TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Hello everyone! Welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog! My name is Jason, and I was wondering: where were you when Michele Bachmann won the 2011 Ames Straw Poll? Or, as the Associated Press, put it, when "XXX" won the Ames Straw Poll, because the event was so unimportant in the larger scheme of things that the same thing ("Saturday's outcome suggests that XXX has a certain level of support and, perhaps even more important, the strongest get-out-the-vote operation and widest volunteer base in a state whose caucuses require those elements") was so easily said about all possible contenders that there was no actual need to determine the strongest get-out-the-vote operation or widest volunteer base using actual reporting.
Well, it was pretty much assumed that Bachmann was going to win in Ames, so much so that we're set to get a steady dose of Bachmann today because she was booked everywhere. We'll see if any reporter calls her on her pro-default stance. I'm guessing no!
At any rate, the real winner of the Ames Straw Poll is anyone who does not recall its existence, For everyone else, I can only offer you the chance to send an email, leave a comment, or follow me on Twitter. Shall we begin?
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
So, in case you haven't heard already, Michele Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll, squeaking it out over Ron Paul, whose vote total was a personal best. Tim Pawlenty finished third, and everyone says he's finished. Why? He did better than expected! Well, the problem is, people aren't sure they want to give money to him. TPaw was followed by Rick Santorum, who also did better than expected, and Herman Cain -- whose moment, I think, has peaked.
Rick Perry finished sixth, as a write-in, and Michele Bachmann should enjoy this moment, because Perry could absorb all of her support.
Here to enjoy that moment, for a minute or two, is Bachmann. Chris Wallace starts things off by apologizing for that time he called her a "flake." Because that was a devastating way to talk about a woman who said she wanted to stop the debt ceiling from being raised, and cause the United States to default.
Bachmann says that the straw poll proves that people want change in Washington -- specifically, no raise in the debt ceiling and no giving Obama a "2.4 trillion dollar blank check." (It's either a check for $2.4 trillion or a blank check, Michele.) Specifically to her, voters, she believes, recognized that she was a leader and lone voice, for extreme financial illiteracy, I guess.
What about the argument that Ames voters don't reflect the wider base? Bachmann says she's expanding her base just fine, and she claims that Democrats are coming up to her all the time, wanting to vote for her.
Wallace brings up Perry, and his "similar outreach to values voters." Also: his record as governor. Pawlenty, in losing the argument of experience versus speeches against Bachmann, has set Perry up pretty nicely to make the same type of attack. Bachmann repeats what she said when this came up between her and Pawlenty at the debate: she's demonstrated that she is a "fighter" in Washington. Also, she's a "federal tax litigation attorney" and started a family business with her husband (deprogramming gay people).
Wallace takes a different tack -- exploring how willing Bachmann would be to be a "practical politician, open to compromise." This could be an interesting set of questions. How would she reassure the markets by steering important bills through a divided government? Well, she's not planning on having one! She's planning on having a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. So that's your answer!
"Housing prices are flat, they're falling." What she going to do about it? I mean, we have a ton of useless housing inventory! She's not suggesting that we re-inflate a housing bubble, is she?
Wallace asks again, what if you don't have a veto-proof majority in the Senate? Can she work with Democrats? She says yes, because of that one time she repealed an education law in Minnesota. Is Bachmann willing to "accept half a loaf?" "As long as you're making progress, you're going in the right direction."
Wallace brings up that time at the debate that everyone on stage raised their had when asked if they would walk away from a debt deal that featured ten dollars in cuts to one dollar in revenue. Had I been the moderator, I would have followed that question up like this: "Keep your hands in the air, please, until I get to a ratio you wouldn't walk away from. 12 to 1. 15 to 1. 20 to 1. 25 to 1. 30 to 1. 50 to 1. By the way, I am happy to do this for the next hour. Don't presume I'm going to get bored!" And then I'd go up and up and up until everyone was quite literally in tears.
Bachmann says though, that the cuts are illusory and that future Congresses are not bound to the current one.
Wallace asks about her contention that S&P's decision supported her contention that the debt ceiling should not be raised. He goes on to point out that a "big part of their decision" was the fact that "people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default...this kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns."
Let me translate: S&P got spooked because there were enough people in DC, talking about how destroying the global economy would be a good thing, or not matter. One of those people is Bachmann. And she keeps saying it over and over. Now, as Jim Newell points out, it's inconceivable that a President Michele Bachmann won't raise the debt limit. BUt there are only two choices now: either her promise to never raise the debt limit again is a false one and she knows it, or she really, really intends to default.
Amazingly, on top of all this, at the same time she calls for "Default! Default! Default!" she says the downgrade is Obama's fault. Michele, a downgrade from S&P is just the amuse bouche at the Banquet Of Demise that you have to eat if you default on U.S. debt.
Bachmann rejects the notion that she is responsible for the stuff that S&P fixated on. "Let's make a distinction," she says, "I never talked about default." She did though! She talked about NOT RAISING THE DEBT CEILING. Point blank: that signals a willingness to default. If she doesn't understand that, then her grasp of economic matters is a fantasy.
Her "plan" to avoid default, such as it was, was basically a plan to stick your fingers in your ears and start shouting, "I DON'T HEAR YOU ECONOMIC COLLAPSE! WE'LL BE FINE!!"
The downgrade is apparently Tim Geithner's fault, because he said that wouldn't happen a long time ago, before it became clear that people were crazy enough to court a downgrade by holding the debt ceiling hostage.
Bachmann says that Obama was irresponsible to suggest that military personnel wouldn't get paid in the event of a default. But...they wouldn't! How is it irresponsible to warn of the possibility? Would it have been more responsible to just stop sending paychecks altogether? Or send paychecks that would bounce, as Bachmann suggests she would have done?
Wallace points out that she's wrong and that following her plan, she'd have had to cut 68% from veterans' benefits, the FBI, IRS refunds, Medicaid, UI benefits, and others. She says, "Doesn't that tell you how bad off the United States is?" But this doesn't answer the question. She wants to have "growth." At the same time, she wants ALL THE CUT MONEY in the debt ceiling deal to be cut immediately. How do you take that much money out of the economy and get growth? You rely on faeries and leprechans, that's how.
Bachmann hates the stimulus, but she'll take the money! She signed an earmark pledge, but she advocated for earmarks. Wallace reads her pro-earmark stance back to her, and she just insists that a transportation earmark is not an earmark. Things that Michele Bachmann, Congresswoman, does NOT want are earmarks. Things that she DOES want, are freedom.
Bachmann is pretty sure that she can win this race, and will win this race.
And then Wallace spends, like, seventeen minutes thanking her for coming on a Sunday news show, on the day she'll be on all of them.
ANd it's Panel Time already, with Bret Baier and Stephen Hayes and Matt Strawn, who chairs the Iowa Republican party and is basically in charge of throwing this whole Ames Straw Poll shindig. Juan Williams gets a week off from being belittled publicly for millions of dollars.
Oh, hey! Tim Pawlenty is out of the race! He will throw his support to...well, can you throw no support to somebody?
Bye-bye Tim Pawlenty!
Baier says basically that Pawlenty is out of money and out of luck and nobody's happy. "He got fewer votes than Sam Brownback did," says Baier, because that's significant, I guess.
Strawn says the race is still pretty fluid, but it's not flowing around Pawlenty, it's flowing in the direction of Rick Perry. Hayes says that Pawlenty's mistake was over-reading the polling on electability, that didn't take his actual ideological views into account. "He was downplaying ideas...for the sake of electability, and it didn't work," says Hayes, and I think that's a pretty good point. But I'll maintain that his biggest problem was that he chickened out from the fight with Mitt Romney, and spent two debates groveling or apologizing for one thing or another.
Baier says that the Bachmann campaign demonstrated an organizational ability that surprised everyone -- and that it was the combination of little things at Ames that got her the hundred or so votes she needed to beat Ron Paul.
Strawn says that while Perry will have to answer to Iowa Republicans for skipping Ames, that he doesn't feel like the straw poll got bigfooted by Perry. And that's probably good enough to absolve Perry for being a distraction this weekend...the blessing of Matt Strawn.
Is Perry the next Fred Thompson, though? Hayes says that "the people criticizing the Texas economy have a tough argument to make." We'll see about that. That said, Hayes is pretty much dead right when he says that Perry will be all about the American exceptionalism. Perry and Bachmann, today, are heading to Waterloo today. You probably won't see Mitt Romney in the state ever again.
What does the chair of the Iowa Republican Party think about Democratic President Barack Obama's chances in Iowa? Well, duh, not good. But on substance, the Democratic enrollment in Northeast Iowa is down, and the GOP keeps outpacing the Democrats in voter registration. Strawn safely bets on Iowa being a toss-up.
Baier says that Obama re-elect can and will make good hay of the "no negotiations" marker that the GOP field laid down at the debate the other night...and tie them all to COngress, which has terrible approval ratings at the moment.
Obama's major problem continues to be with independent voters, who did not, as many (idiots) imagine, bounce back into Obama's corner after the debt ceiling deal. The belief among many (idiot) touts, was that at the end of the day, Obama would be seen as "the only adult in the room." But it's safe to say that what an adult would have done was signal way at the start that anyone who had anything but a clean debt ceiling bill to be signed could go right the hell on home. (That's what Bill Clinton did at the first whiff that someone might play games with the debt ceiling. How'd he do among independents?)
Hayes sees Obama's pickle as needing to make an argument to independents that doesn't leave the Democratic base glum. Know what? Telling the debt ceiling hostage takers "NO!" would have sufficed. Do you want to know how independent voters feel about not dealing with the Bush-era tax cuts until December 2012? The same as the Democratic base: not happy. Think independent voters thrill to the thought of the Super-Committee?
Yes. You find yourself in need of an "argument" to make in front of independent voters, after you have opted out of taking the "actions" and performing the "deeds" that would have kept them in your camp in the first place.
Matt Strawn, in trying to sum up Iowans, says that the refusal to raise the debt ceiling was a key issue in Iowa, and he understands the "uncertainty" that's keeping jobs from coming back. Does he understand that a significant contributor to the "uncertainty" was the fact that there was a debate, for months, over whether or not is might be a good idea to default? Or that "uncertainty" is a natural by product of watching a room full of lawmakers confuse "the debt ceiling" which relates to "bills you've already agreed to pay" get conflated with future spending?
I'm going to choose to believe, despite Strawn's insistences, that Iowans aren't actually all that stupid. (And in truth, no one anywhere is dumber than Representative Paul Broun (R-Geor.) on the concept of the debt ceiling.
What does winning the Straw Poll mean, to the GOP field? Strawn says that it's "the first game of the season." It shows that Iowa voters are motivated. Has there been an Iowa party chairman, ever, who would have ever said, "You know, Iowans just aren't feeling it this year?"
The top tier, per Wallace, is now Romney and Bachmann and Perry, with Santorum proving himself a surprising dark-horse. Baier says that the fact that Pawlenty bailed proves that the Ames poll is a serious enough event. (It's pretty sad, because as Hayes points out, Pawlenty really did have a first-rate ground game.)
THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR
Jake Tapper is holding it down in Ames, Iowa for This Week, this week. And this week, This Week has Bachmann and Pawlenty and paneling with George Will and Laura Ingraham and Matthew Dowd and Kay Henderson and Amy Walter.
How bad did Thad McCotter do yesterday? His last-place 35-vote finish doesn't even merit a mention -- even when Tapper announces who "brought up the rear" (Huntsman). That's sort of amazing, because McCotter was at least THERE yesterday.
So, here's Tim Pawlenty. Is he disappointed? Yes. But he had a great time, complaining about things. He didn't get any "lift," though. So he's out.
Now, Jake will go to the set of questions he'd prepared marked, "TIM PAWLENTY #FAIL."
What went wrong? "There's a lot of factors that make a successful campaign." Like people willing to fund it, of which none remain.
Tapper asks TPaw if he thinks that the GOP base just doesn't want a guy who talks about his ability to work across the aisle. He just congratulates Bachmann and Paul and says that "it's a long journey," and suffice it to say, his "record as a two-term governor was not sufficient."
Why did he not just skip Iowa altogether? Basically Pawlenty got locked into an Ames-or-bust narrative, and so destiny led him here, to lose. Of course, it was the media that led that story.
Does he think that Bachmann would be the "reckless" pick for President? Pawlenty leaves it at "We'll see" -- all the candidates will "get tested." "What looks certain this summer will look different next summer...a lot of times you see a weaker candidate get stronger and a candidate you thought started strong falls by the wayside." He says that Bachmann is "qualified to be president." He does not know what the future holds for him.
I can't help think about what might have happened if John McCain had selected Pawlenty and not Palin as his running mate. I don't think it would have helped McCain win in 2008, but imagine the profile boost it would have given TPaw!
And now Michele Bachmann is here. She wishes Pawlenty well, and says that he was a good competitor and a good voice in the race.
Tapper frames their differences as her being the "uncompromising Repubican" and Pawlenty being the "compromising Republican." That's a distinction that wins you Ames. "But why would a moderate Republican vote for you," asks Tapper.
She says, again, that already bunches of Democrats say they are voting for her. Believe that at your peril, I guess!
Tapper suggests that Rick Perry may be the category-killer in the race, in that he occupies the same social conservative terrain as Bachmann while also being able to claim a long executive resume. So why pick Bachmann over Perry? "I've been in Washington fighting these fights...I was the tip of the spear." That's kind of a problem though, the GOP base sees the shaft of the spear and the thrust of the spear as coming from outside the Beltway. And honestly, all this talk of spear-tips kind of skeeves me.
Tapper isn't quite sure she's made her case, but Bachmann insists that the fact that she's led the way in Washington will ultimately make her more appealing than Perry.
Bachmann says, basically, who cares if you are a governor. What made Reagan great, she says, was that he had core principles, not that he was a governor. "Jimmy Carter was a governor but I doubt many people would say the country flourished under his presidency." (Bachmann and her husband helped to get Jimmy Carter elected, ironically enough.)
Tapper points out -- through Rick Santorum -- that her debt ceiling position was outrageous and irresponsible. But she sits there, pretending that the debt ceiling has something to do with future spending, and rehashing the same arguments from before: we won't default because we'll promise not to!
She wants to reform entitlements and systems, which is swell. None of that has to do with the debt ceiling. All can be done through normal processes. Michele Bachmann can introduce her plan to "modernize" Social Security as soon as Congress is back in session.
Tapper asks if she still believes that being gay is "personal enslavement." She says, "I am running to be POTUS, I am not running to be anybody's judge." But she signed a bunch of pledges in which she's "judged" LGBT citizens as not being worthy of equal protection under the laws of the United States!
"I ascribe diginity to all people, no matter who they are." That's from the woman who's family business is a deprogramming mill, for gays.
Would she appoint a member of the gay community to her Cabinet? She dodges the question, but it needn't be asked, as there cannot possibly be anyone from the gay community who wants to work in the Bachmann administration.
Bachmann says that she's not going to focus on Perry, she's going to focus on Obama. That's a smart strategy: it's what Romney is doing. That's the standard for frontrunning -- acting inevitable -- she needs to try to match it.
Time for paneling. Looks like Amy Walter is not here.
Will says that the Ames Straw Poll has yielded two winners who are "not apt to be nominated." "Bachmann is this year's Huckabee," he says, and the intensity of Paul's support is "in inverse proportion to its size."
Ingraham believes that Perry will train his sights on Bachmann out of the gate. Oh, but where's the fun in that! Who doesn't want to see how Mitt Romney contends with Rick Perry? That's the big draw right now! Kid Meticulous versus the Secessionator! The Flip-Flop Bot against Governor Godzilla. It's literally a match up between a guy who's not in any way authentic and a guy who's drunk the Federalist kool-aid so HARD for so LONG that his heart's no longer pumping blood!
If Perry focuses on Bachmann, big mistake. He can drain away her support just by acting natural. He shouldn't allow Romney to be above the fray, like everyone's done so far. He needs to pull Mitt into the swamp.
Dowd, who says that now the race is down to three candidates, says that the GOP base are into passion over reason, heat over organization, and the establishment party has almost no control over the race.
What happened to Pawlenty yesterday? Tapper points out that all signs pointed to TPaw having an organizational juggernaut. Henderson says that Pawlenty supporters ate his food, wore his t-shirt, and then voted for Bachmann, or somebody else. "I think I've seen this movie before," she says, "It's the contest to be the not-Romney."
Will figures that Perry trumps Bachmann on multiple fronts -- pointing out that Texas money funds GOP politics like nobody else. Ingraham agrees, and points out that the old Texas Bush bundlers have stayed silent, thus far. Dowd does take up for Bachmann, saying that she's running a great race, and her organization is showing tremendous potential. Tapper notes that Bachmann has real retail politics skill. (But, can't Perry match Bachmann's ability?)
Will: "It's very hard to win a nomination without being able to fire up the GOP base." Perry and Bachmann can do that, "there's no evidence" that Romney can.
Dowd figures that Perry's liability -- reminding people of George W. Bush -- doesn't manifest itself until a general election match-up. Till then, he's not to be underestimated: "He was the Tea Party before the Tea Party was cool."
Amy Walter is here, Kay Henderson is gone.
So the stock market has been freaking right the hell out. And, more importantly, people are out of work. Will gauges the Fed's actions, in keeping interest rates at zero for the next two years as a tacit admission that they don't believe recovery is going to occur. Can the President do anything? Walter says that legislatively, he faces roadblocks.
"He has to do something new and bold that gets beyond the same old talking points," says Walter, essentially telling us nothing besides what the first slide on that PowerPoint presentation might say. Dowd says that the only thing Obama has left in his "tool belt" is to "reinstill confidence in the people who invest in the economy."
Okay. Here's the thing -- we have given many, many trillions of taxpayers dollars to big banks, in the hopes that they would start investing. (Some of that was disseminated through TARP, but a chunk of that has been paid back so everyone could keep paying huge bonuses. The big bailout money, that few people note, came from the Fed.)
Those many, many trillions of dollars have not led to new investment. Why? Because everyone is still carrying toxic assets on their balance sheets. And everyone is marking those assets to "fantasy" and not to "market" because if they were marked to market, organizations like CitiGroup would be immediately revealed as a zombie bank, and other similar revelations would follow hard upon.
Everyone who is currently marking their terrible assets to fantasy knows this. And as they absorb capital, they hoard it, against the day that the final reckoning is to be had.
Put simply, to get where Dowd thinks we need to go, we need to keep shoveling money at banks, until such time as the hole in the balance sheet is completely filled. Once it is, heck, maybe they will start "investing" again! Maybe, they'll take a trip back to the derivatives casino, because they know that Dodd-Frank is pretty toothless.
Either way, they way we get to "investing in the productive economy" is through 1) government spending in the form of stimulus, 2) government spending in the form of more massive bailouts or 3) performing a ritual incantation. What everyone -- and I mean everyone, including the president -- has decided to do is remove billions and billions of dollars from the economy instead, to "get our house in order." The debt ceiling deal is projected to cost the United States 1.8 million jobs.
So, with that in mind, we've a ways to fall still. But, if the stock market stops bouncing around, the media can go back to pretending that economic recovery is just a few policy tweaks away, why won't Obama do something "bold?"
It really is weird whenever a panel of pundits, who haven't a single idea in their heads, yell about how someone else has no ideas. To help move this along, how about we start with all of Dan Froomkin's suggestions, on job creation?
Everyone is mad that the President is taking a vacation to Martha's Vineyard, which is one of "America's elite islands." Why doesn't Obama vacation on Staten Island? The "optics" would be so much better.
Tapper notes that Obama has "sharpened his tone" against the GOP, casting them as the roadblock against his job creating ideas. Two problems with that: he's not saying "the Republicans," he's being coy and saying "some in Congress." And that's wimpy! That's wimpy like saying, "Yeah, okay, I'll be the first President to negotiate with debt ceiling hostage takers, sure! That sounds like a great idea!" is wimpy.
More to the point, though, is that he's not putting forth ideas for the GOP to block! Whatever he wants to do, he should try to get his allies in Congress to execute it. He should let the country observe and absorb the sight of his efforts getting stymied. He should make the case, "The reason we can't improve the economy is because the GOP has decided they resent my existence in office so much that they are willing to sacrifice your well being." But he actually has to take the steps in the real world to make this evident. Right now, he's saying, "Well I would try things, but they'll just get blocked." Not only does that ensure that your case against the other side never leave the realm of the theoretical, but it makes you look diffident and despondent.
I PROMISE YOU THAT INDEPENDENT VOTERS ARE NOT ATTRACTED TO DESPONDENT DIFFIDENTS.
But wow. This is the White House that will fire anyone who calls Mitt Romney weird!
Ingraham isn't sure the GOP can mess up beating Obama, but says that coalescing around a single candidate as quickly as possible. Dowd isn't as sure: he sees no "Reagan" in the field, and notes that it's just hard to overcome the advantages of incumbency.
Walter: "What's different this time around is that we're not in traditional times." She goes on to cite unemployment. She wins my "Someone made some sense today, on the teevee" award.
Now there's an ABC news montage about Iowa. It's mainly about goopy, disgusting things being fried, on sticks. I'm not against this, believe me. In Denver in 2008, I was overjoyed to have some Rocky Mountain Oysters, myself. Anyway, Iowa: corn and butter and stickmeat and politics and sunshine.
David Axelrod believes that as "more and more GOP candidates mortgage themselves to the strident wing of the party" they make it harder and harder to win a general election. Meanwhile the media was mortgaging themselves to cover Sarah Palin, who is not running for President.
More montage: Rick Perry decided to run for President. He hates Washington, DC.
Mike Huckabee talks up Iowa: "When a candidate goes through Iowa, they go through one of the toughest political filters in the nation." Micke Huckabee went through that filter. He won the Iowa Caucus! And the only thing that stopped Huckabee were these other tough political filters called "Every Other State In America."
Jake Tapper got to report on the Herman Cain bouncy castle. That segment will one day be in the Newseum, if not sent into space to inform alien races what this planet is all about (bouncy castles, stickmeat).
FACE THE NATION
Norah O'Donnell is here, in for Bob Schieffer, so that's exciting! Perhaps this hosting gig is in O'Donnell's future, somewhere down the line.
Anyhoo, Michele Bachman is here, she has "great respect" for Tim Pawlenty, but he lost, that's that. She "looks forward to talking to him," possibly about his endorsement, which she couldn't possibly need or want. Bachmann: she is the "tip of the spear," I'm still somewhat uncomfortable with that metaphor, not entirely sure why. Anyway, Bachmann, as she's said before, believed she is the "strong voice in Washington" fighting for what's right, and that's better than being a strong voice in Minnesota or, now, Texas.
How does she respond to the fact that many Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling, contra Bachmann's insistences, and that -- in fact -- half of the Tea Party caucus voted to raise the debt ceiling as well. "How did you provide leadership if they disagreed with you?" asks O'Donnell, in a terrifically shrewd question that I bet Tim Pawlenty wishes he'd have thought to ask!
Bachmann says that she "brought that voice into Washington" and that's the voice of people who...said that they wanted the country to default and for there to be a collapse of the global economy? Well, I suppose those folks deserve a voice in Washington.
Bachmann is on a collision course in Waterloo, today, with Rick Perry, who is going to be boasting of the "Texas miracle" job creation story. So how does Bachmann compete with that? What's her, "Here's how I created jobs" counter-story? Bachmann...uhm, brings up that she was a tax attorney? O'Donnell asks, "Was that creating jobs?" Bachmann says, "Sure, because I understand how high taxes destroy jobs." Also, she and her husband started "our own successful company." "I am a job creator," she says.
What would she do to create jobs in the short term? Oh, she's repeal the tax code. There's nothing "short term" about that though. That's a two-year long lobbyist orgy.
O'Donnell wants to know what she would do to end unemployment, working with a divided Congress. Bachmann can only say that Obama worked with an "all-Democrat Congress and look what we got?" WHat is she referring to? The Dow's fluctuations of this week. Which occured in a divided Congress. The downgrade from S&P, which occured in a divided Congress. WHich occurred because she led the charge for a downgrade! So, there's no answer to the question, "What will Bachmann do with a divided Congress."
O'Donnell goes at Bachmann with the S&P citing "brinksmanship" as a cause for the downgrade: "Do you feel responsible for that brinksmanship?" Wow: O'Donnell is just one difficuly question after the other, and what, four consecutive questions focused on the jobs crisis or with unemployment in the frame? I made the right decision to watch this show instead of Meet The Press.
Bachmann says that she offered a plan "to tell the markets there is no problem with default." That's like telling residents of tornado alley that there is no problem with ominous clouds on the horizon. Bachmann's naive faith doesn't trump what experience and logic teaches. That's not a plan. Hope is not a plan. And then Bachmann misconstrues the "debt ceiling" with something that pertains to "future spending."
Bachmann says that she would "call Congress back" and say, "we will get that triple-A credit rating back" and they'll do that...by "announcing to the market that we won't default" and "paying the military" with potentially rubber checks, et cetera. Okay, that wasn't a good plan back then, when "just loudly insist that bad things won't happen" was your debt ceiling plan. But O'Donnell has asked you in terms of what would you do now, and specifically cited the debt ceiling deal as "water under the bridge."
None of this makes sense, in terms of answering a question of what she'll do now, to spur job growth.
O'Donnell asks if Bachmann really went into tax law because she was being a submissive wife. I think that most people treat this as Bachmann was roped into becoming a tax lawyer by her husband's desires before-the-fact. Has anyone stopped to consider the possibility that maybe the submissive wife story is what Bachmann herself tells to give her past job choices some coherence after-the-fact? Anyway, Bachmann says that she means "mutual respect" as "submission." If you might, in any way, consider voting for Bachmann, then she has no wrong answer to this question. On the other hand, there's one thing that unites everyone who doesn't like to hear Bachmann talking about being a "submissive wife": they would not have, on any level, for any reason, have cast a vote for Bachmann, at any time in their lives, full stop.
On the Newsweek cover, how does she feel about the "QUeen of Rage" headline? It didn't impact her in any way, she says.
Now, here's Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who I guess will be the single non-Republican/non-reporter I'll see today on what's been another fantastically balanced Sunday morning discussion of politics.
What does DW-S think about the "withering" criticism from Rick Perry? Not much! She is proud of the way Obama took on the health insurance industry and got health care reform passed, got the economy out of freefall, and...uhm, "took on the banks to ensure that Too Big To Fail wouldn't happen again?" This happened, in America? Because I must have missed it.
O'Donnell poiints out the unemployment has gone up, and more people are on food stamps. So how can DW-S argue that the Obama administration has made things better? But relying on old tropes mainly: Obama inherited a recession, he saved jobs, the previous administration had failed policies that took a long time to reverse, etc. But the economy is not in freefall, and though we have a long way to go, we just need to work together, blah, blah.
How does she create a contrast between Obama and Perry? DW-S says that Perry doesn't deserve credit for job creation because a) rising gas prices created oil jobs that he had nothing to do with, b) two wars created jobs in Texas that Perry had nothing to do with (but shouldn't we end the wars, because of the deficits, and also because we aren't winning those wars, but now they are essential to fighting unemployment, which is...I don't know, "scary?"), c) Perry took stimulus money which helped his bottom line. "It is way overblown to suggest the job creation in Texas is a...result of [Perry's] policies."
In two years, Obama's approval ratings have fallen off. O'Donnell asks if he's in trouble, DW-S says that Obama's in great shape, and that the GOP will cost themselves in their race to "out right-wing each other." DW-S says that the GOP is being "strangled" by the Tea Party. But that arrangement worked out great for them in 2010.
Panel time, with Dan Balz, Gwen Ifill, and John Dickerson. Dickerson says that this weekend has changed the pace of the election and re-ordered the race with a definitive top-tier trio of Bachmann, Romney, and Perry. Ifill says that what's new here is a fierce debate for the base between Perry and Bachmann, while Romney stays aloof.
Is Perry, as the Boston Herald's headline suggests, "Romney's worst nightmare?" Balz says yes, provided he actually perform with skill, and quickly. Dickerson says that there isn't often a "Superman" candidate that works, because there's a quick battle to fight offense and defense while simultaneously playing catch-up. It's possible that Perry needs to make a demonstration of viability very quickly, or the hype will fade just as fast. Balz points out that what's going to be the new challenge for Perry: actually having to contend with independent voters, from states other than Texas. For Perry, that's going to be like encountering a new species of animal in the wild.
Dickerson suggests that a quick emergence of Perry might help Obama's chances -- it allows him to mount the "another Texan" argument, while simultaneously allowing him to narrow his fire.
Okay. So, there you have it! The sixth Ames Straw Poll is in the books, and it's claimed the life of Tim Pawlenty, just as the media demanded. Also, thousands of people's gullets are swimming in stick-butter. Plus, Obama will be making the case that we should do something about jobs, if only it were possible, which it isn't, so know one will be doing anything. And Bachmann's plan to avoid default is to use a Jedi mind trick on the market. And Meet The Press was on today also. So that's your Sunday. Everyone please be well and have a great week.
[More liveblog is coming next week. In the meanwhile, as an antidote to all of the glib comparisons between the recent riots in London, please check out the criminally underappreciated Maria Bustillos' and her "Los Angeles, April 29 - May 4, 1992."]