Well, then. Good morning, everyone! My name is Jason. Once again the easy leisure of Saturday has passed and we face another Sunday morning of politically-themed blather to sit through on another Sunday morning. This week, our primary concern is Tuesday -- which is the Super-est of Tuesdays, by dint of the fact that 10 states have annoyingly scheduled their primaries/caucuses for that date. Super Tuesday should be absolutely decisive in bringing an end to the hopes of the Monday before, while quite possibly boosting the fortunes of the following Wednesday, which could very well go on to become Thursday and possibly Friday. But for now, it's Sunday morning. I want to go back to bed.
Ah, but I know my duty is to this liveblog, and all of you, so let's press on, shall we, with the quickly typed observations and the unfair snap judgments! As usual, y'all can chillax in the comments and greet one another, or send me an email, or, if you really want, follow me on Twitter for later. Let's commence.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Today, Chris Wallace will chat with Rick Santorum, for whom few things have gone right, about Super Tuesday. And then Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal will yell at each other about Iran. Also, the Washington Caucus thingy happened, and Mitt Romney won, followed by Ron Paul and then Santorum and then ol' what's his name.
But Rick Santorum is in Tennessee, and he's bronzed up and ready to go. Wallace asks, "Don't you have to win in Ohio?" Santorum says that he's at a money disadvantage but has a "great grassroots campaign" and is "hanging in there." He is "confident he'll do well," but sort of hints that he'd like to lose some of the "anti-Romney" competition -- meaning Newt Gingrich. Once he gets a chance to go "one on one," he says, he'll "win this thing." Santorum predicts he'll do well in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Ohio, and North Dakota, and have some "good second places" along the way as well.
Wallace brings up the fact that campaign filing problems have put Santorum at a disadvantage in Ohio, where he might lose 8 delegates just to a problem with having a short-handed campaign. Plus he's not on the ballot of Virginia. Santorum says that his campaign hasn't had the resources, and better campaigns than his have had the same problem. He says that considering all of that, he feels his campaign has done "amazingly well."
Wallace, for some reason, brings up the matter of Rush Limbaugh's quasi-semi-almost apology to Sandra Fluke, because that's this week's shiny thing that the candidates have to acknowledge, and wants to know why the GOP is "still pushing this issue" with the Blunt Amendment. Santorum says that President Obama "imposed his values" and the Blunt Amendment was written to ensure that "conscience clauses" were maintained. Wallace objects and says that it extends the rights to not furnish or pay for contraception typically held by Catholic institutions to all other companies, like, say, "U.S. Steel." Santorum says that it's not about contraception, it's about any type of medical treatment. Which...seems to me like he's saying the quiet part loud again! But yes, the Blunt Amendment would give any employer the right to withhold any type of medical care for any reason.
Wallace points out that Santorum personally thinks birth control is wrong, and asks how that fits with the CDC findings that 99% of women have at some point in their lives used artificial birth control. "Are you saying that all those women have done something wrong?" Wallace asks. "I reflect the views of the church I believe in," says Santorum, adding, "we used to be tolerant of those beliefs" but that now, he guesses, when you have beliefs that come from religion, you're now out of the mainstream. But beyond that, this is about the government, and "we haven't been talking about my personal beliefs," except for that part just there.
Now Wallace asks why he's given so little to charity, compared to Romney and Obama. We're really running out of questions to ask Rick Santorum, I think. Romney and Obama -- aren't they demonstrably wealthier than Santorum? Santorum points out that he has seven children, one of whom has a serious disability, that he has to pay for. Totally true, and while the story of his family leads, in my mind, to some fair questions about why he doesn't support universal health care, it's really not cool to ask him why he doesn't give more to charity.
Wallace won't let it go, though. I kind of wish we could move on from this.
We do, at last: Wallace wants to beat him up over the "snob" comment, which Michigan voters have already done, but hey, gotta get in your licks while the corpse is still lukewarm. Wallace points out that Obama's view of higher education matches Santorum's view -- it's not limited to majoring in Wiccan Literature with a minor in Ceramics at Vassar for all Americans. Wallace notes that in his 2006 campaign, he wanted everyone to go to college, so isn't he the same as Obama? Santorum says that all he was trying to do was keep the focus exclusively off four-year colleges. Wallace notes that this is exactly what Obama said. So Santorum says, well, you know, I seem to remember reading some stuff that made it sound like everyone needed to get an MFA is Pretentious Studies but if he's mistaken about that, sorry, you know? He just wants everyone to go to all the colleges.
Wallace asks him to explain his "took one for the team" comment on No Child Left Behind. He says it's wrong to characterize it any other way than that he supported NCLB then, and came to regret it. Wallace asks, sure, but what's the deal with the "took one for the team" stuff. Santorum says that he was referring to the stuff he didn't like in the bill, which he voted for because at the time he DID like 90% of it. He says that the spending that he suspected would give him "heartburn" ended up being the "dominant part of the bill."
But in 2006, he campaigned on NCLB. He says that at the time, the stuff he liked about NCLB was still stuff he liked about it, especially the part that most people liked. Rick Santorum: he's totally for all the things you really like, as long as your genitals aren't involved!
Santorum thinks that cutting taxes and letting companies run wild in a world with no regulation leads to growth, and also PONIES, and he doesn't "accept the premise" of any other argument, even if the ponies are prettier.
On to Iran! Obama is going to be chatting with Israeli Prime Minister about what to do about Iran. (You can follow Nico Pitney's liveblog of developments in this story by clicking here.) Graham and Blumenthal have just returned from the Middle East, where they've solved nothing, I guess!
Graham says that the U.S. must make it clear that military options remain on the table and that both men must come out of their meeting with a "common definition" about Iran that can be communicated to them. Blumenthal says that Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would turn the Middle East into a "nuclear tinderbox," which the President should feel passionately about enough to want to combat.
Does Netanyahu need to give sanctions more time to work before he starts bombing Iran? Blumenthal says that Israel's interests are their own and separate from the United States. Graham says that the sanctions have not stopped Iran, so from Israel's point of view, the more time that passes, the more fortified the Iranian bases are, and eventually you hit a point of no return if Israel wants to "control their own destiny." And if Iran, by dint of military advancement, forced Israel's hand in the area of maintaining "control of their own destiny," the official U.S. stance should be that it's "okay with us," whatever they choose to do.
Wallace wants clarification on what Graham means. Graham says that we should understand and support the Israelis, should they do some war stuff with Iran. Blumenthal adds that we need to make it clear to Iran that we are with Israel in this fight, and that they should maybe think.
Meanwhile, everyone is getting frustrated with Afghanistan, and the way they keep fighting our soldiers over things like their holy books being destroyed casually. Graham says that the entire picture in Afghanistan should not be colored by this one event, and that if we leave, "we'll pay a heavy price." Blumenthal adds that "we will be getting out of Afghanistan, hopefully, according to the strategy" that's been mapped out. All we have to do is continue to train and arm the people who are shooting us for burning their Korans, and remind them they are supposed to shoot the Taliban. We do that, and we can leave! And obviously, leave behind some sort of demi-paradise!
Graham says that he'd like to see us "go full Libya" in Syria, with no-fly-zones and arming the insurgency, and maybe some playing fast and loose with the Executive Branch's Constitutional powers. Blumenthal is vaguer, saying that the "international community" should send aid to the Syrian opposition, including some arms, you know, if there's a need for that. But he says that in Syria, there should be "no American troops on the ground." That's good! I mean, aren't all of our dudes fighting other wars?
Panel time, with Bill Kristol, Jeff Zeleny, Kimberly Strassel, and Juan Williams.
Kristol says that the U.S. and Israel are not yet on the same page, and this is beyond the personal positions of Obama and Netanyahu. Iran, he says, is an "existential threat" to Israel. He says the United States basic position is that we can afford to wait and watch and monitor, but Israel is closer to the point where they start freaking. Strassel adds that "the real problem" is that the administration has been "undermining" Israel, up until this week, where he sounded more hawkish. Williams disagrees with this, saying he's puzzled by the contention that there's a distance between his position and Israel's security. Wallace notes that he doesn't approve of the settlements, but Williams notes that this is just standard operating procedure for the United States. He notes that in an interview just this week, Obama's word to Iran was that he "doesn't bluff," and that he has Israel's back.
He also notes that war with Iran will probably have a deleterious effect on the global economy, as well as some diminishment of individual human beings to "stay alive" in certain concentrated localities.
Zeleny says that he expects Obama to take "more of a hard line" at the AIPAC meeting this weekend, but that the GOP candidates will be rebutting him on Tuesday, and that the "politics aren't really as important as the policy in the Middle East."
Shifting to Afghanistan, Kristol says that we're at "an awfully sensitive moment," and that he expects that General John R. Allen to testify to the effect that the mission is continuing, and the drawdown will not hurt us and these killings over the Qu'ran burning are "isolated incidents." He maintains he basic support of what we're doing in Afghanistan, and argues that our successes in the region aren't as well covered as these tragic incidents, and that's what's driving all of the negativity toward our oldest war ever.
Horse race time! Romney and Santorum are yelling at each other, and while that's been going on, Rick Santorum's lead in Ohio has shrunk to two points. And probably, Romney is going to assume control and win the state, and look -- he's probably going to be the nominee. That said, LISTEN TO JEFF ZELENY when he points out, rightly, that Super Tuesday doesn't have a decisive number of delegates to begin with, and those delegates it does have are distributed by proportion, so the race will continure past Super Tuesday, and everyone should deal, as the process slowly sorts itself out, the way it's designed to do.
That said, Romney will face new challenges if he loses Ohio. And Zeleny notes that he's not exactly inspired much enthusiasm in voters. Strassel adds that if Santorum loses Ohio, it will be bad, because Ohio is a better fit for him than Michigan was.
Williams says that Newt has no future without winning Georgia. But even past Georgia, he's not sure where Gingrich is going to win, especially with Santorum competitive. He adds that Romney has been weakened through this process, and has had to spend money. Kristol says that winning Michigan and Ohio would put Romney in a strong position.
Who has the upper hand on the contraception issue? Zeleny says the Democrats do, and they're securing the womens' vote. Zeleny says that it's unlikely that this has been the White House's strategy from the start, as some suggest, but that "there's no doubt that the Democrats have the upper hand." Strassel says that the Democrats are "cleverly" making an argument to support the Affordable Care Act, where if "a company refuse to pay for the product for you. you are denied acess in toto." Of course, it helps that the Blunt Amendment just extends blanket permission for anyone to deny any sort of treatment on any sort of grounds. That makes that "clever argument" a lot easier to argue. The GOP would not be having any problem at all -- in fact, they'd be celebrating a minor victory -- if they'd only taken Obama's walk-back compromise, which pleased all of these Catholic organizations (outside of the Bishops themselves, or course), they'd be in fine shape. Instead, they got greedy, overreached badly, and are paying the price.
And did they forget there's an election happening? The GOP's position is just not a general election winner.
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW
Chris's guests today include Bob Woodward and Becky Quick and Kathleen Parker and Major Garrett, and they will talk about whether Obama is totally lucky to have the GOP in disarray right now (sure, but it's March...it's really too soon to be declaring the presidential race over, sorry George Will) and whether or not "a war with Iran will change everything." Uhm...I imagine that some stuff is going to change, yes. But that's just me, answering in twelve seconds what the panel is going to spend the next 30 minutes of their lives talking about, sorry!
Chris Matthews says that Obama is "channeling Reagan's 'Morning in America.'" Our pal Brian Beutler at TPM reckons that maybe that sort of dawn has broken, by the way. He has charts!
What is true is that Obama has been markedly optimistic lately, as Rush Limbaugh's running commentary on slut-shaming has become the latest nonsense for the GOP to worry about. That said, the economic recovery is still very fragile, and discontent over the cost of gas is a workable wedge issue. Time to start FREAKING? Well, like I mentioned, George Will already has. In his recent column he all but concedes the election and urges the GOP to pour their money and effort into controlling the legislative branch.
Woodward says that there's no real way of knowing what will happen in November when you're sitting in March and between now and then there's all sorts of potential for a "seismic event" -- the economy, the wars, new wars -- they could impact the race inexorably. It's nowhere near over -- yesterday's Santorum voter becomes November's Romney voter very easily.
Quick says that "a lot of people" suspect that the unemployment rate could go up to 9% by November and that it could go back up to 8.6% next week, because the participation rate is so low at the moment. Parker says that if Obama can get re-elected if the economy improves, and that this will be bolstered, actually, if things "spiral out of control in the Middle East." In that sort of situation, Americans are loathe to "change horses." She adds, "Republicans don't want to hear this, but Obama has established himself as a very effective Commander-in-Chief."
Garrett says that the White House is worried that future events could ruin the perception that the economy is reversing, and are very afraid that the spring will be a repeat of last spring -- when economic gains reversed themselves.
He does note, however, that the GOP "has not been on offense" since August and he's not being "challenged internally," factors that inevitably favor the incumbent.
But the price of gas -- that can be hung around Obama's neck...symbolically, anyway. Quick says this is the season where gas prices start going up, and as soon as it becomes $5/gallon, you get problems. "It's more tangible to the American voter," than the unemployment rate, Parker adds. Then Woodward chimes in with something about "psychodynamics" which is a big word that means people often perceive recovery at the wrong time and vice versa. If people are concerned about the economy, then they are concerned about Obama's handling of the economy.
Garrett says that gas prices have to be added to a "constellation of grievances" against the Obama administration for it to work as a wedge in an election year. Other parts of that constellation might include Solyndra, the dead end of green jobs, Keystone XL...that could all be part of a larger narrative against Obama. But, he says, that's why Obama is on a pre-emptive rhetorical battle at the moment.
Quick points out that beyond the price of gas, the real problem in the future for the economy might be the Eurozone crisis, which could really muck up our export situation.
Now we're just watching old David Letterman clips, for some reason.
Woodward says that Romney was a governor. Fine eye for detail, that Bob Woodward.
Bob Woodard says that Obama had an important interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, which you can just go and read, but Woodward says the big takeaway is that Obama said, "I don't bluff." Unlike some, who won't tell you that they love you, kiss or hug you, because they are bluffin' with their muffin -- not lying, per se...just, you know, stunnin' with their love-glue-gunning. That's not Obama's style, I guess.
Woodward says that the Obama administration is "skillfully handling the hottest of hot potatoes." Red Pontiacs, I imagine!
Parker says that people who say, "I don't bluff" are probably bluffing. And that Romney is not going to say provocative things on the trail. Garrett points out that Obama also said that he has Israel's "back" in the interview, and goes on to add that the larger problem Iran's ambition poses are in the arena of nuclear non-proliferation -- if Iran gets the nuke, the rest of the Middle East starts a sprint to nuke up. Non-proliferation has been one of Obama's major causes, and the need to forestall a "disaster" animates him. Garrett goes on to say that one thing the Obama administration has oberved is that the most lasting and durable pledges to restrain from nuclear weaponization are the ones offered voluntarily. That's the solution they'd prefer.
Matthews offers, "If we bomb them, they just start building again." "Exactly," says Garrett.
Here are some things that Chris Matthews does not know. Woodward says that one of the key foreign policy people he's talked to says that this is the most difficult time to manage foreign policy since the Cuban missile crisis. Quick says next week will be a test of whether the stock market can retain its current highs or if we all have to go back to having a stock market that's less sexy than the current one. Parker says that while Ohio is an important state for Santorum, the Romney team has been there for a month already. Garrett says that the RNC is moving officials into Ohio and Florida and North Carolina and Virginia -- they're three months ahead of where they were in 2008. And, he adds, for the first time in the RNC's history, they'll have specific personnel on the ground to do Hispanic outreach. Remember that, the next time tells you there's a trend in the Hispanic vote based upon the televised tenor of the immigration debate, and not peer-to-peer contact in swing states.
Will the GOP pay a price for all the mad wanker dribble-drabble that came out of Rush Limbaugh's noise-hole this week? Parker says he was despicable and vile, and Republicans need to stand up and decry Limbaugh's statements. Quick points out that whether you speak out against Rush or sit there and passively agree, as a Republican, "you lose either way." Still, she recommends condemnation, Woodward says that "judgment should be above politics," because Limbaugh's comments were "disgusting talk." Garrett adds that Republicans can't win if this kind of language surrounds any of their domestic policy debates.
THIS WEEK, WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
Okay, so what's going on with the ABC chat show? Super Tuesday brings in Newt Gingrich and David Axelrod, plus the panel will yammer about Iran, Ruch, and Olympia Snowe. (And today's panel has so many people! Like, they are literally stuffed into a room together and will probably all end up making love or fighting each other with knives.)
But we start with Newt Gingrich, who wants to be the guy who knocks Mitt Romney off of his five state winning streak. He's up in Georgia at the moment. And that has 76 delegates, which are given out proportionally.
How will Gingrich get back into the race. With BIG IDEAS. Even impossible ideas, like getting gas down to $2.50/gallon. He is like Willy Wonka, except he talks about gas and looks like you children might hate spending any time around him. He predicts that he'll win Georgia by a much larger margin than Romney won Michigan, and that the race is "going to go on a good while" because Romney is "not a convincing frontrunner."
Some dude in Tennessee said that Gingrich isn't the guy who Tennesseans should vote for, by Newt is all, "Whatever, Santorum loves unions and increasing the minimum wage and Davis-Bacon, which is the least delicious type of bacon."
GS asks if he's worried if a long fight might put the GOP's chances of winning the Presidency at risk. I think a short fight that resulted in Gingrich being the nominee is riskier than that! Gingrich doesn't quite agree with me, obviously, but suggests that GS's premise is bunk because of HISTORY and Newt is a HISTORIAN, he read in Samuel Pepys' journals that Obama and Clinton had a long, drawn out race, but he still has to examine the original sources.
He says that everyone agrees that he is the best at "describing our values" and "drawing contrasts with Obama," and no one denies this, so shut up!
Stephanopoulos passes on a viewer question asking if there are just some economic realities affecting the price of gas and not Presidential meddling one way or the other, and Gingrich, instead of answering the question, asks people to go to his website and watch a 30 minute video. So, okay, you guys, go do that. I'll wait.
Okay, you guys back? Cool. Newt basically went on to answer the question in a long-winded and circuitous way that -- in all likelihood -- he does on that video, so, you all just wasted your time, I guess! Sorry!
Gingrich says, incorrectly, that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu testified that he wants the price of oil to go up. That comes from an erroneous POLITICO story which has since been corrected. Will Stephanopoulos stop Gingrich and correct him immediately? No, of course not! Who do you think Stephanopoulos is? Jake Tapper or somebody? No, Stephanopoulos will "ask David Axelrod about it," because these are just interesting points of view man, at least one of which is objectively wrong but nevertheless SHINY and HORSE RACEY and NEAT-O.
Now we will show Newt Gingrich some Rush Limbaugh clips and then see if Newt gets all garter poppin' about it. Gingrich says he's not worried about Limbaugh, he's worried about the Catholic Church losing religious liberty. According to Newt, certain organizations find "the abortion provisions within Obamacare to be totally unacceptable." Since that bill is restricted by the language of the Hyde Act, I can only assume that there are some organizations that want to get down to some abortioning. Newt says that "this is a very profound question for religious freedom" that actually seems to be a settled matter for the vast majority of women.
Gingrich makes sure to awkwardly segue from Rush having to apologize to the terrible time we apologized for burning holy books in Afghanistan, because you just don't have to apologize for that. You can walk up to Newt right now and Sinead O'Connorize a picture of the Pope and he has to sit there and take it.
GS points out that the "Commander on the Ground," John Allen apologized BEFORE Obama, because he "wanted to save lives," and Gingrich says that someone needed to also say that the radical Islamic prisoners were also bad people for "defacing" the Qu'rans in the first place (they wrote communications within them), and why haven't imams condemned them. (Probably, they think that letting American soldiers kill and imprison them makes for adequate condemnation?) Anyway, we don't have the nerve, according to Gingrich, to stand up to these bad people, which is weird, because we're really killing a lot of them!
Gingrich is asked to respond to Obama's interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, on Iran and Israel. He says that Obama's statements are a "good step in the right direction" but the problem is that Israel might not wait to attack Iran, and no one knows if Obama will support Israel or not.
So, to answer that. here's David Axelrod.
Axelrod says that "there's no difference between the United States and Israel" on the matter of Iran getting a nuclear weapon and that no one should doubt America's resolve. But he doesn't actually answer the question as to whether or not we'll jump in with Israel if they go to war next week. Axelrod insists that the Israeli leadership all think Obama's been a good partner and that his stateside detractors are wrong about their relationship with Israel, and on their actions, post-Qu'ran burning.
Shifting to the price of gas, now. Oh, wow. Someone needs to maybe dunk Stephanopoulos' face in a bucket of water or something. He begins his questioning with Steven Chu's testimony, and makes the exact same mistake the Politico reporter made in reporting it, except that Stephanopoulos has had a few extra days to get it right. There's no kind way to put it: Stephanopoulos is being a complete idiot.
Axelrod gently points out that our dependence on oil is high and so we're at "unprecedented highs" in resource exploration and efficiency standards. Stephanopoulos wants an answer to the question he's too dim to realize is founded on an error. Axelrod says that "we always want lower gas prices," but Newt Gingrich is "spreading fairy-dust" by suggesting that it can be brought down to $2.50/gallon.
Now Axelrod is being asked to react to Rush Limbaugh's comments, but I'm pretty sure I can guess his reaction, given that President Obama called Sandra Fluke after Rush defamed her. So: fast-forward.
Oh, and that was the last question? Terrific. Learned so much.
Panel time, now, with George Will and Peggy Noonan and Howard Dean and Matthew Dowd and Donna Brazile.
Will says that in the horse race, the question isn't whether Romney will win, but how damaged Romney will be after he wins. He says that Virginia might demonstrate a level of discontent with Romney. Also, the "worst thing that can happen" to Romney is for Santorum to win Ohio and for Gingrich to lose Georgia and drop out. Neither of those outcomes, I think, is likely.
Dowd adds that Santorum is probably dunzo if he loses Ohio -- and there's potential for Gingrich to re-emerge as the Not-Romney candidate. Dean says that the GOP has lost the thread of this race because of the debates and their tendency to air every grievance against every minority group in the country -- this week it's women. Noonan agrees that the debates have driven up the candidates' negatives and pushed them into areas of discussion that should never have been discussed on the stump. She adds that the super PACs are not helping either. Nevertheless, everyone should really just "mellow out" and wait for the process to unfold.
Brazile reminds everyone that the GOP got everything done a lot faster last year, and that this year's long process is causing an "enthusiasm gap."
Dowd says that the big problem the GOP has is that Mitt Romney is just a candidate that no one likes or trusted, and while his oppponents lack what it takes to end his candidacy, it still holds, to his mind, that Romney will emerge as the winner and be a very weak and damaged contender. Will, of course, totally agrees (he also thinks that Santorum can't win, either). For Will, it's about math -- if Obama carries the John Kerry states, he'll be only 25 electoral votes short. Will reckons that Obama can afford to lose a lot of states in the general. I think that Will might be prematurely dismissing the possibility that the presidential contest will be a tight one. He nevertheless says that the GOP should battle Obama by winning the legislature.
Noonan agrees, in part. She thinks that they should not abandon the Presidential race. "You will need a Republican president to sign things the GOP legislature wants to do."
Dean thinks that the GOP is going to lose the House of Representatives, but that's a really tall order!
Dowd says that the problem the GOP has is that 2012 turnout is primarily driven by the top of the ticket. BUT! The problem Obama faces is that he's in a dead heat election even after six months of economic gains and what Dowd holds to be wall-to-wall policy successes.
More about Rush Limbaugh. Will says that GOP leaders should have been more forceful in their denunciations. "John Boehner said his comments were inappropriate...using your salad fork for your entree is inappropriate." "It is the responsibility of the right to police" their side of the aisle, in terms of civility, and it's depressing to see them scared of Limbaugh, per Will. Noonan says that Limbaugh's comments were "rude, crude...destructive...and distracted from the actual issue."
Dean says that the underlying argument is something that "elite people" inside the Beltway can dick around on till their blue in the face, it's not one that anyone anywhere else wants to have.
This discussion goes on for many more minutes. The bottom line is that no one on the panel much cares for Limbaugh. Dowd says that in private, the GOP leadership all agrees that Limbaugh is a buffoon, they just won't admit it publicly. Noonan says that too many people advance the belief that Limbaugh has everyone in line, but he's clearly got enough people in line for the perception to stick.
Now, like Dean predicts, everyone debates whether women can have birth control or not. Again, women pretty much want to use birth control. Dowd is all down on using the phrase "war on women," I guess because lawmakers are using laws to disempower women, and not fragmentation grenades.
Olympia Snowe is leaving, and Will is unimpressed, because he doesn't think the debt ceiling debate was a debacle (he's wrong, it was an embarrassing one), and that Congress' job is stopping things from happening, rather than getting things done. Dead disagrees at length, and boringly. Dowd says that it's okay for people in Congress to fight for what they believe in, even if they lose, provided that they aren't completely embarassing to look at while they do so.
Okay, so there wasn't actually room for all these people in the studio, so Brazile and Dowd and Dean and Noonan have all been sent away and now the Georges are joined by Amanpour and Goldberg, let's just get to it.
Goldberg says that there are "two messages" from Obama: he wants Iran to take him seriously about not pushing the envelope, and for Israel to take him seriously, in that he can stop the worst from happening. The problem is that the Israelis are on a timetable.
Will says that he was struck by the question of containment, and what matters is where Iran is "on the continuum" between being a rational nation and a state run by psychopaths. Amanpour notes that there is also a search on, here, for a permanent solution to the problem of a nuclear Iran. One military strike means a lifetime of military strikes.
Goldberg says that after the meeting, if Netahyahu says something like "the president and I had a good conversation and I really believe that sanctions are working and leaves it at that," then "we'll know that there's not going to be an attack." Otherwise, get ready for some hot war! Or, as Goldber puts it, "something else." Obama, he says, is not going to be "boxed in" and he won't have his "options limited." Amanpour says that militarily, there's little Israel can do, other than a "pin prick or a punch on the nose" to Iran's targets on the ground, so they ride to war with the U.S. or with nobody. Goldberg re-emphasizes that the White House's contention is that the only permanent solution to the problem is to get Iran to voluntarily come off their position, and that attacks of all sorts only delay the inevitable.
So, enjoy that everyone!
Okay, well, that's kind of a downer place to leave things, but I'm sure that you can find some cat videos or something to cheer up your point of view. I am going to find pleasure in the austere pursuit of cleaning a kitchen floor, because I have left it to this afternoon to do. Hopefully, you all have finished your chores and can enjoy a lazy Sunday, before a "super, sort of" Tuesday. Have a great week, everyone!
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