TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Good morning to everyone and welcome to another edition of your Sunday Morning Liveblog. My name is Jason, and these are my quickly-typed words. Is everybody doing well? Let's hope so. I really don't have much of a preamble today, but in the interest of giving everyone something to do this Sunday while I "take one for the team" and watch the parade of horribles on the teevee screen, here is Conor Friedersdorf annual list of the year's best journalism. Some of you will recognize some stories we've already shared in this space, like Willy Staley's "A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib As Arbitrage" and Mac McClelland's "I’m Gonna Need You to Fight Me On This."
And, of course, while we're on this subject, our own David Wood won this fancy award you might have heard about for his wonderful "Beyond The Battlefield: Rebuilding Wounded Warriors" series, so if you haven't already checked that out, please do! I promise to just sit here quietly, typing nonsense, while all of you get your enjoyment on. As always, you all can get together in the comments to talk about these stories or your own, feel free to drop me a line, and if you're particularly interested in my daily agonies, you can follow me on Twitter.
Okay, let us commence.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
So today, sad Senator Joe Lieberman is going to be talking about the Secret Service Sexxy Sexx Scandal, and Mitch Daniels will be talking about who will maybe be Mitt Romney's Vice President. Maybe Mitch Daniels? Will it be you, boo? And there's going to be a panel, as per usual.
But first, here's Joe Lieberman, our go to source for Treasury Department whoring scandals. What will we do without Joe Lieberman, guys, huh? And who will be the new third member of the John McCain/Lindsay Graham Sad Faced Doomy Bomb Everybody Book Club And Chowder Society, Unlimited? We hope Chris Wallace will ask him this stuff. He is here because he heads the Homeland Security Committee, and runs all their key bakesales.
But first, it seems that Iran has "reverse engineered" that spy drone that crashed in Iran while it was spying on them? And now, I don't know, maybe their cheap knockoff is available at Walgreens, or something? How significant is it? Lieberman says it's the first he's heard of it and it should be treated with skepticism. It was "not good" that we lost our spy drone in Iran, for the Iranians to find. He's pretty sure that the Iranians cannot copy it, and we're going to keep spying on them, with drones.
On the other hand, Lieberman takes what happened in Colombia, VERY SERIOUSLY, and he's sad that the Secret Service were "frolicking" like "college students" in Cartagena. He says that there are instances in history where sex has been used as a sexxy weapon, for spying purposes. He's heard of it happening. People tell him about getting all sexxed up, with sex. He hears it's pretty nice. But it's also serious, because Secret Service guys -- despite working for the sexiest-named department of the government, should not be frolicking.
"I don't think we want our Secret Service agents drinking bottles of vodka and carousing with women," he says.
Is there any evidence that the prostitutes were sexxy spies or otherwise got their delicate hands on secret information? Lieberman says that he's got no information, on this, but he's just so upset that the Secret Service agents were "acting like college students." And he and Susan Collins are going to totally schoolmarm their asses -- which admittedly sounds like one of the "scenarios" the Secret Service were doing with those Colombian prostitutes.
There are going to be a lot of HAWT, STEAMY public hearings about this, Lieberman says.
"What are the rules that are drilled into Secret Service agents," Lieberman wonders, speculating on another sexxy sex scenario that they are performing with Colombian prostitutes, called "Drill This Into Us."
Any White House staffers up to these sexxy antics? Lieberman says no, but they'll investigate it, because Senator Chuck Grassley is sure hoping that something comes up. In theory, he says, if you wanted to find out where the President was going to be, you could seduce a "White House advance person" with the sexytime. Please do not describe techniques!
Lieberman also does not know if cocaine was found in the Secret Service sexx den. Probably those guys just snort Adderall, like all bloggers.
Does Lieberman still have Mark Sullivan, the guy who runs the Secret Service who has the same name as my friend Mark Sullivan, who lives in Los Angeles now and does commercials for Kindles:
Lieberman says that he does have confidence in Mark Sullivan, even though there have been all these mishaps, like those terrible reality show losers who crashed a White House party and got famous for being reality show losers before the lady ran off with her husband's dog and started having an affair with a guy from some band...Journey? REO Speedwagon? I can't remember. I was too busy watching Kindle commercials. The Salahis, I think they were named? Aren't they dead, now? Let's just say they both died of some flesh-eating bacteria, and we awarded the bacteria a Kennedy Center Honor, and never speak of them again.
We move on to the General Services Administration scandal, which is even sadder, because there is no bigger bunch of sad sacks in the government than the people who work at the GSA. Except for maybe the people who work for the Office of Personnel Management. Seriously. Many years ago I was a government contractor who planned conferences and meetings -- none of which were as lavish as these GSA in Vegas dealies -- and visiting the GSA meant stepping into a Sartrean crapscape of maybe the worst cubicle life you have ever seen. I rarely am able to manifest pity for people who are obviously lacking homes and/or limbs, but these GSA people did make a teensy guitar in my heart weep gently, for their predicament.
And the strangest irony of these elaborate parties they threw in Vegas, on the taxpayer dime, is that I can promise you, THAT WAS THE MOMENT, RIGHT THERE, that their lives peaked. They will never enjoy themselves as fully, or imagine themselves to be people as exciting, ever again. Their lives are crap from here on in.
Seriously, folks, the GSA is like a manifestation of Hell on Earth. Lieberman is probably just the guy to police it. He will make sure that the other regional offices aren't acting like this, and probably review the "autonomy" they've been allowed to have.
Should Obama be held responsible for these things? Lieberman says that it would be unfair to hold him responsible, but fair to hold him accountable. By that he means, that Obama needs to act with "relentless determination" to keep this from happening again. On a purely political level, he should, because he wants to demonstrate that the government is a place where good people do good work for all Americans.
One thing that probably should be noted is that when the GSA's Inspector General catches out this sort of abuse of the public trust, that demonstrates that your government is working.
Who is Joe Lieberman going to vote for in the election? He says that he "is going to try to stay out of this one." He does say that it's an important election, and people are unsettled, and that this will be a "close and unpredictable election right down to election day," which is probably correct.
Now, here's Mitch Daniels, who we are reminded was the guy that elite Republicans wanted to run, because he is the living manifestation of the color beige. And he's always injuring himself, for some reason? This is a rare Sunday appearance where he is not noticeably wounded or has a limb in a sling. (I suspect, actually, that Daniels is the member of a "fight club," in Indianapolis, and that's why he didn't run for President, because it all would have come out.)
Anyway, TOTALLY excited about Romney, is this guy, who Daniels thinks doesn't talk like normal people. But, Daniels says, Romney is "more in touch with ordinary people than" President Obama, because Romney has been out in the trenches, with the folks, straight up eatin' on them canned beans, whittling his own furniture, wiping his behind with pine cones. Wallace wants to know why Daniels criticized Romney for being detached himself, and Daniels does that thing where he pretends another question was asked, that question being, "Why is Mitt Romney so inescapably awesome?"
Daniels says that Romney has "offered specific remedies" for our debt problem. If he mentions one, right now, on teevee, it will make national news.
How is Mitt Romney going to reach out to women and the poor? Daniels says, "Simply be identifying with the problems they are facing." And then, guessing which of those problems are French-Canadian. And doing that joke where he pretends like old ladies are always pinching his butt. (I am not sure he actually has a butt? I am willing to lead an expeditionary force to find it. This election is actually, pretty noteworthy in that it's between two guys with a notable lack of "dat azz." I think Gary Johnson is actually the candidate with the booty.)
Honestly, I wonder some time what's wrong with these shows that I am always going off on these tangents. Oh, well, ENJOY THINKING ABOUT BUTTS!
Wallace now wants to know about Daniels and his plans to deflect questions about being Romney's running-mate. He says that he hasn't talked to anyone about it, and he doesn't think he'll have it. "It's a hypothetical question, and will leave it at that." HA. NO YOU WON'T. Wallace asks what he'll do if he's asked to be vice president, and he says that like William Buckley, he would "demand a recount."
So, it would go like this:
ROMNEY: Mitch, would you like to be vice-president?
DANIELS: Ha! I say, demand a recount! Ha!
[long pause as Romney and Daniels stare at each other for a thousand years, each awaiting the other to respond somehow]
Daniels says that he would send Romney a list of people to consider instead. Wallace asks who is atop that list. Daniels says, "Oh, I've seen a lot of names and I like them all." I suspect that he is referring to the White Pages.
You know, Mitch Daniels hasn't lost a step from that time he tended bar in Boston and was named "Woody!"
Daniels says that there is a lot of talent on the GOP side, new governors, young legislators, each sleeker and more supple than the last, strong sturdy hips and hands that shake with firm handshakefulness. Lean Six Sigma, or fight!
I think that Daniels is wearing a shirt that says "INDIANA" on it, so that he can find his way back to the state he is in charge of?
Anyway, Romney loves Paul Ryan and his budget, and Wallace notes that this budget is controversial. Daniels would rather talk about the weak recovery, and how Obama "did less with the mess" than Reagan, and that the Ryan budget is a "much better starting point," because austerity and payoffs to wealthy campaign contributors equal job creation, and Obama "just doesn't have an ear for that."
Will Obama win Indiana again in 2012? (SPOILER ALERT: NO.) Daniels says they had a savvy strategy in 2008, but it "will take a massive change in the point of view of Hoosiers" and he reckons they'll vote Romney. Is it "locked up pretty tight?" Daniels says no, "you have to go earn it."
Daniels tells Wallace that he sure would love to come back and get asked about whether he'll be vice president about a hundred or so more times.
Okay, panel time now, with Bill Kristol and Joe Trippi and Karl Rove and Juan Williams, who are coincidentally slated to be the subjects of a new HBO series about pundits trying to make it in Red Hook as indie-dance deejays.
Is this campaign going to be the straight up stupidest ever? Kristol says that it could be, and that he hopes that the GOP keeps it on the high road. He also says that voters will "vote on policy" and not "phony personal or background issues."
Meanwhile, everyone has got money to burn, and they are actually going to talk neutrally about American Crossroads with Karl Rove sitting right there? We're doing that? OKAY. The watchdog press is getting eaten in Indonesia, or strapped to a car in Canada, or something.
Wallace asks, "Joe, will money be a big factor in this campaign?" And I miss the next few minutes because I am laughing, and also because Karl Rove is sitting right there, and it's like we're all pretending to know nothing about contemporary politics.
"Yes," says Trippi. Basically.
Wallace asks Rove what's more important, the air wars or the ground game? He says both are important. He goes on to discuss the Citizens United decision as something that specifically benefitted unions. He says that the RNC is going to run the ground game, and "outside groups" will make ads. I may have this wrong, but that's sort of obvious, because "ground game" involves a specific campaign effort that requires coordination with the campaign, and super PACs aren't allowed -- sorry, I mean,
Rove thinks that the Obama campaign is "spending too early" on their ground game, Williams disagrees, both miss that the specific advantage that Obama is trying to seize here is rooting a support network now. Romney's primary strategy utilized "pop-up campaigns" that were fleet and efficient in the way they moved from state-to-state, but it sacrificed putting down permanent roots.
Rove keeps weirdly downplaying the advantage by comparing it to what he did for Bush in 2004, pretending it's some cautionary tale of what happens when you spend too early on a ground game. But I was alive in 2004, and I remember that the Bush campaign had this really efficient ground game and John Kerry had millions of dollars left over in his campaign coffers after he lost.
Kristol says that he thinks Romney should not spend his time battering Obama and instead run a "high-road big picture campaign." This is very odd, coming from a guy who essentially spent the last year desperate for someone to beat Romney. (Maybe Kristol's secret plan here, is sabotage? I mean, you never know, with this guy.)
Rove does say that he agrees with a lot of what Kristol said, and suggests that Romney needs to keep the tone lofty because he'll be going after swing voters that still like Obama and might be pried away if Romney activates their sense of disappointment.
Will the GSA/Secret Service scandals have an impact on the election or cost Obama votes? Kristol says that it's more of a "government problem" than Obama's problem, and that while Obama is accountable for what happens going forward, he suggests that Republicans avoid placing too much hope in these scandals getting traction. In the past, he says, bigger and more personally-implicating scandals, like Iran-Contra and Clinton-era fundraising, didn't end up mattering to voters.
Trippi agrees, adding that this might have a bigger impact downticket than it will on the Presidential election.
Rove is asked if he ever experienced anything like rogue Secret Service agents getting buck wild on foreign trips, and he says no, and adds that Mark Sullivan is a capable individual who will do the appropriate things. He isn't inclined to support making hay over this in the election either, saying that every argument generates a counter-argument and if the GOP tries this, ordinary Americans will see that as "going over the top." He seems more inclined against the idea because it's Sarah Palin's idea than for any other reason.
Kristol differs slightly, saying that the GSA scandal could be folded into an argument about government bloat. That only works if you see this abuse repeated in the other GSA regional offices. Maybe it is! But, again, I usually find that with the typical GSA employee, their spirit is broken and their dreams are largely dashed, and that this rebellious spirit flourished in this one hopeless place...well, in another context, we might root for these people, like we rooted for Delta House in the movie Animal House.
And now, they are talking about Romney's running mate. This is one of those ways that politics is like a long road trip with unexciting people who don't really have a whole lot to talk about.
THIS WEEK, WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
Today on This Week, Susan Collins is here to probably talk about the Secret Service, but maybe she'll find some way of pointlessly delaying important legislation she agrees with totally but wouldn't DREAM of casting a vote for until 17 more pointless amendments are debated. Also, Keith Olbermann will be on the panel, in the hopes that he can do one thing in the media that doesn't end with him getting fired or entangled in multiple lawsuits. Oh, man. Are Olbermann and George Will going to have some moon-faced conversation about baseball and humanity? They totally are, aren't they. COME MAYANS, COME!
Susan Collins is joined by New York Representative Carolyn Maloney, and GSteph says it's "appropriate to have female legislators here." I'd think it's appropriate to have female legislators on these shows all the time, but then, I'm not the Sunday Morning Chat Show Producer who is pathologically unable to comprehend women being able to handle issues that don't involve government officials needing mommy to spank them. By which I mean, ALL Sunday Morning Chat Show Producers.
Anyway, hooray, for this important matter, we finally get women on a Sunday show, both of whom believe that maybe more women need to be assigned to the Secret Service.
Is there any evidence that there were underaged lady prostitutes involved? Because that would be titillating, to George Stephanopoulos. Collins says no, and swings it back around to pointing out that regardless of anyone's age, it's pretty stupid for members of the Secret Service to be carousing with prostitutes on the job, especially if they are foreign nationals. Maloney says that the investigation continues apace and the process is very transparent and being run with authority, and that there's no evidence yet that security was bad compromised.
Collins says that it defies belief that this is just an aberration, that this was a one-time thing, and that this sort of misbehavior has never happened before. Memo to myself: maybe this would be a good time to see how Susan Collins voted on awarding contracts to private military contractors, like DynCorp, who have, in the past, facilitated their own prostitution rings -- paedophile prostitution rings at that -- with no evident penalty. This is all stuff that makes those GSA folks look tame by comparison. And nobody says boo-poopy about it on a Sunday show.
Maloney says that the buck stops with the president, and that the president has "in many ways" shown that leadership. And she insists, "you don't go in and roll heads on innuendo." (In other words, you don't "Shirley Sherrod" someone.)
Collins says that the GSA scandal is different from the Secret Service scandal because the person appointed to run the agency knew about what was going on in that regional office, because she was tipped to it by the IG and "took no action." By comparison, Sullivan is running a thorough, "no-hold barred" investigation. In that sense, she says, the President is responsible, and that's why she's been fired. Collins says that the president "bears no role" in the Secret Service scandal.
Romney, of course, says that he would "clean house." This appears to be what's happening? GSteph wants to know if more house cleaning needs to be done. Like, should we lock everyone inside the GSA and set fire to buildings and walk away in slow motion smoking cigarettes as the buildings explode and all the GS-14s scream for mercy? Maloney says...well, she says some weird stuff about the Buffett Rule. "Thanks for voting for it, Susan Collins," she says, to a nonplussed Susan Collins. Anyway, she says that one big change is that the regional offices of the GSA will no longer have autonomy over the way money gets spent. That's actually too bad, because if the rest of the regional offices were doing a good job, they don't deserve to have those privileges revoked.
Collins says that Congress has been trying to limit the excesses of these conferences and have been blocked. I would guess that probably you have say, Nevada legislators being lobbied by powerful interests in the state to foster more government meetings in Las Vegas, so more government money gets spent there?
Collins says she's glad that this isn't a partisan issue. Maloney says that she's glad too, but points out that it was a Democratic political appointee who blew the whistle. So she's okay with it being a little bit partisan. Meanwhile, it's probably in the best interests of Democrats in government to be calling out these abuses, since they are the party that wants government to work for people. I imagine that it probably doesn't help that the head of their party is so hostile to government whistleblowers, though? Just a guess!
Collins is like, "CAN YOU BELIEVE THE HEAD OF THE GSA OMG LOL!" for like five minutes.
GSteph asks why Collins hasn't endorsed Mitt Romney, and she's all, "What? I totally endorsed him already."
And now it's time to panel with George Will and Peggy Noonan and Donna Brazile and Matt Dowd and Keith Olbermann.
This Week now jumps very quickly to the panel part! It's sort of odd, because with the panel coming early and the show ending with clips of late night comedians and People Who Died and, if they are still doing this, Jonathan Karl makes a silly video where he reblogs the week that just happened, This Week has mounted this argument that they need only be a half-hour long, even as Face The Nation has mounted the argument that their show deserves to be longer. (Meet The Press, of course, continually makes the argument that they should be driven out into the desert and abandoned there, to die.)
Anyway, let's get to the five-way Cincinnati chili of pundit flap-jazz! George Will is all down on the Secret Service, and reminds everyone that he had Obama over for dinner and the Secret Service straight up yelled at his neighbors for being on their lawn, watching the president arrive and stuff. Will says that the Secret Service ordered them off of their own lawn, and says that he just figures the Secret Service is used to getting away with things.
Peggy Noonan wrote a column about how the Secret Service scandal is a "sign of a more general American character crisis." BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE DID. Meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin's corpse is still one of America's top training grounds for syphilis, but WHATEVER. We've grown so CHEAP and so COARSE, because the men and the women share the same beds in sitcoms, and bloggers can use words like "sexytime" in their liveblogs. Whatever happened to those halcyon days of wholesomeness, that never existed?
I just noticed that there is crawl across the bottom of the screen, with people tweeting about this show. Mostly, they are from illiterates.
Anyway, Donna Brazile is surprised and the Secret Service is typically filled with pretty good people. Olbermann says there seems to be a dynamic there, between perceiving these agents as priestly figures, and also allowing them to project a certain amount of machismo. Maybe we need more anti-heroes protecting the president. JASON STATHAM STARS AS EVERY SECRET SERVICE AGENT, EVER.
Noonan wonders if there's a societal reluctance to be "mature and uncool" and be the person who "holds up standards" and shame people for "acting wacky."
Dowd starts off by sort of yelling at Sarah Palin -- and other "hair-trigger" blame artists -- for suggesting this was President Obama's fault, calling it "ridiculous." "The idea that some low level government service guys did something very bad, doesn't really say anything to me about the president." He goes on to say that by now, Americans have lost faith in all sorts of institutions. I think that takes it too far? I think that Americans still respect the edifice of various institutions and now think that too many jackasses are running the show? Our pal Alex Pareene has a good piece up about how the folks at National Journal ran a little wooly and wild about "OMG TEH INSTITUTIONS HAVE FAILED AND THE FABRIC OF SOCIETY IS RENT!" when it's pretty clear that what is causing trouble for ordinary Americans are simply politicians who suck canal water.
Will agrees that it's stupid to blame Obama here, but the political ramification here is the larger argument over the size and shape of government, and points out that its matters like the GSA scandal that inspires people to run for Congress in the first place. People want to clean up Washington! And like, two weeks after they arrive they find out that there are lots of powerful interests that can and will make them set for life in exchange for their fealty, and then bang-clang, we get institutional failure! But really, what's going wrong is that we have a lot of institutional SUCCESS happening, and the institution that's succeeding is this corrupt money fountain that spreads decadence and cynicism everywhere.
So, instead of the National Journal writing a story called, "In Nothing We Trust," maybe they should write one titled, "Tossing Lobbyists Into Active Volcanoes: Let's Give This A Try."
Olbermann points out that the one thing that Palin deserves credit for pointing out is that this decadence at the Secret Service clearly predates this trip to Cartagena.
Noonan says that the right sense of decorum was never communicated downstream. Admittedly, it's a little hard to imagine that one would need to point out to the Secret Service, "Hey, don't bring prostitutes back to the hotel," but I'm guessing it gets added to some standard briefings going forward.
Dowd complains that both parties are all about growing government, and the only difference between the parties is that one is dedicated to funding it inadequately. Dowd goes on to say that one thing he'll fault Obama for is growing the size of government without first addressing the lack of faith people had in the institution.
In Obama's defense, he did get Evan Bayh to quit.
Now everyone is sort of arguing, but because they made a big stink about people behaving badly, it's a very boring and restrained argument. I have a funny feeling that these five are not going to solve Washington, today!
"We have to take a break. Lots more to talk about with the panel, like the dog wars," says George Stephanopoulos. Maybe they will have better luck with that!
Will says that the campaign is not young and dumb, it's just boring and stupid, and everyone needs something to talk about or else everyone in politics would be screaming, "LET ME OUT OF THIS CAR! YOU PEOPLE ARE AWFUL!"
Good God, Keith Olbermann is just making dog puns while pretending not to? He questions why there is sudden umbrage about Obama disclosing that he sampled canine flesh in Indonesia in a book that came out years ago, and were the Republicans just pro-dog eating until a week ago? This sort of misses the point that the "umbrage" is a reflexive response to Romney's dog issues.
Olbermann joins Will in saying that this discussion steals away from the valuable time that could be spent on other topics, but I don't see either of them standing up and overturning the roundtable and yelling, "ENOUGH! PEOPLE ARE STRUGGLING, IN AMERICA, AS WE TALK ABOUT THIS!" So...I think it's safe to say that neither man really believes it.
About five minutes pass, without anyone saying anything that particularly demands preservation for posterity.
George Will actually manages to say, "It's going to be a very tight race," without simply using the eight words you need to convey that idea, so...call Guinness I guess? Dowd says much the same, and compares the race to 2004. Olbermann asks Dowd about the comparative likeability of the figures now and the figures then. Good point, says Dowd, and he says that one of the lessons is that you can make the argument that it's possible to both like someone and "fire" them.
George Will predicts a 269-269 tie, for fun.
Moving to VEEP-PANIC: 2012! Jeb Bush feinted that he was open to being the vice president, but then shut it down, saying it should be Rubio. And Rubio, basically shut it down, and said it should be Bush. And this will go on forever! It's like a Victorian romance, between these two.
Dowd points out that "everyone thinks you can solve a geographic problem or a demographic problem" with a VP pick, and this is just "folly." What you should do, he says, is pick someone who reinforces the primary value that you want to convey in the election. And so: Robert Portman. Peggy Noonan loves Portman, and calls for her fainting couch. "Mitt Romney should not try to electrify," she says, struck with the vapors.
Olbermann wonders if you want two businessmen on the ticket, given the fact that Wall Street is hated by everyone. Noonan says that no one hates businessmen though. Dowd says that if you're going to pick a businessman, you should pick the proprietor of a hardware store. Brazile thinks Romney should pick George Will. George Will thinks Romney should pick Bobby Jindal or Paul Ryan, because of his haircut.
Now the panel is going to pick this moment to talk about oil speculators and the price of gas. Dowd basically says that it's pretty stupid to promise that gas prices will go down ever. George Will tells a decent joke about a woman raging at speculators whilst standing at a pump buying gas because she thinks the price will go up. Noonan suggests that the President can control these things, for example, Keystone Pipeline -- which by the way would not bring gas prices down.
Dowd says that Obama should stop doing "small ball things," and, do..."big ball things?" Which will be reflexively opposed by the GOP in Congress. So...I guess Big Futility is better than Small Futility.
And just as I predicted, George Will and Keith Olbermann are talking about baseball.
MEET THE PRESS
Okay, hooray. More sexxy scandal talk, with Darrell Issa, who hopefully will not be wearing his Bluetooth earpiece, as he did in one appearance on the teevee earlier this week. PEOPLE: it is 2012. That was never a good look for anyone. Lose the earpieces.
Issa is here with Peter King, who I always confuse with Steve King, but you really have to remember that Peter is angry and Steve is nuts.
King says that he "would expect within a very near future to have several other Secret Service agents leaving the agency," because of the hawt nights they spent in Cartagena, showing off their sleek Secret Service muscles to prostitutes that they were chronically underpaying, to be perfectly frank with you. He says the investigation "is going at a very proper rate and is going to be carried all the way," which is probably what the Secret Service agents also said, during the sexxy sexing. King also wants to make sure that there are no prostitutes running around with our launch codes. And those in charge will have to demonstrate some assurances that this sort of thing won't happen again.
Issa says that he is "looking over the shoulder" of Mark Sullivan as he does his job, and he has confidence in the job he's doing. At the same time, it's sort of hard to imagine that there wasn't an example of this sort of misbehavior in the past. Still, he believes that confidence in the Secret Service can be restored. He goes on to say that who gets fired and who doesn't will be based on the individual decisions that everyone involved made at the time. For example, apparently there was one guy who was like, "No thanks to this, it these are prostitutes," but will probably get disciplined because he went "down a road of drinking and taking a woman back to his hotel room," which are gateways to eventually giving suitcase nukes to Hezbollah.
This is how Battlestar Galactica began, with a Cylon honeytrap! If it happened on Caprica, it can happen here! Except out best robots are Roombas. Still! I do not trust them!
Anyway, I'm pretty convinced that King and Issa are mad, and that it shouldn't happen again, and that it could be really bad if state secrets are revealed to prostitutes, but, by all means, David Gregory, let them just say so, over and over again.
What does Issa want Obama to do? "Leave it to the professionals, look over their shoulder, make sure it's dealt with properly and then let's move on...I think the president's anger, and I'm sure there is some, will be moderated by a recognition that this agency has to fix itself and that plenty of eyes are on it. He can focus on being president and let's move forward and put this sorry incident behind all of us."
Gregory wants to know if Issa has confidence in Mark Sullivan. Again, everyone has confidence in Mark Sullivan. Especially my friend, Mark Sullivan, who acts in Kindle commercials. Do I trust Mark Sullivan? We own TWO KINDLES, neither of which has brought home that many prostitutes. So I'd say that like all of America, we trust Mark Sullivan.
Gregory asks if King and Issa think Congress has done its job, performing oversight, given the fact that the Secret Service were having "sexxy, hawt nites" back in 2002, at which time there was drinking and carousing and canoodling and people watched porn with an "elite counter assault team" in the "band room of the executive mansion." (THERE IS A BAND ROOM?) And also there have been strippers in the Secret Service office, because of "culture."
King says, whatevs, the Secret Service "does an outstanding job" in general and "you can always find things to be looked at," like the shaved ladyparts of strippers, and porno in the "band room." But yes, there will have to be more oversight. We will be secretly bugging the band room, for instance.
What about the role of Facebook in all of this? Do they want to look at Facebook? Issa says, "Well it certainly is a window into activity that we wouldn't ordinarily have." So, there you have it, Darrell Issa will be straight up looking at your Facebook Timelines. This is why I purposely put fake things on my Timeline, to throw Darrell Issa off the trail.
Issa also says that a problem is that there are "political appointees" with "entitlement attitudes" throughout government. I have a clip of Issa complaining about this:
Should the Secret Service continue to protect New Gingrich? King says that's up to the Secret Service. He points out that Gingrich was "never my candidate." Obviously, the Secret Service is also there to protect us from Gingrich.
Okay, so now David Axelrod is here, and he says that Obama was "apoplectic" about the GSA scandal, and "enraging," and this why the management was quickly changed. He adds that he "associates himself" with everything Issa said about the Secret Service and the seriousness with which they are setting themselves to as far as rooting out the bad actors.
But Jeff Sessions, angry Alabama leprechaun who will not tell me where his gold is no matter how often or how hard I shake him by the ankles and shout, "One day I'll find your magic name and your gold will be mine, Jeff Sessions," as he cried, "Noooo! Noooo! You'll never get my gooollld!" in that little munchkin voice of his, says that the president's not set a good enough example of administrative leadership. Axelrod responds by saying, LOL, "Senator Sessions is generally so supportive of the president. To hear him say that I find shocking."
He goes on to say that it's not great if you have a President that "shoots first and asks questions later," with Teddy Roosevelt sort of being the outlier in that sample?
Axelrod again says that everyone has confidence in Mark Sullivan. NO ONE IS INSPIRING MORE CONFIDENCE IN AMERICA THAN MARK SULLIVAN, MY FRIEND WHO SELLS KINDLES.
Now we switch to the election, and polls, which say right now that some people find Romney to not be a complete monster. Axelrod says that this will change when people "get under the hood" and see Romney is going to return to bad old Republican ideas. He goes on to note that he wasn't much of a job creator in Massachusetts, so nyahh. But is there a concern that the economy is flatlining? Axelrod says that "we have to stay vigilant" and "keep going at it" and not go back to Romney's proposals.
Gregory asks Axelrod if the American people should brace themselves for a big old negative campaign. Axelrod responds with a lengthy monologue about how out of touch Romney is and how the GOP sees the world as a place where Donald Trump is a small businessman. So...yes, we should?
GREGORY: What is the question in 2012 that President Obama is the only answer for?
AXELROD: The question is are we going build an economy in the future that is durable, in which the middle class is growing and not shrinking, in which hard work is rewarded, responsibility is rewarded and everybody plays by the same rules, from Main Street to Wall Street. That's what the president is fighting for. And it's completely different than the approach that was taken in the last decade and the approach that Governor Romney wants to reinstitute if he is elected president.
GREGORY: But if you want to make this referendum on the president's leadership you do have difficulties because you have an economic record, a sense of pessimism. You have a high unemployment rate. A referendum on the president guarantees what in your judgment?
AXELROD: This president guarantees an economy that will grow and provide new opportunities for the middle class. It's not going to provide more of what we saw in the last decade with a narrowing group of people doing well and everybody else paddling faster and faster. That's not a healthy economy. You build the economy from the middle out, not from the top down. And the president strongly believes that.
You mentioned the silver spoon remark. His point is when we invest in excellence in young people and reward responsibility, we all benefit as a country. when we walk away from that we jeopardize our future.
I think that his point may have also been that Mitt Romney was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, though!
Gregory asks, "Where are the new ideas from the president going to come from to break the impasse on spending? To break the impasse on taxes? To deal with real problems like Medicare and Social Security? Those have not been dealt with which, it seems to me, is one of the reasons why people look to Governor Romney and say, "Well, he's got a better shot to change business as usual in Washington."
Is that seriously still a big mystery? The reason Obama hasn't broken the impasse is because his opposition is dedicated to building an impasse and there isn't anyone who seems to feel the need to force them to pay a political cost for that. Everyone walks around pretending that the White House didn't offer a plan to cut spending and reform entitlements. At best, they mewl about some magic spell that hasn't been cast. Really, the politics of this couldn't be simpler.
Axelrod says, "I believe when this president wins in November there are a lot of good Republicans who know better and have been in the thrall of this reign of terror on Capitol Hill, who are going to turn to those strident voices and say, 'We did it your way. We opposed everything he did, even when we thought it was right. And it didn't work for us. And now we're going to work with this president. We won't always agree with him, but where we do we want to find common ground.'"
Ha, no. If Obama defeats Romney, there will be a full-on "HUNT DOWN THE RINOS AND KILL THEM ALL" revolution in the GOP, and they will probably start firing howitzers at walls because the only people who will remain in power are people who believe there is a LITERAL DEBT CEILING that needs to be destroyed with mortars, for FREEDOM.
But you have to play the cards you're dealt, I guess. Maybe Axelrod is right and everyone will say, "Ha, well, that sure was fun! Who wants to incrementally reform Medicare payments over ham sandwiches."
David Gregory says that Axelrod needs to grab a doughnut and stick around for some super surprise guest at the end of the show that relates to sports. I'm guessing it is the unfrozen corpse of Ted Williams, back to sup on the sweet, sweet brain goulash of David Brooks, who is here with Chuck Todd and Helene Cooper and E.J. Dionne to do panel discussion and/or torture America, in stress positions.
Brooks says that in any office you have people who are ego-centric who are out for themselves and people who are job-centric, and CRAP, would you look at that? An anvil of irony done fell right out of the sky and landed on the roundtable. How did that happen? Who summoned the anvil? I've no idea at all.
Helene Cooper relates some previous problems with the Secret Service, and notes that Obama has never called for heads to roll. She suggests that part of what gets in the way, perhaps, is the gratitude you feel toward people that protect you. Maybe Obama is reluctant to call for heads to roll at the Secret Service because EVERYONE AGREES THAT MARK SULLIVAN FLEW DOWN FROM HEAVEN AT THE BEHEST OF THE LORD HIMSELF, and is COMPLETELY THE BEST CREATURE ON EARTH, and LO, LOOK AT THE BABY DEER, EATING FROM MARK SULLIVAN'S HANDS.
Several minutes of Chuck Todd being amazed that people seem to be cynical about things. Dionne says that the problem for liberals is that this sort of thing undercuts the argument that government can play a valuable role in the lives of Americans. On the other hand, some men just want to watch the world burn, which is why there are so many of those impasses we were talking about earlier.
Moving to the election, Todd says that Obama wants to drive up Romney's negatives, while Romney wants to send the message that Obama is a nice guy who let people down. The only thing noteworthy about that strategy is I wonder if the base is going to allow Romney to be that polite.
Brooks is very cynical that anyone will ever do anything goes. He wants Obama to basically start putting forward big ideas and, I guess, demonstrate the eternal futility of having them in the first place? Maybe we should not have a President for four years, and just all wander the earth weeping for four years?
Todd says that if Obama could lose certain states in the election if he just wins other states. Unless he wins those states in the first place, in which those other states can go screw themselves! I'm not sure this discussion has much value, beyond its pure obviousness, but NBC went to the trouble of making a big map, so, there you go.
David Brooks really loves Rob Portman, because there's no real harm to be had with a ticket of "not too scintillating white guys." Cooper thinks that Romney's Veep will be Portman or McDonnell. Gregory says, "You know if you want to send a message that you're serious about the budget, you can pick Paul Ryan," and that is the Decadence Of The Beltway Media Elites summed up in one sentence.
Dionne says that McCain would have been a lot smarter if he'd picked someone other than Sarah Palin, and I mean...it's 2012, y'all!
Todd says that the Romney campaign will have Kelly Ayotte play the role of "the woman we're vetting, but have no intention of choosing, does this help with everyone's cynicism?"
Gregory had an interview with Jay Leno, and that gives me a good opportunity to use the fast-forward on my TiVo.
Oh, who was the sports related special guest? Some guy from the NHL and the Stanley Cup, because NBC and synergy and whatnot. For NBC's sake, I'll point out that the Flyers are beating the Penguins 4-1, which means the Pens would be eliminated. I actually think that this is a bad thing, because I don't think the Capitals will ever win a Stanley Cup without first vanquishing the Penguins, our betes blancs et noires. (Also I'm sure that all you Pennsylvanians understand that as a Washingtonian, I find matches between the Flyers and Penguins difficult, because why can't both teams lose, right?)
Okay, well, that's that for another week of staring directly into the void without succumbing to a psychotic break, or something. I hope everyone has a great week!
[More liveblog is coming in just a minute!]