TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Hello, everyone, and welcome again to your Sunday Morning liveblog of quickly typed summations of political teevee mush. My name is Jason, and while today the Marine Corps Marathon runners are running by my window in the morning sun, we've actually had some strange weather lately and I have ended up under it. So bear with me today! This could be rough. Also, Rick Perry is giving an interview! That also could get weird.
As per usual, enjoy at your leisure! Feel free to send an email, meet up with one another in the comment streams, or follow me on Twitter for later, when you want to note my exasperation with Washington's football team.
There will be times where you will have to wait for the liveblog to update, because I am watching this on TiVo. While you wait, here are some interesting things to read.
"How Occupy Wall Street Cost Me My Job." An unexpected companion piece to last week's "How Occupy Wall Street Is Like the Internet." Public radio is no place for a woman with opinions, or journalists who believe that it's wrong to create a mortgage-backed security filled with loans you know are going to fail so that you can sell it to a client who isn't aware that you sabotaged it by intentionally picking the misleadingly rated loans most likely to be defaulted upon. (It's really sad, considering the fact that if journalists cannot just say that it's wrong to create a mortgage-backed security filled with loans you know are going to fail so that you can sell it to a client who isn't aware that you sabotaged it by intentionally picking the misleadingly rated loans most likely to be defaulted upon, then what is the point of journalism?
"One Google Books To Rule Them All?" Maria Bustillos on copyright controversy, clashing principles, and the future of reading.
"What the Costumes Reveal," is that the employees of the Steven J. Baum Foreclosure Mill are degenerates.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Chris Wallace is in Austin, Texas today, and yes, I'm jealous, because there is music and mole sauce everywhere down there. There, he's got Rick Perry, chilling in the Texas State History museum.
Speaking of history, Wallace points out that way back when, Perry used to lead in these here polls, now he's gunning for an "I participated" trophy. How is he rebooting himself? He says that for the first eight weeks, he just introduced himself to America, and it's only natural, I guess, that you come to hate Rick Perry after he's been at you for two months. However, in the past two months, people are starting to "put the meat on the bone," he says. HEY, Y'ALL, BRING Y'ALLS BONES OVER HERE, OL' RICK PERRY GOTS SOME MEAT TO PUT ON IT. That "meat" involves energy and a tax plan and energy and energy and did we mention energy? Also, my tax plan? Yeah, it's awesome, everyone will have to do their taxes twice, under my administration, to make sure I ain't screwin' ya! MEAT ON THA BONE.
Wallace, he don't want to focus on the past two weeks. He wants to hear about that time Rick Perry burst on the scene, took the lead, and promptly shot wet poots from his hind end at debates and stuff. "I may end up being a pretty good debater when it's all said and done," he says. (He does realize that "debater" isn't a job, right? Like, you don't get good at spelling bees and go on to have a career in them.)
"Nobody's been stronger on immigration than I have," he says, and actually, the policies for which he's gotten batted about the head for maintaining are quite sensible. The GOP base doesn't feel that way.
Wallace doesn't understand why Rick Perry would skip the debates, because they are just awesome. Perry points out that there are way too many of them and he is right! He says that he's rather "get out and talk to people and lay out his ideas." You know, without having seven other people telling you you're wrong and that's stupid and go back to Texas and nanny nanny boo boo.
Wallace says that conservatives are worried he won't be able to compete on the same stage as Perry. Perry says don't worry, he'll draw a "bright line" of comparison between the two and paint Obama as a job destroyer and a guy who recklessly ends unpopular wars. (What's pretty funny is that in his first ad, Perry makes a firm promise to be a worse job creator than Obama.)
Wallace points out that Perry's plan "blows a hole in the deficit," and Perry says that you need to consider the spending cuts. Plus you get to do your taxes on a postcard, as well as the old way because you'll want to know if Perry is screwing you on the new plan. Perry says that lobbyists will hate his plan, but only if it passes in the form Perry intends, and it won't because lobbyists are better at their jobs than Perry is at his.
Wallace points out that his plan requires people to do their taxes over and over again to see which one has a better bottom line, but Perry says he's pretty sure most Americans will opt for his postcard plan. That would be a big mistake, most Americans!
Wallace points out that even the Heritage Foundation avers that tax cuts rarely pay for themselves, to which Perry says, "What's wrong with lower revenue?" Well, you know, the government does have to pay for those wars you don't want to end...so.
Wallace brings up the issue of fairness in his plan, and how the wealthy make off like bandits. Perry says "everybody gets a tax cut here." Wrong. As you can see above, a substantial number of people don't get a tax cut under his plan. (Maybe he counts them by pretending that being able to opt out of his plan represents a tax cut for the people smart enough to not get screwed by him.) But you have to give the wealthy money, so that they can hire people. Here, a wealthy person disagrees with this take:
First let me note that I am not part of the yacht and private jet set, which represents an even smaller subset of incomes than mine. The threshold for inclusion in the top 1% of income earners in 2008, the most recent year for which published data is available from the IRS, was $380,354, enough for an extraordinary life but nowhere near enough for a harbor berth in St. Moritz. Nevertheless, I am - for now - comfortably ensconced in that demographic. Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan would save me roughly $400,000 a year in taxes, and President Obama's tax proposals would cost me more than $100,000, yet I support the latter and consider the former laughable.
Thus you can imagine my amazement this summer when I watched the Republicans in Congress push the United States to the brink of default - and the world to the brink of ruin - over whether to repeal a portion of the Bush tax cuts and raise my taxes by 3.5%. I know a lot of people with high incomes and even the conservatives among them were confused by that sequence of events. Here is a secret about rich people: we wouldn't have noticed a 3.5% tax increase. That is not only because there isn't a material difference between having $1 million and $965,000, which is obvious, but also because most of us don't actually know how much money we are going to make in a given year. Most income at that level is the result of profits rather than salary, whether it comes in the form of bonuses, stock options, partnership distributions, dividends or capital gains. Profits are unpredictable and they tend to vary wildly. At my own firm, the general rule of thumb is that if we are within 5% of our budget for the year, everyone is happy and no one complains. A variation of 3.5% is merely a random blip.
I was not amazed but disgusted when John Boehner and his crew tried to justify the extremity of their position by rebranding the wealthy as "job creators." While true in a very basic sense, it obscures the fact that jobs are a cost that is voluntarily incurred only as a result of demand. Hiring has no correlation at all to profits or to income - none. Let me keep more of my money without increasing customer demand and I will do just that - keep it. Perhaps I will spend a little more of it, though probably not, but even if I do it won't help the economy very much. Here is another secret of the well-to-do: we don't really buy much more stuff than everyone else. It may be more expensive stuff, sure, but I don't buy cars, or appliances, or furniture, or anything else more frequently than the average consumer. The things I do spend more money on are services such as travel, entertainment, restaurants and landscaping, none of which generate well-paying middle class jobs. There, in a nutshell, is the sad explanation of what has happened to the American economy over the last 25 years of "trickle down" economics.
Wallace asks for Perry to clarify this, that the wealthy will do better. Perry won't admit this. But he doesn't want class warfare!
Perry says that Americans are sick of watching people get jobs through the government, apparently! Paid for by the stimulus package that American voters wanted. I'm sort of not following this argument, but that's probably because I can read a poll that says that Americans want the government to do something about unemployment and not draw a bunch of obtuse conclusions about it -- like, "the American people want us to push the nation into default and destroy the world economy if we don't make some sort of deal over raising the debt ceiling -- some sort of deal over the process by which we pay for the things we've already happily bought -- for the first time ever in American history."
Wallace notes that Perry is committing himself to cutting a quarter of the Federal budget, so he wants to know what "hard choices" he'll make. "Tell me what programs that people count on -- not 'waste and fraud' -- that you would cut." Perry says that he would, uhm...combine two parts of the Department of Education and save $25 trillion. Wallace is all, huh, that can't be right. And Perry says, whoops, I meant "$25 billion." To which Wallace points out isn't but a drop in the bucket, and now Perry's mad because he asked for an example. He did! He wanted a courageous one! I mean Ron Paul will walk up to strangers on the street and tell them he'll cut the whole danged Department! Perry ain't even the biggest budget cutter in Texas!
Wow, it took me a long time to liveblog the first fifteen minutes of this. Like I said, I am not feeling that great! Will try to do better.
Perry says that this past year in Texas, they cut spending and there were a lot of people who said "that the world was going to come to an end," and did it? Fires blazed out of control all across Texas, that's all!
Chris Wallace gets to Perry's job promise, and Chris Wallace is honestly HILARIOUS. "Governor Perry...two and a half million jobs is TERRIBLE!" Perry looks as if this is the first time anyone has told him this. Wallace says that we'd need 6 million jobs over that four year term just to stay ahead of population growth. Perry has a choice here, he can say that the 2.5 million is based on a realistic view of the economy and how stuck it is, or he can basically say, "Uhm, how many jobs is 'not terrible?' I PROMISE THAT. 2.5 trillion jobs for everybody! In my administration, we'll be giving entry level clerical jobs to sea otters, it will be awesome."
Yeah, until the sea otters conquer humanity! YOU'RE LETTING THEM RIGHT IN THE DOOR, PERRY!
Perry opts to say, that it's "amazing for anyone to say that 2.5 million jobs" is bad. So he went with the third choice: "Wha?"
Perry says we need to give the American people confidence! Hey America, get excited! Rick Perry will be a terrible job creator!
"How do you answer that question?" Wallace asks. "2.5 million jobs would not keep abreast of population growth. The unemployment rate would increase under this plan?" Perry says that he doesn't believe that. "It's false on its face." What's false? Are there not more people entering the work force every month? Or does "2.5 million" somehow equal another, larger number? Is Perry proposing to make millions of college graduates disappear into the ether, or will 2,500,000 equal 15,000,000 in his administration?
Perry says that if he promised 10.5 million jobs, people would say he's not being realistic, and he won't let people "talk his plan down." HIS TERRIBLE, INADEQUATE PLAN.
Perry says that it's terrible that Obama has ended the Iraq War. "The idea that a commander in chief could stand up and signal to the enemy a date certain of which we're going to pull our troops out, I think is irresponsible." AGH. IDIOT. Here's how that went, for the 900th time! There was a Status Of Forces Agreement. It was agreed to by President Bush and the Iraqi government. President Obama was bound by it. Only the Iraqi government could alter it. We lobbied for an alteration, and didn't get what we wanted, so we're back to following the SOFA as agreed to back then. Nobody signaled anything to an enemy, beyond the agreement etched over three years ago. That's it. Get a grip!
Perry: "You need to be talking to your commanders in the field, you need to be talking to experts."
OBAMA: Hey, Commanders, is this status of forces agreement dealie real?
OBAMA: Okay, thanks!
Perry says that we need to finish out mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, whatever that is!
Perry says that states should be in the business of energy subsidies, but Wallace points out that he sought a subsidy for a nuclear power plant in Texas. Perry admits to seeking it, but "from a general standpoint," he thinks it's wrong. There are just some "specific" instances where he sets his principles aside, I guess. (Why not just say that the Federal government has a role to play, and as long as they do so productively, we'll be fine?)
What does Perry think of Mitt Romney? Perry says he doesn't know him very well. "We served together as governors." Wallace is like, "COME ON, DUDE." Perry says that he's been a "consistent conservative" and Mitt hasn't. (Of course, how would Perry govern Massachusetts?)
Perry says that the race isn't settled, and that voters in the early states will like his tax plan more than Romney and Cain's and eventually come back to him. "I feel pretty comfortable where I'll be on Election Day." (He does know that "Election Day" in this context is about two months away, right?) Perry says he's learned that it's "a marathon, not a sprint," and that getting in late had its drawbacks. He is confident that he will "get out of the hole" polling wise, mainly because of his "warchest" -- which is the best thing he's got going for him, and the area in which he cannot compete with Cain.
But still, LOL, because he's currently behind Bachmann!
Wallace points out that only Mitt Romney hasn't come on Fox News Sunday, and basically says: "COME ON, MITTENS."
Panel time, with Brit Hume and Mara Liasson and Dana Perino and Juan Williams, who didn't get to go to Austin with Wallace, ha ha, losers.
Hume says that the new initiatives that the White House are exploring could help a little bit politically, but in the big picture, they won't make much difference to the big picture. He points out, correctly, that when Clinton undertook similar moves in 1996, the economy was doing much better. Liasson says that the American people understand that executive orders won't alter the trajectory, but that what he's stuck with because of Congress. "He's has a substantive agenda," says Liasson, "It just couldn't get passed."
Perino says there's not much sensible political strategy in "talking down" the country. She also insists that the President got everything he wanted from Congress during the first two years, but this isn't true. Numerous bills made it through the House only to get hung in a Senate filibuster, and the stimulus package itself, was basically undermined by Senators like Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman. I don't think you can glibly blame the GOP 100% of the time for the White House's inability to get what it wanted, but let's not go too far in the other direction and suggest that he did!
Williams says that Obama can run against a "do nothing Congress," because Congressional approval is 9%. But as Hume points out, it's going to be hard to connect "MITT ROMNEY" or "RICK PERRY" to "CONGRESS." Those guys are going to bitch about Congress, too! Liasson says that Obama will run a campaign of comparisons between himself and the eventual nominee.
More panel! Ol' Mitt, he's flipping and a flopping again, this time on climate change.
"I think we would all agree that Romney's biggest potential liability is his reputation as a flip-flopper," says Wallace. Of course, let's be fair, there's one big flip-flop he shouldn't have had to make -- support for his own health care reform. But yeah, Ol' Mittens, he flips harder and faster than the Olympic vault competition.
Hume says, "I think it's his single biggest problem." Okay, good analysis! Aren't we glad we woke up for this?
Apparently, Jon Huntsman called Romney a "perfectly lubricated weather vane." If only! Mitt doesn't touch the hard stuff!
Is Herman Cain for real? Perino says yes, and that he's finally raising money. Then she says something about Bachmann and Santorum that doesn't make sense in context? I guess she means that they can stumble on further down the road and not drop out, because of all the debates.
What about all the gaffes he's made? Williams says Wallace is right when he points out that people seem to be more forgiving of Cain, because they understand he's not a seasoned politician. His lack of polished answers, and occasional missteps, the theory goes, makes him more endearing. "I think for the moment, he's on a roll. The establishment doesn't see it, but I think the voters see it."
FACE THE NATION
Well, while we're on the topic of Herman Cain, let's switch over to The Schieffer Show, on CBS, because Bob's got Cain today.
Schieffer: "The idea that [Herman Cain] is leading in the polls does take a little getting used to." But Bob's gonna give it a try!
Schieffer sets the stage: fresh Des Moines Register poll -- we got Cain at 23%, Romney at 22%, Ron Paul at 12%. Ron Paul always seems to be at 12% lately! Bachmann is actually back in fourth place. Jon Huntsman is getting 1%. Huntsman always seems to be at 1%, always!
Cain says that he thinks he's "connecting with the people," and he's been on the trail, sort of, for over a year. So has Rick Santorum, but the advantage that Cain has over Santorum is that he doesn't come across like some creepy character from the series DEXTER.
How much of Cain's success be attributed to the fact that Republicans don't like Mitt Romney, for being the flip-floppingest flopper of flips ever? Cain says that he doesn't think that's the "driving force." Rather, he thinks that his speeches are just awesome. He talks, and people freak out, and start feeling awesome.
But Schieffer points out that conservative establishment types haven't exactly cottoned to his "9-9-9 Plan," and that he's already had to make a change to it -- making it a "9-0-9 Plan" because the poor were getting fleeced. Does this mean he might have to "go back to the drawing board? Cain says "absolutely not," and goes on to insist that the zeroing out of that one part isn't a change, at all, it was always in there. Sure, he just didn't want anyone to know, because Americans love plot twists! OMG HERMAN CAIN FOUND THE HATCH!
"It was misreported that we changed it," he says, apparently expecting reporters to be clairvoyant.
Schieffer asks if poor and middle income earners won't still have to pay more in taxes when they go to the store to buy school clothes for their kids and what not. It's a well phrased example from Schieffer, who's anticipating an answer on new versus used goods. Cain, however, insists that the overall prices of good will drop because "9-9-9" eliminates "invisible taxes."
This, Cain says, is the hardest part of the plan to sell. Yes, evidently!
Now we'll talk about the weird campaign ad. And Schieffer is the guy to go at this hard, because he hates cigarettes and he hates cancer. "I have to ask," he says, "What is the point of that? Having a man smoke a cigarette?" And Schieffer bites down on the word cigarette like he just asked, "What is the point of that? Having a man participate in a cockfight?"
Cain says that "one of the themes" in the campaign is "let Herman be Herman," and Mark Block is a smoker and you've got to "let Mark be Mark," and that means you HAVE TO PUT IT IN A CAMPAIGN AD. If someone at the Herman Cain campaign likes eating whipped cream right from the can, PUT IT IN AN AD. If someone at the Herman Cain campaign likes masturbating to NPR's "Car Talk," PUT IT IN AN AD. If someone at the Herman Cain campaign can't leave their home in the morning without first rolling around naked on a pile of peanut butter sandwiches because if he doesn't, the cobras will come, PUT IT IN AN AD. Let people be people. Strange, strange people.
"This wasn't intended to send any subliminal signal whatsoever," Cain says. Sweetie, no one in the world thinks you are that sophisticated!
Schieffer says that the ad makes it seem like it's cool to smoke. "No it does not," Cain says, "all it says is that Mark Block smokes." I'll admit, no one in the world is going to start smoking because Herman Cain's dodgy looking chief of staff smokes.
This is actually getting crazy. Cain is now explaining that he "respects" Mark Block as a smoker, because "he never smokes around me" and "he goes outside to smoke." I mean, that's awesome! But Herman, you have to understand, you are on FACE THE NATION, and people are tuning in to hear about your presidential campaign, and because YOU CHOSE to run an ad in which this guy is smoking, that's what we're talking about! I mean, is it vital to the nation's future for you to come on teevee and say, "My fellow Americans, I want you to know that Mark Block smokes, and that's okay, that's who he is. But I promise you, America! When Herman Cain is President! Mark Block will continue! To smoke! OUTSIDE!"
"It was meant to be informative," Cain says. Because that's what's been holding the nation's economy back! We've been too uncertain as to whether this guy we've never heard of smokes or not!
"It's not funny to me," Schieffer says, "I am a cancer survivor, like you. And it was smoking related. And I don't think it serves the country well -- and this is an editorial opinion, here -- to show someone smoking a cigarette. You're the frontrunner now, and it seems to me that you would have the responsibility not to take that kind of a tone...that you would want to raise the level of the campaign."
If Schieffer was a woman who worked in public radio, he'd be fired for having that editorial opinion and not keeping it a closely guarded secret!
"We will do that Bob," Cain says, "And I do respect your objection to the ad...it was not intended to offend anyone."
"Will you take the ad down," Schieffer asks.
Cain points out that it's on the internet, not teevee, and now it's impossible. "We could take it off of our website," he says, but it's already on a bunch of others. I mean, you could still make the gesture, Herman. Nothing's stopping you from being the guy who'll stop propagating the ad.
Schieffer asks if he'd ever thought of doing an ad encouraging young people to not smoke. Cain says he'd have no problem. Schieffer: "Say it right now." HAHA. THIS IS AWESOME. BOB SCHIEFFER IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL. Cain says, "Young people of America! Do not smoke! It is hazardous, it is dangerous to your health. Don't smoke." Schieffer: "It is not a cool thing to do." Cain: "It is not a cool thing to do." Bob Schieffer is straight up using his anti-smoking Jedi mind powers, y'all!
Finally! That long discussion is over, and it could have been avoided if Cain had just not put a superfluous shot of some guy smoking in a web ad!
Gary L. emails me with a really good question:
Why won't somebody ask Cain that if he is President and he brings in his 9-9-9 plan, is he going to lower the prices at all his Pizza places? Because he seems to think prices are going to drop everywhere.
That would be an excellent question, because the pizza delivery business involves a lot of different products and a supply chain that ends with a dude driving his own car around. It's potentially subject to all sorts of market fluctuations, from the prices of gas to the price of milk, and there's a ton of different line items on the cost side of a pizza. But Cain should be familiar with that stuff, right? I'd love for him to track the changes in prices he's talking about in those terms. That's just brilliant, Gary.
Schieffer wants to know if he is kidding about the electric border fence at the border or not. Cain says that you need to secure the border with a fence, but it doesn't have to be electric. "That was an over-exaggeration."
What about the moat, with alligators? "That was totally in jest," he says. "That would be very expensive," Schieffer says. But so would any kind of fence! Unless we line the border with used lawn furniture.
"I am pro-life from conception, period," he says. No exceptions. Does that include rape and incest and health of the mother? Yes. Cain is in favor of incest babies toddling around, and women being traumatized for their entire lives, unless of course they die of pre-ecclampsia. Would he be entirely against Planned Parenthood offering women advice, and the answer is no, because "sincere counselors" of women aren't all hung up on women being healthy or treated as something other than chattel. The only advice women should be getting are from centers that urge women to submit their bodies to the State, like good little brood-mares.
What's the most pressing foreign policy problem? Cain says it's "lack of clarity with regards to our relationship with other countries."
"For the President to announce that we will draw down troop in Iraq by a date certain just leaves a power vacuum in Iraq." GOOD LORD, MAN. The announcement of the draw down was made BEFORE OBAMA WAS PRESIDENT. And the power vacuum in Iraq was CREATED BY THE INVASION ITSELF.
Schieffer points out that it was Bush that struck the deal by agreeing to the SOFA.
"Well that's fine," Cain says, "But a responsible Commander in Chief would have asked commanders on the ground 'should we continue with this, or should we modify it.'"
Ha, okay. Let's imagine this:
OBAMA: Should we continue with the Status of Forces Agreement?
COMMANDERS: Yeah, probably, since we agreed to it.
OBAMA: Can we modify it?
COMMANDERS: Only the Iraqi government can modify it. I mean, did you read the Status Of Forces Agreement?
SHORTER CAIN: There just should have been a different outcome in Iraq, and Obama clearly wasn't WISHING FOR IT HARD ENOUGH. What kind of President doesn't clap harder to save Tinkerbell?
Cain: "President Obama changes a lot of other things that Bush did." Hey, yeah, that's true! And I'm pretty sure that in none of those cases, did Obama say, "Oh, hey, I'm going to go ahead and abrogate an international agreement, for no reason!"
Cain promises that he will, as President, renege on international agreements that he doesn't like, because that aids "clarity."
John Dickerson is here now, lately returned from Iowa. "How goes the news in Des Moines?" asks Schieffer. "Aye, lend me thine ears, Bob," says Dickerson, "We are now in a steady relationship with Herman Cain." Iowa is going to the harvest dance with Herman Cain!
"For the non-Mitt Romney spot, there isn't anyone left," Dickerson says.
But can he survive some of these gaffes? Dickerson says one of his former aides told him, "If you let [Cain] talk long enough, he'll talk himself out of his own position."
Dickerson: "Rick Santorum is always quick to point out the mistakes of others." This is probably why people don't like him very much! Who votes for the town scold! Yeah, I definitely want my president to be the guy who's got his eye on my keyhole, waiting for me to do something he doesn't like.
Voters in Iowa, Dickerson says, are happy to forgive Cain's lapses, because they know where he stands, even if Cain can't articulate it. There's that lenient standard for the guy who's not a career politician, again!
Dickerson points out that Peter Hart focus group, where a bunch of people besotted with Cain nevertheless could not raise their hand to support the idea of Cain becoming President. That suggests that there's a "Dated Cain, Married Mitt" thing going on.
Dude. One of y'all should start selling "Dated Cain, Married Mitt" shirts, right now, on the internet.
Dickerson says that in CBS' latest poll, 8 in 10 Republicans are still shopping. Rick Perry, he says, needs to reintroduce himself as a true conservative, but it's a lot of work.
Schieffer says that he loved this last World Series, even though his team lost. (I also loved this last World Series, though admittedly, my favorite team won.)
THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR
Today, Michele Bachmann joins the show, along with Bill Gates. What a study in contrasts! But first, we hear from Jake Tapper, reporting from Kabul on the recent suicide bombing which claimed seventeen lives. Tapper: "U.S. forces call this latest Taliban attack a 'sign of desperation,' but that seems debatable: Taliban attacks here in Kabul are getting more brazen and more deadly."
ABC News, in recapping the latest Des Moines register poll, leaves off Jon Huntsman. So, look for his daughters to have some angry tweets about that. "Why won't you report on our father's near one percent?"
This week spends the next few minutes recapping the week on the campaign trail, but I'm going to assume that you guys have already read the one that Elyse Siegel and I did.
I just realized that Chris Wallace never asked Perry about the birther stuff. Oh well! I guess that was too much to expect.
Finally, Michele Bachmann is here, and she says, "Good morning" to Amanpour as if she expected to be talking to someone else this morning.
Amanpour asks if it will take a "miracle to resurrect" her campaign. WILL SHE ROLL AWAY THE STONE? Bachmann says that she needs to remind everyone that she won the Iowa Straw Poll "in less time" than any other candidate, whatever that means, and that she's doing what she needs to do in Iowa. "Meeting people, multiple times." Eating their pie. Mowing their lawns. She's not "worried about the day-to-day snapshots" and she's doing the "fundamentals." Tax lawyer. Job creator. Tip of the spear. It's like she's read the rules of the Michele Bachmann Drinking Game and wants to get us all good and soused really early.
Is Iowa a "must win" state? Bachmann says she's focused on the schedule, and that includes New Hampshire and South Carolina.
"But is it a must win for you?" asks Amanpour.
[pause] "Well we're focused on it!"
"What would happen if you didn't win there? How could you rationalize going forward?"
"Really, right now what's important is the positive message we're putting out," she says. Tip of the spear. Lead person fighting Obamacare. "I don't flip-flop, I stand strong on issues and I fight." And she loses, time and again.
Amanpour points out that she's called the Iranian assassination plot against a Saudi diplomat an "act of war," so how will she retaliate? Bachmann says that she wouldn't "take her eye off Iran seeking a nuclear weapon" and would "take everything at our disposal to ensure they don't get one." But how would she retaliate against an act of war. "I would consider the use of everything," she says, as long as it "was in our vital national interest." Bachmann, as always, tries to shoehorn too much critique into her statements. She wants to allude to Robert Gates saying that Libya was not in our "vital national interests," but it's beside the point here! Clearly retaliating in an "act of war" in some fashion would be in our interests. This is where losing Ed Rollins really costs Bachmann -- seasoned managers know where to make edits. Bachmann needs to "murder her darlings." Take it from someone who has the same problem!
But she would consider the use of everything at least! We'd use force, we'd use butter, we'd use handshakes, we'd use the new Colson Whitehead zombie novel, we'd use feelings, and crock pot recipes, and prayer, and soup, and Robitussin, and the new Nicki Minaj single, and crocheted Christmas ornaments, and In-and-Out Burger, and Florida manatees.
Would President Bachmann have wanted tens of thousands of dead people in Benghazi? Basically, yes, because it wasn't in our vital national interests. Still, she's right that Congress should have played a role in overseeing another use of force, and that regime change in Libya doesn't necessarily mean a benefit for America. I wish she'd had that attitude about Iraq, where the same rules apply to this day.
Is it her position that it wasn't worth it? "The last chapter has not been written, this is a snapshot in time." Well, you have to give that one to Bachmann. That's absolutely right.
Amanpour wants to point out that there weren't 59,000 people from Yemen and Syria who came across the border last year, but actually, eleven Yemenis and 5 Syrians among 59,000 people in total. What is Bachmann going to do?
She could go with:
A: "If you diagram my sentence, you'll see it's not clear cut what I was implying."
B: "Yes, but the way I say it stirs up Islamaphobia, really effectively!"
C: "I can't believe that you reporters pay so much attention to things I say as a presidential candidate, what is wrong with you?"
She should really just go with "A," I mean, I didn't think she was implying that 59,000 Yemenis came across the border.
"In the full context of my remarks, I did not state that 59,000 came solely from state sponsors of terrorism." So: A. "I said it included among them are." Such as. Maps such as.
This really does seem like a waste of journalistic resources, clearing up this point that maybe didn't need clearing up in the first place.
This is better: Amanpour wants to know why she is accusing Rick Perry of stealing her tax plan when "he's talking about a flat tax and you're not really."
(Also, what is her tax plan? In one debate she said people should keep every dollar they earned, period. In another, she said that more people needed to pay income taxes. Is it possible to "steal" her tax plan? By the way, she has not, technically, come out with a tax plan yet!)
"My tax plan is unique from all the other plans in that I call for all Americans to pay something in taxes." She goes on to say that 51% of Americans don't pay income taxes and this needs to change because everyone needs to pay something. Of course, EVERYONE DOES PAY SOMETHING -- everyone pays sales tax, and payroll tax, and there are all sorts of fees baked in to daily life, so it's hardly worth mentioning that some people do not pay income taxes. Those that don't have a reason why not! They are RETIRED. Or they make so little income that it's not worth taking a portion. Or they are small children.
But here's the thing, if Bachmann's plan is "unique from all the other plans" then how has Rick Perry stolen it? "Hey, I decided to write a book/cook a meal/make a website about this." "Oh, awesome. I'm going to write a book/cook a meal/make a website about something totally different." "WHAT?! NO FAIR! THAT WAS MY IDEA, TO HAVE AN IDEA."
Then she goes on to say that she stole her idea from Reagan. SHE IS THE ONLY PERSON WHO IS ALLOWED TO DO THAT. I've still no idea what, if anything, Rick Perry is supposed to have stolen from her, but that's where we're going to leave things.
Why not bring up what caused her entire New Hampshire staff to quit this week?
Panel time, with George Will, Cokie Roberts, Austan Goolsbee, and Ron Brownstein.
Can Herman Cain keep up the momentum? Will says, "Not if the future is like the past." Cain needs to be able to organize the hell out of Iowa to win those caucuses. Roberts calls Cain the "non-Romney of the week." Goolsbee makes the case that Cain isn't just an anti-Romney -- he's perceived as having a new idea...almost being a new idea, really, that's captivated voters.
Now, the man who inspired one of the best band names in the history of punk rock, Dick Armey, is suddenly here to offer up his thought-farts on the issue of Herman Cain. Does he like Herman Cain? Armey begins by saying, "Welleaghaagghhaaahhgghhouugh" and then slowly, some English words form as the speech center of his brain wins the Game Of Thrones between itself and the great grey brain fog. Cain, he says, has got authenticity. "Ceci n'est pas une Mitt Romnie." He also has a "personal record that no one else can match." And this is indeed true. No one in the rest of the field can lay claim to being the 73rd person to solve the conundrum of how to get pizza from a stove to a hungry customer using some sort of automotive device. CAN'T MATCH THAT.
"Is he now it for you?" Armey says that "it's a long term process" and "we enjoy having people in the process." That's great that they agree to support what's long been decided will happen.
Roberts wants to know if he's really just waiting for Perry. Armey essentially says yes. Roberts says, see, he said yes.
"The only person who can stop Mitt Romney is Romney," says Will, who wrote a column about his terrible flip-flops this week.
"Can we just assert that these debates are preposterous distractions from the nation's understanding," says Will. YES. Let us assert that. Why haven't we chased these pre-primary debate organizers back into the hell-trenches from which they have come, bearing "questions from this one dude on twitter."
Brownstein points out that the debates are replacing the fundraising that typically keeps people in the race. (He is basically saying that politics have become like reality television. As if you didn't know this.)
Goolsbee says that the "flat tax" is the tax version of "bringing back the leisure suit." Armey says, "That's ordinary poppycock." Goolsbee says, "Well, I appreciate that." And now he's touting the tax plans of Eastern Europe. Because that's how you'd like to live, like they do in Bratislava.
Brownstein points out that Mitt Romney himself took out an ad that called the flat tax a "tax cut for fat cats." MITT ROMNEY SHOULD DECLARE CLASS WAR AGAINST HIMSELF.
Now, Christiane Amanpour will talk to Bill Gates, for some reason. Does he "buy the notion" that there is "class warfare" in the United States? No, he says, because no one is shooting at each other. (Unless you count a Marine being shot with a tear gas canister, and then the people who come to render first aid to the Marine getting shot with another tear gas canister, and then that Marine almost dying, and being forced now to recover from a major head injury.)
Does he support the Buffet rule? Gates...I think...does? He says, "I can't imagine these millionaires and billionaires barricading the streets because they have to pay 5% more in taxes." There is a case to be made, he says, for taxes to be more progressive, but he's not clear on whether the Buffet rule, though he says he's generically predisposed to the rich paying more.
Does Gates support for education square with the college dropouts -- like him -- that pervade the tech industry. In so many words, yes. People need to find their own route, and we should expand our capacity to provide training for people to do all sorts of jobs. There's something in there about doing drugs and going to India. And "we need to take lessons about generosity...and carry them forward," by continuing to invest in the developing world, despite the economic crisis.
AMANPOUR: You were on Capitol Hill. What sort of a welcome did you get?
GATES: They do have a tough constraint. And so the question of should these monies that help the poorest, that enhance national security, should they be cut more than other things? Should they be cut equally? Or should they be preserved? That's, you know, something that they're having to think about. And, you know, I'm reminding them that every dollar makes a huge difference.
AMANPOUR: When President Obama says it's time to do nation-building here at home, what's your answer to that?
GATES: Well, I think, absolutely, the United States has to go back and look at what's going on with our education system, what's going on with our medical costs, what's going on with our infrastructure, our energy, our R&D. There's some very important things. Which is why 99 percent of the budget will -- will focus domestically.
There's a question, as you do that, the U.S. lead role in helping the very poorest, get them vaccines and those things, should you do your nation-building by causing more of those people to die or should you maintain at least at the level you promised, that you went out and said that the Vaccine Fund, the Global Fund, we will put this money in are those promises going to be met? And that's really at risk right now.
What was up with that outpouring of grief when Steve Jobs died? Gates says it's because Jobs did a "fantastic job" with transforming technology in a wide variety of areas..." the Internet, the personal computer, the phone, the way you can deal with information." How does he react to Jobs' book, in which Gates is said to be "unimaginative, had never invented anything and shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas."
GATES: Well, Steve and I worked together, you know, creation -- creating the Mac. We had more people on it, did the key software for it. So over the course of, you know, the 30 years we worked together, you know, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things.
I mean he faced, several times at Apple, the fact that their products were so premium priced that they literally might not stay in the marketplace. So the fact that we were succeeding with high volume products, you know, including a range of prices, because of the way we worked with multiple companies, it's tough.
And so the fact that, you know, at various times, he felt beleaguered, he felt like he was -- he was the good guy and we were the bad guys, you know, very understandable. I, you know, respect Steve. We got to work together. We spurred each other on, even as competitors. None of that bothers me at all.
Terrific. You know what else I bet cushions the blow? Stacks and stacks of sweet-ass cash.
Okay, so, that's where we'll call a halt to this today. Thanks for tuning in. A brief programming note, this November, there will be two Sundays with no liveblog: November 13th and November 27th. We shall somehow overcome this! In the meanwhile, have a great week!