TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Good morning everyone and welcome to another one of your Sunday Morning Liveblogs of the shows you've stopped watching. My name is Jason. Happy autumn to all of you! As you would in any other Sunday, you can...well, you can remain asleep. I mean, who am I kidding? This liveblog has hopefully removed any need for you all to get out of bed. Sure, this means that by 6pm today, I'm fading like Rick Perry after his third question on immigration policy (it's always the thing you're actually doing right that brings you the most grief, right, Rick?), but in the end it's worth it -- this little Sunday morning community gives me a lift at the beginning of the week.
Like all Sundays, please feel free to share with each other in the comments, or send an email, or follow me on Twitter. Let us commence!
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
It sounds like Fox News Sunday has changed their music, so that it's no longer these caterwauling electric guitars first thing in the morning. We'll still have caterwauling Lindsey Graham, though! Also David Plouffe and paneling, paneling, paneling!
But first, here's Plouffe, to answer for President Obama. For instance, why is he proposing these tax increases on top earners when he said he'd never, ever do that? Plouffe responds by noting that the overall impact of the jobs plan is a net tax cut -- with emphasis on the middle class and small business. Plouffe also would like some fundamental tax reform, but wants to help the economy in the near term. (And, you know, be President for a second term.)
Wallace insists on his point of view, however, and goes on to itemize a list of tax increases that are proposed, restating Obama's earlier contention that tax increases are bad in a recession, and tells Plouffe that he can only be right now, or right then. (I'm sure that if the economy is doing fine again, and one of his Republican guests rails that you can't increase taxes while the economy is humming, he'll say, "But you said you shouldn't raise taxes in a down economy. Were you right then, or right now?"
The answer in all cases is: "I'm right if what I'm saying gets me re-elected.
Plouffe sort of dodges, and makes a "Hey, we need to cut the deficit, though!" argument, in order to say, "This is the right approach for the country."
Wallace objects on the grounds that businesses need more certainty and 46% of Americans (the ones that are poor or disabled or old) do not pay Federal income taxes (they pay lots of other sorts of taxes). "You can manipluate statistics however you want," Plouffe says. "Americans are screaming out that some people take advantage of this special treatments," he says, and almost comes to pointing out that the intent is only to restore taxes on the wealthy to Clinton-era levels, but he and Wallace fall out and start arguing.
"Why is your budget full of budget gimmicks?" "It's not." It probably is! For instance, Wallace points out that not spending money you never intended to spend is not a savings. Plouffe notes that this a feature of Paul Ryan's plan, too, so why not call him out as well. (Probably Wallace was too seduced by the sharpness of Ryan's hair. It can cut cantaloupe, you know!)
I'll say this, it's probably news to America that we're not going to be fighting all these wars. They are probably relieved.
Plouffe notes that the GOP nominee will either be Perry or Romney. "You ruling out Herman Cain?" asks Wallace. Dude, Chris, he was ON THIS SHOW last week pretending that the authors of his 9-9-9 Plan needed to be kept in witness protection and that his website has too finite a space to explain the math involved. Why didn't YOU rule him out?
Wallace says, "But there are no cuts to Medicare beneficiaries?" as if that's a bad thing. Plouffe says that the President doesn't make those cuts until 2017 -- it preserves benefits for current beneficiaries. Wallace says that is just a political tactic -- he won't be president in 2017 and won't face the music. But everyone who says they are preserving benefits for current recipients is doing it because of politics!
Plouffe says that the American Jobs Act is not about getting re-elected, it's about getting people back to work. (It's totally about getting re-elected. But if a plurality of Republicans slip and fall and hit their heads and pass it, by accident, it will still have a positive effect on the economy.)
Plouffe says that "30-40 Tea Party members in the House" are ruining things for everyone. Lately, they have been, and they've made John Boehner's life pretty miserable. But for the most part, they've voted with the rest of the GOP herd.
Plouffe says that the administration will continue to support a negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, and not a U.N. fiat. He also urges the Congress to "not play politics with disaster relief." Ha. Congress can play politics with ANYTHING!
Lindsey Graham is here, so get excited. I don't know how many consecutive Sundays could survive without Jowly Dave Foley coming on teevee to work himself into an aria over all the things that bother him, like that time someone introduced some bills in an order he didn't want and so he made a huge stink.
"We need to put Pakistan on notice," he drones, noting that they are playing all sides of the field, suggesting that we cut aid and have a "transactional relationship." "We need to put all options on the table, including defending out troops," he says, alluding to the fact that the Haqqani network operates in one part of the country and the Pakistani ISI aid them. "The time is for choosing and I hope they choose wisely," he says, suggesting that we may basically start a war with Pakistan.
Graham, "I am saying that the sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan, that must cease." Gulp! Also, Jowly Dave is saying that with his gravest monotone.
Graham says that the Palestine's statehood bid is a "giant step backward" for the Palestinians, and that Obama is right to be against it. He is worried that after the Security Council veto will lead the Palestinians to seek observer nation status from the General Assembly. Graham says that if they even have that limited voice, it will be "provocative and dangerous."
Graham says the factions in Palestine are Hamas, Fatatta, Fatah, Hummus, Frittata, and Belgian Omelette.
What does Graham think the American Jobs Act is all about? Election. He says that Obama should do what Clinton did -- knuckle under to Republicans and pass welfare reform. Except Clinton did raise taxes on the rich. And he wanted to pass welfare reform anyway. At any rate, Graham says Obama should listen to the Gang Of Six, who also can't get anything they want done passed by Congress. (I mean, you'll note that Graham doesn't join up, to make it a Gang of Seven.)
Graham will pass legislation to keep the trigger cut from falling on the Defense Department; he will make sure it falls on the poor, instead. (As I've said, if you are in the GOP and on the Super Committee, you have NO incentive to try and succeed.)
Is Graham worried about the disarray among the GOP 2012 candidates? He says no, and that the Obama administration is the best advantage they have.
Panel time! And I think we're mainly going to talk about Rick Perry and his inability to debate, speak in sentences, get both hemispheres of his brain to coordinate their efforts, and, you know, kick Mexican children out of Texas schools. If you want to get into Bill Kristol's current thinking on the state of the GOP nomination, read this, titled "Yikes!" I am hoping he will beg Chris Christie to get into the race, as he does in that piece. Oh, and speaking of that piece, if you can't bear to read anything that Kristol writes, at least read this part:
A third e-mailer Thursday evening, watching the debate, was reminded of Yeats’s “The Second Coming:”
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
There’s some truth to that. But I can’t help wondering if, in the same poem, Yeats didn’t suggest the remedy:
"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"
Sounds like Chris Christie.
Sounds like Bill Kristol should put down the simile, slowly back away from the Yeats and leave the canon of English literature alone.
Anyway, Floridians are back to supporting Herman Cain, in their straw polls. And today we have Brit Hume, Bill Kristol, A.B. Stoddard, and Juan Williams.
Hume says that Perry, "threw up all over himself at the debate." That's a pretty hilarious image! He says that Cain probably won the straw poll, though, because he showed up and spoke at it. Perry, he says, "is one step from total collapse." (Ha, no, Perry will be alive and competing in the Iowa Caucus, Brit, sorry!)
Kristol is asked to expand upon, "Yikes." Kristol says that he formed his opinion after talking to just about whatever Republican in Orlando he could lay hands on. He points out that "You can have a nominee who is not the frontrunner in September," citing 2003, when Dean and Clark were the frontrunners, and 2007, when it was Thompson and Giuliani. That's a good point, but there's still no precedent of someone jumping in even later and taking hold of the scene with his or her bare hands. Kerry and McCain emerged from the established field. So who comes out of this field?
Hume points out that Perry's position on immigration is anathema to the GOP base. Know what though? Let's face it: when Perry was enacting those policies, it was years ago when the GOP seems to heading -- and in some quarters, leading the way -- down a path toward pragmatic immigration reform. All that development has been arrested, and now Perry's standing there with his foot in the bucket, and all he was trying to do was keep up with the herd. (Romney has the same problem: four years ago, the GOP was thrilled to have a guy out there who'd stolen the universal health carea argument from the Democrats. Things have changed!)
Wallace says that as he looked back on this strange debate, he was just searching for light in the darkness of insanity. He asked himself, is all hope lost, is there only Bachmann, and Santorum, and Herman Cain? And each time he feels like this inside,
there's one thing he wants to know: What's so funny 'bout Willard Mitt "Mittens" Romney? Woo-oaah! What's so funny 'bout Willard Mitt "Mittens" Romney?
Kristol says Romney is a skillful technocrat, but, feh. Give me some Chris Christie.
Williams says that Kristol sounds pretty rational. Kristol says that Herman Cain is the only guy who has an upbeat message in this race. This is going to be the week that conservative elite pundits project their wants and desires onto Herman Cain.
More panelling. Stoddard affirms that Obama has chosen to become confrontational with the GOP and stop trying to compromise with them which is just like that time that you decided, "You know what, I'm going to stop doing this hopeless thing I've been doing, and do something that a whole lot of people support."
Brit Hume says that what would help Obama "more than anything else," is "better results" from the economy. You think? (More importantly, it would also help all other Americans? If the economy got "better?") He goes on to say that closing a bipartisan deficit deal would also help with independent voters. (Except that independent voters want a focus on jobs, tax hikes on the rich, and less compromise.)
Kristol says that the President is obliged to present Republicans with a "concrete proposal" for the GOP to accept or reject. Wallace points out that the American Jobs Act is a pretty concrete proposal. "Not a real concrete proposal, though." Again, does Kristol understand the meaning of the words he is saying?
Stoddard, who apparently receives conventional wisdom via a garden hose, says that if Obama doesn't go back to the bargaining table with Boehner and get "a big deal" on entitlement reform, it will be hard to convince voters he tried everything he could to help the economy. I can see this now, "But America, I tried everything! I even tried doing to stuff you repeatedly told me not to do, like have meetings with John Boehner in which I begged him to help me cut your Medicare!"
FACE THE NATION
So, today, we'll have Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Reince Preibus, Norah O'Donnell, John Dickerson, and Mark Zandi, and the feeling like this show would accomplish so much more if it had an extra 30 minutes to allow Bob Schieffer's instincts to stretch out a little.
So, President Obama went in front of the Congressional Black Caucus and urged them to "stop complaining and stop crying and press on." Is that good politics? Debbie W-S says that Obama received thunderous applause, so what's the problem? And then there's a bunch of talking points about private sector jobs created and passing the Jobs Act.
Priebus says that the problem is that the economy is terrible. He rattles off talking points. Can Debbie W-S point to "one economic statistic that the administration has made better?" asks Priebue. Debbie W-S answers that we are no longer "bleeding 750,000 jobs a month." She then points to a bunch of things that Bush did to drive up the deficit. And now there are 2.4 new jobs in the private sector and a functioning American automobile industry, and Reince tries to cut this off before he really regrets putting Debbie W-S on the spot like this but she's not having it.
Priebus says, "It sounds like the new slogan is 'It could have been worse.'" Well...it could have been? But Reince! You are supposed to make the case that it is worse! You just conceded the entire argument.
Meanwhile, Herman Cain won the Florida Straw Poll! Why are we so excited about this? 2,657 people cast ballots, IN TOTAL, in this straw poll. That's about three hundred more people than the group who cast a vote for Tim Pawlenty at Ames. Herman Cain got 37.1% of these votes? Beating Romney, who didn't bother competing, and Rick Perry, who sent a surrogate? Big deal. The only reason this poll gets attention is that its winner has always gone on to become the GOP nominee. If Cain won, then it looks like that streak is going to get broken.
But eff it, we'll play along with this sudden new Media Narrative about Cain. Isn't it a bad sign that Cain is beating the top tier? Priebus says that there are all sorts of straw polls and all sorts of people are winning them. (But mostly, Ron Paul is.)
But doesn't this mean someone else should get into the field? Priebus says it's not necessary. There's "horsepower" on the GOP side, because Priebus apparently imagines this is Top Gear and not Face The Nation. Debbie W-S basically all but guarantees Florida will go in Obama's column. Priebus and Debbie W-S end the interview asserting whatever weird conclusions they want to be drawn from the various New York races they've won -- NY09 and NY26 -- which were both just weird races from which I draw no particular political conclusion. (Outside of don't send a photograph of my ween to Twitter.)
Now let's panel with Zandi, O'Donnell, and Dickerson. Are we in a recession? Zandi says no, but the odds of a recession in the next 6-9 months are "almost even." The current situation is not stable and "we've got to turn this around." Exciting!
Schieffer asks if this next round of political bickering risks a further credit downgrade. Zandi thinks about a government that can't decide whether it wants to help hurricane victims or use those hurricane victims to make a point about the deficit for the purpose of winning an election and says, sure, why not? Downgrade city, baby!
Dickerson says that there's a "big upheaval" coming, in terms of anti-incumbent rage, but his case -- Herman Cain won a straw poll that he was the only serious competitor in! -- doesn't really work for me, especially with the very overrated talk of previous "anti-incumbent years."
O'Donnell says that he White House is definitely concerned by the parts of their base that have been "left out" of the economy, like those who are represented by the Congressional Black Caucus.
Schieffer brings up Bill Kristol's column about how terrible Perry is. Dickeson affirms that Perry is in trouble because he's stumbling over policy points, and defending his immigration position by defining his opponents as heartless. O'Donnell says that the White House LOVES watching Rick Perry. She says one anonymous source of hers quipped, "For a guy who runs with a gun, he can't seem to get it out of it's holster." That's a good line. I wish I'd come up with it. Wait a minute, though! This is an anonymous source? Okay, well, that's my line then. I said it! Tell your friends I said this. We can't let anonymous sources have our great zingers.
Dickerson says that Chris Christie may be inching toward getting back in, but is not convinced that he'll ultimately jump into the race. He points out, astutely, that Perry's late entry is a case study in why jumping in late is a bad idea -- I have to agree, once the hype fades in the face of falling short of expectations, people who want a piece of you, and the task not being the breeze you were told it would be.
Bob Schieffer says that Lamar Alexander's decision to give up his committee chairmanship in order to get out of the partisan gridlock was surprising, but is a remarkable event because "it is not reassuring" to watch someone give up power in order to lead better, but, Schieffer says, "he may be on to something."
THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR
"This week, global economic meltdown," begins the show, so yay! Everyone will come round today, doomsaying, and David Plouffe will do was American Jobs Act Talkin' Blue performance again, plus we'll discuss Rick Perry's inability to be good at running for President and then panel, panel, panel! I heard that George Will was at the movie "Moneyball" yesterday so maybe we'll have a brief symposium on sabremetrics. Oh, and David Cameron is here! Rule Britannia, I guess!
First, let's get Plouffed! Plouffe says that after a tough summer of playing pattycake over the debt ceiling, it's time for ACTION! And also, RE-ELECTION! So pass this jobs bill. He says that the White House expects a vote on the bill by October, and that economists love it, and do GOP Congresspersons want to be against jobs and economic awesomeness? Amanpour points out that there are a lot of Democrats who are skeptical about the bill.
But is this bill, as Mark Zandi's implied, just a "band-aid?" Plouffe says, "So what, should we do nothing." Er. He goes on to say that it's a part of a long term strategy to bring back growth. And the Buffett rule, is it just a gimmick? Because some people -- like, say, Bill Clinton -- find it sort of gimmicky. Plouffe says this is about fairness.
What about James Carville's advice, which was to "panic." Panic like crazy! Start indicting people left and right! Really, just go full Mikheil Saakashvili and put a gun in your mouth and curl up in a fetal position and cry! Christiane Amanpour wants to know if Carville is a bedwetter. Ha, just ask his wife, Mary Matalin, who is on today's panel. ("Yes, he is literally a bedwetter," she'll say, "And it's actually half the reason the two of us are in a relationship." She'll then run around the set screaming, "Don't judge us! Only Gawwwwwwwd can judge us!")
Plouffe says that the President is more focused on helping the economy, and less concerned about whatever watersports James Carville gets up to in the privacy of his own home.
Now we will have a panel of people talkin' sass about the economy, including Austan Goolsbee, Mohammed El-Erian (CEO of PIMCO), Chrystia Freeland (the Jay-Z of Thomson-Reuters) and George Will.
Okay, you four...SAVE THE ECONOMY!
Will says that Greece is going to default and they should fire their civil servants and tear up their railroad and everything is terrible...Zeus should punish those people! Turn them all into cows with a million eyes! Let loose the Minotaur.
Goolsbee says, "I don't quite see how you get out of this box." Goolsbee! You are supposed to be our ray of hope! But no, Greece is messed up and they're tied to an economy in which Germany is calling the shots. What does this mean for Americans? Goolsbee says, "I think it's going to be another bad blow to the economy." THANK YOU BASED GOD.
Is the austerity plan going to work? Is Europe on the right track? El-Erian says "No, Greece started as an infection in the toe and was allowed to spread." Europe has a sovereign debt problem and a banking problem and a growth problem, so Europe needs to "go forward on all three." He says that the IMF meeting this week was like an intervention, in which everyone was like, "Come on, Europe, we care about you! We hate seeing you like this." And Europe was like, "HEY I CAN HANDLE MY METH AIIIGHT? LEAVE ME ALONE, CANADA, CHRIST!"
Freeland says this could all end up, for America being "worse than Lehman." Oh, hey, great. She is totally having 2008 flashbacks -- everything headed for a fall, no one wants to do anything to stop it. "It means the incredibly weak U.S. economy has another huge blow" coming, she says.
El-Erian says that to save the day, the United States will have to have a "Sputnik moment" where they recognize that everyone must unify in the face of disaster and put aside their differences, Europe will have to have a "moment of truth" (I think that moment of truth is supposed to be the moment where Germany realizes they have to give -- just straight up give! -- lots and lots of money to Greece), and China has to "help out."
George says everyone is nuts and that Greece should fail. Freeland says that's not a possibility because Greece has a shared currency. So Will says, "let the Euro go," and Freeland says that's complicated, by which I'm pretty sure she means that's nuts.
El-Erian says that the image you need to have in your head is the global economy in the back seat and policy makers in the front seat, of a car, and that right not everyone's nervous because the people driving the car are driving erratically and arguing and texting their boyfriends and drunk and they've got that terrible Kreayshawn song playing on the stereo, and the global economy isn't even in a proper seat and the belt is loose and the global economy just want mommy and daddy to stop hitting each other, it's sorry, it will be better, it promises!
Freeland says that if Europe hits the skids, this day in the American economy is going to look like a fabulous time in our lives, comparatively speaking. (NOTE TO SELF: Ask Felix Salmon if he's building a bunker.) She says that emerging markets look to the west and see nothing to be confident in.
Will says that the Euro is a mistake and should be ended and unwound -- much in the same way we need to allow the housing market to find it's bottom. Goolsbee calls it a "bad Monty Python skit," but it's actually the good Monty Python skits that are more satirically absurd.
Goolsbee says we need to focus on investment and exports. El-Erian says add to that, structural changes that get the housing market and labor market functional again. Freeland says we need to get cash rich companies to move money into the market (Catch-22 though: they are maintaining cash reserves because they are certain they will need them to ride out the catastrophe to come), and Will...well, he just wants people to nicer to Boeing.
Now we will panel about the horse race with Will, Amy Walter, Matalin, and Donna Brazile.
Will says Chris Christie won't run and everyone needs to get off that because it's getting embarrassing. Walter affirms this: Perry is the red flag against getting in late, and anyone who cares anything about Chris Christie's future has to be telling him not to damage his brand on some reckless, save-the-GOP-from-themselves flier.
Matalin says that Perry's not a great debater but the contest is all about Romney versus the anti-Romney, which sounds like the premise of a good pulp sci-fi novel. Brazile says that the GOP is still on a shopping spree, but will choose to elevate a current contender and not a new contender. She also points out that debate or no, Perry still has a lot of money and organizational advantages.
Why can't the Republicans just suck it up and go with Romney? It's mystifying! "They're not in love with him," Walter says, adding that at the moment, they're just convinced someone awesome will come along. Will says that ultimately, Romney's best friend might be Greece, "because the more serious the world becomes, the more we'll want someone to manage the calamity."
Ha-ha, awkward moment!
AMANPOUR, to Brazile: And you saw [Obama's] speech last night, obviously, you were probably there...no? Well, anyway...
BRAZILE: Just because a lot of black people were gathering doesn't mean one can't stay home.
Brazile goes on to say that Democrats want someone who shares their core values and will fight for them, and that's why the Tea Party can't come behind Romney.
Mary Matalin makes the argument that Perry should have made for him, that by providing illegal immigrants with in-state college tuition, he's driving them into productivity instead of driving them toward being fiscal dependents of the state of Texas. Matalin says that if he explains it this way, even the "Attilla the Hun" types in the GOP will see that as sensible, but I'm not too sure! I think that they'll probably say, why is that question either/or?
"Will Rick Perry bring his A-Game to the next debate, or have we seen his A-Game?" asks Will.
And that's our panel for the day! So many hopeless causes: Greece, the global economy, Rick Perry, but let's end with the most hopeless cause of all, the Israel-Palestine peace negotiations! So here's Hanan Ashrawi a "top Palestinian negotiator." Perhaps America's Next Top Palestinian Negotiator. And she says that they've been doing a lot of negotiations lately. And now, there will be more! And Israel has been using their side to buy time and build more settlements. If they recommit to the old boundaries, they will negotiate. "When Abbas said this is the moment of truth, this is it."
The statehood bid, she says, will be viewed by Palestinians as the state of a new phase in this saga, and it's underpinned by the Arab Spring. But the Palestinians seem disinclined to continue to negotiate further, because they do not believe that Israel is doing so in good faith. They're also disinclined to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state." So, I'm guessing this "new phase" is going to look a lot like all the old phases, which are similar in the way your kid comes up to you says, "Jesus, Dad/Mom...were there no grown-ups around back then?
Finally, here's David Cameron, to talk about this. He says that he wants to see a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel, on the ground, and "not just in U.N. resolutions." He says that they should have a state and that state should be recognized, but he takes Obama's line that it can only be brought about through talks.
On Libya, Cameron says that the Libyan people led the way in ousting Gadhafi. "But could they have done it without NATO assistance?" asks Amanpour. Cameron allows that this is probably not the case. He does not think that Libya will become Iraq -- militantly tribal, Islamic state.
Cameron: "I don't think that [the riots] were linked to the economy." Good luck, then! He's certain that this is a debt crisis, so the LOLsterity will continue.
What won't continue, maybe, is the rampant tapping of phones by Rupert Murdoch. He says that James Murdoch will be called back to Parliament, and that the cozy relationship between Murdoch's papers and U.K. politicians will end (tell that to Andy Coulson), but that all newspapers in the U.K. are in that boat, which is a bit laughable.
Okay! Well, this has been a day of very encouraging news of maybe Zeus killing debt with Minotaurs or something? Oh, man. On the bright side: no debate this week! So, everyone, please do try to enjoy yourselves. Have a greet week!