Good morning and welcome to our weekly liveblog of Sunday morning gum-flapping. Speaking only for myself, let me say, "THANK YOU, Eliot Spitzer." Maybe today won't be one long revisitation of the same old topics we've been gumming for the past two weeks: superdelegates, Florida and Michigan, how lucky John McCain is to have the nomination wrapped up, and Geraldine Ferraro - whose gotten more press in the past two weeks than she did when she ran for Vice President. Instead, I hope we hear about whores and stuff. That David Patterson guy seems pretty okay to me, by the way! Great sense of humor! (And, from what I hear, a supporter of congestion pricing.)
As many of you know, we are coming up on the anniversary of the beginning of the War in Iraq. I view it as a pretty bittersweet occasion. What is the anniversary to me? Well, some days I see the Iraq War as one, long, high-tech act of of cowardice on the part of the President, who sized up the threat of terrorism and immediately began appeasing them as wildly and cravenly as possible. Then there are days I see it as a puckering hole into which we've poured blood and money. Most days I see it as both. And then there are some days when I see it as me being drunk. Those are probably the best days of all. I'm sure you have opinions on this, and other topics, so leave comments and send emails. (Wouldn't mind hearing your NCAA Tournament advice, either!)
Fox News Sunday
Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer will fight each other on the issues of race. That should be fun - like having jackals devour your eyes is fun. And have you heard about how Obama won the Iowa Caucus AGAIN, yesterday? Just when I think I've got a full handle on how much I don't understand the Democratic primary process, something happens that helps me not understand it in a brand new way.
Meanwhile, Obama, like McCain, has got crazy-ass preachers who need to be rejected and denounced. So that's what we're going to hear about it - at least we're going to hear about it now that a Democrat has got a preacher problem. Chris Dodd is trying to move this forward and Chris Wallace won't let him. Wallace is really giving it to him, and hey, it's a fine little piece of gotcha journalism, Fox-style. It ultimately means very little, and Chuck Schumer, who supports Clinton, has Obama and Dodd's back on this. For my part, I think it's an okay question, but we've known that McCain's been supported by bigoted freak-job John Hagee for two weeks now. Has Chris Wallace said two words of boo about it?
Wallace turns on Geraldine Ferraro, who's probably the easiest person in the world to reject and denounce because she's been old and irrelevant for about two decades. Schumer says Ferraro has been dismissed and never spoke for Clinton in the first place. Dodd returns the favor and sticks up for Clinton. "Once they've denounced these statements, let's move on," suggests Schumer. Wallace pisses all over that, but he's probably just upset that Obama won't come on his show.
Dodd and Wallace then get into the housing market. Dodd says that a bottom to the market needs to be divined in order to keep the problem from "spinning out of control." Wallace is all, "Isn't it bad if the government gets involved?" Uhm...Bear Stearns, much? Schumer compares Bush to Herbert Hoover. "This has become the Bush recession...had he done the things people like me suggested back in May, there would be no recession."
Are you ready for some Henry Paulson? "We're all over this...the President is on this early." You are getting your checks, America, so quit crying! Wallace runs down a litany of bad news: jobs are being lost, the Euro is going to rock us like a hurricane, and oil will be more expensive than moon rocks. Paulson says they are working hard! And stimulus package! STIMULUS PACKAGE!
"The concern is that you guys say we're ahead of this and then months later, everything is worse," Wallace says. Paulson retorts: "Look, can the government outlaw gravity? There's only so much we can do. The government cannot control the economy silly. And yet, STIMULUS PACKAGE!"
What about Bear Stearns? "I'm confident in everything. EVERYTHING," says Paulson. "Are there other Bear Stearns out there," asks Wallace. "NEENER NEENER I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER ALL THIS CONFIDENCE I HAVE IN THE ECONOMY, CHRIS. STIMULUS PACKAGE!"
"I'm not going to speculate on the things that might happen," says Paulson, despite the fact that speculation on the future is part of the underpinnings of our entire financial system.
Basically, Paulson is saying that if you, as an ordinary American, wants to get some security in these tough economic times, you should do whatever you can to become a well-placed executive of a major financial institution with a long history of political donations. All of you who aren't that deserve what you get.
Panel time with Napoleon DynaHume, Mara Liasson, Dark Kristol and Juan "Please Punch Me In The Mouth Again, Mr. Kristol" Williams.
Is Obama's crazy reverend a big deal? "Oh yeah!" says Hume. He's so BLACK, and the church is so BLACK. And even though they've done some great things in their community, they are so BLACK and AFRICAN and CRAZY. "And there's nothing wrong with that, and it's not racist, but it's certainly racial." Obama might be black, everyone!
Mara Liasson says that the church's commitment to Africa is the same as Jewish commitment to Israel. Kristol says he's surprised that Clinton won't play this card. I'm surprised that two weeks ago, crazy old bigoted fool John Hagee didn't warrant this sort of discussion!
Oh, I spoke too soon! Wallace briefly mentions Hagee. But he mentions him in turns of Obama - in other words, he talks about it as if the media has given Hagee a thorough talking over. Which they haven't. I think that Obama needs to be the standard of outrage or John McCain needs to be the standard for letting this stuff go.
Credit Clinton for not getting knee-deep in the clergy, though. Smart move!
Tell you what, though. They have got some nice-coffee mugs on this Fox show. Those are some big cups!
Hume says that people like Obama, it's just that his wife and his reverend are scary and black, though wonderful. So, Obama might be partially black.
Meanwhile, Eliot Spitzer. Bill Kristol says the Weekly Standard will be running a mean article on Spitzer, and that Spitzer is Obama, and that self-righteous neocons have never ever ever touched a whore. Hume says he should have never been elected governor - so suck it, NY voters!
The camera gets a shot of Hume drinking his coffee, and man! Again! That is a big-ass mug! Hume could put his whole face in that thing!
OMG CHRIS WALLACE HAS A STUPID 'OBAMAWATCH' COUNTY THING! It's like the show '24' and it counts up the time since Obama agreed to come on the show but hasn't because Wallace keeps insulting him. Chris Wallace, you are such a sad, sad, little princeling.
Reader Chris Blakely makes some sage observations:
BTW you can always tell where ax grinders Chris Wallace and Tim Russert stand by how frequently and intensely they interrupt the person being interviewed. Go back and look at the tape and notice how many times Dodd and Schumer were interrupted by the "son of Mike Wallace" (a lot) versus how many times he interrupted Uncle Fester (not once).
BTW, I thought Schumer missed an opportunity to slam Wallace on "playing politics with the economy" because it is pretty obvious the political expediency gained when Bush spent much of his time running for president the first time and his first few years in office claiming "we inherited a recession;" whereas, Dubya now refuses to even use the word.
True on both counts. Wallace doesn't dare interrupt the sage baldies of the Bush Administration. And, I personally, would love to rewind back to the "recession" that Bush inherited. Man, that "recession" was awesome! Remember how easy it was to fill up your gas tank back then?
Face The Nation
Time to hang with Mr. Schieffer, who once again outlines an amibitious agenda for a half-hour. We get Deval Patrick on to talk about how much damage all the surrogates are doing to the Clinton and Obama campaigns. Patrick, says, "Let's remember who the candidates are." He also sort of disses Obama's minister - a little internal jealousy, mayhap?
Scheef notes that Obama's likely to go into the convention with leads in all categories: "Can he be denied?" Patrick begs off answering: "It will remain an uphill climb for Senator Obama...but he will have earned it" if he makes it. Michigan and Florida, though? "I think it's up to the DNC...to be the final arbiter of this," says Patrick, who supports both the existence of rules and the eventual participation of all delegates.
Schieffer says that Mark Penn says Obama cannot win the nomination without Pennsylvania. This brings long chuckles from Patrick: "Consider the source," he laughs. (NOTE TO READERS WHO ARE JUST JOINING THE POLITICAL PROCESS TODAY: "The source," Mark Penn, is a celebrated idiot. Hence the laughter.)
Oh, jeez. Leon Panetta. Man, I haven't thought about this guy in years. Scheef asks him about what's going to happen in the Democratic primary process, now, and Panetta launches into the Cliff Notes version of what my life has been for the past three months: people will vote, superdelegates, there is a unique race, Clinton is a woman, Obama is "a black," the party will have to come together to win in November.
But Doug Wilder says there will be pandemonium, wildness, freaking in the streets, if the superdelegates give the nomination to someone behind the backs of the people! Panetta says people tend to overstate things. Panetta isn't exactly a very fervent Clinton supporter. He's not a fervent ANYTHING. Unless the limp recitation of niceties is fervent. Leon Panetta: passionately generic! Intensely beige! SORT OF JOWLY.
Clarence Page and David Brooks join the Scheef. David Brooks says Obama's statement on Jeremiah Wright was "perfect," but that the game could change to trench warfare, which would give Clinton a shot. Page notes that Clinton was first stung in the "trench warfare" scenario via Ferraro. Page says Obama's statement demonstrates that he's been thinking about what he'd do on the matter of Wright for "awhile."
Brooks argues that wins in Pennsylvania and Florida for Clinton could alter perceptions of the race. Page says the Dems need to settle the issue before the convention so that the convention can be "a nice infomercial." As for the "dream ticket," Brooks notes that they "dislike each other" but may be forced to join forces. Personally, I think that maybe, if a plague wipes out every single person on earth except for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, there might be, say, a five percent chance they will run on the same ticket, if by "run on the same ticket" we mean "live on the same planet."
Schieffer says he's incensed that more people are invested in Heath Ledger's death than the Iraq War. Few people are forced to participate in the war, and the candidates are ignoring it - but we can't ignore the Iraq War forever: "It won't let us."
Meet The Press
Bill Bradley versus Nita Lowey. We are really scraping that surrogate barrel now. An ex-basketball player who lost the presidential nomination to Gore and an off-brand New York representative. Doing battle! Over Clinton and Obama. Hopefully next week, they will just turn loose two remotely-controlled, homicidal robots to fight over who the nominee should be. The winning robot becomes a superdelegate.
"The next primary is six weeks away," Russert says. Hasn't it been "six weeks away" for the past three weeks? Has time stood still or something? Is the Pennsylvania primary being held on the island where LOST takes place? Because if so, I vote Sayid! He is at least honest about wanting to torture everyone.
If the trends continue, and Obama is still winning everything, can he be denied the nomination? Lowey says, "I'd like to look at it differently." By "differently" she means, "not answer your question." She says more people have to vote ands that it would be just super if the superdelegates would vote for Clinton. Then she says something that probably just made everyone in the Clinton campaign wince:
"No one since 1960 has won the Presidency without winning Iowa. We know you have to win Iowa, you have tim Pennsylvania, you have to Florida...there are key states." Uhm...IOWA? HILARIOUS. She's obviously attempting to mount that bogus "You gotta win states in the primary that have no chance of going red in the general election" argument, and SHE CAN'T EVEN KEEP THEM STRAIGHT HERSELF. She obviously means "Ohio." SIX MORE WEEKS OF THIS, PEOPLE! SIX MORE WEEKS.
"I hope we can have a really constructive discussion," Lowey says. Oh, do you hope that, Nita? I hope that I grow gossamer wings to fly to work with, and learn to play the harpischord!
Bradley basically thinks that whoever takes the most pledged delegates should win the nomination. WHAT A SURPRISE! Actually, the biggest surprise is how round and bouncy Bradley's neck has become. "This is a ten state race all the way to the convention." But then he says, of superdelegates who came out early for Clinton only to see their district go Obama, "I think there's a very strong chance of switching to Obama." Well then what about John Kerry? Ted Kennedy? Deval Patrick? That's the essential problem with debating superdelegates - everyone talks out of their rear, based on where their candidate is in the standings. What we SHOULD be talking about is just how quickly we can scrap the superdelegate system.
Clinton now thinks the Michigan vote was fair whereas before she said that "it wasn't going to count for anything." What does Lowey think? She thinks she'll answer an entirely different question, actually! "I believe the voters should be given a chance to express their preference." Does she thing the Michigan vote should count? She says there'll be a revote.
Bradley has a burr in his backside where Bill Clinton's library is concerned and wants some disclosure on the matter before anyone is nominated. Bradley doesn't want an "explosion" during the general election over the library contributions. Bradley touts Obama's "transparency." Lowey is asked whether or not Clinton should release the records and be as transparent. She answers a bunch of other questions instead: 1) The Clintons have released twenty years of tax returns, and they're surelyt just as good as any new ones, 2) as for earmark transparency...uhm, well the Democrats are doing a good job on cutting down on earmarks, really, 3) she's been to Africa and 4) they will release their new tax records on April 15th (whoops! she forgot to say, "On or around tax time" like all the other Clintonites! She just basically promised the records about a month ahead of Howard Wolfson's schedule!).
"Wash there anything else?" Lowey asks. "Uhm, yeah," says Russert, "I asked a question for you to answer? Should Bill Clinton release the names of his donors?"
"I believe they will be made public," she says, without saying when. Then she talks about having a "constructive debate." Then she says, "If we do not keep this positive, we will be producing fodder for McCain." Yeah, uhm, fodder like saying McCain has crossed the Commander-in-Chief threshold?
Bradley gives a very soft-spoken indictment of "old politics" - "go after a demographic, throw anything against the wall to win the newscycle...drugs...plagiarism...might be a Muslim." Obama is a "new kind of politics," which might be true, but still sounds sort of weird coming from the mouths of old politicians!
Lowey, interrupts, and now says that experience is important, but also transparency. Then she just gets passive-agressive on us: "I'm not discussing today about how Obama didn't disassociate himself from his pastor six month ago...because I think we have to have a constructive debate."
PERSONAL ASIDE TO NITA LOWEY: Nita. Who do you think you are kidding here? My God, woman, you are truly, truly daft. You are making me feel really bad about referring to Ed Rendell, over and over again, as a "dope." Not that bad, mind you, because Ed Rendell is a big, big, huge ol' dope and a half! But you are REALLY stumbling through your defense of Clinton today - just dropping anvils EVERYWHERE - and you are, right now, just making Howard Wolfson cry.
Meanwhile, Bradley's been talking about healthcare circa 1993. Did Clinton make mistakes? "Sure," he says, but it's obvious that he doesn't want to exactly rake her over the coals. You need a bipartisan approach of a filibuster-proof Senate to make it work. Lowey pipes up about having a constructive debate again, adding that Clinton and Obama's healthcare plans are very similar, causing Howard Wolfson to put his fist through another wall.
Time to take up the issue of Obama's crazy preacher - again, ONE WEEK AFTER this show couldn't have cared less about John Hagee. I am learning that to be an accepted religious bigot in this country, you just need to be quieter and less black. Anyway, what impact will Reverend Wright have? Bradley says, long term, it won't have an impact, and Obama has condemned the remarks, and will condemn them again and again, and now the pastor is retired, so what do you want, Tim? Shall we said the crazy old man on fire?
Lowey wants to move on from Ferraro and Wright. Russert won't let her.
How does this race end? Bradley says the superdels will reflect the pledged delegates and Obama will win and then it's on to stomp McCain. Lowey says that the next few months could be really great and important, especially when the superdelegates use a narrow criteria for giving the election to Clinton.
As one of the commenters has pointed out:
i think Obama and Hillary have mutually agreed to knock the crap off with all the "Rev. Wright said this, Geraldine Ferraro said that" crap that is distracting from the actual issues of the race. Last week, when Obama, Clinton, and McCain had to do this cute little thing called "stop by the Senate to vote on something," there was much talk about a private chat they had that nobody could hear...
Ahh, yes! Great, astute observation and good looking out! Personally, it is pretty hilarious how bad everyone in the media has been left holding the Ferraro/Wright bag today: Wallace, Russert, I understand Stephanopoulos, too, and no one's taking the bait on either side. No soup for you!
Of course, Russert will probably just bring this up with the panel.
David Broder says "it's very unlikely that [Hillary Clinton] catches up," but that she can still use the two months between the PR primary and the convention, and that maybe Obama will rape and kill a bus load of kindly old nuns or something - or just polls will continue to make her look stronger against McCain. If any of that happens, maybe she can convince enough delegates to change their mind.
David Gregory points out that Clinton is losing the debate on superdelegates, because the SDs are more or less viewing themselves as rubber stamps of the public will. I'm not sure that is true - we have those Ohioans who are expending their own political capital to hold the candidates responsible for a job retention plan. Michelle Norris says that superdelegate chitchat could depress turnout.
Let's talk about Rezko! Little surprised this hasn't come up earlier. Broder says that the Rezko is not a big deal for Obama...yet. But the trial is just getting started, and this is one of those "events" that could impact the race between now and the convention.
Russert asks Norris: "Must each of the candidates address [Ferraro, Wright, gender, race] in greater detail in terms of the impact on society and culture?" Norris says, "They have escape from this, because it keeps coming up." Uhm, yeah - BECAUSE YOU IDIOTS KEEP BRINGING IT UP. You know, let me say this: maybe Clinton and Obama do not deserve to "escape" from these questions. But you know who DOES deserve to escape from these questions? I DESERVE TO ESCAPE FROM THESE QUESTIONS. Really. We've been talking about gender since Clinton cried in Iowa, and we've been talking about race for even longer. I think it would be SPECTACULAR, if, for the next five weeks, Clinton and Obama and Russert could retire to some quiet, underground vault and ask all these dumb questions - people in the media could get used to the idea that Hillary Clinton has ovaries and that certain Africans wear funky looking clothes, and then we could return with a week between now and Pennsylvania and never talk about this stuff again.
Just for fun, i am going to fast forward the next five minutes of this panel discussion. I bet you a dollar no one says anything interesting.
All right. They are going to talk about Iraq and the economy and the race, now. (And let the record show that Michelle Norris was still issuing noises from her word-hole about Jeremiah Wright right up until the end.) McCain shortens the poll distance between the Dems and the presidency. Gregory says this proves the "strength of the McCain brand," but that he'll still be tarred as a Bush clone.
Broder seems to think that McCain's visit to Iraq this weekend is important, but the panel has some weird ideas about this, suggesting that McCain might break with Bush and go benchmark/timetable on the Iraqi government - which is CRAZY. He defamed Romney up and down for using the word "timetable."
"Five years later, people have some concerns about the war," Russert says, entering the understatement of the year contest. Broder seems to think that the slim uptick in overall optimism on Iraq indicates that Americans are prepared to give the Iraq War "a little more time." I read the uptick in optimism to mean that Americans are starting to hope the war is coming to an end.
The McLaughlin Group
OK. Here we go. Express train to Crazytown. Then, I can go get lunch. Buchanan, Page, Crowley and Clift. Or as I call them: Yelly, Eyeballs, Nimrod and Whine.
YES! Johnny Mac gets right into the Spitzer! I'm so glad he's not pushing this below the lede like all the other shows today. And he's bringing the cheesecake as well! Lots of seedy shots of Spitzer's courtesan.
Why would he expose himself to such risk? Buchanan's says: "Uhm, he's stupid...he's the least sympathetic person to get into one of these messes." Clift "won't pass moral judgement" on Spitzer, but notes the irony of a man who busts prostitution rings whilst using them. "He's like the pyrotechnic who goes back to the scene of the crime," Clift says. The pyrotechnic? Huh? Is Clift trying to break into the Dan Rather Metaphors That make No Sense racket? "He's like the table saw that left the baby at the bakery." "He's like the gopher that ate the syphillis cookie."
Clift says that Spitzer was driven and raised to be perfect, and his family used to bring "issues of the day" to the dinner table to discuss. Jeesh. His upbringing sounds like sweet, hot, hell.
Monica Crowley notes that Spitzer railed against prostitution as a prosecutor, and attacked the exploitation of women. She goes on to say that Washington DC has more escort services per square mile than any other city! YES! WE DID IT! We are number one! Wooot!
Then: Johnny Mac says "Diplomatic community." Except it sounds like "Diplomatic immunity." No one has any idea what he's talking about, so no one says a word for like ten minutes. Then, finally, McLaughlin says, "Diplomatic community...their needs?" Oh, yes. That's what it's all about: WHORES FOR THE FOREIGNS.
Then, John McLaughlin says, "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa." And it takes five minutes to say and his eyes roll back in his head and it takes forever and you sit there thinking, "OMG! This is it! He's not coming back from this one." And you prepare for him to spend the next half-hour saying "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA," but then he suddenly comes back! It's the best show in the world!
John says, of sex scandals, "The Democrats seem to be involved in a lot of these...more than the Republicans." Sadly, that's just not true in the past year or so. Spitzer's very bravely added one to the Democratic side, but the Dems really need to do more just to overtake the A-List GOP sex scandals - your Vitters, your Foleys, your Craigs. The entire panel objects to John on this point.
Then John puts up a list of countries that have legalized prostitution. So, get out your pens and paper, HuffPo readers, because I'm about to dispense some service journalism: Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Mexico, New Zealand, Netherlands, Turkey, and Nevada. Keep in mind that this is a list the JOHN MCLAUGHLIN CAME UP WITH, and seeing as though he probably thinks "Miley Cyrus" is a minority party in Bulgaria, your mileage may vary where this list is concerned. Which isn't to say that I wouldn't buy a copy of "LET'S GO: WHORES, by John McLaughlin" if it were ever published. I so totally would.
OMG: John then asks, "What if you legalized prostitution in Africa, would that eliminate a lot of AIDS?" Clift just wants everyone to have condoms. Crowley won't let go of how many hookers we have in DC, and she won't support the legalization of prostitution. McLaughling claims to have read "the writings" of women who are prostitutes, and "they seem to have emerged all right."
Really, this whole episode is the awesomest ever. McLaughlin and Buchanan yell at each other for like, AN HOUR! PORNOGRAPHY! ORGANIZED CRIME! RUDY GIULIANI! Crowley mewls: "I am making a moral argument to counterbalance your economic argument!" Buchanan yells: "You are a libertarian John! Where you were raised? Selling sex??!" "This is not necessarily my POV," McLaughlin says. Then there is a wet t-shirt contest and Clarence Page wins, the end!
Anyway, Buchanan and Crowley think Spitzer should be prosecuted and maybe eaten. Clift says he's suffered enough. Page tries to say a bunch of reasonable things about Spitzer's family and how they'll suffer if he's prosecuted.
Really. THAT WAS AWESOME. I am formally requesting that HuffPo adds a PROSTITUTION vertical to our current offerings.
In fact, it was so awesome that I'm sad we're following up with Ferraro. So anticlimactic! And it takes a twenty-minute set up from McLaughlin. Who played the race card? Clift says GF was caught in a timewarp and spoke out of a sense of grievance. "Hillary Clinton wouldn't be where she is if it weren't for Bill Clinton...and John McCain without being a POW." McLaughlin says, "Do you think you're being a little too psychoanalytic here?" Clift was not being even a LITTLE BIT psychoanalytic! "Well, you asked me a question!" she answers.
Page says, "I didn't realize there was a great advantage to being black." Then Buchanan calls Obama's 2004 convention speech an "affirmative action" speech. like he's done all week. And that Ferraro was right, like he's said all week. Yelling ensues for about five minutes, and I wish they were still talking about whores, especially sense I've heard these arguments from Buchanan all week.
Then they get bogged down is this argument over whether Obama would be where he was is he were white, and Page says he would be John Edwards if he was white. Buchanan says, well, Edwards is gone. And then Page makes a great, great point - he says that maybe Edwards wouldn't be out of the race if he ran Obama's campaign. This is so true! Obama's "one America" has historically outperformed Edwards' "two Americas."
Buchanan thinks that blowback is coming in the form of Reverend Wright, except it looks like everyone's decided to make nice on that score, so he's likely to be upset.
McLaughlin thinks that the Mississippi vote proves racial polarization. Page says that the Mississippi vote proves that Mississippi is filled with Mississippians. Then there is some more yelling. And then it's over.
That first fifteen minutes of McLaughlin may have been the best television I have ever seen on a Sunday. Congratulations to all five crazy, crazy pundits. Please: more talk of whores next week, less talk of Ferraro. Everyone have a lovely Selection Sunday and a great Saint Patrick's Day, and we'll see you next week.