You know who the real monster is? Whoever came up with Daylight Savings Time, that's who. Whoever decided that I don't get the hour of my life between 2 and 3 in the morning - which I miss, by the way...feelingly...every MINUTE of it. But, you know, this just means time is moving inexorably forward. The NCAA Tournament is around the corner...Spring looms on the horizon (Washingtonians get a full two weeks of it and then sweltering humidity begins in earnest)...progress is being made. Except in the arena of politics, where we have something like six more Sundays until the Pennsylvania primary - SIX! - and during that time, we'll be discussing the same stuff. Kill me now. Or email me.
Fox News Sunday
Oh noes! Brit Hume is in for Chris Wallace! And we're going to talk about Florida and Michigan. Great. Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Florida says that the people are the victims! But, as Hume points out, the Democrats voted for it! But it was just one part - one really disagreeable, divisive, problematic part - of an entire bill! "Nerves are raw from the recount fiasco," Schultz says, because this is Bush and Gore's fault? Anyway, she wants the Florida delegation seated, but no revote: "We have never conducted a mail-in ballot, before," she says. Wait: this is a chance to see Florida try to do something electorally that they've never done before? I say bring it on!
Debbie Dingell from Michigan is next, and she doesn't want a revote either. What about the fact that Obama wasn't on the ballot, Hume asks. She doesn't really care. Wasserman Schultz similarly doesn't think there's an issue of fairness at stake in Florida (there's less worry of fairness in Florida than Michigan, it's true). She says that we live in a world of global communications, and people knew about the candidates. So, Brit wonders, is it cool with her if candidates never come to Florida, and all the old sunburned people just read the internet for their information. No, no, Wasserman Schultz says.
This discussion with these off-brand Debbies is about as riveting as you can imagine. Next time she does Sunday morning television, someone needs to tell Debbie Dingell that she doesn't need to get made up like she was going to a cotillion. PLEASE RESOLVE THIS ISSUE, DNC.
Mike Pence has recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and progress has been made! Anbar and Baghdad is safer thanks to the Surge, thanks to the Sunnis. And thanks to lots of displacement and ethnic cleansing. He says that several Iraqis on the street told him that they recognized the need for a "durable American presence." Which means he must have talked to every single Iraqi who feels that way, because every poll that's taken in Iraq comes back with one, strong, clear, durable, unmistakable message: YANKEE GO HOME. Sometimes that's coupled with, "Or we will KILL you."
But Mike Pence walked down the streets of Haditha with a "large security detail" and was "warmly greeted." Mike, as soon as you purchase a time-share in Haditha, I'll start believing you.
Mike Pence used to be the host of the "Mike Pence Show." That must have been one entertaining show!
It amazes me that John McCain's positives can be read as "supported the Surge, likes limited government, likes fiscal discipline," since the Surge is a massive governmental expansion fueled by rampant, undisciplined spending.
Panel time! Fred Barnes, Mara Liasson, Juan Williams, and the Grinning Skull of Toxic Smug, Bill Kristol. And we're going to talk about Florida and Michigan some more! See, DNC! This is going to be discussed EVERY DAY until you resolve it!
Mara, by the way, is really purply today! Fred Barnes is wearing a great necktie.
Fred Barnes says that Michigan has to be revoted in any event to be fair to Obama, and that Clinton needs them in any event to draw close in the popular vote. Liasson says that they delegations will be seated. "The bad blood between these states and Howard Dean seems to be very real," Hume says. Bill Kristol says he will go to Guam. Maybe he'll stay! He says there will be a do over in June.
Williams says there is a moral argument supporting the states' inclusion that puts Obama in a bind. Everyone thinks he is crazy, as usual, and cites the Uncommitted vote in Michigan as a sign that he'd do well in at least Michigan. There's also the little problem of apportionment - Clinton can only cut into the delegate lead incrementally.
Kristol says that Clinton needs to have an unambiguous lead in the popular vote to win the nomination - which could happen, actually. Williams says the core argument for Clinton is that she's won a bunch of states that any Democrat will win anyway. Liasson says the challenge for Obama is to attack Clinton without "besmirching his brand."
On McCain, they bring up a really "parochial" issue over a contract battle, seemingly deplayed so that the panel can trash Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats under the guise of subjecting McCain to criticism.
Barnes says McCain needs to attack the Dems on economy. Liasson says he needs to acknowledge the economic anxiety of the moment and run as a reformer. Kristol says he needs to do both. Juan Williams says it's all about Iraq. And because Williams just spoke at length, the camera provides a trademarked shot of Kristol, smiling at him as if he were an idiot: "Oh! That's good talking, Juan! Use your words! Use your words for those silly things you say! Good boy!" Every show they have this camera shot. Also: TRADE WARZ!!
Email from Chris Blakely: "Am I mistaken or did Fred Barnes used to be one of those extras on the old Hee Haw show who would jump up in the corn stalks and serve up pithy Americana observations?"
That must be the reason I think "Banjo!" every time he opens his mouth!
Face The Nation
I love the robust agenda that Schieffer establishes every Sunday. I mean: he sets out to cover a LOT of ground. Good man, this Bob Schieffer.
But first: oy. Florida and Michigan. At least we don't have the downmarket guests that Fox had, they have Howard Dean. "We will follow the rules," Dean says. And we will hope the rules allow themselves to be changed. Dean says he's talking with people about resolving the matter. Maybe they'll do a re-vote. Maybe they'll mail in their votes. Maybe they'll appeal to the "credentials committee." But the DNC won't be paying for it.
"Are you willing to take this to the convention?" Schieffer asks. Dean says he'd rather not. He'd rather forge a solution that both candidates will agree to. Schieffer's all: "It doesn't sound like you are close to a solution." Dean says they won't have this resolved until Pennsylvania.
And it's time for the attack of the surrogates! Bill Nelson for Clinton, John Kerry for Obama. Bill Nelson says that he's been working on "avoiding this trainwreck." He thinks there has to be a mail-in vote, and the Florida Democratic Party will have to pay for it.
John Kerry says "Barack Obama will play by the rules." Kerry always says the full name, "Barack Obama." Regardless, Kerry says, if you change the rules, Obama will follow them. He also thinks, however, that Hillary is gaming the system. Nelson says that he's not going to get into the Obama-versus-Clinton, and that both should be invested in the process working out so that Florida and Michigan voting.
Kerry pauses to praise Nelson for being out on this issue ahead of time, trying to figure a way through this - but Kerry's got electioneering to do. Frankly, since Nelson is not giving a full-throated oration for Hillary, Kerry looks a little small doing it here. But, both agree that the matter needs to be resolved by the time this gets to the convention.
And now it's Ed Rollins versus Joe Trippi. Trippi says he's got momentum back from Wyoming. TWO MORE DELEGATES! "Tiny state," Schieffer says. Aw, Bob, don't play Wyoming that way!
Is Ed Rollins enjoying watching the Dems flail on the road to the nomination? He says it's fascinating, but it's tough to imagine Rollins "enjoying" anything. He thinks the Democrats can get their act together, actually. Trippi, wisely, says the Florida/Michigan matter needs to be settled, quickly.
Likely McCain runningmates? Mike Huckabee, Rollins says...duh, he was his chairman. Somebody Southern. Does Clinton have to put Obama on the ticket? Trippi says yeah, probably. But Obama has more options, he says, Clinton almost has to put Obama on the ticket. Which is pretty unlikely, seeing that a) Obama has already said that it's not going to happen and b) it would make the cover of Career Suicide Magazine.
Bob Schieffer says it would have been even worse if Samatha Power had called Clinton a "snollyguster" or "had the backbone of a chocolate eclair." Bob Schieffer: he is old, but in a good way!
Meet The Press
Attack of the surrogates! Daschle versus Rendell! Can you feel it, people! Are you not entertained?
Daschle says this will all end when somebody gets the most delegates, and that he thinks it will be Obama, duh. He feels great about what happened in Wyoming. He says that the will of the people is paramount and the superdelegates should fall in line. Otherwise travesty! And he will respect the vote of the people even if he had to vote for Hillary, which he won't have to, unless the measure is the popular vote, which could still go for Hillary, in which case, he won't. Got that? Confused? You are not alone!
Daschle thinks Texas is in play this year for the Dems!
Okay, Rendell's turn: if Obama goes to the convention with the most delegates, the most contests, and a higher share of the popular vote, could he be denied the nomination? Rendell says: "Sure! Because he didn't win important states like California and New York and the Democrats don't like Virginians or Idahoans or Georgians." Rendell thinks that Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida and Michigan are the only states that matter. So suck it, rest of America!
Argh. Look. I can appreciate that Clinton has still got a real good case for being in the race and a shot to use the democratic process to make a good case for superdelegates - so much so that I don't think her soldiering on is a bad idea in the least. But I am just about at my wit's end with this argument that some states are more important or better than others. Man, oh, man are McCain's people going to hammer us with that in the fall.
Tim Russert quizzically calls out Rendell for suggesting that Clinton won Florida. Rendell says, okay, let's revote. Okay: let's revote!
Rendell then says that the toughest election to win is the one against "UNCOMMITTED." And that's called THE AUDACITY OF DOPES, people. For the first time, I have to wonder if Ed Rendell may be the stupidest dope I've heard this year...and I'm going to have to put him in second place behind Oliver North, who suggested that the guy who broke a window in Times Square proved that we need to wiretap everyone's phone. Still, we will now refer to Rendell as "Dope" for the remainder of this liveblog.
Dope is proud of Clinton's heroic win over UNCOMMITTED, and I now think that we should revote ALL the states and let UNCOMMITTED run on all the ballots, because I think UNCOMMITTED has got an uncommitment that I can believe in and has been uncommitted for centuries, which means UNCOMMITTED has got the experience as well. Will Forte can play UNCOMMITTED on Saturday Night Live! I AM OFFICIALLY GIVING UNCOMMITTED A PILLOW!
Who would pay for the revotes? Dope says he'd help raise $15million, and that the candidates should kick in, too. Would Dope accept a caucus? No, Dope would not. Caucuses are "undemocratic," Dope says. Unless of course, Dope and his candidate won some, in which case, Dope is for caucuses. Dope basically sort of thinks that the very idea of running against Clinton is undemocratic, unless you are the nebulous specter known as UNCOMMITTED, in which case Dope respects the grit and toughness of the opponent.
Dope says shiftworkers need to vote. And they can't vote in caucuses, unless you make special arrangements for them to do so, and then you are talking about the hotel and casino shiftworkers in Nevada, and they are bad shiftworkers. Shiftless shiftworkers! And their vote doesn't count. Dope says the Iowa caucus was undemocratic.
Daschle says, uhm...lots of seniors and shiftworkers voted in Wyoming. Dachle says that his campaign is abiding by the rules and that should be remembered. Unfortunately, people who play by the rules of elections usually lose them. They probably get a special medal, though. Dope pipes up and says something about superdelegates, but he's a Dope and I don't care about him anymore.
Dope basically says that if Clinton wins the four states he pulled out of the fifty that vote, than it doesn't matter how how well Obama does elsewhere - he doesn't believe Obama should be nominated.
LET'S BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT DOPE IS SAYING: After all this bullroar about "the democratic process" and caucuses and the elderly and shiftworkers, Dope is literally saying this - let's quote the whole Dopey thing:
RUSSERT: Governor, at the end of all those votes [including a Florida and Michigan revote] if Barack Obama still had more elected delegates, would you then agree that he deserves the nomination?
DOPE: Not if Hillary Clinton wins Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida back to back to back to back to back.
Dope then says, "You're getting me in big trouble!" No, Dope, you got your dopey dope self in trouble. Ms. Clinton! You got a Dope out here doping it up! Please, give yourself a campaign regime change, tout-suite, before you alienate millions of voters!
Daschle: "To say to the rest of the country that they don't matter is not a strong argument."
Daschle brings up a very good point. If Obama wins Texas, won't Dope have to redo his statement?
Dope thinks it would be great if Obama took the VP job. He then at least admits the Obama crosses the Commander-in-Chief threshold. Russert hammers Dope on this point, because earlier this week he said that Obama wasn't ready, and his candidate said that John McCain would be a great Commander-in-Chief. Dope backtracks and says now that Obama is "ready, just not as ready" as Clinton.
Russert then asks Dope why they would continually suggest that Obama is not ready to be Commander-in-Chief, if he could end up the Veep or the nominee itself. Won't that be destroying Democratic chances? Dope says that you should just chalk that up to campaign rhetoric that no one sincerely believes. ALERT THE CANADIAN PARLIAMENT!
Daschle says that there's never been a case in history in which the candidate running second offers the candidate running in the lead the vice-presidency. My wife points out that it has happened in the pretend world of Aaron Sorkin, though! That's what Bartlet does to secure the nomination over Hoynes! So vote for Bartlet! Bring on Ainsley Hayes!
Daschle is pretty lucky that he's debating Dope, because he's otherwise just glib and filibustery. And Ambien-esque.
Panel Time: Dan Balz, Gwen Ifill, Ron Brownstein, and John Harwood. Saints be praised that Carville, Mataline, Murphy and Shrum were left in the stable today.
SIDE NOTE: So there was just some commercial on for...cancer survivery or something. In the commercial, a nice old lady is talking about having beaten cancer. "No one knows what life is going to be like as a cancer patient, but I'm still grandma." Then, looking at her grandson, she says, "And that's why we named you Will, after Grandma's will to live."
Parents: please, don't ever name your kid Will after his grandparent's will to live. Because one day, Grandma is going to die, and that is gonna MESS your kid up, good.
The more you know.
New primaries in Florida and Michigan? Dan Balz says yes. Everyone's come to the conclusion that it's the only fair way to go. GO UNCOMMITTED! Harwood that Obama would rather run out the clock, and he probably would! But the Party just can't afford much more of this.
Brownstein says you could run "a computer simulation" from here on out and get results that would likely comport to reality. I suspect he's right. I also suspect that there won't be much change in the lead. In fact, Ifill doesn't seem to understand that though Obama won seven delegates last night in Wyoming, Clinton won five. That's the sort of glacial back-and-forth the rest of the race is going to yield, unless the superdelegates make a big decision.
Russert is the first to mention the win for the Dems last night in Dennis Hastert's district. The wages of Page-gate, people! And an argument for Obama's strength down-ticket.
Time to burn Samantha Power! And bring up Ken Starr! It's getting FUGLY out there. Ifill makes a good point that the real Power fallout is on Iraq - is Obama serious about withdrawal? Personally, I've felt for a long time that Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, for that matter, aren't very serious about withdrawal. I go back to to the August 11 New York Times:
John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the region to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis
I also remember standing at Rockfeller Plaza last winter, looking up at the NBC news ticker, and reading about how all three candidates were in favor of remaining in Iraq until 2013 and feeling like I'd been punched in the stomach. And sure, they've all said a lot of different things since. Know what, though? I don't believe 'em! Sorry!
Brownstein invokes one of my favorites: Michael Kinsley's Law of Gaffes, where a "gaffe" is when you accidentally say what you really believe. He also says that Democrats need to tone it down if we are going to survive the next seven weeks. A PROPOSAL: let's have Obama and Clinton suspend their campaigns for the next three weeks, and give the country a chance to study the UNCOMMITTED campaign closely.
There's video of Bill Bradley suggesting that the Clinton's tax records will be filled with more scandal than the House of Atreus. Guess we'll find out "on our around" tax time. It will be the media's economic stimulus package.
Russert's bottom line is that it's likely to end up in the hands of superdelegates, with Obama needing 35% of the remaining SDs and Clinton needing 65%. How tgo resolve? Harwood thinks that the SDs will line up behind Obama if he's ahead in the other measures, and the SDs need to decide soon after Puerto Rico. Ifill says the shutdown move for Clinton is to take the popular vote. Brownstein says "dream ticket" is on the table. Dan Balz reminds that we're in a period where the SDs will be watching the contest closely and will decide based on which candidate performs "on a higher level."
Here's my opinion: Hey, Superdelegates. If you want to be super, stop waiting for circumstances to afford you political cover. Use your political capital like this group of SDs from Ohio, who want a tangible plan on job retention. Take advantage of this unique position you find yourself in and LEAD. Look, Obama and Clinton want to be my public servant. I want a chance to evaluate each based upon how quickly they will respond, "How high, sir?" when I order either one to jump. You SDs are in the position to see how quickly these two will step up and follow orders. So make it happen! Hold your own vote hostage and set terms. If we're going to have a long, drawn out process, that's at least one way to keep ISSUES at the forefront - the SDs can make these two fight over them.
And, Meet The Press is over. Each week, I'm so happy when it ends. It's like the day you finally fully recover from malaria.
The McLaughlin Group
Today on the McLaughlin Group, John is joined by Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Monical Crowley, and
ISSUE ONE! Hillary is "Stayin' Alive!" Why, thanks John! We thought our headline was great, too. She's breakin' and shakin', according to John, teasing the hopes that we'll see some popping-and-locking. John McLaughlin does seem to be under the impression that Clinton won Texas. Anyway. Does Hillary have the "big 'mo?" (Insert gay-friendly snark.)
Pat Buchanan says yes. Energy, enthusiasm, fire! But not delegates. Her big shot is in the popular vote. Buhcanan, like everyone, confuses the "states Democrats have to win" with the "states that Democrats always win." For me, the states Democrats always win are: California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Washington. The states that Democrats HAVE to win are: Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Virginia, Missouri. And then there are states that the Dems just won't win: Texas, Arizona, South Carolina, Utah, Idaho, Arkansas, Georgia. I don't think any candidate has set up shop and owns any of those coalitions of states.
Clift is all, "This is her third comeback." It's a "war" between the states that Clinton hates and the ones she loves.
Monica Crowley says that Clinton will club the baby seal to death. Whatever that means. None of them know how many Superdelegates are left undecided. (Answer: 275)
Everyone yells at each other about Superdelegates.
The next issue? Dream ticket. Hillary will be President in Ohio and Vice-president in Texas. President in Rhode Island and Veep in Vermont. McLaughlin calls Obama's "it's premature to answer the question of vice-president" answer his "stock evasion." But why wouldn't Clinton pick Obama as her running mate?
James Warren, who gets the McLaughlin "flex" seat today despite looking for all the world like he lacks the necessary personality to fill it with the raving lunacy it deserves, says we should take a "deep breath" because Pennsylvania is coming up and then some more important states after that. Anyway, he thinks that there will be a clamor for Obama on the ticket.
Clift says Clinton would need Obama on the ticket to reach the White House. Buchanan doesn't want to talk about this crap - he wants to talk about Florida and Michigan. McLaughlin says something about "bubba." Crowley says that both Obama and Clinton are in a "box," and the problem with the dream ticket is that the Clinton would be overshadowed by Obama as Veep, while Obama would be overshadowed by Bill Clinton if Hillar was Veep. So Crowley just doesn't like Hillary.
Scale of one to ten, how does Hillary's comeback rate? Pat says 8. Clift says an 8. James says 7, and to let's dispense with the psycho-political analysis. Clift has to shout down Buchanan to say Clinton is nimble. McLaughlin says 8. But disappointingly, he doesn't lean into the camera and shout, "THE AN-SUHH! EIGHT!"
Now Issue Two (actually, isn't this Issue Three?) is Rezko! McLaughlin asks if...the Senate Ethics Committee will hold hearings? Wha? James Warren says, "Uhm, pretty much no." But that Obama should have stayed away from Rezko, because he was under indictment back in 2005. Buchanan notes that Patrick Fitzgerald is likely to put Obama in hish sights as he moves "up the foodchain," and get an immunized Rezko to spill.
Clift notes that the real problem is that is makes Obama look like "just another politician." McLaughlin then launches into a WEIRD hypothetical: What if Obama had to take the stand, and what if he got a question he didn't want to answer, and what if he took the fifth? Would that be bad? Well, of course it would! What if I murder the guy who delivers my Chinese food? That would also be bad!
Crowley says, "It would be devastating to his campaign," but that it's not likely to happen. Everyone then turns on McLaughlin: "That's a fishing expedition!...McCarthyesque!...You can do that!" Yell, yell, yell. Crowley then says that Obama's problem is that Rezko may be connected to a guy who was a "bag man" for Saddam Hussein. Not sure what Obama has to do with that.
James notes that Fitzgerald isn't running the case and that the land deal isn't connected to Iraq in any capacity, and that Obama's more likely to be called as a character witness for Rezko.
OMG. McLaughlin ands Buchanan get all tilt-a-whirl yelly at each other. "Has Obama levelled with the American people?" "He's told the truth but not the whole truth." "Is that levelling? Would you call that levelling?" "No one would give every single answer, John." "WHY WOULD YOU SHIELD YOUR ANSWERS?" "LOUD NOISES!!" "BLEAAAAARRRGH!!" "The next man on the moon will be Chinese!"
Clift notes that Rezko gave money to lots of people, so it's time to have grand inquisition. Basically, John wants people to forgive Geraldine Ferraro. Clift: "Nobody cares about this." Crowley's lips move and sound comes out. Finally, James says, "Can I bring an air of understated sobriety to this discussion?" Whereupon McLaughlin shrieks, "NOOO!" and tears out his larnyx with his bare hands and eats it, then sets fire to his carcass. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU GET!
ISSUE 3: John McCain did something!
Buchanan: "It's a loveless marriage," between McCain and conservatives, "But it's going to come off." And then nobody says anything interesting for a while. McCain will unify the unhappy party.
Crazy prediction time: Pat says the Israeli - Palestinian peace deal is dead. Eleanor says McCain will run further to the left than anyone on the show thinks. Crowley says Bush and McCain will talk more about the Chinese military threat. James says the Air Force will not fund the contract awarded to Airbus. John says the peace accord is not dead. But death comes to us all, on little cat's feet.
Five more weeks of the crap, right? Well, tonight, I believe, is the last episode of THE WIRE. Hope all you WIRE fans enjoy it. It represents the end, not only of a great show, but of a respository of authentic Maryland accents on television. From whence shall such a Maryland-centric show return, especially now that Maryland isn't an important state to the Clinton's. We may never know. Have a good week, people!