Hello everybody, and welcome to your weekly ad-hoc, fast-typed, snaply judged, prickly thorn, but sweetly worn liveblog of Sunday morning political grunting and yelling. My name is Jason, and this is one of the best Sundays of the year, if not THE best (except for maybe some of you Wisconsinites) of the year because this is the one day each year that NBC does not show MEET THE PRESS and instead shows the French Open at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. Bravo, you brave clay court specialists. Thank you, and of course, "Hello."

I am also very excited to share this Sunday with you today for another reason -- today is going to be one of those great acid-test weekends for the media. As you know, most Sundays, the people who put these shows together...well, you get the feeling that they are doing their utmost to talk about painfully trivial crap, when they could be doing something valuable with this time. This week we're going to see how serious these shows can be, by seeing how they cover a news conference that happened this past Friday.

As you know, President Obama gave one of those very rare press availabilities, where he took questions from the White House Press Corps. Now, I was watching the presser with an eye toward something interesting and substantive. The way I experienced the presser basically went like this -- there was a long and generic part where there were inquiries about the economy, and a bunch of seriously generic answers that were given in response.

And then, someone asked Obama about the recent national security stories -- the "kill list" story and the Stuxnet virus story -- and the leaks that enabled that enabled them. And suddenly things got interesting -- Obama did one of those "let me make a long series of disconnected phrases while I figure out what I'm going to say about this" moves, and a lot of long pausing, and finally, he talked at great length about how no one in the White House authorized anyone to be the sources of those stories and of course, no one had any idea who leaked them, no no! And it was total transparent crap, and fascinating, because he probably met with the leaker that morning, and they were probably all, "Hey man, nice leak!" And someone on twitter -- I forget who, probably one of those conscientious foreign policy guys like Joshua Foust -- tweeted something to the effect that Obama's response to the leak question was going to totally be "THE" story, post-presser. And I peeped the tweet and nodded and though, "Frack, yes, it will." And then David Wood and I had a brief little conversation about the leak question that was basically:

ME: Seriously, Obama?

WOOD: I mean.

Only it was a little bit smarter. (I mean, Dave was smart, anyway.)

Anyway, I was totally wrong. In just a few minutes, everyone was squawking about Obama's "remarks on the private sector." And I was totally confused. Obama had said very little about the private sector, only that it was doing better than the public sector, which is one of the most objectively true things in the world. Record profits don't exactly suck!. Here are charts that document what I'm talking about. What had I missed? OH MY! He used the word "fine," not "better." Oy. Didn't catch that. "Here we go," I thought.

It's pretty amazing how that story took off, and became more important than the part where Obama was pretty transparently BSing the press about the leaks. Because you know what, no amount of inquiry or analysis or discussion or opinion or examination or criticism of something someone says about the economy is going to affect the economy or impact anyone's lives. The economy is on its course now, probably headed in the direction of short-to-medium-term sucking, for a lot of people that never get to be on the news. Someone went off message though! Chanced upon the wrong word! SO SHINY. Must talk all day long about it, or else our brains might start working again.

On the other hand, there's actualy WORK the media can do on the whole leak story. Questions can be asked, sourced run to ground, a timeline established, logic applied. It's a serious and substantive discussion that can be had, you can bring real discomfort to powerful people, you can perhaps save lives -- but OH MY GOD it would take so much effort! Better to discuss how a permanently affluent political celebrity ruined his horse-race news-cycle news for a week because he used the wrong word.

I've often talked about how the media stays studiously disengaged from the lives of normal people, and almost always chooses the path of overhyped, arm-up-to-the-elbow alimentary canal-plumbing over doing even a tiny shred of good for our poor, bruised world. Today, I am guessing that we're going to hear a whole lot about how the way the word "fine" was used this week is a total embarrassment to a guy who'll never want for anything a day in his life, and not so much about how the same guy probably leaked a bunch of war-on-terror glory stories to a friendly press to burnish his cred for an election year at the possible expense of those secret programs' continued success.

We'll see, I guess!

Sunday! It makes our cynicism fun, and then we get sad, and then we go see "The Avengers" or something, and learn to hug again. Anyway, this is the part where I recommend that you all comfort one another in the comments and to feel free to drop me a line. As always, you can also follow me on Twitter, but I'll also recommend that you might prefer to follow me on RebelMouse -- the new social sharing tool developed by our pal, Paul Berry. Twitter, let's face it, gets a little bit silly at times. But if you go to \my Rebel Mouse page, you'll get the best of what I'm doing on Twitter and a big share of news stories that I've read and enjoyed. It's the perfect thing for those times you are waiting, in boredom, for this liveblog to refresh. So give it a try, if you want. If you don't want, don't do it! It's your life! I'm lucky to have you even reading this! Thank you, actually, for doing that!

You're great.

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

Fox has Mitch Daniels and Dennis Van Roekel (of the NEA) and Thea Lee (of the AFL-CIO) to talk about labor unions. And, let's credit Fox New Sunday right off the bat -- they make no mention of "the private sector is fine" but they DO preview their panel discussion by noting that they are going to talk about the leak story. So it looks like we'll have one potential acid-test pass today.

Meanwhile, labor unions are having a no good very bad week, after they failed to oust Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Tom Barrett, of course, didn't really seem like the ideal candidate to carry a torch for public sector union employees (in fact, the things Walker did in Wisconsin helped Barrett balance his budget in Milwaukee). In my Friday piece, I recommended that people take in what Doug Henwood had to say about the matter. Here's how he bottom-lined it:

Most labor people, including some fairly radical ones, detest Bob Fitch’s analysis of labor’s torpor. By all means, read his book Solidarity for Sale for the full analysis. But a taste of it can be gotten here, from his interview with Michael Yates of Monthly Review. A choice excerpt:

Essentially, the American labor movement consists of 20,000 semi-autonomous local unions. Like feudal vassals, local leaders get their exclusive jurisdiction from a higher level organization and pass on a share of their dues. The ordinary members are like the serfs who pay compulsory dues and come with the territory. The union bosses control jobs—staff jobs or hiring hall jobs—the coin of the political realm. Those who get the jobs—the clients—give back their unconditional loyalty. The politics of loyalty produces, systematically, poles of corruption and apathy. The privileged minority who turn the union into their personal business. And the vast majority who ignore the union as none of their business.

Bob thought that the whole model of American unionism, in which unions were given exclusive rights to bargain over contracts in closed shops, was a major long-term source of weakness. I find it persuasive; many don’t. But whatever you think of that analysis of the past is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Collective bargaining has mostly disappeared in the private sector, and now looks doomed in the public sector. There are something like 23 states with Republican governors and legislative majorities ready to imitate Walker who will be emboldened by his victory. And there are a lot of Dems ready to do a Walker Lite. If they don’t disappear, public sector unions will soon become powerless.

That means that if unions ever want to turn things around—and I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that we’ll never have a better society without a reborn labor movement—they have to learn to operate in this new reality. Which means learning to act politically, to agitate on behalf of the entire working class and not just a privileged subset with membership cards.

Fox has Mitch Daniels and Dennis Van Roekel (of the NEA) and Thea Lee (of the AFL-CIO) to talk about labor unions. And, let's credit Fox New Sunday right off the bat -- they make no mention of "the private sector is fine" but they DO preview their panel discussion by noting that they are going to talk about the leak story. So it looks like we'll have one potential acid-test pass today.

Meanwhile, labor unions are having a no good very bad week, after they failed to oust Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Tom Barrett, of course, didn't really seem like the ideal candidate to carry a torch for public sector union employees (in fact, the things Walker did in Wisconsin helped Barrett balance his budget in Milwaukee). In my Friday piece, I recommended that people take in what Doug Henwood had to say about the matter. Here's how he bottom-lined it:

Most labor people, including some fairly radical ones, detest Bob Fitch’s analysis of labor’s torpor. By all means, read his book Solidarity for Sale for the full analysis. But a taste of it can be gotten here, from his interview with Michael Yates of Monthly Review. A choice excerpt:

Essentially, the American labor movement consists of 20,000 semi-autonomous local unions. Like feudal vassals, local leaders get their exclusive jurisdiction from a higher level organization and pass on a share of their dues. The ordinary members are like the serfs who pay compulsory dues and come with the territory. The union bosses control jobs—staff jobs or hiring hall jobs—the coin of the political realm. Those who get the jobs—the clients—give back their unconditional loyalty. The politics of loyalty produces, systematically, poles of corruption and apathy. The privileged minority who turn the union into their personal business. And the vast majority who ignore the union as none of their business.

Bob thought that the whole model of American unionism, in which unions were given exclusive rights to bargain over contracts in closed shops, was a major long-term source of weakness. I find it persuasive; many don’t. But whatever you think of that analysis of the past is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Collective bargaining has mostly disappeared in the private sector, and now looks doomed in the public sector. There are something like 23 states with Republican governors and legislative majorities ready to imitate Walker who will be emboldened by his victory. And there are a lot of Dems ready to do a Walker Lite. If they don’t disappear, public sector unions will soon become powerless.

That means that if unions ever want to turn things around—and I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that we’ll never have a better society without a reborn labor movement—they have to learn to operate in this new reality. Which means learning to act politically, to agitate on behalf of the entire working class and not just a privileged subset with membership cards.

First up, Mitch Daniels says that it's fundamentally unfair for government unions to essentially sit on both sides of the table, and then gets to the whole divide and conquer part, where he reminds one group of have-nots that teachers and policemen all earn really high salaries that they don't, and wouldn't you like to see those people impoverished, like you?

Are voters giving governors a green light to "go after unions?" Daniels says, "I hope that nobody sees it that way," which is weird, because he just saw it that way himself. He says that unions aren't a bad idea in the private sector, not that he's particularly interested in private sector unions doing any better. He would prefer there be no public sector unions at any time, and insists that services are being delivered in Indiana without collective bargaining. Wallace asks for examples, and Daniels says that tax refunds are coming back faster, and "state parks" are in "dramatically better shape" and their DMVs are awesome.

Wallace says that Daniels' actions "looks like a pretty concerted effort to break public and private sector unions." Daniels says he "doesn't see it that way." "We're not going after anybody," he insists. Nevertheless, Wallace points out that government workers in Indiana "have taken a hit" -- the state ranks 46th in gross salaries and pay more for health care. Daniels says it isn't true -- apparently they get compensated in "praise," and who knows, maybe area landlords and grocers have a program where rent and food get paid for by Mitch Daniels saying nice things.

Wallace is all, "what about the figures I gave you?" Daniels is like, "I dunno?" He says, "We believe we have an effective state government" and "we believe we have a strong health care plan." So, keep all your statistics, Wallace. Because Mitch Daniels BELIEVES.

"We're not really believing that we've done anything other than improve the lives of Indiana's employees," says Daniels, who is now, somehow a "we." Indiana public employees -- greater impoverishment has made their lives better -- BELIEVE IT!

Wallace asks, "Don't unions simply have a place in this country, to ensure that management doesn't run roughshod over them?" Daniels says, "We differentiate between the two sectors." Daniels is apparently cool with some people being run roughshod over. Daniels adds that unions haven't changed much, or kept up with the times, and that, I think is true. And he's also right when he says that unions have had worse problems, long before Scott Walker came around.

Is there a danger for the GOP, becoming known as the enemy of working people? Daniels says he's concluded that Obama "doesn't understand where jobs come from." I know! Stupid Obama! He probably thinks that jobs are created when businesses become profitable and they need to add personnel to continue expanding on profits, when really jobs are created on very magical, special days where rich people wake up feeling super-awesome and think, "I am going to hire fifteen people today, to do some random stuff, for no reason! I am Willy Wonka! Come swim in my waterfall of nougat!"

Anyway, government is terrible, says Daniels, who runs a government, and usually wants credit for it.

Wallace points out that Walker critiqued Romney for not offering a plan of his own, of reform. Daniels agrees that Romney has to offer some sort of agenda, and use his candidacy to build a consensus. "It would be a mistake for Republicans to misread Wisconsin as some sort of harbinger. I don't see it that way at all," Daniels says.

This is a pretty special Mitch Daniels appearance, in that nobody asks him if he wants to be president or vice president.

Drat! My coffee maker is suddenly not working, like, ever again. That's a tremendous disappointment to me. I will have to light matches and gently sear my fingertips to stay awake during the rest of this.

So, now we have Dennis Van Roekel (of the NEA) and Thea Lee (of the AFL-CIO) to talk about things.

Is the recall vote sending a message? Van Roekel points out that the balance of power changed in the Senate in Wisconsin. It is now Democrat-controlled. It is also now out-of-session for the year. He also says that the election sends a message about unlimited corporate donations in the political arena. Lee adds that these are tough times for people who are rightly tightening their budgets, but doesn't see how balance cannot be struck at the bargaining table. "We have to figure out how to fund [pay and pensions] and make them viable," she says, but she doesn't think that the solutions isn't something the American people oppose.

Wallace notes that public workers have greater access to pensions, health benefits, and higher wages than private sector workers. He asks why private sector workers should pay taxes to fund these things that they, themselves are not getting. The better question, of course, is why aren't private sector workers getting these things.

Lee is reading my mind: "I think we have to turn that question around." Rather than take people's pensions away, everyone should have a decent pension. Of course, this gets to what was discussed by Henwood, above. If you believe that, you have to work for it beyond your own membership. Wallace just wants to know if she agrees with the figures. If I had my druthers, we'd be talking about how private sector employees restrain benefits and worker rights through all sorts of tricks and traps. The use of "temporary workers," for example. Read anything that Mac McClelland has written about this stuff.

Lee is attempting to explain to Wallace that "salary" and "benefits" put together forms something called "compensation." It's not going well!

Van Roekel adds that what's left out of the equation are the qualifications/accreditation that are required for the job. Wallace notes that a teaching degree isn't too marketable in the wider private sector. Van Roekel points out that the employees pay into these pensions, they are not free rides, and in some cases, the workers aren't even getting the money they paid in returned to them.

Union households, of course, went 1 in 3 for Walker. As Henwood noted: Union households =/= Union votes. But this seeming contradiction happens every day. How many union members buy their household goods at Walmart?

The basic conclusion Van Roekel is sort of arriving at is that getting involved in a recall election was not the most productive uses of their time and money. In Ohio, where there was a broader campaign of citizen outreach, unions (public and private) prevailed. In the recall election, they did not. Promoting public policy, as it turns out, is a more productive project than ousting an errant government official. Insert something here about the false promise of quck fixes.

What's more important to the NEA, Wallace asks, securing pay for teachers or providing services to students. This is what is known as a "false choice." Van Roekel points out that the teachers in Wisconsin volunteered to pay more of their own pensions, to save the state money. It wasn't deemed good enough. Wallace thinks that this means students prevailed. It really means that highly skilled teachers will leave, or not come to, places like Madison, Wisconsin, and the quality of that school system will deteriorate via brain drain.

Lee: "I think it's a false choice." She is like, totally reading my mind today! She also correctly notes that Wisconsin did not have all these terrible budget shortfalls until Walker created them by giving away taxpayer money to his private sector patrons.

(Eventually, all Wisconsin students will be able to do is take a single multiple choice test, and theri college instructors will be left to wonder why none of them can write or form ideas."

Wallace insists there isn't enough money to go around. Lee says, well, it's going to downgrade America's overall competitiveness. If you want to have a strong and capable workforce, you have to pay for it, it isn't free and it doesn't come about through magic. If you don't want to pay for it, awesome, but don't whine years down the road when people can no longer pave roads.

Wallace doesn't consider this an answer to his question. Lee says that when you lack revenues, you find new ones. "We could raise taxes," says lee, saying the most obvious thing in the world that is also complete un-American anathema in some circles, for some reason.

Is Lee disappointed that Obama didn't show up? Lee lets him off the hook. "I'm not going to second guess the President." Well, of course not! The standard Democratic Party way of doing things is coming out in favor of stuff they are certain to win, and staying away from anywhere they might lose, because long ago they decided that any sort of "losing" is bad -- bad enough that when it matters most, they don't actually stand for anything at all. What is the point of being "for" something, if it doesn't "win?" Right? PROFILES IN COURAGE-LIKE SUBSTANCE!

Panel time, with Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney and Charles Lane and Mara Liasson. Let's get our leak discussion on!

Kristol says that the leaks are "very damaging" just like Senator Dianne Feinstein says, and the bipartisan outrage over this matter is "startling" and "beyond simple politics." Wallace notes that the New York Times, two weeks in a row, got richly-detailed stories that were obviously very well sourced about classified "war on terror" matters.

Lane says that "as a journalist" he's "of two minds about it," and that there is stuff in those reports that the public should know. But one thing the public should know is whether or not the Obama administration "pushed back" on the disclosure of these matters. Let me add, of course, that I am VERY PRO-LEAK. Please leak away, everyone! (Whistleblowers: I know this is crazy, but email me maybe, okay?) But no one should ignore the possibility that leaks are made because somebody wants to get re-elected. And we can still make note of the fact that a leak of classified information may materially compromise something or someone. And journalists should be judicious in the balancing of interests. But I'd rather they be judicious with all kinds of information leaked to them, than no information.

Cheney says she'd like to know if the President authorized his aides to leak this information. She and her dad are going to have a lot of hearty laughs about that answer!

Liasson says that she cannot "even imagine" what the NYT "held back" about the Stuxnet story.

Will the White House appoint a special counsel? Kristol says that would perhaps clarify the legal ramifications, but it won't answer the question of the public interest. Kristol surmises, through Sanger's reporting on SEC DEF Bob Gates' agitation with Charles Donilon, that the leaks came from the National Security Adviser's office. (At the same time, Kristol notes that it's very out of character for Gates to use words like, "Shut the f--k up.")

I wonder who would leak information to Fox News Sunday? And under what circumstances would they report that information?

Wallace asks Cheney about that little old leak that led to Valerie Plame's career ending. Would she like to see a repeat of the independent counsel? She says she'd prefer an "independent investigation" into the matter. Wallace doesn't understand what she means by that. She doesn't go on to explain the concept any better. It is a distinction without a difference. But, she offers that the public has the right to know if Obama authorized someone to spell out these classified stories to reporters, and that is very much true.

Now FNS will spoil all the goodwill they might have accumulated talking about this matter with a panel discussion on the horsey-race implications of the "private sector is fine" comment.

The lead question is: one a scale of 1 to 10, how big a blunder is this. Liasson's answer basically demonstrates how worthless the discussion is through her answer, which I'll diagram.

1. It is a six out of ten.
2. It is terrible!
3. (Only a six out of ten, though?)
4. But it won't matter.
5. And it will, at the same time, matter.
6. Though not.
7. Romney also has gaffes.
8. They will matter and not matter.
9. And ultimately, the economy is bad, and isn't affected by this.
10. But this thing that won't ultimately impact the economy is still "a pretty big deal."

I mean, folks, that is some free-range, grass-fed artisanal high-proof blather, right there.

More blather continues, everyone's rather intelligent wrestling with the leak question is buried in it.

Lane notes that Walker didn't lay anyone off, so it's weird that the President is touting his layoff saving measures as an alternative. But this is part of the brilliance of Walker's plan. He didn't lay anyone off, he just made it pretty clear that the jobs would suck out loud from now on. This is similar to Romney's immigration plan -- encouraging self-deportation. Why, these Wisconsinites will simply lay themselves off!

Wallace asks a question of Cheney, despite knowing that he already knows what her answer will be. Why ask then?

Now, Wallace is asking, "Let's forget about the policy side of this, let's talk about the political side." You haven't been talking about the policy side of this, though! You've just been talking about the horsey-race, news-cycle, shiny shiny spinning lights side of this.

Brief question about the Eurozone crisis, how much of a drag will it be on the U.S. economy, and does Obama have the clout to do something about it. Kristol insists that Europe's problems have had zero effect on the United States' economy. Okay, then!

THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

Okay, my problem with household appliances continues! My internet just went out for like, twenty minutes, and somehow or another, my TiVo did not record the first thirteen minutes of this show. So, I'm getting the last part of Rick Santorum's interview, where GSteph is asking him if he wants to be vice president, to which Santorum says, "-----." Yes, I'm going to leave you in suspense, because why not? Anyway, to recap, David Axelrod and Rick Santorum were apparently on this show this morning. I'm an guessing that David Axelrod was very pro-Obama, and Rick Santorum was, perhaps, not. I'm geniunely uncurious about what I missed. I'm sure I've captured it correctly.

Ha, and now the show is going to have a panel discussion that I am sure will be very daffy, because it will feature Mike Huckabee, Ed Rendell, Van Jones, and the comic stylings of Ann Coulter.

"How do you watch these shows, without shooting yourself repeatedly in the eyes?" is the question I most often get from people. It is a tough question to face, frankly.

Anyway, Mike Huckabee doesn't think the private sector is fine, and that we'll see that line in campaign ads over and over again. Van Jones says that there will be ads that feature the dumb things that Romney says, too.

Jones says that Wisconsin should be a wake up call to progressives, because OMG, progressives! Y'all do not have a lot of money.

Ann Coulter is...kind of trembling all over as she speaks? Maybe this isn't the actual live-action Ann Coulter, but an animated character created by those people who made "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist?" Anyway, she would like to be able to fire the people who work for Expedia, or something. She wants public schoolteachers to know that they are bad people who should feel bad.

Rendell points out all of the "Republican ideas" that Obama has proposed that the Congress will not pass, probably because they would prefer to pass them under a Republican.

Now, Mike Huckabee and Ann Coulter are yelling at Rendell. Actually, Huckabee is "patiently discussing" things. Van Jones says that he was taught to look up to public sector employees and not treat them as threats. He goes on to note that the GOP won't pass their own bills, because they want "more pain." Stephanopoulos briefly questions this contention, but Rendell grabs the conch instead (yes, I am now getting to the point where I am imagining these people on a remote desert island) and says something generic about how awesome policemen and firefighters are.

Ann Coulter picks it up and has a pretty addled discussion about the stimulus package, and how money for firemen end up paying for "diversity coordinators," and Ed Rendell is all, "So you want less firemen? So you want less firemen?" and Mike Huckabee is all, "I thought states did that stuff" and I'm like, you ran for President and you aren't sure about the role the federal government plays in assisting states in a down economy? And now everyone is sort of talking past each other.

Next topic: the Bain attacks. Are they working? The Beltway consensus is that they don't. Polls of actual human Americans say differently. But lets give a bunch of Sunday morning pundits another stab at this.

Rendell says, "Oh well, these new commercials are working, I was talking about the old commercials." His objection is that some normal person who Rendell's never met called Romney a vampire, and I guess you should never call people names. Unless you are Ed Rendell, and you just put out a book that calls people names. Ed Rendell! Kind of a dolt!

Mike Huckabee says that he was not talking about Mitt Romney when he made that crack about how "I want to be a president who reminds you of the guy you work with, not the guy who laid you off.” He says, "I was just talking about sometimes an opponent."

Everyone laughs! Because har-dee-har, no one has actual convictions about anything and it's hilarious! Glory to Panem!

Coulter insists that Romney has had a "Midas Touch" with everything. EVERYTHING. You must have ridiculous expectations about Mitt Romney, at all times. (She does not want to discuss RomneyCare though.)

We go to commercial. I go to the medicine cabinet, hoping to find some Klonopin.

Now it's time to talk about Bill Clinton and how wildly off message he gets! Whoa! Roller coaster ride with that guy! So out of control. Whoo! Loop-de-loops all over the place when he gets going. The great thing about Clinton is that even if he doesn't go off-message, everyone has agreed that they will just report he said totally different things than he actually said.

It's all a fun game of shiny lights and narratives about people and their characters that were decided on long ago. Joe Biden believes in justice for the LGBT community, but the words that come out of his mouth, we have decided, are "gaffes," and so Biden doesn't get credit for winning an argument, he just has a terrible mistake that falls upward.

Huckabee says Clinton was an awesome president, and that Republicans miss him so much! (If you don't recall the "Clinton administration," I was there, and it featured all sorts of howling derangement about Clinton running a drug ring in Arkansas and killing Vince Foster and nonsense like that.)

Ed Rendell says that the GOP is terrible and keep obstructing Obama's attempts to improve the economy. He says that Clinton will be an awesome surrogate for Obama in October, he promises! Watch him in October! Bill Clinton is the October Surprise of words!

Jones and Coulter fall out over everyone Waterlooing everyone else, and she just wants people to cut taxes. She also remembers Clinton as a "moderate," which is not the case she ever made while he was actually in office.

I am pretty sure we did not learn anything new about America's fiscal situation, except for the fact that Bill Clinton sure provided the punditocracy with some laughs.

Mike Huckabee will not be Romney's vice president. He is sure that the eventual vice presidential pick will be awesome! "One thing I admire about Mitt Romney is that he is not impetuous...he's methodical." That's a fancy way of saying, "Romney probably won't pick a flashy, charismatic moron, like John McCain did."

"Whoever he selects will be the product of a very thoughtful process," Huckabee says. Coulter agrees that it will be totally thoughtful and methodical! She thinks that he'll methodically choose Chris Christie because Christie will do all of Romney's yelling, and also has "ethnic appeal." (With what ethnicity?)

Rendell says that nobody votes based upon who becomes vice-president. And the best possible person for no one to base their vote on is Rob Portman, who inspires so much non-wonder everywhere he goes.

Now, we're actually going to get to the story-leak leak-story!

Huckabee notes that the NYT had three dozen sources for the articles, and that Democratic Senators are just as concerned as anyone else. Charitably (perhaps too charitably!), he says that he doesn't believe that Obama had anything, personally, to do with the leaks, and he believes Obama has a right to be angry. (GSteph has sort of made it a given that Obama's anger over the leak was expressed sincerely.)

Jones says there is a "grab-bag of hypocrisy" here because many of the same GOP critics weren't too critical of similar leaks during the Bush administration, and anyway, why isn't anyone talking about "the facts we learned from the leaks themselves," which is that the President has granted himself the authority kill people in 120 foreign countries. "We should be concerned about that," he says, and it's more important than "who leaked what to who."

"If the President, without oversight, has a kill list," Jones says, "that is what we should talk about." GSteph says, "but the administration would argue that there is oversight." Sure, they would ARGUE that! "We'll just police ourselves," say all Too Big To Fail banks.

GSteph says that there is "due process." There is like, due process-like substance, maybe!

Coulter makes the point I would make, that there is actually no reason to believe that Obama doesn't have anything to do with these stories' existence. "It is not so obvious he had nothing to do with them." True! GSteph just sort of decided that this was an immutable ground rule for the discussion. She then berates people for criticizing Bush's detention policy and shrugging off Obama's extrajudicial killing. "Now, it's all 'we're at war,' where were you then?" Well, Ed Rendell, who now approves of Obama being able to cap whoever he likes, was somewhere probably being a dolt.

Van Jones is all, "Hey, I'm right here, I believe in human rights and junk!" But Jones also says he really doubts Obama "engineered" these stories. Why would a President who has no problem deciding what people live and die (on "Terror Tuesdays," which sounds like something you print on a high-school cafeteria menu!) get suddenly all pearl-clutchy at the thought of setting up a glorifying story in the paper when he's running for re-election?

(It wasn't immediately clear that Jones was actually talking about "engineering" the stories. Coulter had been talking about the "kill list," in and of itself. This caused some momentary confusion, as every wondered if Jones had missed the fact that Obama actually did have this extensive process of extra-judicial "miltant" killing.)

Now there is a discussion about the Supreme Court. Jones points out that the big story is that a Heritage Foundation/Mitt Romney plan that Obama signed onto instead of a single-payer/public option program favored by progressives is now, bizarrely, considered "socialism." Everyone yells, Stephanopoulos mercifully brings this to an end.

FACE THE NATION

Just when I'm wondering if I should make some sort of cough syrup/Fernet-Branca concoction to take the pain away, the show ends, and we're on to FACE THE NATION, where we will have Scott Walker and Martin O'Malley. By the way, the last time we watched this show, I wondered by Bob Schieffer's editorial comment was coming in the middle of the show, it was pointed out to me that FTN, in its new hour-long format, hasn't been picked up for the entire hour everywhere yet. So that's why that happened.

Face The Nation is making it something of an open question as to what story there are going to take more seriously -- the "private sector fine" story or the national security leak story. Schieffer is talking about the latter with more gravitas and good guests, here at the top of the show, but the show seems to have done some preparation around the former story.

I'm hopeful! So far, I'll give Fox New Sunday credit for the right proportional mix and This Week the side-eye.

First up, however, we have Scott Walker. Schieffer asks about the "private sector is fine" remark. Romney said some stuff in retaliation, and namechecked Wisconsin. "So there you have it Governor, is that the message?" Is that the question? Sorry, I mean, is that a question? I guess we're pretending it is.

Anyway, Walker says that the voters said that they wanted people to "take on the tough issues." For the time being, be pro-impoverishment of people is "tough." So that's a relief, I guess! Walker says that Romney will have to prove that the "R next to his name" stands for "reformer."

Is Romney talking about getting rid of the public sector, Walker says no, and insists that he "protected" public sector workers, by making them poorer and more subject to budgetary manipulation. And, of course, anytime you depose citizens of their share in the democratic process, that totally protects them! We don't need people thinking all sorts of crazy things, like they possess political power.

Once everyone has a private sector job in an Amazon shipping warehouse, they won't miss having political power at all.

Schieffer notes that Walker doesn't seem to be all that confident in Romney's ability to hew to the sort of politics that Walker prefers. Walker says that "he's got the capacity to do it" he just hopes he does what Reagan did and "lay out a clear plan." This is, by the way, the new face of GOP establishment worry about Romney -- they aren't worried that his past precludes him from winning, but they are wondering when he will identify his priorities and make plans.

Walker says it again: Romney must clearly identify a "reform agenda." Of course, Team Obama Re-Elect is hoping that Romney will define himself, too, because they'd like to mount attacks on Romney's tangible plans, and turn the election into a "choice election." Romney, by not putting his neck out there, keeps this a "referendum election." His own party may force the issue.

Will Romney win Wisconsin? Walker has already said the Romney is the underdog in Wisconsin but that it's surely not outside the realm of possibility that it will be competitive. So, why Schieffer is asking him again is beyond me. He gives, in essence, the same answer, wrapped in more of this concern-trolling over Romney's plans.

Walker clearly understands that he is the captain of the team right now. Who'd have thought, when he beat Tom Barrett in 2010, that he's one day be dictating terms to his party's Presidential candidate? In terms of political "heroball," Romney has a long way to go before he gets to be the party's Kevin Durant.

Now we will have Martin O'Malley and Richard Trumka respond to all of this.

Trumka tries to bright-side this: Walker had to spend money! He lost control of the state Senate! The problem here is that Walker's backers can raise all that money several times over tomorrow, if they want or need to. It isn't even a big deal. As for the now Democrat controlled state Senate, they are out of session unless Walker or the GOP-led State Assembly call them back into session. So...he hasn't exactly lost control of it yet.

Trumka's on better ground criticizing Walker's job creation record, which is not good. "We wish he'd have the best job creation record in the country, and we wish he'd let us help him get there."

O'Malley says that he thinks that Democrats in Wisconsin weren't all that in to using the recall mechanism for something that wasn't de facto legal wrongdoing, and to a significant extent, that's true. He goes on to say that the private sector, compared to the public sector, is doing fine, and this is causing a "drag on the economy." (The "drag" is called "insufficient aggregate demand.")

Schieffer says that the traditional union efforts didn't work in Wisconsin this time. Trumka says, "I disagree with you completely." Oh, really? Do tell, because I read a lot of newspapers on Wednesday morning that said Walker won? Trumka says that the "money edge is really dangerous to democracy," which means he doesn't have the money edge over corporations. He says that now, they can mobilize workers of all kinds, all year round. (Except on Tuesday, June 5 of this year, I guess!)

Is it a wake up call? "Not just that," he says. So, things aren't all peaches and cream.

Now, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are here because this is the 40th anniversary of Watergate, and Richard Nixon is still bad. or something?

Are they really excited about having a co-byline in the paper again? Woodward says yes. Bernstein says yes. Schieffer says he enjoyed reading it. Everyone totally loves the fact that two guys who had a newspaper story that one time, now have another newspaper story another time. Schieffer says his takeaway is that "it's worse than we thought it was," which is funny, because the two guys to co-authored a book titled, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks" -- Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein -- have had tremendous trouble getting booked on Sunday shows (MSNBC's Chris Hayes brought an end to the blackout), because Mann and Ornstein have said that the biggest problem in Washington is that the GOP has taken complete leave of their senses, and that is too HOT FOR WASHINGTON, where "both sides" must ever be equally to blame for everything.

Nixon was bad, says Woodward, author of a famous story about how bad Nixon was. Bernstein says that their whole point, forty years later, is that they want to remind people that Nixon's crimes really were worse than Nixon's cover-up, and that the Nixon White House was a "criminal enterprise."

Schieffer shows them a video of Mark Felt denying he was "Deep Throat," and they think it's really neat, but there's a lot of de-mythologizing to do -- Felt was a critical help at critical times, Woodward says, but there were a lot of other sources and the two of them did a lot of additional reporting.

Now, because of the aforementioned problem I mentioned with the way FACE THE NATION's new hour-long format has not been widely embraced, Schieffer has to bisect his discussion with Woodward and Bernstein in order to do his editorial comment. He says that when Watergate broke, he bolted town because ironically enough, he didn't want to end up assigned to the story after achieving his dream of getting to anchor the convention coverage. He recalls that he couldn't figure out why anyone would break into a campaign headquarters. In retrospect, however, he says he now understands that he "made the worst decision a reporter can make: I just assumed it wouldn't amount to anything." And, naturally, it did.

We return to the Woodward and Bernstein story. Bernstein says that they realized they were on to something important very early on -- they surmised quickly that what they had was a bunch of impeachable offenses. Bernstein says that they kept themselves from using the word "impeach" though, because it would immediately cause them to be labelled as "agenda-havers."

"We just wanted to find out what happened," Woodward says, "we were as empirical as can be." What would have happened to the Washington Post if they'd been wrong? Bernstein says, "It would have been awful." He points out that it took a long time before people actually believed what they were writing -- their own colleagues doubted them -- and it was Walter Cronkite who finally gave them some backing by taking the story to CBS.

Woodward points out that we can all listen to the famous tapes of Nixon railing against the Post and his enemies and, as Schieffer points out, Jewish people in generally. Bernstein points out that yeah, he really hated them! He tried to break in to Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. (We don't get into Nixon's famous "Jew counter," Fred Malek, which is unforttunate because Malek is apparently still allowed to have a career working for supposedly respectable politicians.)

What continues to surprise them, forty years later? Both agree that the famous tapes are always astounding to listen to -- Woodward notes that Nixon doesn't spend much time on those tapes talking about ways to move the country forward: "It was always 'let's screw someone,'" says Woodward. Bernstein adds that it was as if Nixon had no political strategies at all, other than criminal ones.

What about Ford's pardon? Woodward says that Ford said he did it to bring the country back together, having decided that it served the national interest. And it cost Ford greatly. But that's the contrast, I guess, with a guy who never actually considered the country during the time he was president. Charles Ferguson's great new book, Predator Nation, gets around to talking about how all the incentives run the wrong way in America -- the despicable get big payouts and honest men become history's patsies. You can sort of see the beginnings of that with Watergate. It was maybe the last time the head of a powerful institution failed to "get away with it." Now game protects game.

What do they think about today's leaks -- ones that the White House probably did want reporters to have? Bernstein says that one danger is that it creates an environment where a witch hunt against sources and reporters is acceptable. Woodward agrees, saying that it's always a challenge for journalists to modulate between getting the truth before the public while avoiding a greater harm to the public at the same time. It's something that takes "great delicacy," in a time where few others demonstrate an appreciation for delicacy.

"Journalists are actually quite good at not revealing genuine national security secrets," Bernstein says. "Think about the things in your head, Bob!" Now I want to know, though!

Woodward says it's sort of amazing that Nixon could go out on a note of not letting "hate" get to him, when there are hours of tape that recorded his hatred for people at great length. He compares it to comments he'd make in public, during his late-in-life battle to restore some of his repuation -- an example is his claim that he "never authorized hush money." As Woodward points out, there were twelve separate examples on publicly available recordings of Nixon offering hush money. "Did he not think anyone would check?" Woodward asks. I think it's safe to say that Nixon was a complete sociopath.

Staying on the leak story now, with Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Mike Rogers, who chair the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, respectively.

Is it enough that the DOJ has appointed investigators in this case? "Hopefully," she says. She notes that we're in a very different situation now then we were during Watergate. These are matters of dealing with enemies -- in her estimation, the "war on terror" aspect makes an investigation, if not a "witch hunt" appropriate. Rogers says he agrees with Feinstein, and that both were concerned about the "parade of leaks" that formed the basis of these stories. He notes that some of the sources placed themselves at various times in the Situation Room, which means that we're talking about a "small but powerful" cohort of people. Rogers says that Justice's response was "a good start," but want more assurances of independence.

Schieffer points out that Rogers has held that this matter is "one hundred times more serious than the Valerie Plame case." Rogers stands by that, and that's why he wants at least the same consideration given to this investigation. He tells Schieffer that he's had people from various agencies come to Intelligence Committee hearings profess to him that these leaks have really hurt them do their jobs.

Both Rogers and Feinstein profess that they want a non-partisan investigation, though I'm guessing that only Feinstein, for the time being is willing to take Obama's professions of anger over the leaks at "face value," as she says today. Nevertheless, Feinstein already has some serious things to say about the potential fall-out from these leaks. She noted that in Yemen, terrorists have created a bomb that is "non-metallic and can go through magnetometers" that would take a "very invasive body search" to detect. Our intelligence agencies got a jump on this development, and the news of it was supposed to be "very closely held." But the news leaked, "and now the person who helped us" is in danger for his life.

Schieffer asks Rogers if his interest in this isn't at least a little bit tied to the notion that these leaks led to stories that made Obama look strong on defense. Rogers insists again, that it has no bearing: "I hope that ideology and politics don't settle into this...if you want to get to the bottom of this...don't go in with a conclusion, follow your leads."

Well, what can I say? Sunday morning teevee, for once, I misjudged you. By and large, you all made attempts to cover what I thought was the big story from the Obama news conference, and Fox and CBS actually attached a real, discernible preponderance of importance to the leak story, instead of the horse-race frivolity. I was wrong, today, and I'm actually very delighted about that!

Of course, maybe this just goes to demonstrate how badly MEET THE PRESS is dragging down our average expectations. Kudos to you French Open, for making out political discourse slightly better than usual!

Have a great week, everybody! (I am off to buy a new coffeemaker or three.)

[The Sunday morning liveblog returns next week. Like I said, check out my RebelMouse page, for good stuff to read.]