Hello, everybody! It is Sunday morning, which must mean that I am awake and unhappy about having to watch all these horrific political chat shows, and pretty soon I'll have quaffed enough coffee to drown a family of voles. (Which admittedly, isn't very much coffee, but weights and measures were never really my thing.) Anyway, my name is Jason and this is your quickly hyped liveblog of the proceedings from these Sunday morning shows that I watch so that you do not have to.
Today, it looks like Darrell Issa is going full- or semi-full-Ginsburg today, because of this week's executive privilege declaration over documents related to the failed Fast and Furious "let's hand out some guns and hope for the best" anti-gunrunning operation, that none of us would have known about had it not been for the fact that strayed guns from that program ended up adjacent to a dead Border Patrol agent. Now the Obama administration has asserted executive privilege, we can head right into the part where everyone bounces up and down in the seat like Obama cut a hole in the undercarriage, and it's causing everyone tremendous pain.
John Cook has done the best job covering this new wrinkle in the story, in that he has the proper contempt for executive privilege -- which is an odious sort of refuge that just about every President we've had since all of us have been alive -- has taken, leading me to roll my eyes and say, "Gah, come on now, you awful coward." And then you realize that it's a classic example of a story where the hype runs away with itself, and you are like, "Oh, GUHHHHHHHH, come ON now, people in the media." By far, here is the important stuff to keep in mind, per Cook:
"What is the administration trying to hide and are they now admitting that in fact the President himself did have knowledge of the scandal when denied it in the past?" Sean Hannity asked on Wednesday. "For the President to precipitate a constitutional crisis like this, there had to be a political calculation. Whatever it is that they are using privilege for here was worse than precipitating a crisis."
Here's John Boehner: "What is the Obama administration hiding in Fast and Furious?"
Bullshit. Issa is investigating an operation that took place from November 2009, when it was launched, to January 2011, when the indictments it resulted in were unsealed. Obama only asserted privilege over "post-February 4, 2011 documents." Documents generated after Fast and Furious was shut down. He's not claiming any privilege over documents created while Fast and Furious was running (though Attorney General Eric Holder is attempting to withhold documents that could interfere with ongoing investigations). If any documents exist showing a connection between the White House and Fast and Furious while it was running—and Obama has claimed publicly that he only became aware of it after it was shut down—no one is claiming executive privilege over them.
And also this:
The reason February 4, 2011 is a relevant cut-off date is because that is the date that Holder sent a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley claiming, falsely, that Fast and Furious didn't involve letting guns cross the border. It was later withdrawn. The post-February 4 documents Issa wants presumably include records of how the Justice Department came to change its position and admit that Fast and Furious involved allowing guns over the border.
Conservative lawyer Jay Sekulow, on Fox News: "Here the Attorney General files a letter that's full of inaccuracies, incorrect information, false statement statements and he says, 'Whoops I'm sorry.' ... So, the Attorney General asked the President to assert a privilege to cover his own error. That is the real problem here and that is the fundamental mistake." To repeat: The privilege has been asserted on documents generated after Holder's false letter. Holder's false letter was the (attempted) cover-up. If any records exist showing that the White House was involved in conspiring with Holder to send that misleading letter to Sen. Grassley, no one is asserting executive privilege over them.
I'd also add that executive privilege is often asserted over documents that pertain to "advice" the president has received, legal and otherwise. And in this case, given that we're talking about stuff after Februaru 4, 2011, there's a good chance that what the White House doesn't want people to see are all those private occasions where he's acting like a cynical politician (what is our media strategy? what do polls say? how do we deal with this issue in a campaign year?) instead of the extra special President from the unicorn planet here to save us from the same-old/same-old that Team Obama Re-Elect would prefer to project.
As a general rule, when you are thinking about the "advice" that Presidents ask for and receive, do not think of this as fatherly advice, or the guidance of sage old hands, or of cutting edge political intelligence rendered to a preferred president to give them a policy or electoral edge. Think of "advice" as cynical, gutter-level, political crap that's just odious and vulgar to listen to, rendered by sad idiots playing cutthroat politics with the same set of dull blades, where if you hear enough of it in one place you just think, "Let's burn this country to the ground and start over." If that's what you spent a goodly portion of your day doing, you wouldn't want anyone to find out either. (If you find something out, though, please leak it to reporters!)
Anyway, executive privilege! That's what we'll get for three hours, and then we can turn off the teevee and get busy counting the days to our deaths, yay!
As usual, you all are invited and encouraged to join each other in the comments, or drop me a line, or follow me on Twitter. Over at my Rebel Mouse page, I have marked up a bunch of my favorite reads from this week, which will hopefully prove to be more interesting than these teevee shows.
Programming note: There will be no Sunday Morning Liveblog on July 1, 2012. The Liveblog will return on July 8.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Let's get into the matter of the day, with Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings, yelling at each other.
Issa says that the House will vote Eric Holder in contempt of Congress this week, and that Democrats are likely to join in the "yes" vote on that. It makes you wonder -- the real disturbing stuff about this story aside -- is it manifestly bad to be held in contempt of Congress? I mean, I would actually like to be held in contempt of Congress, frankly? It would be awesome to be able to tell everyone that a group that is mostly hated by the entirely of America hates you for hating it. I think there are maybe a handful of people on Capitol Hill I don't have contempt for. I even basically assume that all of Congress' summer interns are culled from the next great class of clying a-holes that are currently coming up through high school.
This is why we have whole neighborhoods in Washington, DC that serve as refuges from these people, because we'd prefer to not see them in the good bars and restaurants.
Anyway, Issa says it's "regrettable" that we are here, and that we wouldn't be here if he got the documents he wants, which we recall are the ones "generated after February 4, 2011."
Wallace asks, "Give us an example of the kind of document that's all-that important." Which is sort of open-ended. But Issa surmises there is a letter that was sent by email from the head of the ATF saying that he had "concerns" and that "we want to see that." He testified about this on July 4, but they want to see the document, which seems superfluous, given the fact that this guy has already testified. (I guess the point is that the email went to Holder or something?) Anyway, one hopes for a smokinger gun, other than an email saying, "I'm worried about the contents of the documents you just gave Congress?"
Now Cummings will have a chance to yell about it. He says that everything is "extremely unfortunate" and "we don't need to be at this place." He criticizes Issa for sticking with the contention that Holder is to blame after two years of the evidence not pointing that way. He says that he is "calling on Speaker Boehner to come forth and show strong leadership," but if "showing strong leadership" doesn't mean "diving to the bottom of a bottle of Elijah Craig," that's not likely to happen.
Cummings says that Holder has "made it clear that he's willing to work with Congress," but only up to a point, right? Or else we wouldn't be doing this stuff? Anyway, Cummings says Holder is willing to "sit down and work with Congress on this issue."
Wallace wants to know what happens after Congress holds Holder in contempt. Again, given that Congress is synonymous these days with a "gang of toothless losers who deserve piles of scorn heaped on their head" it would ideal -- especially for those of us who aspire to be held in their contempt -- for nothing to happen. Nothing but laughter and perhaps a promise to chloroform the heads of all committees and drag them out into the woods, naked. But theoretically, Congress could hold some pointless lawsuits or ask the Sergeant-at-arms to go punch Holder in the face, or something.
Issa says that he will "continue his investigation" because he's doing it for Brian Terry, dead Border Patrol guy, who, as Cook points out, "Precisely the same weapons would have gone to precisely the same places if Fast and Furious had never been launched. Terry would still be dead." But, whatever, there's also the GSA scandal, which didn't result in as many people dying. There is a video of Terry's parents saying, "There's something they don't want you to know, something that they're trying to hide." What "they" don't want you to know is that the memory of your son is being desecrated for the purpose of scoring cheap political points.
Cummings, of course, buys into the melodrama, and has promised to bring Terry's killers to justice. Cummings says he has kept that promise, and will continue to keep that promise, and blah blah. "I see what guns can do," he says, referring to "killing people." He notes that the ongoing investigation has nothing to do with Brian Terry, which is objectively true. The investigation is about the ATF sending false documents, and in a way, this is a good analogue of the GSA scandal, where, outside or having evaded the purview of overseers, a far-off division of a major agency goes rogue.
Wallace explains the false letter that was sent and retracted, and chastises Issa for not holding public hearings over the ATF issues that Cummings just noted. Wallace also goes at the faultline Cook identified -- that the documents he's after now, while they make be politically embarrassing, doesn't have anything to do with the events that led to Terry's death or the gunwalking operation. Issa says that he needs to see the documents of after-the-fact discussions in order for his investigation to be properly informed. Okay...but, that's a lot like a prosecutor saying, "In order for me to have a good chance of winning, I'd like to know all about the defense team's strategy."
Wallace and Issa fall out over the latter's unwillingness to have public hearings of the people involved with the ATF. Issa says that the private hearings were sufficient, Cummings says they weren't. "I have asked [Issa] to bring the ATF director before us, he's refused to," Cummings says. He also says that all the documents they need to make their case can be obtained if everyone just calms down and stops pointing guns at Eric Holder's head.
Now we have a video of Nancy Pelosi alleging that all the focus on Holder is just a means by which the DoJ is hampered from investigating instances of voter suppression and voter caging, which they'd all but elevated to an art form in Florida until all of the people who were tasked with Governor Rick Scott's voter purge refused to work on it anymore. Still, Pelosi's accusation seems to have been shoehorned into this discussion to make it sound like a distraction.
Cumming is asked, "What is Nancy Pelosi talking about?" He says that there are people who look at the situation and wonder why Holder is the most uniquely picked on member of the Obama administration. Good question! He essentially comes from the same old clapped-out, Wall Street friendly culture as Larry Summers and Tim Geithner but OH MAN THERE IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT HOLDER, I JUST CAN'T PUT MY FINGER ON IT???
Anyway, Cummings believes that with peace and love, we can all have our scandalous documents.
Does Issa have any evidence of a coverup? He says no, he just wants a bunch of documents that can't possibly contain the information he thinks they do, because of time being a linear process of events leading to events leading to events, but which probably contain a whole lot of "advisors" talking about "how to message on the Fast and Furious" issue and what focus groups say the most pleasing two-line explanation is, and other revelatory examples of our non-stop cynical politics. Hell, now I hope these documents come out! If you have them, just leak them to me!
Anyway, we'll have more of Issa being emo about documents in another hour or so. Now, here's T. Boone Pickens for some reason. (Maybe he is here to "stunt heavy on Drizzy.")
Anyway, this is for all the "Pickens Plan" nostalgics from back in 2008 when the world seemed new and and everyone was like, "OMG John Podesta is palling around with a Swift Boat Vets For Truth guttersnipe, and it means that magical faeries healed the world," when it really meant that America's aristocrats were just going to have their slap and tickle sessions in public, at the Democratic National Convention, in front of people from the Center for American Progress.
Anyway, Pickens is not into wind anymore, because it's not as cheap as it once was. But he's way into gas. And he lost a lot of money promoted wind, though it only sounds like a lot of money to us, but it's like a drop in the bucket to him. (It's like the money I lost on the Black and Decker coffeemaker that died two weeks ago. Don't worry, I bought a new Mr. Coffee coffeemaker and I have to say, it is one DEAD SEXY piece of kitchen machinery.)
"So now you're pushing natural gas, why?" asks Wallace, who apparently only learned who "T. Boone Pickens" was two or three minutes ago.
"We're going to go down as the dumbest generation..." says Pickens, before I cut him off, saying, "HA HA, too late!"
Wallace wants to know about Pickens' plan to convert the trucking fleet to natural gas, because he was apparently living in some remote yurt, as a hermit, for the past four years, in which the rest of us learned about this part of the Pickens plan, because it was relentlessly advertised to us.
Wallace points out that natural gas production doesn't really have the infrastructure to support it's distribution, all of which is likely to be ideally built upon land that Pickens owns, I'm guessing? His hoped-for infrastructure bill lost in the Senate. He says that he lost because "18-wheelers were deemed to be non-germane to highways" and also because of the filibuster. So he lost because the bill might have helped the economy, and the Senate superminority is trying to keep the economy from being helped. OK, got it.
Eric Cantor objected to it, because "Washington should not pick winners and losers." Pickens says, sure, or you can have this infrastructure "twice as fast and not have to pay anything for it." Pickens says that the Koch Brothers hate him, because they are oil importers and get huge kickbacks from the ethanol subsidy scam. I think we should settle this battle between elderly plutocrats by greasing them up with Wesson and forcing them to fight each other in some sort of Thunderdome.
Moving on to fracking, a popular way of obtaining natural gas in which you poison the water table forever with some toxic mix of chemicals that is apparently a trade secret, like the secret KFC recipe, only it turns your tap water into something you can set on fire. Pickens says "Give me an example" of anything bad ever happening, because of fracking!
"I've fracked over three-thousand wells myself," he says, pornographically.
Pickens says he is "in touch with a lot of people" and has made "hundreds of speeches," and again, it's sort of strange that Wallace seems to have never heard of this guy until today!
Is Pickens impressed with either Romney or Obama, and their energy plans? Pickens says that Obama has stopped talking about energy independence, and "now is the time to show up with a plan." He says Romney has "the skeleton of a plan" but he can't tell if it's one he likes or not. "This is an opportunity to rebuild our economy off the back of cheap energy," he says. Will he get involved in the race? He says he'll support the one "that has the energy plan for America." He figures that Romney will "show up with the plan," and doesn't think Obama will.
This was essentially the "proof of concept" meeting for a future Pickens Super PAC, basically.
Okay, let's panel with Brit Hume and Kirsten Powers and Nicolle Wallace and Jeff Zeleny.
Brit Hume says that the coming Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act is "huge." Awesome. Great talk, everybody. Hume thinks that if the court blows the law up, it will be to Obama's disadvantage, politically. If the Court doesn't blow it up, it will still be bad for Obama. Basically Obama made a fatal mistake, trying to keep poor people from dying all the time because of easily treatable ailments.
Powers agrees that the ruling is totally important, and if it gets struck down, it's bad for the president. But there are lots of popular components that will be hard to take away. The problem is that they are all knit together with the individual mandate, which keeps the "cost curve" bent away from the stratosphere. Wallace figures that this is an "opportunity" for the Romney campaign, because the GOP is good at "leading a philosophical discussion" on the matter. But he's also one of the few in the GOP who stopped having a philosophical discussion and actually did something about it. Unfortunately for Romney, and perhaps for lots of other people, what he did has gotten crazy unpopular, because craziness is now in vogue.
Zeleny reckons that the best case scenario for the White House is "just the mandate getting shut down." That's only because there are other ways the Court could rule that would set crazy new precedents, radically restricting the federal government from doing almost anything.
Zeleny adds that we should be open to the Supreme Court becoming an election-year theme, over the economy. Hume says, "Poo-poo face! Obama is always blaming people!" He also thinks Romney "should have a plan ready to go." (The plan will be the words "tort reform," written in crayon, on the American flag.)
Moving to the executive privilege story. Hume says that it's totally a big cover-up, and the documents being sought are clearly not the sort of "advisory" documents that are protected by the "strongest claims of privilege." Why does he think this? Ehh, no reason! He also figures that these documents are just Justice Department documents that don't involve the president, so why claim executive privilege over them. If you read John Cook's thing, you'll know he predicted this talking point!
In December 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft wrote to George W. Bush asking him to invoke executive privilege over Department of Justice memos "containing advice and recommendations concerning whether or not particular criminal prosecutions should be brought." These were purely internal DOJ documents; there was no pretense that the president, his advisers, or anyone in the White House ever laid eyes on them. Bush complied with Ashcroft's request.
Wallace tries to explain the issue and the timing of the February 4, 2011 letter that spawned this whole mess. Wallace points out that the investigation into the gunwalking operation and the death of the border agent has already taken place. Hume says that Congress is entitled to know about DoJ processes (they are entitled to try to find out about them, anyway) and goes on and on about how this is all about the "aftermath" of Terry's death. It should be pointed out, of course, that the "aftermath" of his death still occurred long before February 4, 2011.
Powers makes the obvious point, "This is just about going after Holder." Hume is like, "What about the false letter?" Powers looks at him and points out that it came from the ATF, which is all stuff we learned about in the "aftermath of the death of a border patrol agent," which is not even a recent aftermath.
Nicolle Wallace is called upon to talk about the six times the Bush White House asserted executive privilege. She points out that when you invoke executive privilege, all you end up doing is bringing lots of attention to yourself. She also says that it exacerbates all the tension with Holder. But at this point, the summer humidity exacerbates that tension.
Wallace wants to know what the Romney campaign thinks about this, and Zeleny thinks that Romney is pretty chill with this, so long as there isn't a heap of blowback that keeps people from focusing on the economy.
By the way, maybe the White House invited this media crapstorm over executive privilege precisely because they know they're only hiding a nothing-burger and in a final analysis, this will look like precisely the obstructionist witch-hunt they want people to remember when they vote. This is, of course, the "eleventh dimensional chess" argument, and in my experience, everyone in politics that you think is playing "eleventh dimensional chess" is actually just playing checkers and is even more stupid about it than you could have possibly conceived.
But, you know, piss it...there's a first time for everything, including the possibility that someone in American politics is legitimately tactically brilliant.
THIS WEEK WITH PROBABLY GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, MAYBE
No, of course, it's not George Stephanopoulos, it's Jake Tapper. I almost don't know why Stephanopoulos is associated with this show, anymore? Am I just coincidentally picking the wrong weeks to watch this show.
People, I know, wonder about the whole system I have in picking the shows to watch. The system is I have no system. I watch Fox News Sunday because it's on at nine, and if I wait until ten to start writing this stuff, I don't finish until 3:30, and that's terrible. Then I pick two other shows, based upon the following criteria:
1. Oh, is that guy on? Probably that's important!
2. Oh, hey, the nice person from ABC/CBS/NBC sent me an embargoed transcript, so I can actually work on this Saturday afternoon, while I'm watching BBC America.
3. Look at that MEET THE PRESS line-up: where does it score on the "MAKES ME WANT TO SHOOT MYSELF IN THE FACE" rating scale. (I want, to watch it on the 6-8 'sweet-spot' because I know readers enjoy it when I'm slightly miserable. I avoid it when I know it's a 9-10, because I will probably shoot myself in the face.)
4. Good lord, John McCain again? Tells TiVo to stop recording.
Now, lot's of you are all, "Why don't you watch Chris Hayes or Fareed Zakaria?" The answer, basically, is that I'm inclined to think that those shows are pretty good, and I'm here to summarize terrible shows, so you needn't do so yourself. Also, Chris' show is on at a time of day that I just find to be totally demented and out of step with my lifestyle, which is, "UGGGH the morning needs to DIE, in FIRE."
(The CNN people, who are all ridiculous, seem to think that it's a good thing for me to be watching their show, and that it's vitally important brand integration. I almost NEVER watch CNN's non-Zakaria offerings on Sunday (or ever, because it is an eternally-collapsing heap of human wreckage and idiocy). That includes their version of a Sunday news show, and that dumb Howie Kurtz show about media critics grabbing their nutsack in public and squealing.
Still, on the image that accompanies this article on the home page features CNN's Candy Crowley (I think?) because they begged me to include it. "Please don't leave us out of your liveblog, chronicling what awful people we are and the societal wreckage of our shows," the CNN P.R. department has told me, in quotes I am paraphrasing.
So, anyway, when the shows you like become relentlessly terrible, I'll start watching them, and you can take a break. Just let me know, okay!
(Anyway, sometimes THIS WEEK and FACE THE NATION are okay to watch, in that they are not MEET THE PRESS. Which is a lot like saying dislocating your kneecaps are better than a headwound, but anyway.)
Anyway, here's Darrel Issa again! For some reason, they are showing scenes from the Vin Diesel movie, "Fast and Furious?" Maybe THIS WEEK is now a satire on Sunday news shows, which would explain why Peggy Noonan is always on.
TAPPER: And that brings us to today. Congressman Issa, this is a mess. And Democrats say you are not negotiating in good faith. On Tuesday, when you met with the attorney general, he offered you documents, including some that are not covered by the subpoena, and a briefing, and he said this would satisfy the questions you have. You rejected the deal. Why?
ISSA: Well, Jake, it's regrettable that we're here. This is not a place I want to be.
Then there is a monologue about Brian Terry, and then:
ISSA: One of the problems is, last Tuesday, 11th hour, after an exchange of e-mails, they said, let's have the meeting. I had the meeting. They came with nothing, not even an offer in -- in the form of a piece of paper. What they said orally was, we will brief you, we will then give you the information we believe supports that briefing, but you have to first agree to dismiss your subpoenas and your contempt.
Issa then says you can't "play liars poker" when there is a dead person in the room. But that dead person would still be a dead person if there was no "Fast and Furious" program, or an ATF failure.
Tapper is all, aren't you just a huge partisan hack, and Issa is all, "Nuh-uh, no way, dude!" He continues: "But the point is, we're past that part of the discovery, relative to contempt. We know there's a lot of wrong things, and we want to get to fixing it. What we're talking about now is, when we get lied to, when the American people get lied to, there can't be oversight if there's lying, and there cannot -- the Supreme Court has held pretty clearly, there cannot be executive privilege over criminal cover-up or cover-up of a crime. Lying to Congress is a crime. We have every right to see documents that say, did you know, when did you know, what did you know, including even the president."
Issa is going to send a stern letter to the president, and he hopes that will lead to more documents being offered. Issa says, "If those documents say what Eric Holder says they say, we might, in fact, dismiss contempt in -- in either case." Well, the problem here is that IF those documents DO say what Holder says they say (and ONLY if they say what Holder says they say), then the White House is ABOSLUTELY going to wait until Issa is really red-faced and crazy and puffy and jumping up and down in a Cardinal Richielieu costume to release them, so that in releasing them, they extract the largest possible political punishment on the GOP.
Jake wants to know why it was okay for Bush to invoke executive privilege, but not now. Issa basically doesn't answer the question, other than to say that executive privilege is okay "if it's top executives speaking or preparing and -- to the president." Tapper cites the Supreme Court, who said that "the privilege recognizes the valid need for protection of communications between high government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties...so it wasn't just for presidential communications."
Issa circles back to brass tacks: "We're looking for how the American people were lied on February 4, 2011, and 10 months passed before the truth came out from the administration."
For hopefully the final time: any documents that read something like, "Hey, let's totally cover up this Fast and Furious thing together, love Barry!" were written prior to February 4, 2011, when whatever lying or error of human judgment resulted in the letter that went to Charles Grassley. What was probably written AFTER February 4th, are documents that read, "Holy effing poop on a Pop-Tart, Eric, this is totally embarrassing for me, you'd better tell me what I need to know to defuse this politically, xoxoxo BHO (PS i am super pissed at you, dude!)" All of which would be totally embarrassing, but it's not a crime to be a cynical political stooge.
(Can you imagine if it was? We'd be hanging so many people at all times that we'd turn to GAME OF THRONES for relief from all the barbarism!)
I'm guessing, anyway! I don't have HBO, because I am an awful American.
Jake finishes off by asking if Issa really believes the strange, paranoiac, NRA ghost story that he's been telling, that this failed program is a Trojan horse for a bunch of anti-gun laws that the Obama administration has never ever demonstrated even a slight desire to implement. Issa says, "We have e-mails from people involved in this that are talking about using what they're finding here to support the -- basically assault weapons ban or greater reporting."
Ha, well, those would be the sort of emails that you would invoke executive priviliege over, if that's your super secret gun control plans for the Illuminati! As they didn't, maybe everyone should not worry about it. (Let's also focus on the fact that apparently, if you are Darrell Issa, you are prepared to make goofy-ass hay out of anything you find in those documents, which is probably why you'd want to keep your cynical election-year calculations and messaging strategy under wraps.)
Okay, so now we'll have some paneling, with George Will and Hilary Rosen and Peggy Noonan (who is sitting there with her eyes closed in the permanent facial expression of the American Smell My Own Delicious Fart Smug-o-crat) and Xavier Becerra (whose name I shall now spell many different ways, because I am terrible) and also Major Garrett.
Will says that Obama has the right to claim privilege and that Issa has the right to be mad about it, and there is "a tension" here that goes all the way back to George Washington and the Battle of the Wabash, for some reason. "There is no clear doctrine," he says, "and this will be played out past November, after which everyone will have forgotten about it."
Rosen says that Holder closed down a dumb program and taken responsibility for it and this is just a Republican witch hunt that's taken up the House's time. (But isn't that a good thing? Would you want Boehner's House trying to legislate things?) Becerra agrees, however, saying this is "just a fishing expedition."
Noonan, however, thinks that the Obama administration "angered Congress" and that was a mistake because you know Congress! Totally accommodating up until the point they learned about the ATF doing stuff with guns!
Garrett says that people should be "responsive in a way that's respectful" to overseers. That is sort of like saying that we should burn Capitol Hill to the ground and start over, because who is ever responsive to the people who are supposed to be guarding our well-being? I've got a book of matches! Shall we meet, today, at four o'clock, outside the Senate Banking Committee, and get started?
George Will wants to say that this is all related to the White House passing immigration reform by fiat, and also all these foreign policy leaks, and what? Rosen says that it's actually about kneecapping Holder so that he can't investigate voter suppression. She and Will fight about that for a while, and Tapper eventually changes the subject, or at least forces his panel to listen to a bunch of Congresscritters blathering at each other.
Moving to the Supreme Court's pending decision on the Affordable Care Act. Becerra, not surprisingly, thinks that the court will not strike down the law, and the law is awesome, but hey, you never know because the Supreme Court is secretly awful and political because of the Citizens United ruling. Essentially, he sort of warns the Supreme Court that the law has saved many lives, and does the Court really want to undo that? (He is sort of wasting his breath at this point, as the Justices have long had their minds made up about that.)
Noonan thinks that if the law gets struck down, it will be "dreadful" for Obama. But it's dreadful for everyone, politically, as no one has a "plan B." She thinks that the ruling might prompt a "plan B," and that this time it will be "bipartisan," which is to laugh.
Garrett is comparing something to Red Bull, and whatever it was, I'm not going back to find out. Suffice it to say, Garrett would like people to "have wings," but based upon the taste he traditionally shows in libations, I'm guessing he would not want you to ruin perfectly good vodka, with super-caffeinated anti-freeze.
More paneling, moving to "the Latino vote," which is a topic you naturally want to hear from George Will on, because God knows the Will totally has the pulse of "La Raza." Will says that Obama took advantage with his DREAM Act-by-fiat, and Romney is stuck having to "unring the bell" of going way to the right on immigration during the debates. Will goes on to note that it's odd that Romney had a harsher stance on immigration as a Massachusetts governor than border staters like Bush, Perry, and McCain. (Though McCain got pretty harsh, when it turns out that his principles alone couldn't buy him a presidential nomination.)
Noonan, who saw a Mexican once, changing her life completely, says that Romney is probably not "under any illusion" that he can win the Latino vote.
Tapper notes that Latinos aren't single-issue voters, and Becerra says this is true -- the economy is much more important. But he just thinks that Romney's been particularly vicious to the Latino community that they are alienated from him in general. He goes on to claim that Obama is routinely better received in Miami than Romney and, well...I'd have to see that with my own eyes, actually.
Garrett says that the most interesting part of the GOP reaction was how quiet it was, and he speculates that the Romney campaign urged against a big internecine fight over the matter. That would be a smart move, but I'm not sure that Romney has the clout to dictate to Congressional Republicans yet. (I figure though, that the recognition that a lengthy session of intra-party agita over the issue was identified as something to avoid, though.)
Rosen thinks that Obama "has a leg up" on Romney with both the immigration issue, and with the way he speaks "aspirationally" about the economy.
Becerra says that Romney totally "threw Marco Rubio under the bus" by "not coming close to wanting to do what Rubio wanted to do on the DREAM Act." Becerra's logic is, if what Obama did was a "baby DREAM act" then Rubio was in favor of an even bigger, DREAMIER DREAM Act, and if Romney can't support the little version than Rubio's version must be even more terrifying. Okay! Except that Romney and Rubio clearly wanted to kick this can down the road and just suggest that something would be proposed and debated in the future, which contrasts the way Obama back-burnered the issue until it became politically advantageous to offer a half-measure.
Also, as Garrett just pointed out, the GOP didn't fall out all over each other over the matter, so...I think that's just Becerra wanting that to have happened.
It's pretty weird that Romney had to publicly promise that Marco Rubio was being vetted for the Vice Presidency. Here's a fun fact: lots of people who famously did not become Vice President were "vetted!" Picking someone you don't know anything about and hoping for the best is actually a recent "Fun-novation" introduced by the McCain campaign.
Rosen says that if Romney wants to win, he should pick Tim Pawlenty, because he is "experienced" but not "noisy." She says that Pawlenty and Romney have had a "bromance" that will be fully explored in the next season of "Downton Abbey." Noonan says that Romney should not choose Sarah Palin, and recommends Rob Portman, because he is also boring and experienced, and also he has "a great ability to debate," because he is always getting to play the Democrat in mock-debates.
Noonan has heard that Biden is "gaffe-prone!" She figures that maybe this year will be the year where the entire election comes down to the Vice-Presidential Debate, where Rob Portman throws his super-powered BEIGE SHADE on the ill-prepared Biden, who might accidentally come out in favor of gay marriage again, like some kind of idiot gaffe-head! Then the media will be like, "LOL, LOOK AT BIDEN! He's so into ordinary people having justice! GAFFE-DORK NYAHH NYAHH!"
Yep, that's pretty much what American politics is!
Now the panel is going to talk about the new Aaron Sorkin show? Oh, no no no no no. This is where I get off, thanks!
FACE THE NATION
Have you ever forgotten to buy your allergy medicine for one day, and then the next morning you woke up and sneezed seven hundred times as your eyes dripped stingy ooze for hours, because your allergies just will not give you a break, and you have to watch FACE THE NATION first before you can run out to the pharmacy and get some new allergy pills to eat? That's our topic for discussion today, hopefully. WHY WON'T DARRELL ISSA SUBPOENA MY HISTAMINES? I would describe my nasal passages as both fast and furious.
No, instead...Rick Perry is here? Uhm...okay. Rick Perry says that "Governor Romney is very focused on the issues that are important," and that Obama is terrible, because: stimulus, shut up! Meanwhile, Romney wants the private sector to "create jobs" but it's weird that there's a hold up, considering the private sector has been crazily profitable.
Schieffer changes the subject away from Perry just blandly reciting talking points, and wants Perry to account for his stance on immigration. He once referred to Romney -- and, well, everyone at the debates that was yelling at him, such hurty noises about immigration, make it stop, make it stop, OH NOW I FORGOT HOW TO COUNT! -- as "heartless," and Schieffer's all, "Where do you come off, sirrah?"
Perry says that he was talking about the economic impact that immigration has on the states and it's totally not the same thing as what Obama is doing with his mini-DREAM Act action. Romney was totally talking about securing the border, that's all! And that's what governors talk about, with each other! And anyway, FAST AND FURIOUS, Bob! Also, Obama is totally "Nixonian" with that Executive Privilege stuff, which also means that Obama is Reaganing, and Bushwhacked, and Ford-a-board, and Carterial.
Perry ends this strange rant, "Don't you agree with that?" COME ON BOB, DON'Y YOU AGREE? I really NEED this, Bob! I got to have something in my life that's good, Bob. OH JUST GIVE ME THIS!
Schieffer is kind of like, whatever, and asks Perry what he thinks should happen with Fast and Furious. Perry says that the Fast and Furious guns killed people, and Watergate was just a "second rate burglary." SO TRUE. It wasn't a COOL AS CAPER like in The Italian Job or Inside Man!
Actually, I have a really FIRST-RATE crime Congress can investigate! It's that hilarious little caper where people made synthetic derivatives out of predatory loans and other toxic junk and everyone stuffed their little piggie faces until they were massively overleveraged and the whole scheme collapsed, and a few billion dollars were taken from taxpayers to make the cock-ups all better again, and all these jobs went to employment heaven where they now dance with harps in the fields of Job Elysium forever.
Anyway, Rick Perry seems to think that the history of "executive privilege" goes from Nixon to Obama, and Nixon's was like "no big deal, dude."
He would also like the White House to be transparent, which is hilarious coming from a guy who avoided debating most of his life as a Texas politician, for reasons that are now, sadly, pretty obvious to everyone.
Schieffer wants to keep trying to drive a wedge between Perry and Romney, because shiny! He asks after Perry's insistence that Romney was a vulture capitalist, and Perry just says, "Well, that attack didn't work in the primary, so it won't work in the general." Okay! Good to know that you were just using the attack cynically, and you don't actually have an honest critique of "vulture capitalism." Perry's advice to Obama is for him to listen to his fellow Democrats who have whored themselves out to private equity interests.
Schieffer is sort of like, "So, that's all that criticism meant to you" and Perry is all: "Yes, I'm basically pretty awful."
Will Perry go out and campaign for Romney? Perry says he totally is! The Romney campaign is sending him to California, a state Romney has no chance of winning anyway. Go have fun, "campaigning" for us, Rick, says the Romney campaign.
Now Tim Pawlenty is here to talk about zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...he won't be Obama's vice president...he could best serve Romney in other ways...please don't ask me to be the vice-president...zzzzzzzzzzzzz...I was totally at this Romney retreat because I am part of a family of awesome Romney supporters...I like picnics...do you like this orange tie, because my wife is really weirded out by how bright it is...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...anyway, I am like, totally invited to hang out with Romney's best donors and it's swell...super PACs are totally allowed to coordinate, as long as it's not about the "expenditure of money"...will Romney have to get specific about his plans?...uhhhh, I don't know, hasn't he been specific?...I'm just going to say he's been specific, okay...back to sleep...this tie is really giving me strange dreams...last night I dreamed that I was in that old REM video with the golden people that was based on that Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel and it was really weird...ughhhhhhh...zzzzzzzzzzz...I don't want to have that dream again, anyway, Obama is terrible and where is his Medicaid reform proposal...what, you say it's the Affordable Care Act...I don't think so, but I will mow Bob Schieffer's lawn if I am wrong about that...Romney won't let me mow his lawn, even though I have repeatedly asked.
Bob Schieffer says he lives in am apartment. Pawlenty is like, "Oh, man! Seriously? That was my awesome line."
Now Antonio "Chillaraigosa" Villaraigosa is here, to talk about the Latino vote, and how terrible Romney is at earning it.
Schieffer says that Romney is speaking the truth about Obama doing nothing on immigration, because I guess Schieffer was on vacation during the lame duck session when the GOP Senators filibustered the DREAM Act, which Obama was ready to sign into law. Villaraigosa says that Romney has amnesia, because of precisely this reason. But Romney isn't the one who has "amnesia." Schieffer has amnesia. Romney is doing this thing known as "lying."
Anyway, Villaraigosa says that if "Romney wants to come clean about what he wants to do, he should do it." That would conflict with Romney's current strategy of "saying nothing specific about anything because it forces the Obama campaign to keep their attacks focused off the "choice" Romney represents. (Remember, Romney wants a "referendum" election, Obama wants a "choice" election. I want a "let's see if we can just do this in a month instead of two years of media silly season bullshit constantly being shot at my brain by people on teevee" election. I will be the election year's biggest loser, like always!)
Villaraigosa continues to surrogate his ass off, decrying Romney's Bain Capital job-killing and his Massachusetts debt-running up and his current "tax cuts for wealthy people that we don't pay for" ideating.
Does Villaraigosa want to talk about Marco Rubio? No, not really. Okay, everyone go home then!
Scheiffer, who still has to awkwardly give his editorial comment halfway through the show because some CBS affiliates haven't gotten with the program and given Face The Nation an hour of running time yet, says that now that the vice presidential speculation is heating up, everyone should remember that it's mostly nonsense, because inevitably the president chooses someone who either totally criticized him on the campaign trail...or Dick Cheney names himself...or someone picks Dan Quayle because why not? Schieffer says, Romney probably won't pick Sarah Palin. So, you know, that was useful.
Vice Presidential Speculation: Use It Responsibly!
Okay, so, I think we just have some panel discussion to get through and then I can go pulp a box of Chlor-Trimeton and shove it into my eyeballs.
Oh, great, this next part is Stephanie Cutter and Eric Fehrnstrom, yelling at each other. Schieffer points out that they have already yelled at each other on Twitter, so naturally, you want to snap them up and put them on teevee.
Ferhnstrom is like, wow, isn't it amazing that there was no Twitter the last time there was a campaign? Twitter launched in 2006. It just wasn't populated by douchebag campaign strategists until 2011. Those first five years of Twitter were awesome, mostly for that reason.
Stephanie Cutter agrees that Twitter "is another mode of communication that we didn't have four years ago." YES YOU DID HAVE IT FOUR YEARS AGO, YOU IDIOT.
"We didn't have Facebook eight years ago," Cutter says. Facebook launched in February of 2004. We had it, it just wasn't shot through with toxic political waste yet.
Cutter figures that Twitter is not a replacement for traditional campaign communication, which is good considering that Twitter is now just terrible campaign consultants like these two and jackass bloggers like me, throwing shade at one another 24 hours a day, waiting until we all get sent to Hell together for all eternity.
Cutter thinks that Obama is great and will win. Fehrnstrom thinks that Romney is great and will win. The only thing I care about is that Stephanie Cutter doesn't have any strange "H" in her last name that I have to remember, so she wins.
Ferhnhsthrhomh says that Romney is the person to get the economy moving again. Cutter wants to "make some points" about that, that include: Romney's 59-point economic plan sucks, Romney's corporate tax plan sucks, and outsourcing jobs suck. If we can say, then, that "things that suck" are intrinsically "sucky," what does that say about Obama's bold stance against all the things that people totally think suck! CHECKMATE, FHERHENSTHROHMMH.
Also, Cutter read a story about how terrible Romney was in the Washington Post, and she was all, "Wow! Look at Romney, being so brazenly awful, in my opinion, specifically the opinion I have been hired to have."
Fehehhrhrhrhrhhhehhenstrom says that Cutter is filled with lies and the newspapers are filled with lies, and that Romney is actually totally awesome, and hey -- why aren't we applauding the fact that there is a Coke plant in China! MAKE THOSE CHINESE PEOPLE DRINK OUT MALTED BATTERY ACID SOFT DRINKS.
Cutter is like, "WHATEVER, FEHRNSTROM, or should I say, 'FEH-STORM?' Because you are a storm of 'Feh.' FEH. FEH. FEH. And are you saying that Bain never sent a job overseas?"
FEHEHRHEHEHEHHHH says that Obama is the REAL outsourcing/offshoring Cloverfield Monster.
"Well, I'm sorry we have to end it there," says Schieffer, who is in all likelihood lying.
Here is the video for "The Cutter," by Echo And The Bunnymen, via YouTube, which Stephanie Cutter is probably like, "WE DIDN'T HAVE THIS IN 2008, BOB, DUH."
Now it's time for the roundtable daisychain, with Joe Klein and Dan Balz and Norah O'Donnell and John Dickerson.
Joe Klein talked to a guy with a fiddle, and learned all sorts of things about politics, from him. He has learned that voters on the campaign trail are "angry that nothing has gotten done." Oh, hey! You mean that great plan to send a bunch of liberals to Congress in 2008 and a bunch of Tea Partiers to Congress in 2010 has hit a snag somewhere, and now nothing is happening in Congress? Yeah, it really is an unexpected outcome!
Dan Balz says that people are angry, and disappointed on Obama, and Romney is a cipher, and the Obama campaign is trying to "disqualify" him, but if the economy doesn't improve, that could determine the winner, and then we'll just have our dusty memories of campaign consultants talking about Twitter to remember this election cycle by.
Dickerson says that the President would prefer to get into a debate with Romney over what Romney wants to do in the future, which is probably why Romney hasn't stipulated anything yet.
Norah O'Donnell thinks that maybe it would be a good thing, if Obama's health care reform got struck down by the Supreme Court. Because that's who health care reform impacts, just the President, no one else. Also: You are wrong, Norah O'Donnell.
Also, the media doesn't have to wait until the Supreme Court ruling to ask what Romney would replace Obamacare with. You can do this right now.
Joe Klein, by the way, is the worst human on the planet today. "The most amazing thing about [Obamacare] is that no one knows what's in the bill. I blame the President for that." Uhm...you know Joe Klein is the man who's job it is to tell people what's in ObamaCare. He literally has a column in Time magazine and goes on teevee, and he could easily dispense information to other humans, as per the conventional definition of journalism. The guy literally spent the last few months walking the dusty-ass byways of America, talking to fiddle-players, a trip that he wants people to give him a cookie for making, because HECK MAN, JOE KLEIN SACRIFICED, he had to spend time with people who make less than $80,000 and whatnot. He could have literally gone door-to-door, person to person, telling them all what was in Obamacare. So, screw it! I'm blaming Joe Klein.
Moving on to holding Eric Holder in contempt. Will the House do it? Dickerson says, "Their base loves this issue." So, yeah, they are going to hold Holder in contempt, but they will probably prefer to "hit it and move on," like a Newt Gingrich marriage, because if it absorbs too much attention it will be bad for them electorally.
Balz predicts that the argument will "go on for many months without a clear resolution," like a Newt Gingrich marriage.
Klein says that in Ohio and Michigan, the auto bailout has proven to be popular, and people aren't "wildly ecstatic" about Romney. He blames Barack Obama for that.
O'Donnell says that right now, there is a period of candidates, trying to define their opponents. Later, there will be conventions. Then there will be some debates. Eventually Election Day will come. A few weeks later, it will be Thanksgiving. People will eat turkey. Then there will be a Superbowl. Chances are good it will be won by a "football team."
Is there really more to talk about? No, Face The Nation is going to pad out the hour with a "Face The Nation" flashback, which is a total Betsy Fischer move, Face The Nation! Be careful.
Okay, well, I am off to send a team of nanobots into my nasal passages to destroy allergens with tiny, little nanoguns, or something. I hope you get to spend the rest of your Sunday in peaceful repose! Once again, we will be away from our desk next Sunday, so there will be no liveblog. Probably everyone will be OMGZing over the Supreme Court, so, I'm sorry about that. I promise that I'll be back on July 8, to comfort everyone.
Have a great week!
[The liveblog returns two Sundays from now. Until then, you can go to my Rebel Mouse page for lots of interesting Sunday reading diversions.]