Huffpost Media
Jason Linkins Headshot

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Posted: Updated:

Hello, everyone! Welcome once more to this ever-continuing saga of Sunday morning political shows and my attempts to provide a poorly-spelled, nonsensical alternative so that you might live a free and happy life. My name is Jason, and I'd like to wish all of you a very happy Memorial Day and beginning of summer. Hope you are doing well on this three-day weekend, and I'll remind you that if you are reading this, that weekend will be halfway over by the time you finish. So choose wisely, okay? I mean John McCain is on one of these shows today. That alone should lay the sad, dead-inside enterprise of political talk shows for what they really are.

The sooner I begin, the sooner we can all move on, so let's commence with the beginning, and speed to the part where it's over. As always, y'all should take some time to wish each other well in the comments. You can feel free to drop me a line. And, if you're into that sort of thing, you can follow me on twitter.

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

So, today, McCain is here to talk about bombing places, and some Catholic Cardinal, Donald Wuerl, will discuss the Catholic Church's plan to push back on President Barack Obama's attempts to make it so that women aren't the societal equivalent of chattel. Then there will a C-team Fox panel and then we can move on to the next thing.

But first, John McCain, who shuffles like a haint between Sunday morning politics shows, looking for his lost crust of bread. "Thanks for having me on, especially on Memorial Day," he says, as if people were clamoring to be booked on Sunday shows this weekend. Yeah, we just managed to squeeze you in between some dead air and ten more minutes of Kimberly Strassel. This was a really tough gig to secure.

We begin with Syria, where violence continues and where conditions do not meet the qualifications for a Libyan-style intervention. (Those qualifications are basically: "must be super EASY and involve a minimum of personnel and money, because we've neither in any great abundance.) McCain, of course, thinks we should be doing more in Syria and that this is a "shameful episode in American history" that all began with that time Obama did not publicly embrace the Iranian dissident movement and ensure all of their immediate deaths.

McCain does not want to "vet" any Syrian resistance fighters, we should just do "more stuff." Then, Iran would fall.

Is it likely that Russo-U.S. efforts to remove Assad would work? McCain says no, because...for some reason. He figures that Obama is just kicking these matters down the road until the election is over. McCain says there is a "pattern," and the pattern is a bunch of countries doing things John McCain doesn't like, and then us not fighting back with "American Exceptionalism." He is upset that we've negotiated with anyone, and upset that we might one day leave Afghanistan.

Why would Pakistan capture and jail that doctor who helped us find Osama bin Laden? McCain figures it's because the Pakistanis believe Obama is weak. In reality, it's because Pakistan is a corrupt government with al Qaeda sympathizers swimming throughout its intelligence apparatus.

I am pretty grateful that the "what if McCain won the election" counterhistorical just writes itself. Many dead Iranians, over-deployed troops, and no money. Leaves little subtlety.

Wallace finally interrupts what amounts to McCain reading aloud from his new softcore collection, 50 Shades Of Masturbatory Bombing Sprees, to ask questions about Iran and whether it's "time to give up on diplomacy." McCain says it's "time to draw red lines." (Which has been done, only they need to be even redder, like crimson or incardadine!) We need to tell Iran, NO! Only do it with AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM. "EXPELLIARMUS!" we say, and Iran says, "CRAP! Consider us deterred!"

And when you cross those redlines, McCain says, then, "All options are on the table." See, that's why all of this is so silly. We talk about the present moment as a moment where all options are on the table, as a means of deterring Iran from edging up to a "red line." If they cross a line, however, we point EVEN HARDER at the table. "Did you forget, Iran? About the table? So many options, strewn atop?"

The essential difference between what's being done now and what McCain would do differently is that McCain would strip down to an American flag onesie and do a strutting Mick Jagger imitation in front of the table. That's why I get so bored, by all the war talk that's done in comfortable teevee studios by soft men.

Moving to Egypt -- where we have democracy attempting to stir, and nary a bomb dropped. But the election is boiling down to a guy from the Muslim Brotherhood and a former toady of Hosni Mubarak. Wallace asks McCain who we'd back -- presumably the Mubarak toady. McCain says that we can't weigh in on who we prefer this because it would benefit the other person. Yes! Exactly. America picks a side and everyone rushes to do the opposite. ONLY THAT'S THE SAME POLICY WE TOOK WITH THE IRANIAN DISSIDENT MOVEMENT.

If you had "eight minutes" as the time it would take McCain to go inconsistent on us, congratulate yourself.

Moving to Afghanistan, where we'll be down to 60,000 troops, hopefully, by the end of the summer. McCain, of course, is against this. Wallace asks about out ongoing attempts to train the Afghan forces, and why it is that the Taliban don't need training to fight. (Actually, I am pretty sure that the Taliban had ample opportunities to train themselves back when they were the de facto ruling class of the country.)

McCain says that "insurgency warfare" and "counterinsurgency" need differing levels of training, but look that's not what's important, what's important is that we set a deadline on the calendar. We picked a date where we say, "Okay we're going to stop spending money and degrading our military in the graveyard of empires," and McCain is against that.

He also mentions Pakistani corruption and the way their ISI works with al Qaeda to kill Americans, all of which might have better informed his previous comments.

Moving to the horserace. McCain once said that Mitt Romney was a terrible vulture capitalist and his campaign manager thought Bain Capital was just awful. McCain says that his campaign manager doesn't speak for him, which is just so terrifically brave. I mean, the courage it takes to distance oneself from the person who decided he would give up his time and run your presidential campaign should really inspire awe. More to the point, McCain doesn't think that his criticism of Romney and Bain qualifies as the same terrible class warfare as criticism that's coming from a Democrat.

Basically, he was running for office against Romney, for Pete's sake!

Now we will get to the whole contraception battle with the Catholic Church, who are suing because all this lady-freedom is making women more uppity and assertive. Of course, lots of women use contraception, and the combination oral contraceptive -- among other useful things -- helps to keep women from having painful ovarian cysts which, left unchecked, could require surgery.

So the Catholic dude, whose name I've already forgotten so we'll just call him Cardinal...I don't know...Richelieu has a nice ring? Anyway, Richelieu, says that this is about religious freedom and his religion's freedom in particular in defining what constitutes freedom for other people, especially women with cysts, but also the people they hire and occasionally serve soup to, in kitchens.

Richelieu isn't having any of this talk that there will be a "public comment" period where the law can be tweaked, because he knows from personal experience that the public comment period never goes anywhere. He probably has personal experience with this sort of bureaucracy, seeing that the Catholic Church is, organizationally speaking, profoundly good at ignoring the suggestions of those who would "tweak" its policies.

Wallace asks Richelieu to respond to the limited coverage of his organization's lawsuit on broadcast news networks. "What do you make of that?" Probably there was some actual news, who knows? But Richelieu finds it puzzling, and suggests that we "have to take a much larger look at this." Richelieu understands that people have different points of view, he just wants to discount those, because religious liberty.

Though, as Wallace points out, there seems to be a schism in the Catholic Church, whose diosceses (I've no idea what the plural is, and I don't feel like waking my wife up to ask), are largely NOT suing. Richelieu says that his fellow bishops totally support him! He doesn't know why Wallace is hearing differently!

Also, this guy, Cardinal Richelieu, or whatever his real name is? He is a terrible spokesman for this lawsuit, because he has this stilted, breathy way of speaking that plays up his condescending tone and his nose-in-the-air elitism, which is bad enough, but he also looks a LOT like a younger Anthony Hopkins, so the overall effect is that it kind of feels like Wallace is interviewing Hannibal Lecter. Whatever Catholic Bishop is taking a neutral stance on this contraception battle had better watch his back, because Cardinal Anthony Hopkins (let's call him that, now) is going to eat his liver with some Communion wafers and a nice Chee-yant-tee.

I've sort of lost the thread of this conversation, but now Cardinal Anthony Hopkins is hissing menacingly about getting more kids into Catholic schools. He will not take a stand on Mitt Romney's Mormonism.

And now they are talking about the Pope's Butler, who leaked the DaVinci Code or something? Oh -- ha, ha! -- he leaked documents that showed "cronyism and corruption inside the Vatican." How did this happen? Cardinal Anthony Hopkins says, "I wouldn't worry too much about what I'm reading in the newspapers about something someone says is going on." Well, of course you wouldn't.

Anyway, that's your appearance from Cardinal Parseltongue, or whoever that whispering, creepy guy was. (Maybe that last segment was an elaborate prank? That was one very puzzling choice, in terms of spokespersons -- the strangest I've seen in a while.)

Okay, well, it's Panel Time, with Brit Hume and a slate of third-stringers, including Kimberly Strassel and Kirsten Powers and Jeff Zeleny.

Anyway, Strassel is really sure that it's Obama who is the super Vulture capitalist, because Solyndra. The central part of her thesis appears to be that when "government runs business" which is "the way Obama wants to do it," you get stuff she doesn't like, so poop on all of that. Strassel might be ignoring this, or just too dim to put it together, but another feature of the Obama term is record corporate profits while the recovery for everyone else has sputtered along, but Obama never gave a big speech about how special corporate mavens are, so it's WAR, FOREVER.

Strassel is also pretty upset that auto workers were "put ahead of bondholders," because yes, why not punish the people who did nothing but work an assembly line? The people who should get bailed out are those who said, "Hey, look at THESE cars that no one wants to buy! Let's invest our money in this!"

Anyway, pooh, pooh, Pecksniff, pooh. Kirsten Powers offers some half-hearted defense of the notion that Mitt Romney's record should be critiqued. Hume says that he once thought Romney would need to offer a strong defense of his Bain years, but now that so many Democrats are kvetching about the Bain attacks, maybe he doesn't. What Hume doesn't understand -- and honestly, he's not alone in this, this applies to just about every clapped-out Beltway bubble dwellers -- is that these attacks on Bain? Other elite politicians are not their intended audience! These attacks are pitched toward the heartland. Factory towns, middle class folks from the Rust Belt swing states, west of coal alley.

If the attacks work, they'll work there. No one thinks there's any special significance in Harold Ford, Jr. being upset with Barack Obama over this. If you put Harold Ford Jr. on the cover of Time right now, he'd be standing on a tiny chair gumming the teat of some banker.

Hume says that one of the reasons he knows the attacks aren't working is because of what he read in Strassel's column. No normal human Americans are reading Kim Strassel's columns, though, Those are the printed thought-farts of and for Acelastan elites.

Zeleny gets it right -- the Obama campaign isn't quite as up-to-speed on the campaigning tip as you'd imagine they would be, having so long to prepare for Romney. Romney's just fought his way through a primary and still has that lean, mean, campaign muscle tone. That's where you can account for the sort of lumpen limpness. That said, Zeleny notes that it's too early to tell if these attacks aren't working: "What really matters is how all of this is being internalized by voters in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan." DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER. "I think the ups and downs of the week are not as important," he says, earning mad bonus points!

Wallace asks if the "brand of Obama as a uniter something they can no longer afford?" Uhm, "uniting" people is nice, but at some point you sort of have to say that your political opponent is crappy. Not for the first time, I'll say this -- don't be dumb, like Obama, and ever promise to be a different sort of politician. It doesn't work! (It's especially dumb if all it gets you is a political media that wants to believe you made it to the White House on a cloud of positivity, when you were really just as cutthroat as everyone else.)

Zeleny says that the brand has to be that of a "fighter," which "is what some Democrats have wanted all along." Ha, ha. Yeah, sort of!

Strassel seems to think it's a bad thing that the Obama administration keeps successfully changing the subject about the unemployment rate and the economy. It's almost as if the Obama administration understands that the media can be perpetually led by the nose from one shiny ball to the next, cooing and kvelling over the latest dumb story, and forcing Romney into the mode where he's just responding and reacting. Hey, everyone! Obama will stop trolling you guys the moment y'all prove yourselves to be resistant to trolling. Till then, enjoy your summer!

Oh, wait, there's more panel? That would have been a good place to end this.

Hume notes that the Obama administration is being inconsistent in Syria because no one is making the case for an intervention there, on the standard established by Libya. Again, this is just cynical me talking, but it seems that the real standard established in Libya is that the United States will fight for freedom and prevent bloodshed anywhere it is cheap and easy to do so. A Syrian intervention falls outside that scope, because it's not "easy."

Strassel says that in Egypt, not that the "primary season" has yielded a former Mubarak suck-pump and a guy from the Muslim Brotherhood, both candidates are "pivoting toward the center." So the same old crap that happens here happens everywhere. Everyone watch Egypt closely, for when the mayor of Cairo goes "off message!"

Zeleny says that the Obama administration is "probably right" in the way he's gauged public sentiment as being against a Syrian military intervention and wanting to get out of Afghanistan, and imagines that by the time the general election gets into its later months, we could be in for a large debate on foreign policy.

Hume says that if the region goes south in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran, the Obama administration could suffer from negative public sentiment. Basically, the American voters could be crazily inconsistent -- "We're tired of war! Why didn't we have more of it, though?"

And more arguments about Syria and how the world should just be lent the United States' ATM card on a permanent basis, buy Chris Wallace's wife's book about soup, the end.

THIS WEEK, WITH SOMEBODY

Once again, George Stephanopoulos is taking a "well-deserved morning off," as he always seems to be doing when I watch this show. In his stead is Jake Tapper, who sets up our Memorial Day scene with a reminder of everyone who is still fighting abroad and "monitoring hotspots" all over the globe, including "on war ships in the Persian Gulf amidst the nuclear standoff with Iran." That's a bit melodramatic, isn't it? I mean, that's supposed to be melodramatic, right?

Also, everything is going to hell in Yemean and Pakistan and China, and who knows? Maybe Vancouver, too. Time to talk with Leon Panetta, our Secretary of Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Jake starts off with the ultimate in getting-to-know-you question: "How often does a terrifying message come on your desk about some threat, and you just think, oh my God?"

HAHAHA, Panetta says, the things that I get in my morning email WOULD CURL YOUR PRETTY TOES, JAKE. Your BRAIN would turn to fire, and you would stumble from the room and beg me. YES, JAKE, YOU WOULD BEG ME! To tell you that everything would be okay. WHAT ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO JAKE? You wanna get DARK, BROTHER? OKAY! LET'S GET DARK.

Actually, he just said, "Well, you don't get a hell of a lot of sleep, let's put it that way." But I like to think that's what he meant. At any rate, it's challenging, he gets intelligence, he's probably watched you while you slept.

Moving to Afghanistan, and the fact that President Obama wants to end the combat mission there by the end of 2014. Tapper points out that the "chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees just returned from Afghanistan and they say that from their briefings there, they believe that the Taliban is actually stronger now than since the surge began." This is not something that we actually needed these Reps and Senators to tell us, but hey, it's more polite to do it this way than to slap us on the forehead and shout, "No fecal matter, Sherlock!"

So, what's the plan if, when we decide to skedaddle, parts of Afghanistan end up back into the hands of the Taliban?

Please say no we're skedaddling. Please say no we're skedaddling. Please say no we're skedaddling. Please say no we're skedaddling. Please say no we're skedaddling. "Well the most important point is that we're not going anyplace." Damn it! "We're gonna, we have an enduring presence that will be in Afghanistan. We'll continue to work with them on counterterrorism. We'll continue to provide training, assistance, guidance. We'll continue to provide support."

Panetta says we're making good progress and the Taliban has totally been weakened and violence is going down and the Afghan army is getting awesome. Tapper wants to interject, and after a fashion, he does, saying, "But you're not naive." Panetta says, sure, we've a "fight on our hands." He says that twice, actually! And the Taliban are "resilient," but we're on the "right track," totally. Pretty soon, this weird country and it's corrupt government and it's illiterate police force and its people who quite smartly switch sides depending on who has the bigger guns are gonna be okay!

Tapper brings up General Allen at the NATO Summit, responding to questions about the Afghan security forces tendency to, you know, occasionally attack the U.S. forces. "That does not seem like a good news story to me," Tapper says, "that there are 160 Afghan security forces that were considered to be threats. That seems like a lot."

Pannetta says that progress is being made, and it's a concern, sure. But the Taliban can't get their act together to do much more than frighten us, doesn't that make you feel good? I guess?

Tapper dips into the horsey race, pointing out that Mitt Romney has criticized this whole, "Let's not just stay in Afghanistan until we're all dead and broke" plan that Obama seems to have. Panetta insists that the plan is to "take us to a point where we draw down by the end of 2014."
"That is the plan that has been agreed to. And it's a plan that is working." And these timelines? he says they are needed so that the Afghan government knows that they have to be on the ball by a certain time.

Tapper doesn't spend too much time dwelling on the 2012iness of it all, shifting to this poor Pakistani doctor who assisted the U.S. in the bin Laden raid, who's no facing a 33 year prison sentence for not being sufficiently shady like the rest of Pakistan. Panetta says that it's "disturbing" that this happened because the "doctor was not working against Pakistan." Rather, he was fighting al Qaeda. (Of course, there's been considerable evidence that to "fight al Qaeda" is to fight Pakistan's ISI, so, it may be sort of the same concept.

Tapper isn't sure that we can "call Pakistan an ally when they do something like this." He's right! Panetta writes it off to a "complicated relationship" and, by the way, they have nukes, so, you know..."our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face." Panetta says that "what they did with this doctor doesn't help in the effort to try to do that." You think?

We are also sort of getting ripped off on trucks, or something? Basically Pakistan is totally that guy who says he's your pal, only he nickels and dimes you to death and also throws your doctor in jail? GREAT FRIEND, this Pakistan.

Moving to Yemen, where we have suicide bombings and attacks on U.S. planes. Why aren't we sending more troops? (Because we only have so many of them, I think?) Panetta says that we've been successful in Yemen, and we'll continue to do so, but "the operations we're conducting, require the kind of capabilities that don't necessarily involve boots on the ground." Rather, they require "the kind of capabilities that target those that we're after who are threats to the United States." I am not at all sure what that means.

Tapper switches to our drone wars: "Is there not a serious risk that this approach to counterterrorism, because of its imprecision, because of its civilian casualties, is creating more enemy than it is killing?" Y'all, Jake is way up on this stuff. Panetta says that these drones are precise, and anyway, look, we have to defend the United States! (By occasionally killing innocent people and turning the people who love them against us.)

In Iran we are attempting to forge a deal that would forestall the Iranian government from creating nuclear weapons. Tapper brings up an NYT piece in which an Iranian diplomat bragged about out-negotiating us. Panetta says that the U.S. has no intention to "'allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon" and that we will "do everything we can to prevent them from developing a weapon."

War, though?

TAPPER: The American Ambassador to Israel said a few days ago that the U.S. is quote "ready from a military perspective to carry out a strike on Iran." That's true?

PANETTA: One of the things that we do at the Defense Department, Jake, is plan. And we have - we have plans to be able to implement any contingency we have to in order to defend ourselves.

Tapper asks after the news that Kathryn Bigelow and Michael Boal, who are making a movie about Osama bin Laden and his eventual capture, and whether anything "inappropriate was shared with these filmmakers" when they came to the government for information and insight into the mission. Panetta says, "nothing inappropriate was shared with them" and that it was all part of the same process by which filmmakers and reporters get information.

Is Panetta comfortable with the Obama administration's "chest-thumping" over the bin Laden capture? Panetta says that it was a "very special" thing to have been a part of, and "whether you're Republicans, whether you're Democrats, whether you're Independents, I think this country ought to be proud of what our intelligence and military community did."

But that's not exactly what Tapper was after, so he rephrases: "Well, obviously it was a successful mission but the politicization of it, that doesn't make you uncomfortable at all?" Panetta sticks to his guns: "I would hope that both Republicans and Democrats would be justly proud of what was accomplished."

Moving to the budget cuts that are fixing to come down on the Pentagon, as a result of the "trigger cuts" from the Budget Control Act. Panetta says that "defense has to play a role in trying to be able to achieve fiscal responsibility" and that they gave a budget that both provides fiscal discipline as well as a "strong national defense for this country." He is, however, concerned, about the trigger cuts "which involves another $500 billion in defense cuts." These, he says, would be "disastrous in terms of our national defense."

Will Panetta stick around for a possible second Obama term? Sure. Will he stay on if Mitt Romney asks? "I don't engage in hypotheticals," he says. So no.

Panel time, now, with George Will and Liz Claman and Ron Brownstein and Nia-Malika Henderson and Jennifer Granholm.

Will says that the Bain attacks depend on whether the American people buy into it, and if they do, they are stupid, because Solyndra. That's the entire argument! Claman is a bit more nuanced, saying that private equity has never been the greatest calling card where job creation is concerned, but that said, the industry is not the caricature they are being described as. That's true, but the caricature that Obama would prefer to deploy is Romney as a leverage buyout maven, and private equity left alone. Team Obama Re-Elect would prefer this gets to a place where Romney is in the firing line, and private equity -- whose money Obama wants very badly -- feels like they aren't the target of hostility.

While we're on the subject though, a personal thing I've been wondering is this: How much do other people in the private equity industry look at Mitt Romney and say, "Oh, yeah, I respect the hell out of that guy!" It seems to me that Romney's whole history at Bain Capital probably is an alienating thing for other people in similar industries. Not because of what Bain did, mind you, but the whole how-Romney-got-there part. Romney did not want to head up Bain Capital, after all, and only did so after assurances were made that if everything went south, Romney would not lose any of his own money, he'd be re-installed at his own job with all the pay and bonuses his missed, and he would never be publicly blamed for anything going wrong.

Now, who wouldn't want that deal? Still, there are guys all over the financial sector who actually go to work all day and put their reputations on the line to risk something, and I can't imagine that they are all that impressed with Romney's lack of balls.

At any rate, "private equity is part about creating profit and less about creating jobs," Claman says, and whoever can work their side of the argument to the satisfaction of voters will win that argument. That's a pretty realistic way of explaining how this works, but the panel is going to uselessly yammer about the matter for about five more minutes.

Jennfier Granholm, Tapper says, was an incumbent who defeated a businessman for re-election during a down economy by making sure that people thought her opponent was a scary vulture capitalist. She successfully turned a "referendum" election into a "choice" election, and won big after being underwater, in terms of favorability. Brownstein says that at the moment, we have a "double negative," where there is neither a majority of people who want to vote for Obama or a majority that want Romney to take over.

Will doesn't understand the whole notion between "choice" and "referendum" and thinks it all boils down to he question, "Is this the best we can do?" It takes a minute before I realize he is not referring to previous columns about Romney's insufficient conservatism. Rather he is talking about the economy, and the recovery that is not happening. (Though Claman notes another rceent "green shoot" -- consumer sentiment hit a new high, which she says, "translates directly into how people are feeling about the economy"...can they buy new goods, are they feeling upbeat about getting a new job.

Brownstein says that Obama has to keep saying that we are "moving in the right direction" -- a very fragile argument in a very fragile time. Granholm notes that if you have the luxury to claim victory, it's always better. (I think that if Obama had managed to completely reverse our economic fortunes, we'd all be okay with him "spiking the football.")

Brownstein notes that the segment of the population that Obama is struggling with are blue-college whites, a population group that's going to personally know and care about friend, family members, and the like, who have been laid off, or who have been out of work for a long while. That's a key population of people that Romney could grab for himself. Granholm counters that by saying that the Millenial Generation is likely to stay home for Obama, but what if they're all so busy contributing articles entitled, "Bird That Make Me Sad" to Though Catalog, that they forget to vote?

Will notes that the Democrats are "flinching from their own President's agenda." Welcome to every single day of their lives? I'm pretty sure that Democratic lawmakers flinch at their own bowel movements.

Now Will is railing about how awful Donald Trump is, and he doesn't understand why Mitt Romney has glommed onto him. Claman notes the danger -- Trump has nothing to lose and can continue being a birther-weirdie forever because he's just a carnival act in the backwaters of American culture, but Romney has something at stake. "Mitt Romney and his people have to decide whether standing next to Trump means more votes or fewer votes, and right now," she says, voters are saying that they care about "putting food on their families' table, getting an upwardly mobile jobs, and putting their kids through college."

Brownstein says that you shouldn't expect Romney to risk pissing off the extremists, because he is "spooked" by them and is worried that they will mobilize against him. (And do what, exactly? Vote for Constitution Party hopeful Virgil Goode?)

Henderson says that it's not likely that Trump will end up on a Sunday show. That might be somewhat hilarious, though!

And there's a lot of silly crosstalk about this.

Claman says that right now, voters want to skip to the "main act." But that's not until September. So unless the media takes the summer off (PLEASE DO THIS PLEASE DO THIS) we're going to have all these puppies chasing down shiny balls. (Granholm says that the "Bain attacks" aren't part of the sideshow.)

Now we're going to talk about the Facebook IPO, which Claman calls a "categorical disaster" that will "leave egg on a select group of people's faces." (She actually makes a terrible attempt at a pun here, but I'll give her a break because she's been one of those rarely-if-ever panelists who's actually a little data-driven, as opposed to, "here is what I think, now that I've smelt my own flatulence.") The key takeaway -- people realized days before the IPO that most users were accessing Facebook on their smartphones, which aren't sorted for advertising, and so are well short of being monetizable.

Now, the question is, how early did the institutional investors get this information and did retail investors have a right to it? And also, why the NASDAQ seize up and nearly die when the trading on this start?

Nia-Malika Henderson says, "People poke me." That's basically my favorite part of this whole conversation.

EVERYBODY GO POKE NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON.

MEET THE PRESS

That's my way of previewing the fact that this is going to be a pretty bad show, today.

So today, Newt Gingrich -- who's just spent the last two nights at NBC News' studio, sleeping by the nacho bar, ever since his appearance on Meet The Press, where he and Chris Matthews announced their new line of bath salts -- is here to yell at Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, about horsey-race stuff. (I figure, also, that O'Malley is here to be put to the "can he stay on message" test that Booker failed last week.)

Also, that terrible panel also features terrible businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

But first, O'Malley and Gingrich, blahing at one another, and by extension, us.

Gingrich is totally committed to Mitt Romney now, and Romney's going to win, because he's "tough" and "prepared to do what it takes to win," which means "sucking up millions of dollars to match Obama in yet another election in which two dudes polish turds and hurl them at each other, forever." Gingrich could not have done that, because he is poor. He would have had to manufacture those turds "artisanally."

Also, Romney pulled off the amazing feat to come back from the devastation of losing South Carolina to Newt Gingrich!

O'Malley says that Obama is not going to come off as "anti-business" by attacking Romney's record, and notes that he agrees with the criticism that was levied against Romney's record by...Newt Gingrich. He goes on to note that there are two things in Romney's record that recommend him to be president -- one is Bain Capital, and the other is his record as governor, which includes RomneyCare.

But Gregory passes the ball back to Gingrich, who basically says that Gingrich can make attacks on Romney while Obama can't because Solyndra. (Who knew that "because Solyndra" would be Memorial Day 2012's Cheap Conversation Shortener?) And, Gingrich says that Obama is going after all of capitalism, and not just Romney, despite the fact that we just saw a video in which he said that there was nothing wrong with private equity...it just isn't an industry whose concerns translate into the skill-set needed at the White House.

Gingrich does, accurately note that there are many Democrats that are clapped-out Wall Street cash co-dependent nimrods.

O'Malley defends the economic record of the Obama administration by noting the reduction in unemployment, foreclosures, and overall privation, noting that the record assembled is one that's "on the right track." (I think the argument is very vulnerable on the foreclosure issue.)

O'Malley is being SO CAREFUL not to go off-message! It's so ADORABLE. He is going to get a GOLD STAR and a HEAD PAT!

Gingrich says that unemployment is low because fewer people are participating and has run up debt, and Romney's "straightforward case" is that this is the wrong track. O'Malley counters by noting that Romney drove up debt in Massachusetts to record highs and that his only job creation was in the public sector. Also, Bain was terrible. Gingrich says, yeah but Staples. And for a hot second, I think that Gingrich might go at Obama's record on foreclosures, but he pulls back, probably because he only talks about housing after someone pays him many millions of dollars to talk about it, as a historian.

O'Malley, so careful, says that the attacks on Romney's record have nothing to do with character -- it's about his qualifications. Private equity is awesome, just maybe not a thing that leads to knowing how to run a country.

Gingrich counters by saying, "Reagan, yadda yadda."

Now we'll talk to O'Malley and Gingrich about Latinos. Very useful! As Gingrich points out, the Democrats passed on an opportunity to do comprehensive immigration reform, because they thought it would be more politically costly to LOSE the vote than to come out in favor of something. (They were wrong about this, by the way, they are always wrong about this.)

Gingrich predicts that Romney will take 40% of the Hispanic vote, which Gregory calls bold.

Now, Gregory is reading Ron Brownstein's National Journal column out loud to everybody.

O'Malley is basically getting worked by Gregory and Gingrich, because "maintaining bridges" to DC elites means "more debt," while to state governors it means, "fewer human beings dying in tragic infrastructural accidents."

From there, Gingrich just sort of does a monologue of tautology: this Romney education plan is good because it's a Romney education plan, and anyone who says otherwise is against goodness.

Okay, now, for some reason, we are learning that O'Malley and Gingrich were "chosen for a reason" to appear on Meet The Press. I just naturally assumed they were booked because the show felt no one could better help viewers relate to the politics of the week! You mean there's a special reason? Apparently so, and it is because...O'Malley might one day run for president, and maybe Gingrich has some advice? Gingrich says that you should race money and prepare to spend a few years on the road. His own plan -- be the impoverished guy who hangs out on Google Plus -- didn't exactly pan out.

Oh, and I'm reminded that Gingrich is $4.5 million in debt and his inability to pay off some of his vendors might cause some of them to go out of business, forever, so it's totally just the best thing in the world to have him on, opining on the relative job-creation/debt-reduction abilities of other people.

Okay, now we'll try to survive a half an hour with E.J. Dionne, David Brooks, Carly Fiorina, and Antonio Villaraigosa.

David Gregory says his heart is divided by the first place Los Angeles Dodgers and the first place Washington Nationals, a situation that could be resolved by just rooting for the Cardinals.

But we digress! Gregory lists some of the shiny stuff that the media has been obsessed about, and Brooks says that he "questions Obama's decision to start off going negative." Obama has always been a negative campaigner, Brooks is just someone who convinced himself otherwise. Dionne points out that George W. Bush attacked John Kerry very early in that election...I guess because he thinks it's best to emulate Bush? Gah, this is going to be a looooong panel discussion.

Dionne says that the "Bain attacks" raise the question about what sort of capitalism we should have. Gregory isn't sure that voters in 2012 want to have a referendum on capitalism and its discontents, and I'm inclined to agree with that. What I am not inclined to agree with this the affected way Gregory pronounces the word "financiers," which he pronounced "FEE-nan-seers." Anyway, he basically says, "Hey, Carly Fiorina, would you like to attack Obama?" and she says sure. A highlight: "Failing companies destroy jobs." Like the ones that Carly Fiorina runs, into rather deep ditches.

Villaraigosa is also being VERY CAREFUL and trying to get the same gold star that O'Malley is going to get for staying on message and not being a big old Cory Booker. His salient point is that no one is defaming private equity, just saying that Romney is terrible, blah blah.

Now, we'll peep some polls, including the way that many demographics seem to be tilting in the Democrat's direction. Brooks notes that these demographic shifts have been underway for some time. He then goes off on some tangent about how our politics is going to become "like the New Orleans Saints." What does that mean? "Both sides are going to go off into bounty hunting."

Right, because of that whole period of American politics in which everyone was a total Pollyanna and the Marquis of Queensbury Rules were strictly observed, that happened in David Brooks' head and nowhere else in America, ever? Brooks says that all of this will hurt Obama's favorability ratings, which are higher than Romney's (but only started edging higher since he begun attacking Romney, so...)

Fiorina says it's sad when politics "gets reduced to questioning people's motives." Keep in mind that she was the one who dressed her political opponent up in a sheep costume, with glowing red eyes, at the outset of her most recent foray into politics, because we should be having very lofty arguments!

Gregory points out that Latinos support Obama, and wants to know if anything could change that. Villaraigosa, says that sure, if Rubio ends up on the ticket, it could shift votes, but what really needs to happen in order to shift their votes back to the GOP is for the GOP to stop being extreme in such a way that Latino voters are terrified and/or deeply offended. (Though in bringing up the lust for deportation, Villaraigosa blinks past the fact that Obama has set new records in that area.)

Brooks says that as this is a "referendum" election and not a "choice" election, the effects of these demographics will not hamper GOP ambitions in the short term.

Now, David Gregory is just passing balls around the table? Brooks says that he doesn't like the way Scott Walker tried to reform the welfare state, but he did so successfully. (Walker actually didn't reform the welfare state: he successfully rechanneled the populist rage at wealthy elites in a way that got middle class Wisconsites fighting one another instead of working together. This wasn't a sincere, reform effort. This was about securing and maintaining political power by turning your opponents into enemies of one another.)

Dionne draws a question about Trump. "Trump, boy, I don't know," is a summary of his response.

Fiorina is asked if the GOP will make an argument that they are better at foreign policy. She says they will. This is all very fascinating, and I'm glad that money was spent broadcasting this, on the teevee.

Meet The Press ends with Maria Shriver and Michael Lewis, talking for twenty minutes about the stuff they are saying or will say or have said at commencement addresses. I can't even with this. I'll say that Katie Couric gave some good advice last weekend at UVa's Final Exercises when she made fun of some Darden School graduate for bringing his mother to a job interview. To summarize: don't do that.

Okay, well, that's Sunday morning chatshow recaps for Memorial Day weekend. Congratulations to Martin O'Malley and Antonio Villaraigoso fro managing to do "Obama surrogate stuff" without going off-message! You won't spend the rest of your weekend "walking it back" on YouTube! As for all you readers, I wish you an enjoyable holiday weekend, and a wonderful week in general. See y'all later!