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TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

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Good morning, one and all and welcome once again to your Sunday Morning liveblog. My name is Jason and things look to be shinier than ever now that Rick Perry's jumped into the race, splashed around a little bit, threatened Ben Bernanke with corporal harm, and got everyone watching from the side of the pool to wonder, "Are you sure Paul Ryan won't run?" There's still plenty of August left for rumor and sigh and speculation after all!

As always, I listen to the loud sounds and the puzzling lights on the teevee screen so you can opt out if you like. You can also feel free to send an email my way, or leave a comment with your fellow Sunday Morning Liveblog Community. If this isn't esoteric enough for you, you may follow me on Twitter.

Okay, let's commence. For anyone who can't even bear the thoughts of reading words about the Sunday shows, here is a five minute video you can watch instead.

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

Bret Baier is subbing for Chris Wallace today. In the meanwhile, Stuart Varney is here to yell about socialism, Karl Rove and Bill Burton are here to yell at each other, and Rick Santorum is here to yell about abortions and gay marriage. Meanwhile, the third string panels keep coming, as Bill Kristol is joined my Stephen Hayes, A.B. Stoddard, and hollowed-out lobbyist gloryhole EVan Bayh.

First we are going to talk about the "economy," by which Baier means "the stock market." Stuart varney is a toff who blathers on and on over at the scarcely watched Fox Business channel. He says that there is a lot of anxiety over a recession. You can tell that this is going to be some "finger on the pulse"/"main street level" analysis.

"There's a consensus emerging that we are in a low growth environment." The guy is a regular Sherlock Holmes, this one. He's not encouraged by the rumor that Obama wants to do something about jobs because that means "more spending and more debt." It also means "more people not starving to death." But what would the NASDAQ think? Watch the price of gold, he says, "it's a pretty good barometer of what I'm calling 'high anxiety.'"

Stuart Varney invented the phrase "high anxiety," everyone. Anyway, let me sum up: the economy is terrible and your affluent, effete financial pundits are terrified that someone might try to fix it in a way that benefits poor people, the end.

Now here's Karl Rove and Bill Burton, they run organizations designed to funnel huge sums of corporate money into political campaigns!

Jeffrey Sachs is mad at the fact that the economy is in dire straits and the President is on vacation. Burton says, yada yada Obama inherited yada yada saved jobs blah blah done things to help, and there are not a lot of willing partners in the GOP to help him do anything. Obama will return with "a plan" and the GOP can either get on board or decide to "stop progress." (SPOILER ALERT: they will decide to stop progress.) "If they decide to stop progress, that's the fight we'll have in November." Oh, wait! So, the Obama team actually does want to "fight," about something?

Where is the GOP plan for jobs? Rove says you have to ask each 2012 candidate that question. He then goes on to hit Burton for the fact that Obama got the stimulus bill he says he wanted and it didn't measure up they way it was promised -- cutting unemployment to 6.5%. Burton counters by saying that the GOP didn't even want to do any stimulus, so the unemployment problem would have been worse.

Burton promises that Obama isn't "sitting there, poring over polls every day." That's good, because he would get really depressed!

Baier brings up that debate moment where all the candidates said they'd reject a 10-to-1 cuts to revenue debt deal, and asks Rove is the Dems have a point about the GOP's rigidity. Rove complains about the debate question, at length! And Baier and Burton kind of mocks him. BUt Rove turns the table and delivers a lengthy monologue about how the President has gotten everything he wanted. This has nothing to do with GOP rigidity (did anyone really think that Rove would cop to that?), but as a critique of the White House, it's probably tough to hear! The Democrats did punt on taxes and the debt ceiling early on, and the smartest of their allies said it was a bad idea.

So Burton shoots back with some, "You guys turned surpluses into a deficit, and Wall Street into a casino (ehhhh, Bill Clinton, who had a had in those surpluses, also had a hand in the Wall Street casino), so there, nyahh, nyahh! And now they are yelling at each other.

Burton says that Congress can help create jobs right now by getting behind a payroll tax extension, an infrastructure bank, various trade deals, and patent reform. I am told by people smarter than I that patent reform is a nothingburger.

Burton swings around and tells Rove that Cantor and Boehner and McConnell don't want to help the economy, they just want to score political points. Rove says, "Bill, don't question the motivations of the people on the other side of the aisle." Karl Rove holds several copyrights and trademarks on "questioning the motivations of the people on the other side of the aisle" and he guards them zealously.

Why Burton doesn't just say, "BREAKING NEWS ON FOX, IRONY HAS APPARENTLY DIED!" is beyond me.

Will Sarah Palin run, Rove says maybe. But if she doesn't get in next week, she's done. I say she's not getting in! But I'm only too happy to be proved wrong. How serious is Paul Ryan about running for president? All Rove can say is that he's getting a lot of pressure to run.

Who do Democrats fear the most? Burton alludes to the fact that there's a reason to fear all of them -- and goes on to say that whoever wins will gut Medicare and put sleestaks on the Supreme Court. What about the unnamed source that was looking forward to Perry running? Burton says that Perry is formidable enough, but have you heard that he likes secession and beating up Ben Bernanke and his jobs miracle isn't that great? Rove defends Perry, glancingly, by citing job growth (Burton mutters, "With the help of the Federal government").

Rove managed to get through the "say good things about Rick Perry" part of the interview while only saying the name "Perry" once. ("If Perry is the nominee.")

Can I interest you in a little Santorum? Because here we go.

What would Rick Santorum do to help the economy that can get through a divided Congress? Santorum says, well, there won't be a divided Congress, because if he gets elected, chances are the GOP retakes the Senate and holds the House. I'd go further and suggest that if Santorum gets elected, we'll all be getting time-share pitches about resort communities in Hell owned by snowballs. Anyway, Santorum would murder Obamacare, with a scimitar. He'd also do some stuff with the manufacturing base -- bring back jobs from overseas. He'll do that by never taxing manfacturers again.

Baier wonders how the companies would be compelled to hire Americans just by cutting their taxes. Why not, after all, take the zero taxes and continue to pay third worlders pennies to work 16 hour days? Santorum says you wouldn't get the tax break unless you were manufacturing here. Hmmm. I think that manufacturers have ways around such rules. At least their lobbyists do.

Santorum will also frack the entire state of Pennsylvania in a quest to obtain all the gas that he isn't producing on the set of Fox News Sunday.

Santorum also says he will gut entitlements, and thinks it's crazy to try to raise revenue in a period of economic downturn. (He also thinks it's crazy to try to raise revenue in a period of economic boom.) We must "grow the economy" by yelling "Expelliarmus!" at it, over and over again.

Weeks ago, Santorum said that Obama needed to "go after" Assad, in Syria. Now the White House has called for Assad to step down. I am going to predict that this isn't enough for Rick Santorum.

Santorum says that he wouldn't "go after" Assad with the military. With what, then? Mike Tyson's flock of pigeons? 99 Luftballons? No, Santorum is just bent out of shape because Obama called for Mubarak's ouster, but not Assad's until today.

Doesn't Rick Santorum think that there are better people in the race than him? Santorum says that people keep comparing his current effort to his last election, in which he lost. You know, there are worse candidates in the race right now, Santorum isn't spending that much money, he's probably just running to restore his brand name. He seems to want to be back as a Fox contributor pretty bad. Whatever, I'm fine with him running. There are candidacies much much faker than his is. I mean, Newt Gingrich is in Hawaii!

Santorum doesn't like RomneyCare on any level. He thinks Rick Perry is swell, but doesn't have as many accomplishments as he does.

Panel time! Bayh says that no one knows who independent voters will vote for. But Obama's doing poorly with them. Bayh says that we need some jobs rhetoric, which won't work, because it's "late in the game." So that's Evan Bayh's panel debut: independent voters are neat, Obama needs to talk about jobs, but it won't work, the end.

Hayes and Stoddard aren't going to pretend, like Bayh, that talking about jobs is helpful. Stoddard says that if Obama is hoping to make a case based on GOP intransigence, he'd better hope that the GOP really "blows things up." (I mean, alternatively, A.B. Stoddard, a reporter, could just report the objective truth of the matter, which is that the GOP has been intransigent and obstructive. It could be, like, a "news story?")

Bill Kristol made "Ryan-Rubio '12" buttons made. Because he is sad. He insists that Ryan or Rubio or Chris Christie is going to run. If they don't, please join Bill Kristol in the woods, all through the winter on alternative Sundays, where he will have the GOP race he wants through LARPing.

Hayes thinks that 2012 will be a debate on our "long term fiscal situation." That must be nice, to get to have that debate. Millions of Americans are having a debate right now about their short term fiscal situation." They are debating, for example, where they will shelter from the rain after their home gets foreclosed on, or who gets to eat tomorrow. Stuff like that.

Bayh is all about, OH HAI WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT TEH DEFICITZ, because independent voters are "yearning for it!" They yearn! And coincidentally, they happen to "yearn" for the very thing that myopic Beltway pundits like to fappytap each other about!

Bill Kristol won't say if the field is weak, but PAUL RYAN CAN STILL RUN, IF HE WANTED! This is literally all he is going to talk about through Halloween.

A few more minutes of panelling about Syria and Libya. Hayes says that calling for Assad to step down was the necessary step, and he implies that it should have come a long time ago. He's mad that we've "taken military response off the table." Not that he thinks we ought to send in the military, no, no! He just thinks we need to stop saying we WON'T attack places, with the military. (We may as well NOT put it on the table, because it's pretty plain as day we lack the resources and the money and the troops to fight a war in Syria while we're fighting them in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and Libya.)

Stoddard predicts the rebels in Libya will depose Gadhafi -- "it's a unique experiment that may yet succeed." But she doesn't think Obama will try to repeat it in Syria. Kristol would support that, however.

Bayh: "We need to get rid of Gadhafi sooner rather than later." HEY, LIBYAN REBELS! Why aren't you deposing Gadhafi faster! Evan Bayh's been really inconvenienced!

THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW

Okay, so the Sunday Morning Genius Bar of Political Gibbering is staffed by John Heilemann, Katty Kay, Helene Cooper and Richard Stengel, who will hopefully have listicles for us today.

So, Rick Perry! How Reagany is he? And will Obama be Cartery? And is Perry, maybe, a kook? Heilemann says that Perry is Reagany because he has good retail politics skillz -- mad skillz on the retailz, yo! -- and also he has strong convictions. And Mitt Romney doesn't have any of that stuff. I still think the nomination should be decided by using black magic to animate Romney and Perry's hairstyles, and have them fight each other in space.

Cooper says Perry can "maybe beat Mitt Romney." Exciting analysis! But at the end of the day, she says, whoever is nominated will have to win the general. I had never considered that!

Rick Stengel says that "when the extreme of your pary is moving rightward, it pulls the moderates out with them." Thanks for explaining the concept of "The Overton Window" to us. Stengel says Obama will have to become "Harry S. Truman" and "run against Congress." Also, drop a pair of atom bombs, and almost lose to Dewey.

Obama must make his opponents look "alien" says Stengel, all while they are trying to make Obama look "alien." Good thing David Axelrod will fire you for suggesting that Mitt Romney is weird.

Kay thinks that GOp will just nominate Romney. She also detects a "meanness in spirit" in Rick Perry.

Heilemann says that the GOP establishment are hungry for an alternative to Romney, and that Christie and Ryan and Whoever else is on the establishment's wishlist actually want to be President now more than ever, but the "hurdle of getting in at this late date is too high." I don't think that's the hurdle. I think that talented young GOPers who've got Presidential aspirations don't want to get their brands all scuffed up by the Tea Party, and would rather wait for the discourse to return to a level of equillibrium so they can run for President without being held hostage to extremes. I think they recognize that the GOP is in a demographic cul-de-sac and that winning a second term means appealing to people the Tea Party doesn't even want you talking to.

The guy who's decided to get in anyway, is Jon Huntsman. And I think he's gotten a taste of what's in the water and is looking to just get through the winter with his good name intact. (More with Huntsman later! He's the guest on THIS WEEK.)

Matthews' BFFs are split on whether Perry can hold the right and win over the moderates. Heilemann says that "he could but there's a chance he can't." Great analysis! Perry will do something, unless he does something different, in which case he will do that.

Cooper doesn't know how you can say crazy things about Ben Bernanke and then appeal to independent voters. I don't know how you can say crazy things about Ben Bernanke and then BECOME PRESIDENT WITH TWO YEARS LEFT ON BERNANKE'S TERM.

Stengel really thinks that Perry can win moderates because "America likes Southern Governors." Hey, you know, we've had our share, it's true. But Haley Barbour didn't think that was the case in 2012. Kay thinks that Perry is just too "mean."

Matthews makes a good point, that it's hard to discern what you are voting "for" when you vote for Mitt Romney. Well, you vote "for" winning, I guess! Heilemann says that Romney's appeal is wide but shallow. Stengel says that "if you blur your eyes a little, Obama and Romney seem similar."

Now, everyone is yelling at each other, over what voters are angry and how much.

Now we are having some pre-9/11 nostalgia. We are doing that by having Chris Matthews talk about Gary Condit...and shark attacks. I am not making this up. Remember that more innocent time, when interns were murdered and sharks were devouring us? And whatever happened to those guys who did that "Hands Across America" thing? Did they get eaten by sharks? Anyway, September 11th. The media will do something extremely tacky about it in a few weeks, so plan ahead.

Oh, so the whole reason Rick Stengel is here is to get you to read his magazine. So, Joe Klein wrote an article about how the kids coming back from Afghanistan have a lot of "nation building" experience and they are putting those skills to work in their community and they could be the political leaders of the future, and it's nice to have some sort of silver lining to Afghanistan, but hey, let's bring these guys home and put them in Congress now, while they still have the taste for seriousness!

The untidy way this is existing here on this show is the fact that Rick Perry said that Obama didn't have the respect of the troops, and that they'd like him more because he served and no one else in the race did. So everyone's chatting about the lack of success combat troops like Kerry and McCain had in elections, and why that was, and maybe there are demographic trends in play, or some other abstract concepts, and really, maybe there was something about their policy preferences that turned off voters?

Things that Chris Matthews apparently does not know include the following: Obama will be proposing a huge increase in the payroll tax cut, the White House held off on calling for Assad's ouster because we have no leverage and no options in the region, and Perry has some Super-PACS. That's according to Rick Stengel, who apparently is just now hearing about these things.

Katty Kay points out that this week is the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the fall of the Soviet Union, bled to death in the Cold War, remember? And hey, wow, in the ensuing 20 years, American presidents have ordered U.S. troops into combat 22 times? And that's bled us to death in terms of blood and treasure? And maybe our empire is in decline? Maybe that's something people should think about?

Is the United States vulnerable to the same sort of rioting we've seen in England? Heilemann says yes, because of "huge disparities in wealth." Kay says that if public sector jobs are eliminated at the same rate as they were in the U.K., then yes. Cooper agrees with Heilemann and Kay -- young people out of work. Stengel disagrees and says that Americans still feel like they have a chance in America that they don't feel like they have in England, because Stengel is now an expert on how English people view the world, apparently? Anyway, thye problem with getting too high on the sentiment of American exceptionalism is that once reality is revealed, it's a pretty big comedown. And the backlash always cuts deep.

Right now, there is one job opening for every five job seekers. And many of the people hiring won't consider you if you are unemployed. Lots of people are finding out that hope is not a plan. And lots of people are learning to resent the posh magazine editors who believe everyone can make it if they just want it bad enough!

THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR

Jon Huntsman has a Twitter account and a love for Captain Beefheart, according to the people who write his tweets anyway. So today he will be talking to Jake Tapper. Which non-entity candidate will get out of Sunday with their ticket punched "entity?" Santorum or J. Hunt?

Also, David Axelrod is here, and Frank Luntz will mansplain what voters want, after he's had a chance to dazzle them with wordplay.

But first, here's Jon Huntsman. I am still getting used to the fact that he walks and talks like a human being, and isn't just some marketing concept that lives inside my brain!

Tapper asks Huntsman if the problems that drove Tim Pawlenty from the race -- that he wanted to present a case for the sensible, credible, result-oriented, managerial candidate during a time that everyone wanted to drink blood and cavort in the right-wing wilds at night in a loincloth, offering themselves to the Great God Pan and whatnot -- the same problems that were being visited upon his campaign. Huntsman maintains that there is room for a "center-right" candidate. "Obama is too far to the left, our candidates are too far to the right, and we have zero substance in the debate."

What are Huntsman's economic ideas? Tax reform: drop the rate, kill the loopholes, raise revenue. He wants to get "the regulatory monkey off our back." Was there one on our back? I mean, "Wall Street regulation" amounted to "whatever you guys feel is okay, just do it, we're going to watch some online porn, good night." Are we referring to regulation that keeps, you know, miners alive? Yeah, let's take that monkey out and shoot it! Also, we need to end our addiction to foreign oil. He wants to implement a flat tax, and do it...surprise, surprise, in a "revenue neutral fashion." Here's where I remind you that "revenue neutral tax reform" is the same thing as "cake neutral baking." Why go to the trouble to do all that work, and not produce a cake?

So, thanks to Jon Huntsman, we now know that the "center-right" has no substance either.

Tapper points out that Romney is proposing similar things, so are they on the same page? Huntsman suggests that Romney is a phony: "If we were to talk about his inconsistencies...we'd be here all afternoon."

What about Rick Perry, and all that evolution/climate change stuff? The stuff that caused Huntsman to tweet his support for evolution and climate science. Jake asks him if he was "just being cheeky" or if he sees a serious problem with the way Perry talked about science. "Serious problem," says Huntsman, "The minute we become the anti-science party...it's a losing position."

What does Huntsman think about Perry's Bernanke comment? He doesn't think too highly of it! "I don't know if that's pre-secession Texas or post-secession Texas..." he says, going on to suggest that a voter is not going to hear anything presidential. Then Huntsman is back on his brief against "hype" and "extremes" and "finger pointing and name calling." And, you know, in fairness, Jon, you just sort of finger pointed and name called, yourself just now.

(I'd also love for someone to explore what's really going on with Perry, in his Bernanke comment. He says that for the Federal Reserve to act in a way that's intended to save the economy "at this moment in American history" would be "treacherous...uhh, treasonous." SO let's get this straight: right now, it is a high crime or misdemeanor to try to fix the economy? That's an odd stance to take. It's the stance of a man who recognizes that his electoral hopes hang mainly on ordinary people continuing to be marched into privation.

Huntsman thinks that anyone at the "extreme end" of the GOP is unelectable.

On Bachmann's promise to bring gas prices under $2 a gallon, Huntsman says, "I just don't know what world that kind of comment would come from."

"It's talking about things that may pander to a particular group, or sound good at the time, but it's simply not grounded in reality," says Jon Huntsman, the man from the "center-right" who stood on the debate stage with all the "extreme candidates" and raised his hand when asked if he'd reject a deficit deal that featured ten dollars in cuts to every dollar raised through taxes.

Huntsman says he wouldn't trust any of his opponents, because they all suggested that we should default and not raise the debt ceiling. Bachmann touted it harder than others. In fairness, however, Rick Santorum did not suggest that.

"There was zero leadership on display," says Huntsman, from his opponents or the President. Again, Huntsman raised his hand and went along with rejecting the ten-to-one!

Tapper brings this up! "Aren't you buying into the same brinksmanship that you're criticizing?"

Huntsman says that the problem was that the question was terrible! How can people ask questions, with profound implications, and just ask for a raised hand! OH MY STARS AND GARTERS! A HAND RAISE? WHAT HAVE WE COME TO?

"So," Tapper asks, "Are ya sorry you raised your hand?"

No, Huntsman is sorry about the whole debate he participated in, where it somehow didn't occur to him that he could object to the question or the request for a raised hand. No, John Huntsman thought, "I'll just bring that up, you know, two weeks later. No point in making my displeasure known to the debate presenters."

How long can Huntsman consider himself a viable candidate? A long time! He says his "trajectory and ground game" are clear. "We're going to do well in New Hampshire and South Carolina and then bring it home in Florida." All right! You can cancel Super Tuesday right now, because Jon Huntsman will be raising his banner in Tallahassee! (You know, right after the oh-so-center-right state of South Carolina sends him on.)

Frank Luntz is here to chat about the campaign and stuff. He says that GOP voters want to choose 1) someone they think can beat Obama, 2) someone with a plan, and 3) someone with principle. He suggests that these three things describe Romney, Perry, and Bachmann (that's being awfully generous to Perry to suggest he has a plan, but we'll allow this for the sake of the exercise), and that no one has knit up these three ideas yet.

What are the big liabilities? Luntz says people are nervous about Mitt Romney going back to the liberal Republican he was in Massachusetts. They worry about Bachmann not having a plan. They worry about Perry being a lunatic. Huntsman, Luntz says, is "mainstream America," but not "mainstream Republican."

Will Ryan or Christie get into the race? Luntz says that Christie comes across as a "blue-collar Republican" and people like that. They also perceive Ryan as being smart. (Again, the whole "Ryan is a genius" premise has always struck me as pretty odd, but I've chalked it up to "relatively speaking, in comparison to Congress' typical shambling packs of the Bad Hair And Brain Dead.) Luntz believes that either would be a powerful entrant into the race.

I think that a tax-cutting unicorn should enter the race! Or maybe a Kraken that hates Iran? How about a Medusa that wants to destroy the EPA!

Panel time, with Luntz and George Will and Donna Brazile and Jeff Zeleny.

Will Christie or Palin run for office? Will says that there's "time and room" to do so, but after spending time with Christie, and has concluded that a) he won't jump in and b) that "the tone of voice" that Christie has cultivated is "a national tone of voice." Let's remember that Christie's "tone of voice" is the tone of voice you hear when you imagine someone shrieking "TEACHERS' UNIONS ARE DEE DEV-ILLL! WE HAVE TO KEEEEELL DE DEV-ILLL" whilst spitting up bits of old hoagies.

Who would pose the strongest challenge to Obama? Brazile says that Democrats should not go to sleep at night thinking, "Michele Bachmann yay!" because any of them would pose a significant challenge.

Zeleny said that "people from the heartland" liked Perry's energy, but the "Chamber of Commerce" is concerned about "his swagger." (And "people from the heartland" don't have enough money to give to Super-Pacs!)

Frank Luntz says Americans don't like or trust anyone, and everything and everyone sucks forever, the end.

Will says that Perry's "very Texasness" gives the GOP pause of whether his message will play in the suburbs.

But is Perry strong because he is "the anti-Obama?" Brazile recalls that Perry was once a Gore-supporting moderate. Perry, she says, is a strong hand-to-hand campaigner, but he's not much of a unifier anymore. And Perry's got to get up to New Hampshire and manufacture some appeal between he and their voters -- and the NH Primary base runs a far wider swath of the political spectrum than Perry is used to appealing to.

Zeleny says Perry's first week was as good a one you could have squaring the circle. Appeal to business, strike a pose for religion, present more managerial experience than Bachmann...Perry handled that part of the test so far. As for the Bernanke comments? Well, they don't hurt him in a GOP primary.

Luntz doesn't see how Palin can possibly get in the race: "Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin occupy the same space." What if Bachmann and Palin could literally become one, though? Form Voltron! Or become the far right version of a mama-grizzly-human-centipede thing? Frank Luntz! Ask your focus groups about the electoral potential of human centipedes in 2012!

David Axelrod is here, so what's this new economic plan? And why wait until after Labor Day? Axelrod says that the White House wanted Congress to be on receiving end of some contituent browbeating before they announced their plan. And so, he'll be dropping his plan to save everything and everyone, and pay down the debt. He'll even be offering Kanye and Jay-Z an even more impressive a cost-effective way to disassemble a Maybach. So, I mean, stay tuned, this plan is going to be phat.

Tapper points out that Obama's starting to cite instances, more and more, of pointless GOp obstruction. He asks if the implication is that Obama's opponents are "less than patriotic?" Well, you know...that's a question best asked of the people who've said the same thing about Obama -- theirs is the more sustained and blatant campaign of "tar the other" that you'll see in politics today. A better way of critiquing the White House is to ask, "Well, are you saying that Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh chose the Democratic Party over the people when they insisted that they couldn't vote for a stimulus that was as large as the one the White House wanted?"

Axelrod says that when people don't support plans that typically go down with bland, bipartisan support, and take the country to the brink of default, it's fair game to criticize them.

On the trade agreements that the White House says the GOP is stonewalling, Tapper asks why not just send them up to Capitol Hill and see how they get voted on? Axelrod says that they are working through an impasse to get the treaties signed in tandem with trade adjustments.

Maxine Waters of the Congressional Black Caucus is upset that Obama is not taking his "Talk About Jobs" jaunt to any African-American communities, and Tapper wants to know what Axelrod thinks about alienating her. He says that Obama's proposals will have "impacts up and down the economic scale" and he "fought to keep safety nets alive" -- essentially, the unspoken thing here is that the White House is sort of figuring that he won't have to spend a lot of time and resources trying to convince the African-American community to stick with him, rather, it's the rural heartland he needs to win over.

Tapper asks, on Michael Moore's behalf, if Axelrod is aware of how disappointed many of the President's supporters are, and if that concerns him at all, or does he just figure that at the end of the day, they'll all show up in November and vote for Obama.

Axelrod says "we've got a very sharp debate here," and that Obama is on the side of creating jobs for the middle class. That's really bad news for that burgeoning group of liberal activists that are against jobs for the middle class!

But yes, the short answer from Axelrod is that liberals have nowhere else to go, so suck it up, guys.

And we're back to paneling except that Liz Claman is here now, to replace Frank Luntz. Will says that the problem with the "we kept things from getting worse" argument is that the American people cannot perceive what failed to happen, they just feel the pain of where the crisis is now. He also complains that Obama doesn't "sound Presidential" when he suggests that recovery has been slowed by global events like what's happened in Japan and Egypt and Libya. But the fact is that recovery has been slowed by these things! I'll agree that the best way to handle those factors is to identify them immediately and tell the country, "This is going to hurt the economy," rather than crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, only to have to point it out much later.

Claman says that people are waiting for "our Hoover Dam" moment. Don't we need votes from John Boehner's caucus to build a Hoover Dam, though?

Will says that all of Obama's arguments will be very hard to make. Brazile suggests that the President can argue that he used every tool at his disposal, that he was permitted to use. But, that's also a hard argument to make, too! I think the problem the White House has, right now, is that back in January 2009, they didn't plan for any other circumstance other than economic recovery. They just plain assumed that things would work out. And that's the reason these arguments are "hard." You have to start planting the seeds to make the hard arguments years in advance.

George Will says that we couldn't build the Hoover Dam today, because environmentalists would stop it from being built. Ha, maybe, but it doesn't get to that point when it's stopped by the House GOP first.

But okay, we get it! No new Hoover Dams!

Okay, so that's it for this version of the liveblog. I have been dodging MEET THE PRESS because out of the need to not allow harm to come to my brain, but I'll probably be back at it next week. Everyone have a safe and happy week!

[More liveblog is on the way next week. In the meantime, I recommend Abe Sauer's "What I Learned In Two Years at the Tea Party."]