11/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog. Well, let it not be said that John McCain can't keep a promise! He said that he was going to take his campaign in a new, negative direction, and, wow. Just...wow. I tell you. I suppose it's actually our fault that we somehow could not turn the production of YouTube videos designed to make people feel bad into an economic growth sector, and thus save the stock market and stuff. But we sure got crazy negative with a quickness, all the same. Now, McCain has been out there lately, trying to diffuse the situation (that situation being the slavering, "pitchfork waving" trogs who've been yelling violent rhetoric (rhetoric is too kind a word) on the hustings. But, it's sort of hard to rebottle that fire, isn't it. Anyway, this liveblog will remain a safe place for all people, especially the terminally disillusioned! Commiserate in the comments, or send an email!


Oh sweetness. There are only 23 days until this is over? Such good news. The bad news? Gotta listen to David Axelrod and Rick Davis yammer at each other. That's where we're going to start. Maybe they'll just agree to start punching each other. Oh, well. Axelrod is Chicago, with his Machine Politics.

Meanwhile, John Lewis, who got named as one of McCain's key sources of wisdom despite the two men having no real kind of relationship, is upset at the crazy campaign rhetoric. Obviously, Axelrod isn't happy about it either. "The economy hangs from [McCain's] neck like the anchor of the Lusitania," he says. Even Rick David salutes the use of metaphor this early in the morning. Rick Davis, though, says John Lewis is "reprehensible" for voicing his concerns! Because McCain is a War Hero. I don't know why we just can't dial this stuff down. He also says that Obama drives the negative attacks on himself. Ha. I've got a video to show y'all at the commercial.

Davis' standpoint is that the things being said at McCain rallies are awful, but that there's nothing McCain or Palin is saying that is inciting it. Those people are just coming to the rallies, because they think there will be delicious pies to eat, and when there aren't, BLAAAAHHH LET'S GET RACIAL UNTIL WE GET SOME PIES.

"We let anybody who wants to come to our townhalls." Would someone please go and plug this liveblog? That would be awesome.

Meanwhile, Davis and Axelrod are yelling at each other, about their commercials. I feel kind of bad for Chris Wallace today! He's in his center square, and he just sort of looks nauseous.

Now we're going to talk about whether or not a man can be rehabilitated after bombing the Pentagon. Talking about Ayers. Of course, he never really managed to bomb the Pentagon, but the answer is, of course one can be rehabilitated. That doesn't mean Bill Ayers is. But, yeah, I'm afraid that the idea of personal redemption is central to Judeo-Christian societies.

Davis says that all of this stuff, the Ayers and Rezko sagas, deserve scrutiny. I agree! But, man, Rick Davis! You are a bit late to the party! I mean, grab a newspaper from earlier this year, and revel in the scrutiny.

Now they are getting into the Palin finding. I'm not sure I have the correct read on this: she did nothing wrong, but she abused her power in the pursuit to doing nothing wrong. Davis calls it a "kangaroo court." Judging by the one-size-fits-all, something-for-everyone decision that seems to have been handed down, that's going to really insult people who have been "tried" in actual kangaroo courts.

Now they are yelling at each other about lobbyists. Twenty four days, and we'll never have to endure this crap again, maybe. This is like the SNL debate sketch when they answer simultaneously. I'm surprised Davis didn't just yell, "MAVERICK!"

Oh dear. Now we're going to have Dopey Ed Rendell and Tim "Airbag" Pawlenty yammer about the economy. But really they are going to yammer about the two candidates. Obama is up in both these states. Why is everything trending away from McCain? TPaw says the Minnesota's pretty Democratic. Anyway, John McCain would be oppositional to the Congress and he is a War Hero.

What about divided government? Shouldn't McCain be hitting Obama for being associated with the Democrats in Congress, and their terror? No, says, TPaw, because Obama was born in the RezkoDome in a Chicago Machine Birth, midwived by Bill Ayers with bombs. Ed Rendell suggests that a cohesive government might work better. It could! It's also a pretty vulnerable way of governing. If Obama ends up President, with the Congress he's likely to have? Man, oh man. They'd better lead! They'd better get it done! Because the referendum comes in two years! And the 2012 Iowa Primary is probably in December.

Rendell says Obama has a strong arm, and can throw ropes to drowning people in the economy. TPaw says that McCain is a war hero and has thrown ropes of War Heroism. Rendell likes the Philadelphia Phillies. Everyone laughs. Actually, Rendell, in describing Obama's economic plan, leads with "investment in infratstructure." One thing you learn covering the Public Works beat, is that Rendell, as a governor, is obsessed with improving infrastructure. In a down economy, infrastructural investments are like seeding new fields. When expansion returns, you can bring new regions and communities back further, and put them on more solid footing. I'm sure Rendell has got an eye on that sort of investment being made in Pennsylvania.

Now it's time for Fox's Glower Power Panel, and the king of Glower, Brit Hume says that nothing you've seen at McCain rallies is "over the top." Awesome. Keep reaching for the stars, then, crazies! I'll say this, who says "Off with his head?" What backwater jerkwad imagines himself to be a member of the court of Louis XIV? Jeez, if you're gonna hate, then at least hate like an American. I can't take the anger of the French aristocracy seriously.

Bill Kristol, of course, is devastated that McCain won't talk about his new girlfriend, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Juan Williams agrees with Bill Kristol, because he wants Kristol to be his new girlfriend.

Hume, though, says the bottom line is that the economic crisis has sabotaged GOP hopes. Liasson agrees that there's just no point of traction for McCain, that the "fundamentals" of the race provide Obama with a wave to ride.

Kristol is advocating for Sarah Palin to appear on the show. Makes you wonder, right? Can we get to election day without Palin appearing on Sunday? I think maybe yes!

One thing that I sort of hate about the "associations" game is this: people yammer about people like Keating and Ayers and Reverend Wright and how bad these candidates are because these are bad people. But if they are bad people, then confront them! If Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist, why don't you have Ayers answer for it? The answer, of course, is that they know at bottom that news viewers aren't really interested in any of this. Not substantively. They just want to see politicians twist in the wind. And, again, not substantively.

So, Brit Hume thinks that once everyone agrees that the economy is done collapsing, people will start buying back in, and the market will be fine. Of course, is this a STOCK MARKET PROBLEM? No. It's a credit crisis. At least, that's what we've agreed it is. It's also still an asset crisis, too. And maybe a recession! Or a depression. All I know is that my wife is going to pick apples today, which I will sell at cost to the former employees of Merrill Lynch's wealth management division, in my building, so that they can eat this winter.

LIasson: "Capitalism is not dead...now, we might end up, for a time, with a government who owns a big chunk of all the banks..." LE SIGH.

Woah, woah, wait. Bill Kristol says, "Financial institutions are different. It has never been the thought of any serious person who believed in free markets and democratic capitalism that you don't need a strong government regulation of the banking system, of the currency, of the fundamentals of the financial institutions." That's either revisionist or ignorant of many people who have argued otherwise.


By the way. Have you heard about how EFFING NUTLOG Mike Huckabee's new teevee show is? READ THIS. It's like the Rachel Maddow show from a parallel universe, in which everyone's a complete paranoid fool.

Speaking of, I realize now I've got my teevee tuned to the wrong channel...there's George! And that looks like Larry Summers. It is. He says that the problem with the markets is a problem with trust. See, the underpinnings of some financial institutions is just a lie of the heart. The cold remains of what began with passionate start. And investors may not want it to end, but it will. It's just a question of when.

Meanwhile, James Baker, is, well, a little bit yelly! This is bigger than what the private sector can fix, but don't worry, the sage experts of the Bush administration is on the case. I really am amazed at all the people who suggest, uncritically, that the $700B bailout is going to help, when no one seems to know exactly what is going to happen next, or where all or some of those monies are really going to go. There isn't some disclosed, mapped out plan of attack. I just know some bald dude named Kashkari is going to make these decisions. Is no one stunned by the irony that the guy who's going to allegedly save our economy has the words "cash" and "carry" in his last name? Just me? Anyone? Well, okay.

Hasn't there been an odd emergence in bald dudes in public life? Especially in the sector of Dudes Who Will Fix or Have Messed Up the Economy? Is it just me? As a result of these speculations, has this liveblog lost all value?

Emailer Jeff Peckerman calls Tim Pawlenty the "Tom Daschle of the right." THAT IS SO TRUE. The only difference is that TPaw looks a little less like Pat Boone than Daschle does.

Wow. You know, the big problem about economic flops is that no one's very exciting talking about it, but not because they have anything useful to say. It's just a bunch of platitudes, spoken in calm, resassuring terms. Barney Frank, who you'd usually go to for some awesome spitfire stuff, is instead on teevee talking ab out how awesome Roy Blunt is. Of course, he's also talking about how sensible it is to have no bought preferred stock in these companies. His rationale, "You don't want the federal government voting." Uhm, but, that's MY money! And I want equity for my money! I don't want paper. If preferred stock and voting rights is good enough for Warren Buffet, it's good enough for me!

Frank is savaging the GOP Congress on subprime, while trying to be nice to Roy Blunt, instead blaming Phil Gramm. Blunt says that everyone who was on the wrong side of the issue should just admit they were wrong, on both sides. Blunt and Frank seem headed for a clash on a future economic stimulus package: Blunt doesn't want a big "public works project" (Again, why wouldn't you want a stronger infrastructure for when the economy rebounds? Why wouldn't you want to plant the seeds of growth in blighted communities?), and Frank wants Generic Middle Class Things. It'll be so neat when the lower class get their own political party, too, won't it?

My wife is off to Stribling Orchard, or, as some call it, the "Analog Apple Store." (Or would "acoustic apples" be more accurate?) Hang in there, Merrill Lynch employees! Help is coming!

OMG. Obama actually used a Sad Wall Street Trader image for his ad. So trendy!

Meanwhile, it's panel time, with George Will, Cokie Roberts, Dan Balz, and Paul Krugman, who says that if our sage leaders don't come up with something by late today, it's "not good" and "scary." And okay! Great! This really could be one of the greatest depressions. Roberts: "The fact that we are counting on the G7 is terrifying." "This is all improvising...psychotherapy," Will says. Krugman, though, points out that it's not all psychological, and yes, thanks for pointing out, Paul: THERE WAS A HOUSING BUBBLE. And those terrible homes aren't worth as much as advertised. Toxic assets for everyone.

The group touches on one of the great ironies. As a voter, you want the two campaigns to be involved in the solving of the problem. But, at the same time, they aren't REALLY in charge. And both have so much at risk in the campaign that they cannot afford to get in the game and muck it up. McCain edged up to that result, and nearly got burned. So we demand their ideas (which will be smaller than they need to be), and their action (which might seem larger, but will be emptier, as well), but, ultimately, we need the folks that are in charge to step up to plate and work this out. I think people have tended to underplay Bush's inefficacy at the helm. I mean, people in the world - not people on this blog. For some reason, much to our detriment, we didn't care enough when it was about war. Now that it's about the economy, though, it's like the Bush administration doesn't exist. Hopefully, some big movie about the Bush administration will come out, and we'll remember about that guy, and how he's supposed to be in charge.

Balz has a counterpoint also, in the campaigns: with Obama and McCain, you wanted to see an elevated campaign. And it'd be great, maybe, for the country, if there was one. But really, American elections just truly trend toward the base, and the baseness of this campaign seems to be working hard to invert the hopes of folks like Peggy Noonan (who were probably too naive to begin with). Roberts wonders if the lame-duck session of Congress will be harmonious or a "brawl." Ha. I'm surprised she's actually wondering!


OK. I thought my internet was down, but if it was, it's back now. Let's continue.

Chris Matthews has Gloria Borger, Howard FIneman, Cynthia Tucker and David Ignatius, whose book has been made into a Ridley Scott movie.

Okay, so, Chris Matthews noticed that the economy is doing toxic loop-de-loops, which means doom for the Republicans, and History is In the Tank for Obama. But McCain has to keep campaigning, even if there are no more battleground states anymore. I mean, Palin was in West Virginia this week! Crazy! Fineman says that everything is about the economic meltdown all the time from now on. But McCain apparently just can't quit, so, according to Borger, he will demonstrate Indomitable Will, like the Lions of Cameroon, who are plucky and adorable but never won a World Cup, and would likely be greeted as terrorists and Evil Other People From The Heart Of Darkness by the people at McCain rallies.

Cynthia Tucker says that "coolness in a crisis" is helping Obama. Ignatius suggests that if something really horrible happened, like "if Pakistan blew up," McCain might benefit. Someday, we may come to regret the fact that our Presidential choices only look good to us when everything is spiralling out of control.

Of course, people wonder about what happens if there's some big splashy emergence of Osama bin Laden between now and the election. Well, I suppose it could be the Game-Changer (TM) (man am I looking forward to not using that term ever again). I have to imagine, though, that McCain could regret telling a national teevee audience that he "knew how to get Osama bin Laden."

Tucker says that Obama's debate performance inured him to many white voters, but out on the stump, Fineman says that the Democrat is speaking the right language, and that's brining reassurance to the voters.

Matthews puts up some diagram with concentric circles and arrows pointing hither and yon, and I think it qualifies as "goatse.cx." If you do not already know what that term means, I am NOT recommending you look it up. There is no fundamental need to be aware of ALL internet traditions.

Ha. Now Ignatius is suggesting that Obama's "professorial" nature is emerging as his greatest strength. Matthews jokes that it's an improvement over Bush's "broken syntax." It's almost as if there might be some middle ground between being an airy, unreachable elitist and being a drooling moron. I know! These are crazy ideas being suggested by this panel! What would the press do if they couldn't talk about being educated as if it were a detriment?

Wow! Cynthia Tucker loves her some Family Guy clips! Actually, it would be a lot of fun to watch satiric cartoons with Cynthia Tucker, I bet.

By the way, in the battle of hairstyle drift, I think that Palin is slowly losing ground to Meghan McCain. That means no more topsy-tail! Also, it could mean a future Palin blog.

Oh. Sorry about that! Just experienced some sort of full body shudder! Ooops. Here come the dry heaves!

Meanwhile, the panel is chatting about the ANGER on the stump. Cynthia Tucker points out that these crazy people on the stump aren't independent voters, but their antics are a total independent voter bonerkiller. Meanwhile, Obama and Biden have been pointing out that McCain is "erratic" and "lurching" - that stuff would hurt with independent voters as well, were it not for that second debate performance. If McCain hadn't been aimlessly gallivanting all over the stage that night, Biden would look like a jerkoff for using the term "lurching." But the candidate really did sort of lurch. I'm not sure that's entirely fair to McCain, who I think just likes to perambulate when he's town halling. But, he'd have had better luck if he'd returned to his seat.

Things Chris doesn't know? Borger says that Lieberman might switch to the GOP. Fineman says pensions are doomed. Tucker's sure that the push for "National ID" is coming. And Ignatz says that we're opening an interest section in Tehran. Which would be huge news, and news that would benefit Obama greatly.

Meanwhile, debate on Wednesday, and the promise is that McCain and Obama will actually stab each other, with hate-needles. Nobody seems to think that it would be a good idea for McCain to do that, because women hate it and Bob Schieffer would probably get the vapors.


Egads. Rob "Samantha Who?" Portman will do battle with John "Seatbelts" Corzine. Really scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as charisma goes. Where's Jowly Dave Foley when you need him? Surely he's got tears to shed about Obama and Ayers! Where's John Kerry and his newly grown sack?

I tell you what, though, Portman has got a sharp profile. Sharp. You could slice cheese with his face. I could make some delicious slices of corned beef by rubbing his face on it. Not sure what use I'd put Corzine to in the kitchen. Maybe his wallet will come in handy. I mean, after that terrible accident, he's like, BIONIC, right? If I start whispering insults about his mother right now, he'll be able to hear me, right?

I realize that maybe you all want some substance-like substance. So, okay. Portman says we need to "deal with the housing crisis." And, that's what John McCain wants to do with his Let's Buy All The Mortgages Plan. Meanwhile, apparently, McCain is supposedly working on some new crazy economic plan, that could include tax cuts for capital gains, which really doesn't sound "new" in the context of Everything McCain Has Ever Said About The Economy. McCain's been pretty steadfast against capital gains tax increased. Ol' Slicy Face agrees.

Corzine says we need "steady leadership." That platitude, and $6.99 will buy you 200 shares of Lehman stock. Or two orders of egg rolls. I'd go with the egg rolls, unless of course, you want to punch Dick Fuld in the face. This actually happened and it is awesome, because why not? One thing I've always said is that the easiest way to win my vote is to allow me the chance to punch you, hard, in the face. One time shot, as hard as I want with no backsies or penalties of any kind, legal or pecuniary. And then I vote for you. Because really, when I hear people complaining about politicians, it would be good enough to simply be able to say, "What? That guy? Huh. I punched that guy in the face, once."

So keep that in mind, John McCain and Barack Obama!

Brokaw is going to show off his great debate question, on how to prioritize policy. This leads to David Broder calling their responses a "stunning rejection of reality." But, look, didn't Obama actually enumerate priorities? He did, in fact, do so. Yahh, Broder, yahh.

By the way, whenever the phrase, "Yahhh, someone, yahhh," is used here, it's because of this YouTube video, which is the most watched YouTube by the HuffPo politics team, and will be the processional music to any or all future HuffPo Politics Team weddings.

So, now you can enjoy as well.

Now they are talking about McCain's health care plan. Turn off the teevee and go read this analysis of the McCain plan.

Now Brokaw is gonna ask Seatbelts and Slicy Face about all the angry people in Minnesota. And remember, this is the Minnesota Nice crazies. And, look, McCain did the right thing...eventually, and Obama did the right thing in thanking him from doing so. But that sort of thing has to continue, and I don't think it will. McCain, if he still has a message, is not going to be able to get it out now that these irrational, frankly terrifying, nimrods have become the story at McCain events. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind, though!

Panel time with Ted Koppel and John Harwood and Erin Burnett and Paul Gigot. Erin Burnett says tomorrow the market will open and EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE. LISTEN TO THE PRETTY AND SMART LADY DOW AND GO UP, FOR AMERICA.

Meanwhile, Tommy Thompson says the McCain campaign is going well, and Paul Gigot agrees, because McCain wanted to run a campaign on biography and personality and WHO KNEW that something, in the world, might HAPPEN, making people wonder if McCain had an opinion on it! Cruel, cruel fate, with it's fickle fingers, putting the put option on war heroism! So now, Gigot says, McCain "has to address the economy."

Brokaw has poll numbers up, and every blogger in the world is checking those figures to make sure Brokaw isn't misleading his audience, again.

Harwood points out that the McCain camp believes that "one in five" whites are persuadable. Which is a nice way of saying that "one in five" whites are stupid. And they are! Seriously! Have you seen some of this Stuff That White People Like? White zinfandel? Miracle Whip? Gahhh! They vote!

Oooh. Paul Gigot uses the word "lurching" to describe McCain. Because he follows calls for "spending freezes" with "crazy mortgage plans."

Brokaw is all, "Has Obama done anything to help the economy? One thing?" I'm going to lean on my hand and pout. John Harwood says, "Uhm...he helped pass the bailout package!" Also a small business tax-incentive program. But, yeah, not a lot.

Koppel gives voice to the emerging CW meme, which is that it's better for both men if they could lose the election. Gigot says that he'd take political victory over a loss, no matter how hard the uphill climb.

Would another candidate have been better than Palin for McCain's veep? Gigot says, meh. Harwood says most def, like Rob Portman! I say, yes. A bucket of jalepeno poppers would have been better than Palin.

Will race be a factor? Let's ask some Caucasians! Koppel says: "Bradley effect, maybe! Or not! But man, are people racists!" He lauds both candidates for not lynching anyone personally. And hey, there's a Klansman in the witness protection program - a lyncher who flipped on his fellow lyncher. This stuff makes me want to take about five showers.

Oh, now they are talking about October surprises. You know...October's getting on. I CAN HAZ SURPRIZE?

Well, Wednesday is the next Presidential debate, with the elfin Bob Schieffer moderating, and SNL spoofing it the following evening. This will be, I suppose, the IN YOUR FACE debate, if we're going to have one. After the debate, I guess we have a few weeks of racist town halls and then the election. You know, this is going to be the last debate! I cannot, at the moment, remember a time in my life that predated debates. I wonder what it's going to be like, to not have them? One thing's for sure, the lack of debates will cause the collapse of the liveblog industry. That's okay! I'm selling apples!

I'll leave you with a note from emailer Sara Fitzgerald:

I was 13 when the first black child was escorted to school in Little Rock in 1954. I am white, from red-state Tennessee, but I will never forget the face of that child or the terrifying mobs screaming hatred and deadly threats at her. I saw the images of Bull Connor in Birmingham and the delight he took in sending dogs and fire hoses after civil rights protestors. I saw images of people at lunch counters in Nashville, a city I know well, being brutally physically removed from their stools for the act of ordering a sandwich. I had hoped that, as a nation, we had gotten past that and would never again witness the slaughter of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, among many others.

I also saw George Wallace when he was running for office on the "State's Rights" platform, with the vitriol and hatred that he incited and inspired. I did not think that a major party candidate for President or Vice-President would try to stir up the same hatred again in my lifetime. Sadly, I now see the equating of Barack Obama with terrorists at every rally, particularly by Sarah Palin. The "he's not one of us" is so clear in meaning that it is unmistakable to anyone. No one who stoops to that level to win an election deserves a single vote from any real American. There is no excuse, no justification, no legitimate rationale for the frightening tenor that this campaign has taken. The lukewarm tsk-tsk of John McCain is an unacceptable response.

This country is in terrible trouble -- two probably unwinnable wars, a crashing economy that will hurt all of us except the very wealthy, a health care system that no third world country would accept, global warming that threatens the very existence of our planet, an infrastructure that is falling apart -- and all I hear from John McCain and Sarah Palin is that Barack Obama knows a guy who was once a member of the really awful Weather Underground but is now a widely respected college professor. Surely we as a nation and the world that is suffering with us deserve better than that.

I believe we do, Sara. Have a great week!