06/12/2011 08:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog of, mercifully, something that is not a searchable PDF cache of mostly quotidian emails from a public official who's not exactly destined to go down in history as Marcus Aurelius in any way other than the fact that we see him mostly as a bust. (Click link for your top-flight visual comedy.) My name is Jason, and today there's an interview with Tim Pawlenty, that will help us learn some exciting things about him. Panels will probably use their detachable "-damerrung" and apply it to Anthony Weiner and Newt Gingrich. Plus, the economy has us all facing a Summer of Bummer, so maybe that will come up?

As always, you can 1) stay in bed, I got this, or, alternatively, 2) watch these things as they air. Either way please feel free to meet up with your fellows in the comment, or send an email to me, or if you've a yen for scattershot thoughts about subjects obscure, follow me on Twitter.


Oh, boy! I guess we're going to hear more about Tim Pawlenty's economic plans. Hopefully he will begin by saying, "Ha, remember this week when I put out that 'google it' gimmick and that weird idea that I'd achieve 5% growth, which had never been done before, and I'd get there by offering massive tax giveaways to corporations and cutting taxes on millionaires by 41% and adding $7.8 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, and even conservative economists took a look at what I was saying and thought that I had to be kidding? Well, I decided that America deserves better, so I have a new plan: it involves ponies instead of unicorns.

Probably not though!

Oh, hey! There are some photos of Gabrielle Giffords! She is apparently still having trouble communicating, but I don't think it's shallow to be glad about the fact that her face bears no mark of the violent episode that nearly killed her. So I am going to be glad about that!

And Anthony Weiner apparently is unable to stop sending pictures of himself over the Internet without a doctor's help? What a world, I guess!

That's your Democratic Representatives On Leave Round-Up!

I have to feel bad for Pawlenty when Chris Wallace says that he now has a chance to "move up" because Newt Gingrich's campaign is imploding. But that's what life is like for the work-hard-get-nowhere candidate.

And we cut to Pawlenty and he is...uhm...murmuring something? Is he speaking in tongues? Is this the first ever mumblecore interview with a President? Chris Wallace keeps saying "Governor? Governor?" Finally, Pawlenty realizes what is happening and the interview begins.

Pawlenty says that his crazy plan would "unleash job growth" and "show leadership." He hits Obama for "leading from behind," the criticism being that he took after Paul Ryan after Ryan "went first." Pawlenty's plan will "unleash job growth big time." Saying it twice helps to make it truer!

Wallace notes that the Tax Policy Center says it will starve the government of revenue and "blow a hole in the national deficit." Pawlenty's defense is to call the Tax Policy Center a "liberal think tank," which I think Wallace was about to object to but couldn't get it in. Pawlenty says that the analysis ignores growth and doesn't take spending cuts into account.

They fight over "static scoring," and Wallace says he cares more about the fact that the plan assumes 5% growth over the next decade. Pawlenty agrees to that premise. Wallace asks Pawlenty if the U.S. has ever had ten consecutive years of 5% GDP growth since 1929. "This is an aspiration. It's a big goal and it's a stretch goal," Pawlenty says, before criticizing Obama for not having a plan. Apparently, Pawlenty's magic unicorn farm now constitutes a plan.

You know, this is an aspirational goal, a stretch goal, but I really do believe that with the right time, and enough encouragement, I can poop gold doubloons. I will spend the summer doing so, and we will use these doubloons to raise revenue and fund programs and even cut taxes for everyone. My poop-doubloons will be sufficient to the task of driving down debt, not just by billions of dollars, but by KA-billions. It will add numerous jobs to the field of doubloon-wheelbarrowing and paranormal proctology. And I think every child in America will...I don't know, have a sailboat, and their own werewolf. And 15% growth. And wings! So that's my plan, Tim Pawlenty!

Pawlenty is still complaining and he says he won't "buy in" to pessimism from Obama.

Finally, he answers the question: Pawlenty says we hit 5% growth once under Reagan, and once under Clinton. "Was it sustained?" Pawlenty asks. "No." Did what Pawlenty claims to have happened actually happen? No. In his own speech, he said: "Between 1983 and 1987, the Reagan recovery grew at 4.9 percent annually. Between 1996 and 1999, under President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress, the economy grew at around 4.7 percent annually."

See 5% growth anywhere?

"This idea we can't do it in America? Hogwash!" No! No, no. Not hogwash! Truth!

Pawlenty says he doesn't "want to live in America with that declinist attitude." That's what drugs are supposed to help with!

Wallace points out that many conservatives doubt his plan, and that if he does not his his "aspirational" goal, "that means an even bigger deficit." Pawlenty loops back around, away from the aspirational...that is to say, "crazy", stuff.

Pawlenty complains that Obama "spent us into oblivion." "The stimulus bill itself was $800 billion!"

So the "google test." "If you can find a service or a good on google, the government should provide it." Among the programs cited for cutting, under the "google test," is Amtrak, the printing office, and the postal service. Wallace points out that the cost to taxpayers of these programs are: $1.5 billion, $137 million, and $0.


Pawlenty says he has specifics, Obama leads from behind, uhm...raise the retirement age, and means test Social Security...and okay, this is great, because my big takeaway is that Pawlenty is no longer interesting in doing this Google gimmick, which is smart, because it makes me think of the "Monorail Song" from the Simpsons.

Wallace doesn't buy that Pawlenty can make hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare now while simultaneously leaving current recipients unaffected by changes, so he asks what sacrifices seniors will have to make under his presidency. Pawlenty complains that the Affordable Care Act already makes cuts to Medicare. He will incentivize good health results and incentivize "better health choices."

What about Pawlenty's claim that he balanced the budget without raising taxes? Wallace points out that the head of the Minnesota Taxpayers Association says that he left Minnesota with a $5 billion deficit. Pawlenty says that's not true, he balanced the budget, and when his final budget ends this summer, it will end in a surplus. He says that what his critics call deficits are based on future spending outlays that he would not have allowed.

Wallace hits back by insisting that Pawlenty's budgets were balanced by one-time infusions, like the stimulus package, and property tax increases. Pawlenty says that the property tax decisions were made on the local level. Wallace says that this was because he was denying some localities state aid. From there, we go deep into the weeds.

Pawlenty thinks that you have to compete in Iowa, the implication being that MItt Romney's not serious for staying away from Iowa. Pawlenty goes on to hit Romney by calling the Affordable Care Act "ObamneyCare," which is a pretty good burn, if you are a fan of Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty hates mandates, and his army of economic unicorns will spear it to death with their horns.

Of course, Wallace points out that once upon a time, Pawlenty said things like, "If you're going to require insurance and I think that is a worthy goal and one that we're intrigued by and I think at least open to, how then do you enable people to access the insurance?"

Pawlenty says though, that in that same speech, he goes on to say that the individual mandate is a bad idea.

How does Pawlenty explain the fact that Herman Cain is polling better than him? Pawlenty says that he just started his presidential campaign a "few weeks ago" and are "making good progress." Wow, so for months I've been following the campaign news of some other man named Tim Pawlenty?

(The correct answer is that Herman Cain has proven so far to be a much more compelling candidate.)

Pawlenty is staffing up, with people who weren't smart enough to avoid joining Newt Gingrich's campaign, and Joe Wilson! So, he will soon be polling like crazy!

Is Tim Pawlenty invisible? Wallace points out that O'Reilly called him "invisible" and "vanilla." Pawlenty tries to make a joke.

PAWLENTY: Did Bill O'Reilly us the word vanilla?

WALLACE: He did.

[Long pause.]

PAWLENTY: Is he playing the race card on me?

That is the sort of thing that makes Sunday mornings the WORST.

"I'm not running for comedian-in-chief...for that people need to go to the ballpark..."

A). We know you are no comedian.
B). Ballparks? Where do you think comedians perform?

Anyway, Pawlenty will not be an entertainer or a clown, instead he will be serious leader, with plans that don't make sense, even to Chris Wallace.

Panel time, with Brit Hume and Mara Liasson and Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

We begin with Anthony Weiner! Hume says that he's done, and doesn't see how he can take a leave of absence to cure himself of the need to take pictures of his wang and put them on the internet. Liasson says that the legislature will probably redistrict Weiner's seat out of existence.

On to Newt Gingrich and all of his friends leaving. Kristol says that Gingrich can run whatever campaign he wants. Williams says that Gingrich doesn't have much of a structure for fundraising. Kristol says that this is a good year for underdogs in the GOP race, which is good news for Mitt Romney.

Hume says that the very idea that everyone thinks Rick Perry could impact the GOP race is indicative of the fact that this cycle, the "race is not advanced," and "we have a long way to go." Liasson says that the Perry possibility is indicative of the fact that people hate the GOP field and that Perry has a compelling story. But, she says, Perry hasn't done any work to build a campaign, will have to do so from scratch, and won't have the time to "make mistakes."

Kristol says that skipping Iowa, if you're Romney, is the "move of a frontrunner," but is also "overthinking." Williams points out that Romney is a "vulnerable" front-runner and that the GOP base is looking for someone who resembles the Tea Party candidates of 2010. (All true, but that's not a case for Romney competing in Iowa.)

If the horse race is not, as Hume says, "advanced," then why is it already so boring to talk about, and to listen to? Hopefully, after commercial, this panel will start fighting each other with wiffle bats.

Agh. No such luck. But we are going to talk about foreign policy, and Gates criticizing NATO for their lack of work in Afghanistan. Hume says that Gates' remarks will "spur debate" and remind Europe that they need to, in Hume's words, "buck up." (I think that they will spend less and less fighting terrorists and more and more on anything that's not fighting terrorists.)

Liasson and Kristol disagree on whether or not the decline of NATO will change the extent to which the United States is projecting itself around the world. You probably know who took what side on that. Williams points out that Europeans don't have much desire to do nation-building exercises, and here at home, Americans are growing weary of war as well. Kristol says it would be terrible if we stopped fighting a war in Afghanistan, if, for some crazy reason, no one in America wanted to fight it anymore.

This election season, Obama will apparently pull out just enough troops to keep the left happy that troops are coming home, but not so many troops that anyone on the right will be mean to him, because that's your modern-day Democratic Party: determined to be as well-liked by as many people on both sides of the political spectrum no matter how many kids have to die in foreign wars that have set records for length!


Joining Chris Matthews today is Andrea Mitchell and John Heilemann and David Ignatius and Rana Foroohar, to talk about the terrible economy and Weiner's ween and hey, maybe some stuff on Afghanistan, who knows?

This was a week dominated by Twitter? I sort of felt like this week was like all the other weeks in that Twitter was enjoyed by some, ignored by most and consequential to basically nobody, but okay! Sorry to all of you out there who were dominated by Twitter. We're sending help.

Now, the terrible economy! That IS something that's dominating us, in that it's beating us to death. Foroohar says we're basically doomed for the next five years, as far as getting us out of the recession. And, thank you, Ms. Foroohar: "The period between 2000 and 2007 was actually the weakest for job growth since the Great Depression."

Is the White House delusional? Heilemann thinks that they though that the tax cut deal would give them some serious lift into 2012. He says that the White House is actually surprised it didn't work out that way.

Also, there's too much housing inventory! So no one needs to build new ones! We should actually probably hire people to tear homes down.

Ignatius says that at some point "Animal Spirits are going to take over again," but what if our animal spirits are like [MILD SPOILER ALERT] the dogs from the movie SUPER 8, in that they see there's an imminent monster rampage coming, and it's time to run to some other town?

Foroohar disagrees and says that businesses have not been investing or creating jobs since the jobs. Heilemann is really yelling about globalization and how it's wrenching and will take a hundred years to work out, and oh man, would you use your inside voice?

Can Romney beat Obama on the economy? Mitchell says maybe, Ignatius thinks that any forward momentun will help Obama, and that the primary process will deconstruct Romney's business persona.

Most of Matthews friends think that the government should be super-positive about everything and not give anyone any straight talk. Mitchell says, "Morning in America is a better sales pitch." Heilemann says that it makes more sense to explain what is actually happening to actual people.

Also, I do not think Matthews understands that the housing inventory isn't going to get snapped up by "young people" who "demand" to buy a house. That is not how this works. The housing inventory is a massive physical manifestation of massively misallocated resources that massive banks took massively bad bets on, leading to a massive disaster. Those young people are graduating from college into a world that does not provide them with enough job openings to keep up with the fact that they are becoming job seekers. So they're getting a bad start in life, which means their lifetime earning potential will be less than it should be and subsequently they will graduate to home ownership a lot later than they'd like -- certainly not soon enough to spur a recovery for Barack Obama.

Now, if Chris Matthews means that young people will take care of the housing inventory, through, say, adverse possession -- by which I mean they go squat in a vacant home in some part of the country where no one wants to live, then yeah, we'll fill up that housing inventory in no time. But the people who go to live there had better like grass and grubs and tree bark and eating the occasional foraging rodent, because there are no jobs in those parts of the country, either.

Foroohar says that Obama's best chance is to make the case that you cannot "starve your way to growth," as all the GOP candidates will maintain.

David Ignatius is just a blithering idiot today: "If the president can say, next year, 'I am fixing what's broken in Washington.'" He needs to reach out to Republicans and get things done. Yeah, that's what he ran on in 2008. So all he'll need to do is make that sound original and then magically switch the current Republicans with a group of people who are remotely interested in working in tandem to solve serious problems, as opposed to obstructing everything to win elections. However, I think the plan will be foiled when some reporter points out that last week, the Speaker of the House was John Boehner and now it's being run by a guy who looks suspiciously like Pete Rouse with a mustache.

Actually, that ruse will probably work on the entire White House press corps.

Ha, ha! Anthony Weiner is sad. So let's recap the world of sexy sex scandals. There's Gary Hart's non-denial denial. Bill Clinton's anger-pointy denial. Larry Craig's wide footsie, not gay denial. And John Edwards smirky I-am-just-the-worst denial.

So, most of the people who run the world are truly awful people.

Now we can talk about the people who are dying in the war, as long as we're doing so as a means to full synergize with David Ignatius' latest thriller novel!

Anyway, David Ignatius wrote an ending to the war that involves having a feast of meats, and the meat is dignity, and we eat dignity, and basically tell the Taliban we're sorry, or something. "We have to signal to them that we don't want to drive them into the ground," Ignatius says.

Mitchell says this is basically the exit strategy. "Let's give the Taliban another chance."

Matthews says, of the Taliban, that they "blew up Buddhas and treat women like dirt." That's something of an understated way of summing up the Taliban.

Matthews asks Heilemann is that's not what is typically known in certain circles as a crazy idea. Noting that Ignatius' book is awesome, people whould buy it, no disrespect...yes, it's hard to determine who the "victor" and the "vanquished" are. Rather, it looks like the U.S. is "impatient and exhausted" and needs to walk away because remaining is "untenable." One foot in the grave(yard of Empires).

Things Chris Matthews do not know include: Rick Perry will run for President (Heilemann), the next bubble is the higher-education loan bubble and pretty soon people will not be able to pay back those loans because they won't have jobs (Foroohar), Michael Leiter is resigning as chief of the National Counterterrorism Center (Mitchell), and Libya's Gadhafi still has money (Ignatius).

Are politicians such ridiculous thrill seekers that they'll always be having the sexy sexting scandals, forever? Heilemann says sure, but adds that they are needy and narcissistic people, too. Mitchell says leave women out of this. Foroohar agrees with Mitchell and the premise that politicans are risk-takers. Ignatius thinks that these guys almost want to get caught. (Probably because deep down they know they participate in a broken system as a career and want to escape it by any means they can.)


Today we'll have more on Weiner and sexting and sexy scandals, and also, hey, the economy is terrible too!

Okay, I love how that when Amanpour throws to Jonathan Karl to talk about the latest in the ongoing Weiner saga, Karl is just standing at another spot in the Newseum. Seems an awfully complicated and costly way of talking to someone who is essentially right down the hall from you.

Anyway, Democrats be buggin' because of the Ween-man, Karl reports, and they'd like him to quit his job.

Okay, we'll have another roundtable discussion about this! Here's George Will, Donna Brazile, Peggy Noonan, and Jake Tapper.

Will scoffs at the "medicalization of the crisis," and seems to believe that Weiner will claim immunity from expulsion on the grounds that it would violate the American's With Disabilities Act. (It's a joke, I think.) Tapper says that Weiner can hang on and can make the case that he violated no laws (so far), but the other Democrats need him out of the picture so that they can talk about anything in the world other than this story.

Brazile agrees that Weiner is crowding out important work, and adds that his constituents deserve a full-time representative.

Noonan says that "all of these stories" reek of "end-of-empire decadence," and that everyone needs to come together, Democrats and Republicans, and say, "No more!" And, having said "No more," they will celebrate with wine and song and then pretty soon they're all screwing each other and OH NO YOU GUYS DID IT WRONG AGAIN!

Tapper says, on the matter of 2012, that the White House thinks that Romney or Pawlenty will emerge as a formidable opponent, and that they expect to have stronger forces opposing them, and the election could hinge on the economy, and the economy is in short, the White House is aware they could easily lose this election.

Will says that Pawlenty's plan to reach sustained 5% growth probably won't happen and his budget plan will be "very hard to do with an aging population." But: he is "avoiding the austerity trap."

Brazile says one would "hope" we would get back to 5% growth. Get back to? How about "achieve for the first time in our lives?"

Noonan, I think, says the Pawlenty is wonderful for talking about things that could only happen in fantasies. She and Brazile have a mild fight over whether Obama made the terrible economy he inherited worse (unemployment is slightly lower, and Wall Street is living larger than ever, so it's better for all, and BONKERS better for a few.

Will calls Gingrich an egomaniac and says "We've never seen anything like the catastrophic rollout of his campaign." Tapper says that everyone was a little bit put off by the fact that the "Gingrich campaign" was basically a front for shilling his books and documentaries. (WHO DIDN'T WARN THE GINGRICH CAMPAIGN STAFF THAT THIS WAS WHAT GINGRICH IS ALL ABOUT? BECAUSE YOU PEOPLE ARE MONSTERS!)

Now, a new roundtable that will solve the economy, or, at the very least, continue to yell at each other about it. We have Richard Shelby and Robert Reich and Jonathan Karl.

Reich says that the essential problem with the economy is on the demand side -- wages are dropping and jobs are disappearing and so no one is spending money to create jobs. "The jobs program we need is one that puts money into Americans' hands."

Okay, Shelby: "The Market grows the economy." We need no more stimulus and instead tax breaks for manufacturers to tell them that it is a "new day."

Reich says that consumers are scared and investors are "pulling in" and the government intervention is called for.

Karl objects and says that the Obama administration has tried this and it hasn't work. And we've tried tax cuts and they haven't worked. And we've tried Fed intervention and it hasn't worked.

Reich says that the "scale of the crisis" was larger than anticipated, which is why previous efforts fell flat. He recommends a long payroll tax holiday, and more consumer friendly bankruptcy code so that people can declare bankruptcy easier, and create a WPA-style program to put people right to work.

Shelby says that no stimulus will pass the Congress, and that we need "certainty." Certainty, I gather, means "Give more money to wealthy people until they finally create a job, I'm sure it's just a little bit more before we have the big breakthrough."

"We cannot go into an election year with this kind of unemployment," says Reich. Sure we can. We are going to!

Reich says he's dismayed by the "deafening silence" in Washington over jobs, and yeah, I feel him.

Shelby says that "certainty" also means deregulation. Remember how the overregulated market totally destroyed the economy?

Oh, so there's going to be about ten more minutes of Reich saying, "People need jobs," and Shelby saying, "Businesses need certainty," and Karl saying, "Why am I on this panel, exactly?" and me saying, "Yeah, well, this went exactly the way I imagined it."

Now there's another segment on Anthony Weiner. "What can you say about a moment like this that hasn't been said before?" I'm betting you can't say anything!

Anyway, Weiner denied and apologized and cried, like other men have. But did you know that sometimes they bring their wives with them, and sometimes they don't? It's an anthropological wonder!

Oh, and women don't get into sex scandals.

So we'll talk some about the way the world would be different if women occupied more and greater positions of power in society. Joining the discussion is Torie Clarke, Cecilia Attias, and Claire Shipman.

Clarke says that this is a good moment for women, because the contrast with women in politics who a dutiful and honest -- when they achieve power, they don't fall into the snare that Senator John Ensign believed entrapped him -- the culture of self-regard.

Shipman says that the perhaps-future head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has been warning about "too much testosterone" and has found that gender parity in corporations leads to increased wealth. Ladies are running better hedge funds, for example! And diversity leads to better decisions in business.

Attias says that women need support at the grassroots level, because they have many roles in life and that it should be easier to raise children and run businesses simultaneously.

Bond traders making risky decisions had high levels of testosterone, apparently. Clarke notes that men tend to compete for the sake of competition. I think that maybe more people should smoke marijuana.

Attias points out that there are a lot of women in power in Spain, but there's still ahuge problem with violence against women. Logically, she figures that more Spanish women will achieve better outcomes if they are not injured or killed.

Anyway, woman are having "a moment" because Anthony Weiner sent a photo of his penis to someone on Twitter, and I trust that right there you see what's sort of a structural inequity!

Martha Raddatz is back from Afghanistan, where fighting continues, progress is slow, hopes for the counter-insurgency's effectiveness are high, the mission is starting to resemble Iraq in more and more ways, and yet there's little chance of a sizable drawdown happening anytime soon, with one officer saying that he could see troops in Afghanistan through 2014.

Maybe some people will come home, but Raddatz thinks that the conversation may spin all the way back to the 2009 debate between counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.

OK, well, that's the story for this Sunday. I guess we didn't solve the economy, by yelling about it today. Probably we'll try that again next week. In the meantime, have a great week yourselves!

Below, a video of highlights from this morning's shows:

[The Sunday liveblog returns next week. In the meantime, enjoyable internet reading for a Sunday is available to you: here is The End Of The Rodeo For The World's Greatest Cowboy, by Mike Riggs. Here is Ta-Nehisi Coates on the new X-Men movie. Here is the dumbest thing anyone has ever said about lobbyists.]