TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Good morning to everyone and welcome to another addition of this hastily-assembled reconstruction of whatever it was that happened on the Sunday Morning political talk shows. My name is Jason, and hopefully by now you have spent a few hours enjoying the Olympics. If you have, here's the exciting London Olympic bonus we are all getting today -- there's no MEET THE PRESS. That is some downright frabjous s#!t right there, right? Or at least it is to me. You, technically, do not need to watch any of these shows. For you, every week is like the Olympics of telling the noises on your teevee to shut up, already. To me, you live the most glorious lives of all.
Anyway, you guys know the deal. Sit back, relax, do what you like and hopefully enjoy whatever words I fill this page with. Chat with each other, if you like, in the comments. Drop me a line if you're into that. You can follow my award not-winning Twitter account on those days that Twitter decides to work. And while you're waiting for me to update the liveblog, slip over to my RebelMouse page, where you'll find my favorite things on the web from this week to read, featuring the latest "This Week In Greed" from Steve Almond (read the entire series here).
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
So, today Antonin Scalia is here to "SPEAK OUT" because everyone knows that he doesn't have any opportunity at all, ever, to talk about his opinions and feelings about everything publicly, in writing or in speech. So, he will probably talk about the recent health care ruling, whatever aspect of our political culture has put a burr in his side, and his ongoing efforts to prevent the Da Vinci Code from falling into the wrong hands.
Anyway, Scalia decided cases by "textualism" which is a "subspecies" of "originalism" and I already can tell that I am not going to have the right post-graduate degrees to keep up with this conversation. Suffice it to say, Scalia's approach to things like the Constitution is to pretend to know what was in the minds of the people who wrote it back when it was written and, I don't know, just assume that they'd be terrified of all our "motorized metal horses" and "battery-powered vibrators," and that they'd be too dumbstruck to admit any alteration to their view of the world.
Scalia says that one example involves the death penalty, which he thinks is
unconstitutional constitutional, and plainly intended to be, in his opinion, with the framers' "cruel and unusual" punishment construction. That's a very "politic" example he's using. A better example, he notes, involves a statute that would award attorney's fees to the winning party, and the need to think about what the original writer of the statute would mean by "attorney's fees." To Nino's mind, that probably doesn't include things like "expert witness" fees. So, I don't know.
But what about Justice Breyer, who allows for the idea that, you know, time has passed and that thinking evolves along with human advancements in technology and the like, and thus admits the existence of a "living" Constitution? Scalia says that's wrong, duh, a "common and totally erroneous description of what originalism means."
Of course, there's really no Platonic ideal of Constitutional originalism that can be achieved. We are all driven by the prevailing tastes and mores of our age. That said, that's the sort of quiet evolution that you can only see clearly after it's long passed into our rear-view mirror.
Wallace points out that his decision on "Obamacare" seemed to go against his own stances on originalism and that he ended up criticizing Chief Justice Roberts in his dissent. "Didn't Roberts do exactly what he should do, avoid striking down the law?" Wallace asks. Scalia says that his dissent says that there's no way to see the penalty as a tax, and that the law couldn't stand without that.
Wallace asks how far the right to bear arms extends, in the wake of the Colorado shooting -- does it absolutely allow for semi-automatic weapons and extended magazines? Scalia says Heller left open the possibility that future cases might proscribe limits on those rights. Here, Scalia allows that those limits will be dictated by whatever "society feels is appropriate at the time." "My starting point and my ending point will be what limitations society felt were appropriate at the time," he says.
Wallace asks Scalia about Roe vs. Wade, and his desire to overturn it. Scalia says that in his mind "it's the clearest example of non-textualism and non-originalism," and that there is no "generalized right to privacy" in the Constitution. Abortion, he says, is a matter that is ideally decided by legislation.
Scalia says that there's nothing wrong with changing your mind during deliberations, and that he's done it himself, including switching from upholding to dissenting and vice versa. He says that Roberts was well within his rights to do so, if that's what he did, in the case of the Affordable Care Act -- but he's not going to breach the confidentiality of the Court to talk about Roberts' decision-making process. "You'll have to ask him."
Scalia says that he doesn't feel that the Supreme Court is a "political" body, at all, and that all the 5-4 decisions are not a sign that judges are voting their politics -- the judges are there because the Presidents that appointed them went looking for specific judicial philosophies.
What about that time President Obama dared manifest a public opinion on a Supreme Court decision -- in this case, the Citizens United decision that's making the current election season such a plague-trench of negative ads funded by senile billionaires? Scalia says that Roberts used a "mild adjective" when he said he was "troubled" about publicly being called out. He says that this is why he doesn't go to the State Of The Union addresses.
Is it just mean of the President to direct comments at the Justices? Scalia says that you can judge for yourself. "I don't normally publicly criticize the President and he does not normally publicly criticize me." Did he feel any pressure to vote a certain way on the Affordable Care Act decision? "What can he do to me?" he says, "We have a lifetime tenure."
On the relationship with the legislature, Scalia says that the Court often has to step in and say that something that most people want to do can't be done because it's unconstitutional, sorry. This, he says, means that the court is sometimes not "democratic in a small-d sense," but ultimately, their role is democratic in a larger sense because "the people gave us the power" to make these determinations.
Wallace says that "some people" say Scalia "crossed the line" in his immigration dissent, where he wrote, "To say, as the Court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law byenforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind." Wallace points out that an Appellate Judge criticised this, calling it a "campaign speech." Scalia pulls rank, saying that Appellate Judge doesn't sit in judgment of his decision, it's the other way around. Wallace snarks that Scalia likes pushing people's buttons. "It's fun to push buttons," Scalia says, adding that he should get to return fire in just as provocative a manner as he draws.
And that segues into Wallace pulling out the Scalia burn book and running down all the acid-tipped things he's said about his fellow Justices over the years. Scalia denies being "cantankerous," and that he's not trying to be mean to his fellow Justices over the years, just to certain legal opinions they have. He insists that they are all still pals (and indeed, it's pretty well-known that he and Justice Ginsburg are, like, BFFs and junk.
Will Scalia be timing his retirement so as to ensure a conservative President picks his successor? He says that he'd prefer to not be replaced "by someone who immediately sets out to undo" all of his rulings, but he hasn't gamed out a retirement strategy.
Anyway, Oliver Platt will be playing Nino in the biopic, obviously.
Carl Cameron, meanwhile, is in Israel following Mitt Romney around, and he reports that if Israel wants to get all bomby with Iran, he'll be down with it. Netanyahu glancingly criticized the current foreign policy toward Iran. And there is further news of other briefings that no one will confirm. So, great!
Anyway, it's panel time, with a trio of benchwarmers -- Kim Strassel and Chip Saltzman and Liz Marlantes -- joining Juan Williams to have some horse-race yakking.
Strassel says that Romney has gone overseas to present himself generically, alongside some other generic leaders in generic countries with whom we have generic alliances, with Poland in the mix because Obama ended the missile defense program there because it was no longer 1985.
Is there a substantial difference between Romney's foreign policy and the Obama foreign policy? Marlantes points out that the White House's position is that there's not too much difference, and that they have a good point -- Romney's Iran policy is, essentially, the Obama Iran policy with more yelling and angry gesticulations.
Wallace asks about that time Romney went to England and basically drowned himself in his own humiliating mouth-farts while uniting the entire country in ticked-offed-ness. Saltsman says that the upside is that the British aren't voters, but this trip was supposed to be a lay-up, and it was ruined by the sudden emergence of "CEO Mitt Romney."
Wallace says that this seems to be a thing with Romney -- he hasn't learned to communicate as a President, frequently falling back into his old Bain Capital role as a "strategic auditor." Williams defends him a little bit, noting that the Brits themselves had been worried about all the aspects of planning the Olympics that Romney specifically cited, but the problem is that you "don't go into someone else's house and criticize them."
There's also this thing with Romney, where he acts like planning the Salt Lake City Olympics is something akin to mapping the human genome. Olympic planning isn't simple, but plenty of mortals have done it. (Romney did it by lobbying the Federal government for money.)
Meanwhile, the economy! It continues to teeter-totter around like it was just brained in the face by a cast-iron skillet. GDP growth was, once again, anemic, in the latest quarter. Strassel says that the slowing economy "chips away at the Obama White House's narrative" and it's harder still to weave confidence out of the way the economy seems to poop out every time it seems like it's going to get going.
Marlantes points out that the private sector is pretty much doing fine, and that the slowing is all basically coming from the public sector.
How fine, is the private sector, by the way? As the Atlantic noted, with charts and graphs to make it clear, "The Economy Stinks, but at Least Corporate Profits Are at 60-Year Highs!"
Now the panel is talking about the whole "you didn't build that" flap, which will probably go on for a few more weeks, in which we pretend that when Obama pointed out that the government builds roads and bridges, he was actually saying, "businessmen are complete idiots" and how this "defines the race." (Strictly defined, then, the race has "lost its mind," because at a time where the economy is in such crisis -- a dire time, that demands authentic, vibrant critiques and a big, substantive debate on the merits of everyone's prescriptives -- we are instead having a phony media meta-debate over a single sentence of oratory we are willfully pretending to not understand. If that doesn't fit the concept of "fiddling while Rome burns," then I don't know what does.
FACE THE NATION
Face The Nation will continue to talk about whether or not Romney "gave Israel the greenlight to bomb Iran," in response to Newsweek calling him a "wimp." Also, there will be a discussion about Penn State, which will force me to have to watch Jim Rome, which seems cruel and unusual.
But first, Romney and the horsey-race and his fabulous trip to foreign countries. Jan Crawford interviewed Romney, asking him about this "greenlight" question, and Romney says that he just "respects the right of Israel to defend itself" and "stands with them." Crawford asks, "What do you mean by that?" and Romney demurs, saying that he's not here to "create new foreign policy."
Strictly speaking, nothing he's said about the matter has created new foreign policy -- Romney sounds like an envoy from the Obama administration, save for the fact that he has a "seven step program" for Iran, with "steps that have not been put in place," which he does not go on to describe. (I'm sure that at least two of the steps are something like, "Iran backs down, because stuff" and "And so, after step six, yadda yadda, success!"
Why does Romney consider Iran a greater threat now than it was four years ago? Romney says that Iran is more ready to build nuclear weapons "at some point" and they've had "five years of working" on creating a nuclear weapon, if that's what they've decided to do.
Romney, post-England debacle, is being circumspect to a fault here, in this interview, answering questions as generically as possible, and yet with a prolixity that rivals...well, that rivals this live-blog, here, frankly! So, he starts an answer with all the signs that he's going to reveal something, only to end up several sentences later having said nothing at all. He'll be ready for "revenue-neutral tax reform," that's for sure! Crawford, however, is having to start questions by saying things like, "I'm trying to understand..." Stop trying! There's no point. This is an exercise in just not messing up.
Romney says that he's not going to criticize President Obama on foreign soil. He says that is wrong, "particularly in Israel." Note: when he says "particularly in Israel," Romney is whistling back some Obama criticism.
Romney says that he hasn't seen this Newsweek story about while he's a wimp, and anyway they said the same thing about President George H.W. Bush, so what? Crawford points out that the "so what" was that he lost an election, and Romney says he's "not worried about what the media says." He's so not worried about the media that he keeps demanding retractions from it!
Is foreign policy the area where Romney is weakest? Romney says -- well, he just starts talking about Reagan, for whatever reason. Crawford tries to actually answer the question for him, with another question -- "What character do you bring to the table, in terms of foreign policy?" Romney says more stuff about Reagan.
That's how cautious Romney is being now. "I have a question for you, Mitt Romney." "Sure, the answer is Reagan, and also 'resolve,' plus I think America is great and should continue to be great." His "doctrine" is "confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might." Let the power of generic sounding platitudes be our guidestar!
Now, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is here to respond to that Romney interview. This raises more questions, like, "Is it possible to respond to fifteen minutes worth of caution and platitudes?" and "What if we just skipped the whole question, and did something -- anything -- different with DWS's time?"
Anyway, DWS says that Romney's trip abroad has "demonstrated pretty repeatedly" that Romney lacks the diplomatic skills to be Commander-in-Chief. Most of her case is made on the England "gaffes," of which only the inadvertent reveal of the head of MI-6's whereabouts is an serious "Commander in Chiefy" sort of mistake -- the others just being examples of generic boneheadedness. But she's also evinces concern over Iran, and points out that Obama has been just as "all-options-on-the-table-y" as anyone else has been, and that if Mitt wants to take one of those options from the table and use it -- like, say, the Gravy Boat Of Expensive War -- then he should say so.
DWS won't call Romney a "wimp," because she doesn't need to -- that's Newsweek's case, and she's happy it's out there. Rather, she maintains that Romney's secrecy on various matters -- his taxes, his Bain career -- are what really troubles her.
What about the economy, though? It's pretty terrible, huh? DWS assures everyone that the economy is turning around and that the Congress needs to "adopt the American Jobs Act" and extend the middle-class tax cuts and if they do that "we'll continue to make progress" but if they don't, boy, I don't know!
For whatever reason, we're pivoting to a discussion of the sanctions levied against Penn State's football team and its staff for all those years they spent not telling anyone that they were letting a pedophile have the run of the place. Bob Scheiffer interviewed Penn State President Rodney Erickson, who should not, I repeat NOT, be confused with Roky Erickson.
Erickson says that he was "faced with a difficult choice" in terms of the sanctions that were floated, and went along with the consent decree because it was better for the school, and the football program, in his opinion. He says that he remains secure in his job and maintains the support of the vast majority of the school's board.
How will Penn State handle all the coming lawsuits? Erickson says that the school has general liability coverage and it's sufficient to the task. Additionally, Penn State will be making a lot fo quick settlements, so get in the front of that line, if you can! The $60 million fine that was levied against the school will come from many sources, beginning with the "football program's financial reserves." I wonder if the main library at Penn State has "financial reserves" and, if so, how substantial they are?
Because Face The Nation had not been entirely picked up in its new hour-long form, Schieffer has to truncate the interview. Happily though, that period has passed -- all of CBS affiliates are apparently on board, and from now on, Face The Nation will be known everywhere as an hour-long show. Congratulations to Face The Nation!
Back to the Erickson interview. Schieffer asks him if Joe Paterno ended up staying too long. Erickson says that Paterno's legacy will have to be judged by others, but that in his opinion, Paterno had a huge role in the direction of the university. He took Paterno's statue down because it was "a kind of open wound" for victims of abuse, but says that Paterno's name will remain on the library, in remembrance of his contributions to the school's academics.
Erickson says that the school is "sad and regretful" about what happened, and wants the school to become a "national leader" in the prevention of this sort of abuse, and the treatment of those abused.
What are the lessons learned? Erickson says that "one is to be very mindful of our children and how they engage in activities." Another is "accountability," in that everyone "regardless of standing or position" should know that they will be held accountable.
Schieffer wants to know why so many people either looked the other way on Sandusky's abuses or actively opted to keep those abuses from becoming known. "I think that's a difficult question for all of us," Erickson says, adding, "the first question that same to my mind was, how could something like this happen at a place I thought I knew...many of us are still asking that question." As for reasons, Erickson says that the lack of accountability was a factor, as was simple "human frailty."
Now we will panel with Jim Rome and Buzz Bissinger and Sarah Gannon (who won a Pulitzer for her Penn State coverage) and Bill Rhoden and James Brown.
Gannon says that the big question now revolves around where the money will come from to pay off fines, lawsuits, and other "crisis management" activities -- and how much will that outlay of money deprive academic departments and students of resources in the near future. Penn State, she says, gets state money, but the school is allowed to keep their books shut. Reporters, she says, are not going to get the sort of transparency they expect -- and neither are taxpayers, even though their money is knit up in this mix.
Rhoden says that Penn State should not be playing football at all, and that should have been the NCAA's decision. Rome disagrees and says that the NCAA and the school got it right. Bizzinger says that they got it right, which is surprising to him given the past performance of the NCAA in matters like these. Brown agrees that the penality was "punitive" and "fair."
So, Gannon is the only person who is that concerned with academics, which form the ostensible purpose of Penn State University in the first place, or taxpayer transparency. Ah, well, she seems like the right person to be fighting the lonely fight.
Rhoden says that any focus on football players is hopelessly misguided and that the only victims in the story are the kids who were raped and abused, so good for him.
Brown raises the specter of all the jobs that will be lost as a result of these sanctions, because Penn State's football program is a major employer. Folks, THAT IS WHY YOU IMMEDIATELY TELL THE POLICE ABOUT THE GUY WHO IS RAPING KIDS IN YOUR LOCKER ROOM. That's why you don't wait! That's why you don't let accountants cook the books at Enron! That's why you don't let the people in charge of mines in West Virginia cut corners on safety! When people do something illegal, you save jobs by blowing the whistle. When people do things that are technically legal but can lead to scandal or embarrassment or public rebuke, you save jobs by blowing the whistle. That's why such people deserve airtight protection -- they save innocent people from the poor decisions of their bosses.
Gannon says that reporters in State College used to call Penn State "The Kremlin," because of their lack of transparency and how hard it was to get information out of the school. She says that Erickson has made some indications that this culture may change, but there's a "long way to go."
Bissinger questions the conduct of Pennsylvania Tom Corbett, and whether he soft-footed the investigation to avoid offending the "Penn State base." Rome says that Paterno's legacy will now be permanently cemented in his failure to act when he had a chance and prevent children from being abused. Brown seconds that, and faults the culture of college football, where "big-time money runs the show." It's an open question if the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State actually puts real fear in anyone else.
Gannon says that the Paterno legend grew to be synonymous with the school itself, and as an alumna, she hopes that one the lessons learned is that such "idol worship" is not healthy. "Can you imagine going to work every day and passing by a ten-foot tall statue of yourself?" Rhoden points out that Alabama football coach Nick Saban does, every day.
It this a problem at other universities? Rome figures that the length of Paterno's tenure and the insularity of the Penn State community make it a unique animal in college football. But he goes on to say that the Nick Saban example is pretty key -- post-Penn State, a guy like Saban hasn't lost any of the power he had before, and the lesson isn't going to resonate on other campuses, or with other big-time football programs.
Rhoden says that the NCAA is just a members' only club and a "mafia" in itself. "You are punishing a moral trespass with money," he says. He stops short of supporting paying college athletes though. Bissinger disagrees, saying that it's a straight up "form of indenturement." I say that at the very least, when you walk into the student bookstore and see that they're selling jerseys with the star player or players' number -- you're trading on that guy's name, and they should get a cut. (If I'm not mistaken, the University Oregon -- whose jersey's are tumor-inducing eyesores from hell anyway -- are actually going to start slapping those names on those jerseys.)
THIS WEEK, WITH PERSON FROM ABC NEWS
Okay, so Matt Dowd apparently drew the short straw and will have to host the show today, instead of just appearing on the roundtable. Why is this show in permanent tryouts for the host duties? And why does everyone say that George Stephanopoulos always have a "well deserved morning off." They ALWAYS say that! For once, I want it to be proven, with math. No person could possibly deserve all these Sunday mornings off, when their job is to show and host a show that bills itself as being "with" you.
Anyway, we're just going to have about twenty minutes of 2012 horsey-race surrogate-yammering to start things off, with Robert Gibbs representing the President and Kevin Madden repping Romney. Let's just get on with this.
Anyway. 100 DAYS TO GO! What is going to "break this race out?" Gibbs says it's going to be a close race, but what will eventually "break the race" is that it's a "choice between two candidates" who want to do things, only one of whom, in Gibbs opinion, is awesome, and that's Obama, who isn't King Bain of Offshore Island. Madden says, basically, "Oh yeah, well the economy is mega-suxxors, and Obama hasn't given us any new ideas." And Romney won't be all hateful toward "entrepreneurs" by returning things to Clinton-era tax levels.
Will any of these stupid gaffes make the difference in the election, like when you go to London and pull down your pants and run around insulting Tories? Madden is surprisingly unconvinced that "the headlines that come out of London on one day" will matter very much, and that goes double for that one day where all the headlines are all, "UGH, MITTENS GO HOME."
Gibbs, strikingly disagrees, and thinks that a totally big deal can be made about Romney questioning Londoner's readiness for Olympics, and then proceeds to try to make that big deal.
WHO WILL HOPE THE LONDON OLYMPICS SUCCEEDS THE HARDEST? Will it be Gibbs? Madden? Boris Johnson? David Cameron? Mitt Romney? Barack Obama? Whoever does wins zero electoral votes and twenty-pound gift certificate to Boots.
WHO LOVES ISRAEL HARD ENOUGH TO LET THEM BOMB IRAN? Gibbs says that Obama has been clear about his position about other countries defending themselves and their citizens against any aggression that does not involve our drones and their signature or profile strikes. Madden says that there's totally a difference between Romney and Obama because "words matter" and if you line up those words in a certain way you can suggest "priorities" and when you take words and multiply them by priorities you get Powerpoint presentations, which drive the economy.
Barack Obama has gone to Israel, too, though! And while he was there, he loved Israel SO HARD, and Gibbs was there, and can totally vouch for him.
Now we'll talk about the economy. Dowd says that "many people think" that the bad GDP numbers are bad, for some reason, so what's the deal? Gibbs says that we can't ever go back to the Bush policies and Obama won't and Romney will, and so the economy could suck in a totally different way than it does now. Gibbs is happy to talk about the Obama record, and argue with Romney, especially if the record and the argument centers on awesome recent developments, like the auto bailout.
Madden says that the election is a referendum and that Romney has an awesome 57-point plan that he has read and trust him, it's awesome. So pro-growth! And also: businessy! It has the recommended daily allowance of niacin!
Why is everything so negative, all the time? Gibbs says that it hasn't been negative all the time, except that Romney destroyed Rick Perry and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich with negative ads. (I think Rick Perry destroyed himself, with his mouth and the noises it made, but okay.) Madden says that Romney is just "laser-focused" like a laser on the economy, which needs lasers, and if he's critical of the president for his economic decisions, that's not being "negative," that's just being "lasery."
Now we will panel discuss this week's great moments in future panel discussion fodder, with George Will and Ruth Marcus and Dana Loasch and Donna Brazile and David Chalian.
Did we learn anything in the last 100 days that will teach us what to expect in the next hundred days? Yes. The last 100 days can be generally seen as one hundred separate twenty-four hour periods. During those mini-periods, which I shall call "hundredth segments", there is typically a period of darkness (which I will call "Moon-having-time") that fades about six or seven hours in to a long period of brightness (which I will call "the lightening") followed by another period of darkness (which I presume is caused by the sun being swallowed by a great sky-beast that I call "the Sun Eater Beast"). Then 100 of these things pass, and at the end of it, no one learns any important things about American politics.
I think the next hundred days will be much the same. George Will says something about it, too -- something about two states getting to start voting before the debates begin. And since we're in a virtual tie even after all the crap we've endured, chances are that the election will be decided by some future, mega-gaffe thing that "moves the needle," hopefully covered by strychnine, into my vein.
Chalian says that the campaigns say that the election is close, with a slight edge to the president, and a smaller, ever-dwindling amount of persuadable voters. The Obama strategy, he says, has obviously been to spend money early to define Romney, and Romney has decided to let him do that. At the convention, Chalian suggests, you will have your first real effort on Romney's part to hit back against that.
Loesch says that Romney needs to continue to "close the daylight" between the party establishment and the grassroots. She says that independents, however, decide the election, and if the race is a dead heat right now that's a big red flag for Obama and an advantage for Romney.
Ruth Marcus says that there are red flags on both sides, and then she "bemoans" the "campaign by gaffe."
So, we're going to talk about this, then. Brazile says that Romney's trip to London was bad for Romney. Loesch disagrees, saying that it's not a "gaffe" to go to England and just repeat the concerns that had dominated the U.K. press about the Olympics in the days leading up to the games. I agree that this should not be considered a "gaffe." There is no mistake being made on substance. Loesch is correct that the Brits very publicly worried about the preparations for the London games.
Rather than call this a "gaffe," it should be known as a "dick move." Romney made a "dick move." He went to someone else's country on the day before the Olympic Games, when everyone was sort of holding their breath, really hoping that everything was going to be great, and punctured the sort of calm, resolved attitude that everyone had taken. It hadn't been an easy thing to do, stage an Olympics, but with a few hours before the whole she-bang was set to begin, everyone had sort of just quieted down and started hoping for the best, and actually started to look forward to the Games starting. Romney's "dick move" sort of upset all of that.
I mean, you can only imagine what would have happened if the shoe had been on the other foot, and some bumbling head of state had said the same thing about Romney's Olympics. And you can hardly believe that if Obama had gone to England and said the same thing, Loesch would be castigating Obama in snarling, red-eyed fashion this very moment.
Regardless, here's a distinction. The difference between a "gaffe" and a "dick move" is that you don't know you've made a "gaffe" until the media collectively judges it as such (which is why somehow, supporting gay marriage openly doesn't become a "gaffe" until the person mouthing bog-standard pro-gay marriage sentiment is Joe Biden). A "dick move" on the other hand, is something that you actively could have stopped from happening.
Aside from that, I suppose the takeaway is that Mitt Romney probably won't end up as Prime Minister.
Anyway, the discussion takes a turn for the "decidedly boring" for a few minutes. Did you know that most American Jews vote for Democrats, and that support for Israel, in America, is most fervently felt by Christian evangelicals? Will reminds us. (Christian evangelicals are invested in Israel's borders being a certain way because it's a fairly important component of various end-times prophesies. Yes. That's literally what informs a very considerable segment of the electorate's foreign policy preferences.)
What is everyone talking about now? The "media narrative." Will says that we're in a "growth recession." Also, fiscal cliff, Eurozone, Dodd-Frank, uncertainty, et cetera. Marcus says that her favorite statistic is Obama's approval ratings on the economy, which are bad but not awful, but not good, so it's bad. Loesch says that it's "not good to stand up in front of people during an election cycle and say, 'Look, you have a small business, you didn't build that.'" So, I guess it's a good thing that he actually didn't do any such thing?
Brazile tries to point out what Obama was trying to say, Loesch doesn't believe it, Marcus agrees that it was taken out of context, but it nevertheless informed an impression of Obama that people have come to have. Which makes Marcus the worst, because she truly believes that these false impressions are the sacred cows that the media narrative produdes, and thus should just be accepted and never deconstructed.
Will, Marcus, and Brazile go on an extended jag of pleasuring themselves with the sound of their own voices. Dowd finally moves the conversation to...gads, the Chick-Fil-A controversy. Loesch says that nobody should be surprised that Chick-Fil-A is against marriage equality, because they are closed on Sundays, and I guess the implication that if you close on Sundays you can't be in favor of marriage equality? It would probably be a better way of putting it to say something like, "Everyone has known for a long time that Chick-Fil-A's political donations demonstrate an institutional hostility to the LGBT community's aspirations" -- which, is, in fact true. Did everyone just figure this out about Chick-Fil-A this week, or something?
Anyway, can people like the Mayor of Boston really keep a company from opening a store, because of their political views? Will says it wouldn't last thirty-seconds in court. Well, if a bonafide civil rights case could be made against Chick-Fil-A, if they discriminated in the workplace or refused to serve certain customers, then you'd have a good case in court. But you're allowed to donate your political money and have opinions, and I'm allowed to take whatever steps I can to ensure that my money doesn't directly undergird that political activity and those opinions.
Will goes on to underscore an important detail: "the gay right movement isn't driving this, the gay rights movement is far too sensible."
Is there a moment in the next 100 days that could break out this race? Will says the October 5 jobs report. Brazile says the debates, especially the first one. Chalian agrees, noting it's a domestic policy debate. Loesch says the convention, and Romney's big pitch to the grassroots. Marcus says the debates. Dowd says that it will be an "unknown event" like the Lehman collapse. That's sort of not playing by the rules, Matt! (Though it's probably the smartest thing you can say in response to that question.)
Now we have Jonathan Karl, previewing a longer interview with Dick Cheney. Wait. Why is ABC news interviewing Dick Cheney, of all people? Well, not for any particularly good reason. Karl says that in the interview Cheney "opened up about his [heart] surgery and life after politics," which, besides being two of the most over-covered aspects of Cheney's life, aren't the sort of topics that you should brag about getting him to "open up" about.
OHMAHGERD, you mean ABC got Dick Cheney to talk more about the stuff he's always been willing to publicly discuss because it doesn't involve any of the controversial aspects of his legacy? Well, shucks! I'mma hop in my time-nachine and convince Philo Farnsworth to invent the teevee even harder and faster so that we can see this interview even better than we'd ordinarily see it!
For some reason, Karl thinks that it would be interesting for us to hear Cheney's opinion on Romney's vice-presidential choice, seen through the prism of McCain having chosen Sarah Palin as vice president. (You see, Cheney once had to be in charge of choosing a vice-president, and he chose himself, thus ensuring that he would be destined to one day field a question about about choosing vice-presidents, because THIS THING looks like THAT THING.)
What is Cheney's exciting opinion on the matter? Sit back and prepare to thrill yourself!
KARL: How important is it for [Romney] to do this in a way that is different from the way that John McCain handled his vice-presidential search.
CHENEY: Uh, pretty important.
That's the precise moment this interview peaked. But just so you know, Cheney doesn't think Palin was a particular good vice-presidential candidate. Dowd says something he couldn't possibly believe: "He's gonna probably take some heat for those Palin comments." Ha, ha, you know, maybe he'll "take heat" if he accidentally places his hand on a stovetop immediately after making them, sure! Karl goes on to enthuse, "Cheney is back!" but he doesn't go on to elucidate if Cheney being "back" means that "pyramid stacks of naked, brown men from Middle Eastern countries" are also "back," so I'm afraid I cannot qualify the degree of "Cheney-backness" that we are talking about, here.
Have we learned anything new about Romney's pick? Karl does what everyone in journalism does -- he names the same two safe picks everyone else does (Portman, Pawlenty) and then tosses in his personal "wild card," because everyone's a little but ZANY about the VEEPSTAKES, DOOD. Karl's is Paul Ryan, and again -- why so many people think that the most influential Republican will risk his standing to take a demotion and run as the non-entity on a ticket that will have to fight to win a close election, as opposed to remaining in his easy-to-defend House seat, from where he projects immense power and to which he gathers no end of corporate-lobbyist boodle is just beyond me. I suppose it's possible, but Ryan would really have to be dumb.
Anyway, you can watch more of this incredible Dick Cheney interview at some time tomorrow on ABC, if that's what you want to do.
Meanwhile, we have reached the end of this weekly attempt at offsetting the psychic damage of thes Sunday shows. As always, I hope it was good for you, I hope you have a relaxing Sunday afternoon ahead of you, and I wish all of you, all the best, for the week ahead.
NOTE: This has been corrected from the original -- a typo has been struck through and corrected. We regret the error.
[The Sunday liveblog returns next week. As mentioned above, while you wait, you can find interesting things to read from the past week on my RebelMouse page.]