. Gingrich was never responsible for bringing the unemployment rate under 4 percent.

Memo to the people at Meet The Press: I was instantly skeptical of this claim and it took me about 90 second to fact check it, so I'm assuming that within the next two minutes, David Gregory is going to push back on it? Let's wait and see!

Ha, no! Gregory even broached the topic of unemployment (and caught Gingrich's racial dog-whistle on food stamps, which Gingrich of course is outraged about anyone even mentioning.) But no, no one at NBC is that interested in fact-checking Gingrich's claim to have lowered unemployment to 4%. At any rate, Gingrich says he will create jobs at the rate that Rick Perry did, and not the "Detroit path" that Obama is on. (Gingrich, at the very least, doesn't think GE should pay no taxes, but let's remember that the GOP hates GE because Jeffrey Immelt is a White House ally.)

Gregory takes up the ObamaCare debate and his Gingrich's love for individual mandates. But Gingrich says that Obama did something different when he created a "federal system." But, he says, there are ways to do it that makes "libertarians happy." Gingrich, frankly, gives Romney a lot of cover on this issue, even if Gingrich won't come out and say so.

Gingrich doesn't believe that Pakistan could possibly have not known about bin Laden's whereabouts, and would rethink the entire relationship. And a rethink of the entire confrontation of radical, quasi-Islamic death-cults as well, it seems. Gingrich says, "I do not think that a boots-on-the-ground/predator drone" system is going to work. "This is not a statement on President Obama, it's the whole system, including the Bush administration has underestimated the depth of the problem and the challenge that we face."

Gregory asks Gingrich about his "temperament" and his backing of the koo-koo, D'Souza, Kenyan anti-colonial hilarity as the right way to "interpret Obama," (who, lets recall, has both "boots on the ground" and is raining down violence from Predator drones, just like an anti-colonialist).

Gregory basically paints Gingrich's remark as the workings of a not-too-smart mind. Gingrich starts be pointing out that it wasn't his remarks, they were D'Souza's, and his book was "interesting," and everyone was having a "discussion."

Gregory pushes on, however, asking if Gingrich is going to pimp the idea that Obama is not "on America's team" or is "anti-American." Gingrich says that he thinks Obama "loves America" it's just that he "has a different vision of what America is." Somehow, for some reason, Gingrich is going to cite Libya as an example, saying that Obama's overcited the UN and the Arab League, and hasn't talked enough about American exceptionalism. (Gingrich, of course, has been ALL OVER THE MAP and contradicting himself on what to do on Libya, but cluelessness in pursuit of an outcome is no vice as long as you believe America is supereffingawesometothemaxtimeinfinity!

Now we have a boring part where Gingrich discusses the fact that he's gone from being a "gadfly" to a guy who maybe wants to be President. Gregory notes that he's in the middle of the pack, polling-wise, with high negatives, especially in the whole schtupping of various ladies arena. Tom Coburn, of course, kind of hates him (if I were Gingrich, I'd parry that be bringing up Jon Ensign).

Gingrich says that he's made a lot of mistakes but is all right now, so he promises he won't step out on his current wife. Gregory asks if we're supposed to take Gingrich's "I was so patriotic about America that I had to cheat on my wife" statement as a sincere act of contrition, and Gingrich says, "No, but that was 15 seconds out of a long interview."

Gingrich says that everyone has the right to ask whatever questions they want about him. Spoken like a guy who's basically cognizant of the fact that he won't win, but will greatly enhance all of his political ventures financially with a presidential run.

Will Mike Huckabee's voters come to him? Gingrich says that they will probably go to a lot of places, and that Huckabee will remain an important figure to the conservative movement.

Will Gingrich "run on the right, govern from the center?" Gingrich doesn't know, but he thinks Reagan was swell! He'll govern from the center-right. "You can't have a hard-right presidency that will succeed," he says.

Who's the front-runner? "I suspect it's Governor Romney." Is Trump a serious candidate? "Possibly?" Would you entertain the idea of being vice-president? "David can you think of a single candidate that would have me on the ticket with them?"

Let's tunnel our way into and out of this panel discussion, shall we? Gregory is joined by Matt Bai and Mark Halperin and Peggy Noonan and E.J. Dionne and Helene Cooper.

GREGORY: What did we learn about Gingrich?

HALPERIN: He knows what he needs to do to win! He should be Presidenty!

GREGORY: Really? What about his tendency to say and do nutlog things?

HALPERIN: The GOP is pretty much nutlog, though. Gingrich needs to be a little nutlog! He also needs to dial it back.

GREGORY: Does Gingrich deserve a second act?

DIONNE: He's always wanted to run for President so I'm glad he's doing it, it will be neat for him. He will be a "good-natured" nutlogger, and he'll also keeps racial dog-whistling, wow this is so neat! WENDELL WILLKIE REFERENCE. The field is so wide open.

GREGORY: Matt Bai: you write things, for magazines, right? Because that's neat! So what's up with Obama? Does he love America? Or will he destroy us?

BAI: Your questions were so totally awesome, David. I want to take each one of those questions out behind the studio and get them pregnant. But Gingrich is a walking contradiction, and yet he's also thoughtful and historical, but has the tendency to "dive into the currents of extremism."

(Which I guess are usually found in the labial folds of his mistress??)

GREGORY: But Gingrich isn't like crazy about Paul Ryan or willing to take a poop on the individual mandate!

COOPER: Today we saw a Newt Gingrich who was in control and not prone to hyperbole.

GREGORY: Now it's Peggy Noonan's turn.

NOONAN: The green room was silent! People will stop and watch Gingrich. God, he is so transfixing! He is like watching God move over the face of the waters (and subsequently, cutting their taxes). The youngs are going to finally get to know him, too! I just bet that soon they will be on their twitterdecks, saying, "Damn, Newt Gingrich is like the Nicki Minaj of tax reform policy!"

(Of course, who was in the green room? Peggy Noonan and Matt Bai and Mark Halperin and E.J. Dionne and Helene Cooper. So Noonan is basically saying that most days when they come to Meet The Press and are in the green room, they don't pay any attention to the show, at all. Today, the fact that they chose to watch the show they were participating in is supposed to have some larger significance in America.)

HALPERIN: His new wife is going to be front and center in his campaign! I can't wait to train my patented misogyny on her!

GREGORY: Wow, here's that Huckabee clip again. What a compellingly crazy turn-down of a White House run! Of all the people to not be running for President, only Mike Huckabee was rewarded by divine ecstacy for his decision. The factors say go! The heart says no!

(The pancreas says maybe! The spleen says that he wishes more people understood what he does. The stomach says I'm hungry. The brain says we wrote a book about how satisfying your needs constantly was a bad thing. The prostate says tick tick tick tick tick tick tick...)

DIONNE: Huckabee occupies two bits of space at the same time! He is like Scott Bakula, leaping around the universe, saving lives and solving mysteries!

HALPERIN: So likeable, so Christian, and so populist! He's like a delicious sandwich. A sandwich who refuses to be eaten, by Iowans.

GREGORY: WASN'T IT AMAZING, THAT DONALD TRUMP WAS ON THE TEEVEE? OMG!

COOPER: My blackberry exploded! I got so many emails, about other people, sending emails, to Mike Huckabee!

GREGORY: Why does no one have fire in the belly? I want to see some bellyfires!

BAI: The president is likeable. Maybe it's better to run in four years. Maybe a lot of things.

NOONAN: The people on the ground think the GOP can win, the elites think they can't.

GREGORY: Here's a clip of Bill McInturff, talking about how bad the field is. Mark Halperin, go nuts!

HALPERIN: The race is unsettled! OMGZ TRUMP! OMGZ DANIELS! OMGZ MAYBE CHRISTIE! OMGZ PALIN! (But probably Mitt Romney is the frontrunner.

GREGORY: Romney! Look at that nerd, with his PowerPoint presentations!

DIONNE: Romney should just fully embrace his plan, but he won't because everyone associates it with ObamaCare. (And the primary electorate will be a crazy, right-wing, red-meat eating faction of Romney tormentors.

COOPER: The White House totally loved Romney's speech, and sent it valentines.

GREGORY: Obama's polling will get a slight bump from bin Laden, but has weakness on the economy. Aren't I right about that, because I've read it in a lot of places!

BAI: You are right. The White House hopes that people will just like him and wish him well, even if everything is going wrong.

GREGORY: But OMGZ! Unemployment! It's something that only affects candidates for office!

HALPERIN: That's right. That's what unemployment is. But Obama isn't competing with "strong political athletes." They can't do the political high-jump, or a lot of political pull-ups. Don't ask them to run the political 50 yard dash, they just can't do it. A few are good at the political shotput, I'll give them that. But they are just not good political athletes.

GREGORY: Dude, this show is so awesome! Look at Tweetdeck! Isn't Tweetdeck neat? This is going to be a thing we do from now on -- show Tweetdeck! Because it's so awesome! AND OMGZ MATT BAI, YOU TWEETED SOMETHING ABOUT MY SHOW! LOOKIT! LOOKIT! You see that Matt Bai! You tweeted something! Wow. Wow! You want to talk about that time you were in the green room and you were tweeting about being in the green room, tweeting!

BAI: THAT IS SUCH A BIG TWEETDECK.

GREGORY: SO BIG.

BAI: SO BIG! Anyway, Gingrich will have a hard time resisting the "dark current" of his political brain.

GREGORY: What about Lindsey Graham? He said some things about Obama and foreign policy.

COOPER: Afghanistan won't be as big an issue as I thought it was. Pakistan could "surprise us" and take over as an issue.

(Good thing that Obama said in 2008 that he wouldn't dick around with Pakistan diplomatically if he thought there was a terror target he could take out within its borders, then!)

Mercifully, that's it for this show and it's terrifying, Godzilla-sized tweetdeck. There you have it, then! We have some new presidential candidates! Maybe now America will like them? If not, we'll have Mitch Daniels and Jon Huntsman making decisions soon. Maybe that will work? Who knows. I just know that it will continue to excited Sunday pundits, like the testicularly tased.

So, have a great week, and wherever you are, I'm rooting on your behalf for some gorgeous springtime weather. And by the way, if you missed the campaign rundown that Elyse Siegel and I did, click here. That goes up every Friday evening, so look for that.

[The Sunday morning liveblog returns next Sunday, yay! While you wait, I have lots of cool stuff on the internet for you to see and/or do. For starters, you may have heard something this week about rapper Common freaking out the rubes over a poem that everyone misunderstood rather comically. Want to come correct? Rap Genius will explain it to you. You may have also heard that Paul Ryan and his budget plan have been set up as a foil to the President and his fiscal policy. But have you read an out-of-work music critic review both men's plans? You have now. Do you have a Republican governor? Would you like to know if he or she (but it's mostly he, even in 2011, isn't it?) is planning on running for President? Alex Pareene points to five signs. Finally, all discussions of food stamps and the policies that govern their distribution should begin with LaToya Peterson's take on the matter.]

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