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TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

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Well, good morning everybody, and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog, pre-Michigan/Arizona primary edition. My name is Jason, and as usual, I am happy to be awake and quickly typing things, for you today so that you can sleep in and rest up for the fourteen hours of Oscar coverage you will probably endure as you count down the inevitable crowning of The Artist as Best Picture. I think that's what's happening, right? Or is there still time for Harvey Weinstein's Super PAC to run attack ads against it?

By the way, I saw no movies this year! I am terrible. So I can't and won't tell you that this deserved to win over that. But if you have strong opinions, you can of course share these with each other in the comments or with me over email or follow me on Twitter where I'll probably go back on my promise to not have strong opinions later. (Speaking of strong opinions, Arsenal is already down 2-1 to Tottenham, which is really just unbearable.) In the meantime, let me suffer through a few hours of political chit-chat on your behalf first. Beginning with...

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

Today, Mitt Romney is going to throw caution to the wind and make a Sunday show appearance instead of remaining in his Fortress of Solitude and getting a mani-pedi with $100 bills. I really hope Chris Wallace asks him why he keeps saying that the trees in Michigan "look right" at every single Michigan campaign appearance, and if it means that, in the next state he travels to, he's going to be brave enough to say, "Damn! Y'all got some ASS trees in this place. Gah!" Also, Mitch Daniels is here, to be the guy that all these people WISH was actually running for President instead of Mitt Romney.

Hooray, Arsenal is now up 3-2.

Anyway, Romney is in Flint, today. Wallace asks him about the latest news from Afghanistan, where Americans keep getting killed because of the Qu'ran burnings of last week. (Whatever the merits of counterinsurgency strategy, it's really hard to do when the counterinsurgents do things that the residents of the host nation perceive as being dickish or vulgar. I mean, the coach of the Marquette mens basketball team two-stepped on the West Virginia court after they beat the Mountaineers, and the kids in the student section had to be restrained, lest they murder him. So, you know, if American kids can get white-hot hate in their eyes over a basketball game, you can imagine what a religious person might do to someone who craps on your whole culture while occupying your country.)

Ah, but piss it, let's have Mitt Romney tend to this mess. He says that it's "an extraordinary measure of failure to establish the relationships that you have to have for a successful transition to the afghan military and afghan security leadership" and he hopes things get better soon, but man! War is dangerous, and it's also "important" and maybe troops will get to come home soon.

What about Obama saying he was sorry about the Qu'ran burning? Romney says, "it sticks in people's throat" because "we are losing troops through injury and death" and "we have helped to achieve freedom for their people" and "to apologize like this is difficult for the american people to countenance." Oh, totally. I mean, after all we've done for Afghanistan we should totally be allowed to burn a lot of Qu'rans. It's like everyday, we go to work, sacrifice our time to help a business succeed, and all we want to do at the end of the day is urinate on our boss's family. WE EARNED IT.

Anyway, we are trying to win the Afghan people's "hearts and minds," or something?

But Romney also says that we should have never picked a withdrawal date, or at the very least we should not have announced one. Things should just go south forever.

Wallace presses him, and Romney says that his goal would be to "transition" Afghanistan so that their own people could be protected from the Taliban. Which is basically saying that they should be protected from themselves. Maybe we should get Afghanistan on that Intervention show, and call it a day?

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Romney is having a "tough time locking up his home state." Wallace asks, "Why is that?" Romney says that he's proud to have been born and raised in Michigan and OH GOD DO NOT RECITE YOUR STUMP SPEECH, MITT.

He reminds us that he started behind in Michigan against McCain and eventually won, so his plan is to do the same thing again. He says that he's "planning on" winning in Michigan and Arizona and getting the momentum, and that he's convinced that he'll end up being the nominee.

Wallace asks him about his opposition to the "auto bailouts" and actually does a good job explaining how taxpayer money was the fastest, easiest way of providing the funds for a managed bankruptcy. He points out that there was no private source of funding, and the alternative to what happened was liquidation and layoffs (and probably some pretty awful retail chain disruptions). Very good explanation from Wallace!

Romney says that this is a "story that the Obama administration is pushing hard." But it's not! It's the literal truth about how bankruptcies work. (I guess the story the Obama administration is pushing is: "OH YEAH, WE KNOW HOW MANAGED BANKRUPTCIES WORK, and hey, we're just picking up where the previous administration left off!"

Romney says: "When the CEO's went to Washington asking for $50 I said don't give them the money. If they need help after the bankruptcy, then the government can help with guarantees and guarantees on warranties and so forth." "After the bankruptcy" they wouldn't have needed "help" from the government, unless the government has developed a crazy new efficient way of auctioning off office supplies you no longer need.

Romney goes on to say, "What the Obama people, and the Bush people did the same thing, was they started writing checks until they realized I was right and these companies need to go through managed bankruptcy. Then they were able to get their legs urnneath them and the companies are back and thriving."

That's just an abuse of the truth. The "same thing" that the Bush White House started and the Obama White House continued is a MANAGED BANKRUPTCY. They were not doing SOME OTHER JUNK and then stopped and said, "Hey, we should listen to Mitt Romney." If anything, those guys are probably wondering why Mitt Romney seems to think that they were doing something different.

Mitt Romney seems to be the sort of person who walks into a diner, orders an omelette, gets served an omelette, looks at the omelette and then tells the waitress, "Well, all I'm saying is that I would have made an omelette." By which I mean a deeply strange person.

Wallace does note that just about everyone thinks Romney is totally wrong about this, including GM's CEO and the Governor of Michigan, both of whom are Republicans. Romney just keeps clinging to this belief that he wrote some secret plan that wasn't the same plan that was actually followed. (He does let slip what his real grievance is, which is that the people who built the cars nobody wanted to buy didn't take as big a haircut as the people who funded the building of those cars.)

Wallace says the critics on the right think his entitlement reform program is "class warfare" and filled with "occupy rhetoric." He says that he's just trying to ensure that "the middle class does not end up with the largest share of the tax burden." Ezra Klein did a fine job summarizing Romney's tax plan in less than 150 words. Go read the whole thing when you have a chance, but I'll summarize it in less than fifteen words: ROMNEY WILL BALANCE THE BUDGET ON THE BACKS OF POOR PEOPLE, THE END.

The most of what's left of Romney's budget plan is to echo stuff from Herman Cain's "9-9-9" plan and recite stuff from "Cut, Cap, and Balance," and then maybe sprinkle elf dust on the whole she-bang and call it a day.

Wallace shows Romney a couple of instances where he appeared to be "out of touch" with normal human Americans -- his refusal to answer questions at the CNN debate, and his mentioning that his wife drives a pair of Cadillacs. He says, "I can't be perfect, I can just be who I am." He explains that the only reason his wife has two Cadillacs is because she's bicoastal -- two homes, two cars, so yeah, we've all been there.

I think that the strangest example of Romney saying utter madcap nonsense was when he talked about his dad getting a good deal on graves.

Romney says he expects to get the nomination because he "understands how the economy works." I guess if you skip the chapter on what a bankruptcy is. He adds that the biggest misconception about him is that people assume that he can't be conservative and be from Massachusetts, but if you examine his record, you'll see it's possible. He then launches into a long list of things he did in Massachusetts -- very carefully omitting that part where he invents "ObamaCare."

And now, Def Charisma Jam Mitch Daniels is here, to not run for President and be a huge disappointment to everybody. Wallace asks him about how sad Republican voters are about the field, and how crazy it was when Jeb Bush threw shade on the rhetoric of the race. Daniels says that he does get down, from time to time, about that stuff, but it's mostly Obama's fault. WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE about CONTRACEPTION, MAN!

Wallace wants to know if it's too late for someone -- I DON'T KNOW, MAYBE THIS GUY "DITCH MANIELS??!" -- to get into the GOP race? "You're not asking the right guy," he says, adding that it's "technically" possible but not likely. And it will not be him. He won't run for President. "We'll have a nominee well ahead of the convention and a lot of these things will be forgotten about." I think he is 100% right.

Daniels is mad at the President for "stifling domestic oil production" and keeping us all from living in a $2/gallon gas fantasy where presumably the various overseas petrol cartels oversleep, or something, and forget to alter their production to keep supply low. Daniels maintains that the President just wants to raise gas prices, and...I'm trying to divine the alternative from Daniels remarks and it's not coming. For a second he alludes to shale oil and "locking up drillable lands," but the irony here is that you can actually ding Obama for making fun of the GOP always wanting to DRILL DRILL DRILL, because in his own State Of The Union address, he was pretty much DRILL DRILL. I guess the difference is that Obama is like two "DRILLS" instead of three, and if the GOP is all "Drill, baby, drill," then Obama is more like, "Hey girl. Can I get you some drill?"

Wallace seems to be getting the same "Huh?" out of this as I am, so he presses Daniels, who says that all the good stuff Wallace cites is actually something you should credit the Bush administration for doing.

Wallace points out that the economy is doing better. Daniels says PSHAW, Obama can't run on the economy. He then becomes the latest person on the GOP side to start paying attention to the U6 unemployment numbers. Which I applaud, by the way! Please join me in doing so, guys. (But when y'all are in power and we're not adding enough jobs to the economy to keep up with the labor force, DON'T GO ANYWHERE! Stick with me, okay? LOVE YOU BOO.)

Daniels concludes by touting the awesomeness of the economy in "right to work" states, while simultaneously expressing how sad and reluctant he was to make Indiana a "right to work" state, which is a really, deeply strange set of thoughts for someone to be holding in their brains simultaneously!

Panel time, with Bill Kristol and Evan Bayh and Juan Williams and Ed Gillespie. Sticking with gas prices, Bill Kristol says that Obama's efforts to detune criticism may have "muddied the waters" somewhat, but that rising gas prices just suck and people hate them. Bayh says that "people tend to forget that gas prices hit $4/gallon under Bush" and that there's little a President can do about it. (That didn't stop the Democrats from hitting Bush on it, as Wallace points out.)

Gillespie wants to tie gas prices to KeystoneXL, but that's precisely what Obama is talking about when he says that the people who criticize him don't know what they're talking about. Keystone isn't some magical gas cost reducer. Williams adds that expanding drilling wholesale isn't going to bring down gas prices, either.

Shifting to Afghanistan, and the recent uptick in violence over the Qu'ran burnings. Kristol says that every indication is that our relationship with the Afghans "is not good," and it's "depressing for those of us who have supported both President Bush and President Obama to make the war a success." Bayh says that this will probably put pressure on us to get out of Afghanistan, because "is this the thanks we get?" Yeah, man. I never feel more GRATEFUL to a mofeaux than five minutes after they've burned something really important to my spiritual life. (By which I guess I mean my copies of the Replacements discography. For real, though! If you walked into my home and snapped by copy of "Hootenanny" in half, I'd probably get all Liam Neeson with you.)

So, should we apologize for doing terrible things to people? Gillespie says that it was wrong for Qu'ran's to be burned and it's right for us to say so, but there's no moral equivalency between Qu'rans being burned and people getting killed. I totally agree! But you don't set up a moral equivalency by saying "Sorry that happened, that was terrible, and we'll hold whoever accountable." That's an attempt to keep people from killing each other. (The lack of equivalency is assisted by the fact that one side expressed regret over something.)

And we shift to the 2012 horserace. Gillespie says that Romney would definitely be seen as turning things around with any sort of win. He points out that everyone complaining about how long the process is taking should remember that the RNC changed a lot of rules in order to make the long race a reality. Williams agrees, and says that those who find it all disconcerting aren't aware of the nature of the rule changes, and dont understand why Romney is having such a hard time winning (or why he needs to run such negative ads to bring about what was expected to be a fait accompli).

Kristol says that Romney's a little bit imperiled by the fact that his ideas are small and incremental. "There's a big market for big ideas...and Romney's plans don't convey a sense of urgency." Romney's a manager, not a reformer. Bayh says that if Romney doesn't want to keep "winning ugly," he'll have to come up with a "broader message."

What happens if Santorum finishes slightly behind Romney? Does he have staying power? And what happens to Newt? Gillespie says that Newt could get back in the game in Georgia, but that's realistically his last stand. He does think that we're basically down to a Romney-Santorum race until April. Williams agrees, noting that the "intensity of the base" seems to be on Santorum's side.

FACE THE NATION

Today, Face The Nation has a pair of alliterative governors on, Chris Christie and Martin O'Malley, and I'm guessing we'll be talking about marriage equality and candidate surrogacy.

We begin with Christie, who is here to explain how Romney is struggling to win Michigan. "What's he doing wrong?" Schieffer asks. Seriously, would somebody please bring up his weird line about the trees? Christie says it's wrong to think that anyone is a shoo-in to win anything this year, because the "electorate" is "volatile" and GOP voters are "shopping" for someone to beat Obama. Over time, however, they'll eventually settle for Romney, after a prolonged commitment to not settling.

Santorum, of course, accuses Romney of being whatever sort of politician -- liberal, moderate, or conservative -- he needs to be at the time in order to win votes. Christie says that Santorum called Romney "a real conservative" in 2008, and now Santorum is being the "opportunist."

Schieffer says that Romney keeps saying things that don't really endear him to common people. BRING UP THE TREES, THOUGH! Christie says, "the cat's out of the bag" on Romney's wealth and now everyone's expecting him to trip himself up. Romney's been a success, and people won't hold it against him.

Schieffer says that Romney doesn't seem to care about the poor as much a Christie does. I don't know where Schieffer got the idea that Christie is some sort of crusader for the poor, however. He's hurt the poor plenty. Christie says that Romney totally cares about the poor and will totally repair the safety net by -- uhm...slashing the safety net programs to balance the budget?

Schieffer is apparently bothered by the fact that Rick Santorum thinks that Obama is a "snob" because he wants all American kids to have a chance at getting a college degree. I agree, it is the STRANGEST thing I've maybe ever heard a politician say. I just can't make any sense of it at all, especially considering the fact that Santorum wanted to do the same thing. THE EXACT SAME THING. You're a "snob" now for wanting other people to have great opportunities in life? Bizarre.

But what's even more bizarre is why would you put this question to a Romney surrogate? Yes, for some reason, Chris Christie has to answer this. He says that he doesn't have any idea what Santorum is talking about, and that people should definitely encourage aspirations, whether its college or not, and that the President is "certainly not a snob" for saying that. "That's probably over the line."

Is Santorun pushing the party "too far to the right?" Christie says he's not worried because Santorum won't be the nominee and Romney will have plenty of appeal to independents. "When we get out of the primary, we'll be okay." He doesn't agree, however, with Alan Simpson, on the matter of the concentration on social issues being detrimental to the GOP. He says that Romney's been mainly talking about economic issues.

Schieffer doesn't know how to get the focus back on issues that matter. He might want to try NOT TALKING ABOUT ISSUES HE DOESN'T DEEM IMPORTANT ON THE TEEVEE SHOW HE HOSTS. This is just an idea I had. (Ha, Chris Christie agrees: "The great thing about the 24/7 news cycle is that you guys will just get bored and moev on to something else." Of course, the "something else" could be just another shiny shiny bouncing ball of dimwit.)

Oh, and Arsenal went on to score a bunch of goals and won 5-2. Suck it, Spurs!

How to take on Obama on the economy? Christie says that everyone should expect a tough race and a formidable opponent, but the first vulnerability is the fact that his stimulus plan didn't spur a larger recovery. For the sake of an example, anyway. From there, Christie is actually pretty realistic and pragmatic. "Let's have an argument, let's have the fight. Romney will bring that fight to the President and the President will have to defend his record. But I'm not going to be one of those guys who says nothing good ever happens, I think you have no credibility when you say that."

Schieffer raises the concerns of those who still agitate for a new entrant, but Christie says that a deadlocked convention is unlikely, but possible. In any event, it won't be him running for president next month or jumping into the race. But would he volunteer at a contested convention? Christies says no. Would he be interested in the vice presidency? "Not really," he says, but he'd listen if asked. "But you should bet on me being the governor of New Jersey."

Can Christie maybe get Romney to come on the show? Christie says he'll put in a word.

Now, Martin O'Malley is here, and he contends that the biggest problem the GOP faces is that the economy is getting better in terms of jobs, the auto industry revival, and other indicators. I'm not sure O'Malley has a real solid argument to make about foreclosures being better, given the way the White House's relief programs were a chaotic mess, and it's probably just as well that he didn't mention GDP growth, right?

But what about the price of gas, yo? Schieffer says that Newt Gingrich has a plan to bring gas down to under $2/gallon, and O'Malley actually just starts laughing, because "LOL THE MOON." (I am paraphrasing. But only a little bit.)

What about Santorum's "snob" remark? "There's much that Rick Santorum says that I don't really get," O'Malley says. He then makes a non-controversial point that "the more highly skilled we make our workforce" the better chance they have at earning good money at a good job, you know, like total snobs. (Don't actual snobs work for minimum wage at record stores?)

Is birth control going to be an issue in the campaign? Martin O'Malley says, "I hope not." Deep down, of course, he's thinking, "Holy cow that would be AMAZING." But you are not supposed to say, "If we could remain focused on a social issue that brings out the blue-faced cray-crays on the other side, repulses independent voters back in our direction and gets the media's full attention so that issues of larger importance on which we are more vulnerable and have to actually do a little work to develop a solid argument, that would be terrific" out loud.

But, yeah, the Democrats would LOVE the election to be about contraception.

"Do you think it's good for the President if the debate is on social issues?" asks Schieffer. O'Malley says, "I think it's good for the president, I think it's bad for the country." That's actually a little bit like saying the quiet part loud. "I think what we really need is for that more moderate Republican party to come back and join with the President." Good luck with that!

Schieffer signs off by predicting that if Romney loses Michigan, the GOP elites are going to lose their minds and start begging someone else to jump into the race. Sure, why not? (For what it's worth, and I think it's worth very little, I think that Romney pulls out a win in Michigan.)

MEET THE PRESS

But we're going to get a chance to hear what ol' Rick Santorum has to say about the Michigan Primary, as he is David Gregory's guest.

Santorum, as you probably know, is really mad that Obama apologized for the inadvertent burning of the Qu'rans. But that's what you do when you do something by accident. If I break my wife's favorite piece of belleek, I apologize for it. I don't say, well, you know, I acknowledge that mistakes were made but that these things happen. It's actually useful to say, "I am going to take responsibility for that" because if the wronged party then turns around and starts killing people, they're punching up at the moral high ground.

I just don't know how foreign relations are supposed to work under Rick Santorum, unless it's "convert to Americanism or you will beg for our mere indifference."

"You highlight it when you apologize for it," Santorum says. All of this need to have AWESOME FRIENDSHIPS WITH AFGHANS is a product of counterinsurgency strategy, though.

At any rate, Santorum says that the president erred by putting withdrawal on a timetable and out enemies are now just biding their time. They would be doing that even if there wasn't a timetable, though. The timetable actually works against them, because they lose the larger battle of bleeding us dry and weakening our economy. All the timetable really does is give Americans some false hope that at some point, our leaders will admit that they aren't going to be able to do this impossible thing that every other empire on earth has tried to do only to fail miserably. "Don't worry, we're only on planning at failing a little!" says that timetable.

Shifting to Michigan, Santorum plays with expectations, saying that it's amazing that Romney needs to spend so much money to beat him in his home state. Yeah, he says, Romney is driving up his negatives, but Santorum's "positive message" is resonating where Romney's "warmed over pablum at Ford Field" isn't. He goes on the ridicule Romney for being the candidate that tinkers and dithers and timidly works the managerial edges while he is the dynamic reformer with bold ideas.

Santorum says he has a lot of respect for Governor Jan Brewer, who is on the show later, but stops short of actually begging for her endorsement on live television.

What about the Ron Paul/Mitt Romney team up? Santorum says that the one constant in the race is that Ron Paul always runs against the candidate who is giving Romney the most static at the time. He says that is what Paul consistently does, noting that in Michigan, Paul is running attack ads against Santorum even though he's not even in Michigan competing for votes. "I'd love for someone to ask him that question," Santorum says, all but accusing Paul of being Romney's stalking horse.

Gregory asks Santorum what he means by saying it's snobbish to want people to go to college, and I see know that this is actually the part of his statement that makes the most sense -- the rest is a paranoiac rant about Obama using colleges to "remake people in his image through indotrination." Very loony-poon fringe natterings from a complete blatherskite. Which Santorum sort of continues here today.

He also seems to think that by saying that he'd like every American to have a chance at a college educations, that Obama was implying that everyone HAD to go to college and that no one could do something like go to trade school or learn a skill. Santorum went to Penn State, and has two post-graduate degrees, so he MUST have the intellectual attainment necessary to know he is making an argument that's utter babble. And self-negating to boot.

Gregory points out that among the non-college educated, unemployment is much higher, but Santorum isn't here to make an interesting argument based on facts. He'd actually rather blab on and on about an argument that Obama never made. He literally seems to want me to believe that Obama has declared open season on anyone who wants to be a plumber. Again, let me point out that Rick Santorum was FOR everyone going to college before he decided that being AGAINST it, for some reason, was important to winning the GOP nomination.

What a weirdie!

For his next trick, Rick Santorum will try to manage the fallout from his "I am a team player" remark at the debate, and explain why he voted for No Child Left Behind.

SANTORUM: Well, that's really the funny thing about this, is that I get so much criticism because I'm too conservative, I'm too doctrinaire. And, you know, Governor Romney, as you know, I mean, has a long and strong reputation of voting on both sides of almost every single issue. And so for Governor Romney to be the one attacking me, which is even funnier: Governor Romney agreed with No Child Left Behind and still supports No Child Left Behind.

What I saw was that, after No Child Left Behind was passed, and we saw a huge expansion of the federal government's role in education, I looked back and said, "You know what? That's not what I believe in." I have a plan that says that we're going to repeal No Child Left Behind, we're going to get the federal government out of education.

I've even said we need to get the state government more out of education, put it back at the local level, have parents and teachers and administrators and the community build a customized program for every single child in America. That's what I believe. Governor Romney doesn't believe that. Mine's a conservative vision. Mine's a traditional vision of how America works, from the bottom up.

And again, Romney supports No Child Left Behind, plus he invented ObamaCare, neener-neener! The idea that Romney is a conservative, to Santorum, is a "joke."

Santorum next takes issue with the idea that he supported a steel bailout. "WHOA WHOA NOW, I DIDN"T SUPPORT THAT," he says. "What I voted for was to enforce the law, to enforce the tariffs when China was illegally dumping steel in this country. That's not a steel bailout. There are laws in place in this country that protect domestic manufacturers from illegal dumping into this country. It went through the process, they did the evaluation. The evaluation was that China was breaking the law, and I supported imposing tariffs. There was a process here. That wasn't a bailout."

Wouldn't Santorum prefer government to pick winners and losers, thought? Like the way his fiscal policies specifically favors manufacturing? Santorum is glad you asked! "What we have to realize is that manufacturers have to compete not against just other manufacturers in this country, they have to compete internationally, directly internationally, for the jobs to stay in America," and do achieve that, you have to de-regulate the manufacturing industry and drop taxes.

He also says that by providing unemployment insurance for too long, workers can have problems getting back in the workforce because they miss out on obtaining skills. But the problem there isn't unemployment insurance -- it's prolonged unemployment, full stop. The only thing that unemployment insurance does is keep you from dying of starvation immediately, after you lose your job in an economy were there are five job seekers for every job opening.

Gregory sums up by showing Santorum a clip of Kennedy speaking up in favor of church and state, which Santorum has already called "horrible."

SANTORUM: The original line that you didn't play that President Kennedy said is, quote, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute." That is not the founders' vision, that is not the America that made the greatest country in the history of the world.

The idea that people of faith should not be permitted in the public square to influence public policy is antithetical to the first amendment which says the free exercise of religion-- James Madison called people of faith--and, by the way, no faith and different faith--the ability to come in the public square with diverse opinions, motivated by a variety of different ideas and passions, "the perfect remedy." Why? Because everybody's allowed in.

So there you have it! Rick Santorum is willing to allow sharia law in America!

That's when a sort of fight breaks out!

GREGORY: So Senator, are you going to use the bully pulpit, if you're president, to talk about these issues, to rail against areas of our culture that you disagree with? Or will you, given your comments about President Kennedy, go beyond that and make it a focal point of your presidency to act on your beliefs?

SANTORUM: It's so funny, I get the question all the time. "Why are you talking so much about these social issues?" as people ask me about the social issues. Look--

GREGORY: Senator, no, wait a minute. You talked about this stuff every week. And by the way, it's not just in the campaign--

SANTORUM: No, I talked about--

GREGORY: You talk about it. And I've gone back years, when you've been in public life, and you have made this a centerpiece of your public life. So the notion that these are not deeply held views worthy of question and scrutiny, it's not just about the press.

SANTORUM: Yeah, they are deeply held views, but they're not what I dominantly talk about, David. You're taking things that, over a course of a 20-year career, and pulling out quotes from different speeches on issues that are fairly tangential, not what people care about mostly in America, and saying, "Oh, he wants to impose those values."

I don't know. I think that Rick Santorum talks about gay sex way more than the entire population of the Castro.

For some reason, David Gregory decides to end the interview talking about the Daytona 500, because Santorum "will like" those questions. Santorum has a sponsored car in the race, but he doesn't want to denigrate anyone who wants to watch the Oscars because he likes movies, too.

Gregory wishes Mitt Romney would come on the show. Someone please make that happen!

Okay, so now, California Governor Jerry Brown and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer are going to yell about stuff for the next ten minutes or so. Brewer is going to endorse a candidate! Who will it be? It will be Mitt Romney! What was decisive for her, about making that decision? Oh, he's got some political stuff and junk, but he can, you know...win and stuff? So there you have it! Brewer will endorse Romney, and hopefully not end up like Nikki Haley and Tim Pawlenty.

Brewer also says that she thinks the race will be decided after Super Tuesday. I am inclined to agree. (My tendency, and I'm prepared to be wrong about this, is that we'll basically know Romney's got this in the bag at least a month before the political media is willing to admit it.)

Brown says that he thinks Ron Paul "will keep going...and why not," and he says there's nothing wrong with that, in politics. He says that the biggest problem the GOP faces isn't the length of their primary season, but the motion of the economic ocean, which, he contends is trending the president's way. (And also, the GOP nominees have some loony things to say about social issues.)

What about Santorum's snob remarks? Brown says that he wouldn't "frame it" like Santorum does, and that he'd like to see a lot more vocational education himself.

On immigration, Gregory pulls an old Brown quote...

"I do believe that the Mexican-American has been too invisible in California and throughout the southwest. It is imperative that we in this country, and particularly in the southwest, open our hearts and our minds to this culture and that we try to accelerate the melting pot and the assimilations process so that we can live together in harmony."

...and asks him if he believes that "even more strongly today." "Very much do," he says. He supports the DREAM act and supports in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants, as well as scholarship.

Gregory notes that Arizona's been a "flashpoint" on the immigration issue because of their state law. "But the bottom line is that we do need our borders secured because we understand that Mexico is in terrible unrest. And the whole state of Mexico is being controlled by drug cartels and all of that crime is coming across our border. And Arizona is the gateway. Texas has done a very good job of securing their borders, with the help of the federal government. California has done a good job. But we are the gateway."

Brown says the larger solution is to invest on helping Mexico destroy their profitable drug cartels and make employment opportunities more popular in Mexico.

Brewer says that she thinks it's "ridiculous" to testify before the Senate the day before the SCOTUS rules on SB1070. Okay, then! And then there's this implication that sounds like the White House wants Arizona's border to be porous, and that the Fast And Furious gun-walking program was designed to be problematic for her state in particular? Fast And Furious was obvious incompetence, but I don't think that they were trying to do anyone in Arizona harm intentionally.

As far as her conflicts with the White House -- that whole tarmac fingerwag and her declining an invitation to "have a dinner at the White House," Brewer says that she's not trying to be disrespectful, she just has other commitments. She sold a lot of books, so, what's to object to, right?

Gas prices in California are going up, so what's to be done? Brown says, "When I was governor the last time, we had gas lines and the price shot up and then the price shot down. We took steps. Fuel efficiency, mandating electric cars. California's on the forefront, and now President Obama adopted the California regulations, and we have to go beyond that. And you have to support mass transit, unlike the congressional Republican bill that guts mass transit."

Also, he points out that maybe starting a war with Iran is going to make gas prices go up a wee little bit, maybe? So, you know, try to avoid that.

Gregory asks Brown if Califorinia is "less governable now then it used to be."

BROWN: No. It's different. But I think it actually will be more governable. And one thing we have in California you don't have in the United States government: We can appeal to the people through the initiative process. So when you have a breakdown of the two parties, we can go directly to the people as the tiebreaker. And I think that's the way we're going to break the logjam.

UGH. No. The initiative process in California should be nuked from space!

Gregory ends this segment by asking Brewer if she endorsed Mitt Romney on Meet The Press a few minutes ago. Brewer confirms that she did. Gregory speculates that this might be a "big piece of news." Brewer neither confirms this or denies it.

Panel time, with Chuck Todd, Harold Ford, Kathleen Parker, and Steve Schmidt. (For the purposes of this panel, I guess Schmidt is the "liberal.")

We begin with a reminder that in Arizona and Michigan, there are a whopping 59 delegates at stake. It would be useful to also remind everyone that only Arizona is a "winner take all" state. So this is a lot of hoop-tee-doo about nothing.

Todd says that the "wild card in Michigan" will be Democrats, making mischief in Michigan. What it lots of Democrats vote for Santorum as a way of gumming up the process? Well, that would be very cynical. I'd have to say that it would be a clear sign that Democrats are fearful of Obama losing re-election to Mitt Romney. Any Democratic voter who wants to send that message should go right ahead and do so. And I'll assume that they won't get all bent out of shape the next time Rush Limbaugh of some whoever tries to entice Republicans to vote in open Democratic primaries.

Todd points out that in Michigan, Santorum could lose the vote and win more delegates, because of the way Michigan apportions its delegates. Santorum could, in the end, win more congressional districts. So watch that! And remember, Obama did some of the same thing in 2008, and got the media to notice. Santorum will have to do the same thing if he wins in that way -- otherwise, the story will be "momentum for Romney." (This is where Santorum probably wishes he had a well-funded campaign.)

Schmidt predicts that the race goes past Super Tuesday, and he thinks that the way it's all set up guarantees a primary process that "degrades" the GOP candidates. He says, "It's very difficult to go through the process with the 20 debates that they've gone through here without there being significant erosion to their favorable ratings. And one of the things that's really worrying for Republicans is obviously the collapse of support in the middle of the electorate, while the president's numbers have increased."

I would imagine that if the GOP loses the White House in November, they are going to rewrite the rules, and spent a significant amount of time trying to re-establish the "establishment" as the primary chooser of candidates.

Parker doesn't much care for Santorum, either, and Gregory wastes her time and mine by reading her back the text of something she just wrote, instead of asking a question about it. She says that his "snob" remark was an example of his tendency to "go way too far" and demonstrate a "lack of prudence."

Ford actually kind of nails Santorum really way for being a "cafeteria Christian":

FORD: His answer was confusing. I think Kathleen has it right: Church and state should be separate, but certainly one's faith motivates, informs, and influences how he or she behaves as a father, a husband, even an anchor, a politician or an analyst. He'll have a hard time answering that question going forward.

But I thought the most interesting answer he gave was about Afghanistan. He admitted that a mistake was made, that it was inadvertent, but we should not have apologized. Now, it's interesting: It's clear that Rick Santorum's faith is important to him. This is an issue of faith that we're dealing with in Afghanistan, and the actions that were inadvertently or mistakenly taken by our military.

If that had happened here and someone had not apologized to us, how would he have felt? Of course his faith would have been offended. It's a smart thing to do for the commander-in-chief to apologize. I question not only his prudence around social issues but just his judgment.

What happens if Romney loses Michigan (and keep in mind, now, that this only applies to losing the "vote" not losing the greater share of Michigan's delegates)? Todd says that the freakout for a new candidate begins. And does it work?

TODD: If you get in now, essentially, and make all the filing deadlines, the most amount of delegates you could compete for is 1,036. That is not enough to get the nomination. But the motivation would be what? The motivation would simply be to get enough delegates to become a player during the contested convention, and you would assume a lot of things could happen. Romney's support could collapse, all of his delegates could suddenly be available. You'd see some sort of fusion thing; maybe Rick Santorum ends up on the ticket.

SOME FUSION THING, 2012! Romney's hair, Paul's jowls, Santorum's chest, Gingrich's anus! Tanned, rested and ready and totally winning the war on terror, because you take one look at that thing and say, "PISS THIS, WE SURRENDER BEFORE THE SHAMBLING LOVECRAFTIAN HORRORSHOW THAT BECAME THE PRESIDENT OF AMERICA."

What about Romney's wife and her two Cadillacs and their horses? She says, "You know, Mitt Romney has a very hard time connecting; I think we've accepted that. I think we can also unanimously conclude that Mitt Romney, for all of his good qualities, is a dork, okay?"

OKAY, GO ON.

PARKER: Independents have to think of him as the doctor, okay? He's the doctor who doesn't have a bedside manner. Ultimately, do you really care? The question is, do you think he has the cure? And I think voters are going to have to put aside the fact that he's not connecting, and they need to decide whether they think he's got what it takes to fix the economy.

So, what then? Mitt Romney is like, Hugh Laurie in House? That show's going off the air, this spring, around the same time Rick Santorum hopes "Mitt Romney Wants To Be The President" has its series finale.

Okay kids! It's time to bring this week's edition of whatever this is to an end. Please enjoy the Oscars or the Daytona 500 or whatever underground Sunday night fight club you attend to the fullest. Have a great week, and we'll see you back here next Sunday.

[The Sunday Morning liveblog returns next week. In the meanwhile, here is the only guide to watching tonight's broadcast of the Academy Awards that you'll need.]

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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