10/15/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome to your liveblog of the Sunday Morning political FUBAR-festival, which has got to be better than my Saturday FUBAR Festival - UConn beating my alma mater 45-10. 45-10?! Don't even want to talk about it. Anyhoo, late last night, after enjoying a few weeks of what amounted to diplomatic immunity, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin finally hit a little bit of adversity. At approximately 11:36pm eastern time last night, it officially became okay to make fun of her.

The only downside to last night's episode is that it often seemed as though no one had permission to make fun of anything else. I'm writing off the show's flaws from last night as being a product of having the non-acting, non-comedy sports figure Michael Phelps as host, forcing the cast to mostly work overtime at putting...uhh...putting...wasn't there something we used to say? Some expression? Oh well, officially, lets agree to call it, "putting well worn comedic characters in the same scene as an Olympic swimmer." As usual, send emails here, leave comments there, and go back to bed whereever you are, because I'm here to absorb this weekly craptasm for you.


Alaska insiders, the worst panel on television, and Karl Rove discussing whether John McCain is great or merely the greatest. Whoop-de-doo.

We begin with Tony Knowles and Lieutenant Governor Somebody-or-Other. Is Palin ready? Knowles says BUSH THIRD TERM DEMOCRATIC TALKING POINT. He says that Palin loves her some bridges to nowhere and there has been no VP candidate in the history of Veeps that has been less well prepared.

"She seems not to have thought about foreign policy!" Wallace says. Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell says GOP TALKING POINT. Knowles responds, "Chris, look: DEMOCRATIC TALKING POINT." Argh. Palin:the vice presidency::other Alaskans:discussing national politics.

Wallace asks Parnell a fairly edged question about Palin's own ethics and reformist record, and Parnell is like, let me answer that with the excuses and halkf-truths the McCain camp wrote on the back of a napkin.

Wallace cites earmarks for crab productivity and seal study, concluding, "Sounds like business as usual!" Like he'd know about Alaskan business. Knowles says, "There were two bridges to nowhere!"

So, were calling this "Troopergate?" Didn't we already assign that to a Clinton scandal? If investigations don't pan out, are the names retransferable to other scandals? I love how Sarah Palin opened an ethics investigation about herself. I don't love how Parnell is trying to make the investigation look like partisan politics. Wallace doesn't seem to buy it, himself. Then he sort of seems to believe it. DULL! DULL! Let me see if my TiVo has any fast-forward juice! OH THANK YOU TIVO GODS IT DOES.

And now, Karl Rove. Oy. FAST-FORWARD JUICE? Oh, noes! Come on come on come on CRAP. I HATE YOU TIVO GODS.

Wallace says to Rove that he is "very impressed" with his ability to draw circles. GOD. The extent to which Fox feels it necessary to kiss the man's distended bunghole. Anyway, Junior Chuck Todd notes the various poll shift to McCain, but I find his analysis that Washington state is trending McCain to be wanting.

Will the Sarah Palin phenomenon to last? Rove answers it both ways. Not as a phenomenon, but it will have durability. Rove's probably right that Obama should not attack Palin, but he's a little daffy on the whole "don't attack McCain" front. You sort of HAVE to go at McCain. I think it's best to get back to the "he doesn't get it." But Obama has to respond gamely the things like McCain's accusation that he supports masturbating kindergartners.

First mention of "lipstick on a pig" today. Rove says that NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO USE LIPSTICK. Ugh, what a twaddle merchant. Then Rove says, "You can't trust the factcheck organizations." If I worked for a factcheck organization, I'd consider that a product blurb.

Here's a truism for you: I don't necesarily believe that if you can survive the first half-hour of Fox News Sunday, that you can survive anything, but it will give you the courage to try.

Meanwhile, awful Fox Panel, Hume-Liasson-Kristol-Williams. Hume says Palin did fine, because ABC shot the video to make Charlie Gibson look bad. Hume also explains away Palin's ignorance of the Bush Doctrine, claiming that "In what respect" was a good retort, which is only true if you've spent four days coming up with a dumbassed reason to explain it away.

I promise you, no one gets hired at the Weekly Standard who cannot answer that question.

Liasson says that Palin awoke "moms...who were curious," which sort of sounds like the premise of a porno. "I AM CURIOUS SOCCER MILF."

Kristol notes that the Palin effect included "Obama debating the vice-president." Unprecedented, he says. Of course, Kristol won't note that when Obama was out there, talking about McCain, the media allowed the discussion to SEEM AS IF HE WAS DEBATING Palin through the bizarre transmogrification of a commonplace idiomatic phrase into something that specifically insults one person who the whole world had never heard of before two weeks ago.

Ugh. Juan Williams, you are just the WORST. It's like his job on this show is to take all the good countering premises, underpin them with bad examples and nonsense, get beaten back by Hume and Kristol - who basically are allowed to SCOLD him on teevee - and then surrender in a fit of high-toned wussiness. Hume wants to peel out a comparison between Palin and Obama's foreign policy record, then Williams needs to be prepared to point out that it's not Palin's judgement, but Obama's, that is cohering with emerging policies abroad. Al-Maliki and Obama are in alignment, and Bush is coming around, and ONLY McCAIN WANTS TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. In Afghanistan, Obama wants to extend the fight across the border into Pakistan, Bush is coming around, and ONLY McCAIN WANTS TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Hey, Obama may have been born yesterday where foreign policy was concerned, but staying up late paid off considerably.

Liasson digs into what McCain's doing well: putting out ads rapidly. Ads that are cutting, ads that aren't even going up on teevee. He's good at "tactics," she says. This all goes back to the Surge, actually.

"The undecided voters are going to determine the election," Williams says. YOU THINK? What Williams calls "somewhat dishonest," are things that I call "lies." Hume calls them "bareknuckled politics." Wallace predicts it will get "uglier and meaner." He also says that Fox "might" be starting a "Palin clock." SO THAT WILL TEACH HER A THING OR TWO!


Carly Fiorina and Claire McCaskill are here to debate Sarah Palin. Strangely: McCaskill wasn't exactly turned around on Palin from her interview. And she's willing to bring up the fact that McCain is an old man. Fiorina thinks that criticism of Palin is the equivalent to "full-throated panic." She also seems to think that Maureen Dowd has written her first ever "mean spirited" column. Really, I'm sure that even the people on the Obama campaign took pity on Palin after reading that.

GS stymies Fiorina on the whole Bridge To Nowhere matter: "She kept the money." Long pause from Fiorina, followed by talking points. The facts are Palin BROUGHT THE TRADITION OF EARMARKS TO WASILLA. I wish that he'd push back on their continued, weird, use of Obama's "present" votes. Fiorina says that he used them "to avoid a tough issue." My response to Fiorina would have been, "What tough issue is that?"

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Palin is a great role model! Breast pumps! Oy.

Fiorina retorts with he "WOMEN WILL NOT BE HELD HOSTAGE BY DEMOCRATS" line. That's right: women want to be free to surrender their uteri to John McCain, who will torture them for five and a half years, and then he will return them so that all women will have an angry war hero among their lady parts. Or maybe he won't return them! Maybe he'll fill them with uranium and drop them on Iran. Anyway, WOMEN WILL BE HOSTAGE NO LONGER TO FREEDOMS!

Alan Greenspan is on teevee now, recommending...nothing. "I don't know what's going on." Really, ABC, how dare you! The man is still grieving his wife, piled under by balloons at the RNC. Anyway, Greenspan sees the housing crisis as a matter of liquidity, and that more financial institutions are going to fail, and we shouldn't protect all of them, but that maybe we should because of the "degree of interconnectedness," but I fail to see how things are getting any less "interconnected," and anyway what if the housing crisis is one of asset valuation, and, wow, what a mess.

Commenter "Allamr18" points out: "HAHA did anyone hear Karl Rove say that John McCain cant use a computer because of his POW injuries? He doesnt have the nimbleness in his fingers? This dude can use a black berry but not a keyboard?" This is something we pointed out two days ago:

The Drudge Report and several conservative blogs are working themselves into a lather over the new Obama ad noting that John McCain doesn't know how to use a computer.

Their claim is that McCain is simply unable to use a computer because of his POW injuries, citing a March 2000 article in the Boston Globe that states, with no supporting evidence...

McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes.

Of course, this directly contradicts what McCain and his campaign manager have said. McCain told the New York Times in July:

I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don't expect to be a great communicator, I don't expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.

Campaign manager Rick Davis said in June that McCain would
grab Blackberrys from reporters and tool around on the internet:

So why would Rove say something different? Keep in mind that his main accomplishment is installing a terrible president and obtaining him the lowest performance ratings of the past two centuries! The man is dumb!

One of the crazy things about Fiorina criticizing people for being worried that Palin is only a heartbeat away from the Presidency, is that long before Palin was chosen, I was worried that Carly Fiorina would end up a heartbeat away from the White House. Have you read up on her record at Hewlett-Packard? WHAT A HORRORSHOW! Now, I'd be relieved to have Fiorina on the ticket. I'd be relieved to have Gary Busey on the ticket!

Panel time! Claire Shipman, Jay Carney, George Will and Paul Begala.

George Will says that he would have flunked the "Bush doctrine" question but GIVE ME A BREAK! Will had three answers, Palin had zero! If I had cornered George Will a month ago on video, and asked him "What is the Bush doctrine?" and he had given his second answer, "Our job is to spread democracy," and I had followed upon by calling him stupid and wrong, he would have punched me in the mouth and the world would have trashed me for trashing Will. Come on, George Will! Don't debase yourself!

Apparently, the McCain camp is proud of Palin's performance and do not feel that Charlie Gibson gave any tough questions. Why would they say otherwise?

George Will further debases himself: "I AM A DODDERING OLD NON-EMAIL USING DIAPER WEARER MYSELF! John McCain comes to my house to help me find my phone! I have Georgetown interns that tell me the loud noises on the teevee are just shows, and not the approach of the Prussian Army! John McCain helps me to be not afraid of large clouds!"

Jay Carney makes sense, actually: John McCain doesn't care about what anybody thinks about him anymore. He'll lie because it's work for the Democrats. He'll says crazy stuff because it costs him very little. McCain was trying to be all elevated at one point, but now he doesn't care anymore--and he kind of likes it. Carney may as well quote the exchange from KILL BILL: "You didn't think this was gonna be easy, did you?" Obama hasn't yet admitted to himself: "Actually? For a minute there? I kinda did."

Begala says that Obama should harp on "honor" constantly, ruthlessly, because that will cause McCain to finally snap and start murdering people.

This discussion will continue in the Green Room! So, go online to see George Will rub poop on himself while the rest of the panel simply say, "John McCain lies like a rug, and the American people, unfortunately, might be convinced they need some new carpeting."


It's been a while since I've watched this pre-taped half-hour of nonsense, which we'll probably all miss while Matthews is running for office in Pennsylvania, so why not watch it, and feel the coppery taste of shame rise in our throats?

Matthews is here with Katty Kay, Mark Whittaker, Cynthia Tucker and Patrick Healy.

How did Palin do on her foreign policy test? You know, the super hyped one? The one that Obama would be a fool to mention because what President runs against the other party's veep? But isn't she just so special and amazing? Aren't our hearts just lone wolves, ready to be shot from a helicopter, our jaws broken and our paws hacked off?

Katty Kay says that McCain "prepped all the spontanaiety out of" Palin, but that the interview probably made her fans love her more and her detractors love her less.

"Put your head around Joe Biden," Matthews asks. No thanks! Tucker says that "it won't be his job to go after her" but to simply make a case for contrast. Then she talks about the "fine line" he has to walk with Palin. Can't be condescending! Can't beat up the girl! When the wind is blowing north-northwest Palin is a tough huntress who can run the country! At all other directions, she's a delicate flower and how DARE YOU UTTER EVEN ONE DISCOURAGING WORD! It's so hard to discern who the untouchable WAR HERO is anymore! Biden can't roll his eyes! But he must be forceful!

Whittaker says that Plouffe and Axelrod are prepared to win the election, but that they aren't as good as winning "the air war." How much preparation does it take to run a bunch of crazy ads, saying nonsense, on the internet?

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had the most awkward meal in Harlem since Bill O'Reilly went to Sylvia's. Patrick Healy says a bunch of unsourced stuff, and Chris Matthews asks him how he knows any of it, and Healy can't answer because he's just gassing. The conversation thankfully moves on.

Katty Kay says that talking about barnyard animals is not good for Obama, and Tucker says Obama is too reactive to gain an advantage. The smart set calls this "being inside Obama's OODA loop." Look up the shizz on the WIkipedia! Impress the jerks who work in your building!

Now Matthews is showing a scene from Working Girl, for reasons I must have missed and can't be bothered to rewind and discern. Not going to let Chris Matthews inside my OODA loop.

An emailer writes: "After the dicussion [on Face The Nation] which clearly indicated that Palin did not go to Iraq but went to a border crossing, Schieffer just said that "People can make up their own minds." Oy. I know, folks, I know. The only thing left to do is play that game yourself.

And, hey, apropos of nothing, I know that Obama's taken heat for sponsoring that bill that would teach kindgartners to protect themselves from sexual predation. Maybe it's justified. But has anyone stopped to consider that Obama's motivations might have bee because John McCain touched his daughters inappropriately? Hey. I'm not saying this happened, necessarily. But people can make up their own minds.

Hey, and here's some interesting stuff from Joe Trippi. The big takeaway?

I remember Hamilton Jordan saying something I will never forget. He said the mistake that had cost Carter his big lead, and nearly cost him the election was that after Carter won the nomination the campaign started to listen too much to Washington Democrats and lost much of its outsider thinking that made it different.

This race is way too complicated to attribute anyone's waxing or waning to any one thing, but I recall that I personally never worried about Obama's electoral hopes, until I heard that he was pinning them on the advice of Tom Daschle! I remember that SNL cartoon where Obama was keeping Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson far away from the campaign, and man, the "post-racial" joke would have been to include Daschle. He needs to go to the dark side of the moon for the next seven weeks!

Meanwhile, back on the Chris Matthews Show, working women identify more strongly with Palin than they do with Biden. But can she take care of her kids? Katty Kay isn't sure! Sarah Palin bucks the thinking that has underpinned many New York Times "Sunday Styles" trend pieces that indicate that women "want it all" and they "want it now" unless "all" and "now" end up being something other than what they thought it was when those trend pieces were written.

How will Sarah Palin fare as a mother? Well, it seems she's spent less of her motherhood in a pill-fueled daze, so she's outpacing the McCain family in that regard.

I'm looking to my wife for quips here, but she'll only offer, "I'm ready to talk about John McCain as soon as the rest of these morons are."

Here are things Matthews doesn't know. Kay says that the Obama camp didn't want the Oxford, MS debate to get hijacked by racial issues, but they couldn't get the venue changed, so they got the topic changed to foreign policy, which is SURE to allow no angle of racial demogoguery because I'm sure the McCain campaign will come out and stipulate that they are at least seventy-five percent sure that Obama's not an al Qaeda operative.

Whittaker says issues are going to come back in the campaign. HAHAHAA! OMG. I need to stop for like five minutes! Tucker says that Palin raised taxes on oil companies. Healy says that Hillary brought out more "spunk" in the Obama campaign. And now, more commercials for old men who pee too often.

Isn't it the height of wackadoodlery that McCain continues to stipulate in public that he went negative because Obama refused to go along with his town hall meetings? Look: I don't think McCain was necessarily being insincere or attempting some trickery when he proposed those things, okay. And maybe the Obama campaign would have fared just fined by going along with them. But DEAR SWEET JEEBUS: McCain's inability to LET IT GO and MOVE ON is really, really disturbing! If this is how he's going to govern - fueled by penny-ante grudges that are blown into wide declarations of juvenile vindictiveness - then I don't want him to have the nuclear football.


And now, Meet The Press, which I have come to dread every week because it was a pretty pointless show this time last year, which has become even worse. Man, Tom Brokaw spoke at my undergraduate valedictory address and was amazing and fiery and inspiring and on Meet The Press he has embodied all the small-minded, incompetence that he railed against so many years ago. It makes me very depressed to watch. Surely NBC news has someone - anyone - else on staff who can be their weekly stand-in for the concept of depraved indifference?

Ugh. Three seconds of the stupid horn music and already there is a little bit of puke in my mouth. I'm not making that up, by the way. I'm going to rinse my mouth out.

"Our issues today, Obama sharpens his attacks to combat the McCain campaigns renewed energy?" Oh. Is that what we're calling it, now? Renewed energy? That's what he's combating? If that's "renewed energy," then you should be able to power your household by simply believing me when I tell you I can fly and poop gold doubloons. DON'T FIGHT MY RENEWED ENERGY! BELIEVE IN IT BLINDLY AND YOU WILL SURVIVE.

Schumer and Giuliani? And WOODWARD? Really. Don't I deserve better? Can't Sarah Palin lend me her magical immunity pony to ride around on?

Schumer is in the house, which is bad, because that means Giuliani will just be a snarling, corrupt scumbag. I will say this: if you take nothing positive away from this election season, be glad that Rudy Giuliani did not win the nomination, because he is outright, unmitigated scum. His style is like toilet water: meant to flushed several times a day.

Meanwhile, Schumer is saying some stuff, about Obama, and Brokaw is all, "OLD PEOPLE ARE A FEARED OF OBAMA!" Schumer says that Obama will "break into a substantial lead" when voters learn about his positions. How will this "learning" happen, Chuck? If I were a voter, dependent on the news to help me pass the SAT, I'd be answering every question "lipstick on a pig" today.

Schumer believes that the McCain-Palin candidacy has peaked. Somehow, I doubt that!

Can Hillary Clinton help Obama among "Reagan Democrats?" That's a good question, Tom Brokaw? I sort of think that can't be answered, unless Clinton actually maybe goes out and actually DOES SOMETHING for the Obama campaign.

I'm glad to hear Schumer ask if Palin plans to support Ted Stevens, but as long as nobody asks Palin these questions, and then appropriately amplifies her answer, that point will be lost. Schumer goes through the litany: troopergate and the per diem mess.

Giuliani. Ugh. A commenter sagely points out that this little puke always laughs before he lies. Rudy says he read the bill last night, and he thinks Obama was wrong to support HIV/AIDS education. And then he's all, DO TOWN HALL MEETINGS! THAT'S OUR SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING.

Now Brokaw is making us relive Rudy's speech at the RNC. Brokaw calls Rudy on the carpet - sort of - for belittling the work of community organizers. Rudy would rather talk nonsense about socialism. OBAMA WILL END POVERTY OR SOMETHING! THIS WILL NOT STAND! COME ORGANIZE THE COMMUNITY OF KLEPTOCRATS AT GIULIANI PARTNERZ!

What is "tax relief" is not wealth redistribution?

Now, why Giuliani is being asked to respond to something Dick Armey said. The only good thing Dick Armey ever contributed to America is the name of the sadly defunct Arlington punk band Dick Army. Those were heady days!

Now for some reason Brokaw is asking Rudy, who doesn't know anything about war or foreign policy, to respond to something Lindsay Graham said, only he ends up saying that Obama "voted to pull the troops out" and that McCain supported the "Surge" - all of which points to a certain lack of foreign policy prescience on McCain's part.

Now Brokaw is being asked to comment on Bob Woodward? Jeez. These questions! I actually feel kind of bad for Rudy here! Why is he being asked to psychoanalyze Woodward and Dick Armey and Lindsay Graham? All it does is leave the door open for cheap political rhetoric. Like compare Palin to FDR?? WHAT?! He yells about "wealth redistribution" for ten minutes and now Sarah Palin is FDR reimagined through moose hunting? Due respect, but FDR was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy DURING WORLD WAR ONE. FDR was also a Harvard educated lawyer. He was also a state Senator before ascending into the Wilson administration. And I think he was a state Senator for less than four years before Wilson decided that was sufficient "executive experience." I guess Brokaw doesn't know any of this, or anything about anything, because this absurd comparison is left unchallenged.

Then FIERCE PROSECUTOR GIULIANI - the guy who says he never backed down from criminals and who criticizes Obama for not standing up to his own party - says they ought to stop investigating Sarah Palin's role in troopergate. Pathetic.

And now, Bob Woodward, whose finally gotten around to maybe examining the Iraq War. Tom Brokaw says that the book offers a "mixed judgement." WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED. Woodward compares Bush to Nixon, but talks about the comparison as if it's just an interesting and trivial point. If Woodward can make the comparison, how can he not be snarling with righteous indignation? It's almost as if Woodward HAS NO IDEA what Nixon put the country through!

It's all description, no conclusions. In the book, people say things, then they say other things, and people react to the things that get said. And a war happens. And Woodward's all-star conclusion is this: THIS WAS SIGNIFICANT. THE END. Useless!

Woodward: I sat in the Oval Office and asked the President something! He said something! Other people said other things! People weren't all saying the same things! Woodward indicates that there was various "failures." THESE FAILURES WERE EVIDENT AT THE TIME OF HIS FIRST BOOK!

I am just stunned at Woodward. "Who knows when this [war] is over?" WHY WEREN'T YOU ASKING THIS IN 2003, Bob? Bob Woodward is the HOUSE BUNNY. He is the CRYSTAL SKULL.

Let's see what smart stuff readers have to say. Michael Brown says:

I enjoy your Sunday blog, but I think you made a mistake this week, albeit one of ommission. I live in Washington state, and Chuck Todd's analysis that we're going for McCain is not "wanting," it's friggin ridiculous.

There is no way McCain wins here. You only had to see the enthusiasm at the caucuses to know that it's over.

Sorry I wasn't declarative enough!

Carole Williams asks, "Why does FOX need a Palin clock?" I think the general idea was that FOX News Sunday had this 24-esque countdown clock lampooning Obama's unwillingness to come on Fox. Palin's been unwilling to do much of anything as far as press avails go. Her Gibson interview amounts to...well...EVERYTHING on that regard, so Wallace is saying that maybe Palin deserves a clock of her own.

Oops. Commenter Marlyn says I should correct an earlier contention that Obama "sponsored" that sex ed bill that was the focus of the McCain ad and she's right. As we learned later in the morning, he didn't sponsor it at all.

Finally, from "flydoghead": "Jason, you may have to add "The View" to your list of show to cover. So far this week the toughest questions have come from the couch." You have a strong case! I think that the week's best political discourse came from Joy Behar and Tina Fey, whereas the people who are supposed to keep us informed spent 72 hours obsessing over the phrase "lipstick on a pig," and wondering where their balls went.

Maybe we'll get a better race this week! Some program notes: I'll be participating in "Crappy Hour" - the too-early morning IM/coffee klatsch on Jezebel, hosted by Megan Carpentier - all this week. Also, later this week, look for the return of me and Ana Marie Cox, vlogging from her kitchen. Send questions to me or to her, and we'll answer them!