Good morning everybody, and welcome once again to this Sunday Morning liveblog of ours. My name is Jason, and I will be your fast word typer. Welcome to May as well, and springtime, which I hope is mostly a real spring for all of you. Here in Washington, DC, "spring" typically means "eight days of temperatures in the high sixties" and then we skip immediately to several months of 90 degree weather and 132% humidity and the general despair of living near Capitol Hill, which is of course sitting atop the blast furnaces of Satan's brothel. (This is where Senator David Vitter both recruits his staff and spends all of his free time.)
Anyhoo, today we have Marco Rubio to ask 450 times if he'll be vice president, and Joe Biden -- later -- to maybe ask the same thing? You know, for "balance." Plus panels galore on the political psuedo-events of the week. You should all quickly run to brunch or church or a combination of the two ("chunch?") and let me handle this. You may also stick around and chat with each other in the comments (I like to think the Sunday Morning liveblog comments will have their first wedding any week now), drop me a line, or experience more of my personal frustrations in real time by following me on Twitter (and learning to bleat out sad squonks on a trombone, or something).
Once more, in to the breach.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
As Wallace indicates, Rubio is the pick of Republican voters at the grassroots level. By contrast, the Republican "insiders" want Ohio Senator Rob Portman -- who is like Tim Pawlenty in that he is bland and beige and unnoticeable, except Portman does not give off the faint scent of intractable failure. But if you put Portman on teevee and interviewed him, you wouldn't remember the experience. Seriously! It's like being roofied, with dullness. You notice this humming sound and then all of the sudden time has passed. And why are your pants down? Hey. That sounds like a personal problem. Don't bring me into this.
Anyway, Rubio is here. What does he think of the way President Obama has decided to run for re-election, and criticize Mitt Romney? He says that the President doesn't have a budget, for some reason choosing to lead with reminder of his party's dedicated obstruction (probably okay for this show's audience), and jumps to some generic, "the economy is worse," critique, which is spices up by noting, "the President is being divisive," which is his way of saying, "the President isn't just handing the keys to the White House to Romney."
This is an aspect that bores me, in Presidential elections -- incumbent President runs, opponents say, "he's campaigning, no fair!" and then I'm at the opthamologist with eyeroll fatigue.
Rubio adds that Obama is breaking his promise to be a different sort of politician by saying negative things about Romney. We remind you once again that Obama is a negative campaigner, according to political science.
Wallace points out that the Obama argument is that he "inherited a mess" and that the GOP would "take us back to the mess," and Rubio disagrees. That wasn't really a question, you know? "Hey, that guy says that you and your friends suck." "Oh, shoot. Wow. You got me dead to rights there, Chris. Totally true! Man, that was wily, the way to walked me right into that trap."
Rubio, like most Republicans, is finally way into the U6 unemployment statistics, which is great. Should they win the White House, they'll go back to ignoring it, which is too bad.
Now Wallace is showing Rubio a Romney video, that's critical of Obama -- again, I don't know what he expects Rubio to say about that? "What an awesome ad." He brings up Romney's weird claim that we should have a monthly employment growth of 500K or more every time out, which actually has happened with about the same frequency as perfect games pitched in the major leagues and, inconveniently for Romney, last happened on Obama's watch. (It never happened during the Bush administration, though, why would you have expected it to?)
Romney also says that the unemployment rate should be 4%, with magic. Robert Reich remembers what mere humans have to do to get it there.
Wallace tosses most of this at Rubio, who writes off Romney's weird ideas as having "high expectations," and then giving a tongue bath to the imaginary ideal of the "American people" who just need optimism and sacks of magic beans to create all kinds of jobs. Dude. If this is a competition to just have high expectations, why not say unemployment should be 2% and we should be adding a million jobs a month? Just go for it! "Mitt Romney will make, for America, the most delicious tiramisu!"
Rubio also complains that jobs aren't being created because of "uncertainty with the tax code," which doesn't happen to be what small business owners tell reporters:
-- Jody Gorran, chairman of Aquatherm Industries: "This mantra that every dollar in tax increases is a dollar away from job creation -- give me a break. ... It's not taxes that affects job creation, it's demand."
-- Kelly Conklin, owner of Foley-Waite Associates: "I don't decide to hire or buy equipment based on tax policy. ... We know how to make shit out of wood."
-- Debra Ruh, owner of TecAccess: "We need to hire people, but we don't have the cash or the credit to do it. ... I don't mind paying taxes. ... I like living in the United States and having the opportunities here. I don't understand why running a business has to be about avoiding paying taxes."
-- Michael Teahan, owner of Espresso Resource: "What we do in business, how we spend our money, how we allocate our resources -- that has very little to do with tax policy. ... I map my business based on my customers and what my customers want to buy and what they can afford to buy."
-- Rick Poore, owner of Designwear Inc.: "If you drive more people to my business, I will hire more people. It's as simple as that. If you give me a tax break, I'll just take the wife to the Bahamas."
-- Lew Prince, owner of Vintage Vinyl: "The economic premise that people won't hire because they might have to pay more taxes if they make more money is beyond laughable. ... You hire when you think there's a way you can make more money with that hire. The percentage the government takes out of it has almost nothing to do with it."
We move now to Chen Guancheng, who is apparently going to get to come to America, per a deal worked out by Hilary Clinton. Wallace points out that Romney may have popped off half-cocked by saying, "This is a dark day for freedom" (remember he is describing EVERY DAY, because we're talking about China), a little prematurely, assuming that the deal would not be coming. What does Rubio have to say about that? Not a lot. CHINA SUX, says Rubio.
He also says that the Obama administration did not "forcefully assert our values." I don't know what else you can do, to assert those values, other than be the place that Chen Guancheng wants to come to, and be the people who get him here safely. Everything else is just "spiking the football," which we learned last week is something the Obama administration is actually not allowed to do. So, we're in "damned if you do, damned if you don't" territory.
That's where we move to, now -- the bin Laden week. Joe Biden is shown, doing his "bin laden is dead and General Motors is alive" line. Biden should be careful -- he was the guy who went all "noun, verb, 9-11" on Giuliani. Wallace asks if that is fair game, and if Joe Biden is good on foreign policy. Rubio says that Biden is a nice person, who says stupid things all the time, and is terrible on foreign policy. A key thing Rubio points out: when Biden wonders if Romney would have taken out bin Laden, that's coming from someone who cautioned AGAINST that mission. (Biden may well run for President in 2016 should Obama get re-elected -- store that away.)
And then Rubio is off saying how disgusting it was that Obama opted to, you know, forcefully assert our American values, by celebrating the death of bin Laden, and "running on his record."
Rubio says, that he "took the issue and made it a weapon for political warfare, and I think that's wrong." Ha, ha: no he doesn't. The people who actually think that don't get elected to office.
Of course, as Rubio points out, Obama promised to be a "different sort of politician," and hey NO BACKSIES NOW.
Like I keep saying: don't ever promise to be a different sort of politician. You will never be rewarded for the attempt, and after a few weeks of everyone else in DC sticking by the Principles Of Dickdom, you will be derided as a failure.
Rubio's implicit promise is that Romney will set a lower standard in this regard, and that no one will be able to criticize him for being surprisingly base and small-minded. That is just smart politics.
Now we shall have a "lightning round." On Iran, Rubio has said he supports a "dual track" where we remain in talks with Iran whilst preparing to war with them. Wallace points out that this is precisely the Obama administration's policy as well. Rubio says that Obama has the right tactics, but the "wrong attitude about the tactics" in that he might be too diplomatic and less bomby. (Obama needs to be MORE "spike the football.")
Is Romney wrong to cut foreign aid? Rubio says that Romney is always looking for efficiencies in the budget. Rubio, himself, is pro-foreign aid. Good news! We do not actually spend enough in foreign aid to make cutting it an efficiency.
Wallace asks about Richard Grenell, the openly-gay foreign policy adviser Romney briefly hired and then fired...because why again? Was it because he was a churlish and unfunny sexist pig on Twitter? No...Romney was comfortable with that as long as he scrubbed the offending tweets. OH, THAT'S RIGHT. He was openly gay, and had the temerity to support marriage equality, and the Christian right, led by the AFA's Bryan Fischer, went lights-out nuts on the Romney administration, raised a screech, and got Romney to fire him. Then, Fischer celebrated the firing, and when people complained about it, he went on to say Romney was a wimp for not standing up to him.
Anyway, Romney is always looking for efficiencies, I guess? Wallace wants to ask what that says about tolerance. Rubio says he doesn't know Grenell and as far as he's heard, he left under his own volition. You know, if Rubio was more familiar with the matter, maybe he'd have a principled thing to say about it. But hey, he doesn't know what's going on? Guy gets hounded by homophobes into quitting (or being made to quit)? Boy, Rubio just doesn't know.
Rubio says that there's more tolerance in the GOP, for example, you can be a pro-choice Republican. (Can you?) He says that pro-choice Republicans are more tolerated than pro-life Democrats, which totally explains why Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey is always being hounded to an assisted suicide.
Rubio says that he hasn't heard about any contraception debate, no sir. That's just some divisive stuff Obama invented. "Whatever happened to the Obama of 'no red America and no blue America'?" he says, adding that Obama has become "just a typical politician." Burn, I guess? Everyone is against raising the debt ceiling until it's their job, I know. If Romney becomes President, we can at least look forward to that anti-debt ceiling nonsense going away for a while.
Rubio has some DREAM act of his own, and it's essentially designed solely to take away a winning issue from the Democrats that doesn't alter the existing immigration system, because Rubio is just a typical Beltway politician. To his credit, though, Rubio never promised to be something different.
Wallace points out that Romney will sort of bask in the mantle of Rubio's "Botox the existing system and call it a DREAM Act" without signing onto it by saying that he is "studying it." Rubio says that there isn't a "piece of legislation" to back yet. (I bet you there won't be, either.)
Rubio says, "Romney is for a legal immigration system that works," which is the vaguest thing you can say about anything. I AM FOR APPLES THAT ARE APPLE-Y AND ALSO DELICIOUS. I AM FOR CAN OPENERS THAT OPEN CANS. WATER SHOULD BE WET, AND BY GOD, IN A ROMNEY ADMINISTRATION, IT SHALL STAY THAT WAY.
Will Rubio be vice-president? "Well, Chris, I am not going to discuss the vice presidency." Instead, he talks about his qualifications for the Senate. They include, "I am currently in the Senate itself." He is doing a very good job filibustering. So much so that there most be lots of White House policies he is obstructing right now. Wallace stops him after it just gets stupid.
Can Romney win the presidency if Hispanics prefer Obama two to one? Rubio says there is no "Hispanic vote," and there's great diversity, every state is different. He makes a glancing hit at one point -- in swing states like Florida, Hispanics may vote differently than the rest of the Hispanic vote nationwide, and all that really matters is that electoral college.
Wallace tries about two more times to get Rubio to say he'd take the VP job if asked, and he fails.
And we're paneling with Bill Kristol and A.B. Stoddard and
Lynne Liz Cheney and Juan Williams.
Kristol says that he noticed that Obama's kick off was light on defending the stimulus and the Affordable Care Act, and it was all pretty boring to him, boy howdy! Wallace is all, that was pretty cynical, but okay, the president didn't actually talk about his record and instead wants to make it a "choice" election. Stoddard says that it's not a surprise and that "the divisive theme of we can't go back to the GOP of old" is the one he's stuck with. She wonders if that will have to change at some point in the future.
Cheney says that this tactic will not be anymore effective in 2012 than it was in 2010. She also criticizes Obama for what she describes as "saying something doesn't make it so," and I am sort of laughing out loud, listening to a Cheney criticize that.
Williams points out that the economy is, nevertheless, doing better -- in terms of jobs, the stock market, production -- and that's the record he has to run on.
But the economic news for April was pretty bad, in terms of adding to the labor market. (Though there were upward revisions on previous months that may be getting a bit underplayed.) Kristol says that it adds up to mediocre improvements that Obama can take credit for, and that Obama will have a chance to win if he can make the election a choice between his first term and Bush's last term. "He's going to make Mitt Romney the third term of George W. Bush."
Stoddard says that the strategy could work, but there's not a lot of time left. That's true to a certain extent, but I'm relatively certain that the reason why is a bit too far past Stoddard's pay grade. Suffice it to say that the largest impact any single economic indicator seems to have on the electoral hopes of an incumbent is income growth in the last three quarters of the first term, with a particular emphasis on Q14.
Lynne Liz Cheney [Note: Sorry about that folks, I am always getting Lynne and Liz wrong, and I'm about to do it about 400 more times, so, sorry, xoxoxo, etc.!] going to run for the Senate in Wyoming? She doesn't answer the question. She should probably be waterboarded, because I hear it's a splashy and fun way to answer questions!
More paneling, moving to the Chen Guancheng matter. Kristol says that he thinks the Obama administration may have made some initial mistakes, but adds some "to be fairs" about these matters being very difficult to manage in real time. With the help of an uproar back home, Clinton probably gathered sufficient pressure to make things alls well that ends well. Stoddard adds that Chen himself didn't make it a very easy situation to manage, and that Romney's criticism was "politically tone deaf."
Cheney says that the administration just isn't competent, and doesn't do enough to just openly stomp around offending people. Why doesn't Obama just peacock his way around Iran? Because he is incompetent. Juan Williams totally disagrees. I'm just waiting for Williams and Cheney to get into a fight, so I can sit back and tune out the noise for a minute.
Drat. Instead Wallace changes the subject to the Obama campaign's bin Laden ad. I think I've said enough about that. Kristol says that it's unfortunate that the ad emphasizes the political costs to Obama if the mission had been a failure. I'll point out two things: this is just a true statement of fact. Had the mission failed, it would have been enormously politically damaging. We're all capable of speaking this way, in hindsight, about President Carter, so let's not act like it's nuts to point this out.
Second, if we're going to take the tact of saying, "Actually if [x] had failed it would have hurt lots of other people," let's consistently apply it. Because I'm a little sick of hearing about a massive unemployment crisis that seems to only be a problem for a wealthy politician's re-election hopes.
Ha, Kristol thinks that the message is odd, and George W. Bush wouldn't have done it. I'm pretty sure you can all google "bush mission accomplished aircraft carrier" for yourselves.
Williams said that it's unseemly that the Obama campaign did this ad, but a Republican president would have done the same thing. Again, probably no one would have said boo about this if the ad hadn't done that whole, "WOULD MITT ROMNEY HAVE MADE THE SAME CHOICE" thing.
Lynne Liz Cheney isn't impressed with whatever it is we'll be doing in Afghanistan until 2024, but can we just come home? No. "He doesn't talk about victory, he doesn't talk about winning," Cheney says. Yes. Historically, you don't get to use those words alongside the word "Afghanistan." At any rate, she shouldn't worry, because we'll be in Afghanistan long enough for lots of other Presidents of both parties to have a turn losing. I'm expecially looking forward to kids who were born AFTER the war started growing up and dying there. That's going to be fun. It sure will be just great, being part of the collective shame that a kid born in 2005 came into a world where none of the adults in their life had enough of their wits about them to keep him alive. Preview of coming attractions.
Would you even lose the election by just ending the war in Afghanistan tomorrow? I would think that you would win going away.But if not, I'd be proud to lose an election for that reason. I'd be proud to be hated for that reason. I would trade a daily kick in the face, to keep children from growing up and dying there, if everyone would agree to it. But no, let's definitely stay there till 2024. That'll work.
THIS WEEK WITH PROBABLY GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS BY MAYBE NOT YOU NEVER KNOW ANYMORE
David Axelrod is here, as is John McCain, who is now just circling Washington, getting punches on his Sunday Morning Chatspittle Super Saver Club card until the world is engulfed in flames and he ascends into the swirly maelstrom of hellfire as the Vampyre King Of The Milky Way Galaxy and flies off to Mars to mate with lava creatures, build up an army, and then get bogged down fighting in Afghanistan, forever.
Plus a panel that includes Bay Buchanan. I had better go make a Zantac milkshake.
Anyway, the answer to your question is "Jake Tapper is hosting," and he says that Stephanopoulos has a "well deserved morning off." Whatever, George.
Anyway, did you notice that there is some kind of election going on? There is. People are making speeches and having rallies, and yelling talking points at each other.
David Axelrod is here, and Tapper asks him about the recent economic numbers, and Axelrod states that "you have to look at the trend" because the trend is good, overall, especially considering where we came from, and here are some headwinds, and here are some bills that he supports that won't get passed, and it's like a mashup of every David Axelrod television appearance from the last three years, only now there's some anti-Romney stuff in it. Of course, you could have gamed out the anti-Romney stuff three years ago, too.
Axelrod reminds that four years ago Romney ran around saying that blaming Bush for the bad economy was just "politics" and he now evidently believes that it's okay to do that now that the shoe is on the other foot. Yes: we have all met Mitt Romney, and are familiar with his studied take on double-standards. (Don't you guys still want to talk about how bad the economy was under Bush, though?)
Tapper wants to know if the failure to fill 4,000 seats at Ohio State wasn't a sign that Obama should just concede the election right now on live teevee. Axelrod says no. He adds that people are enthusiastic. He is not sure people are enthusiastic about Romney. This conversation actually toom a couple of minutes, but it wasn't interesting enough to merit me chronicling it for posterity. I think that Romney will manifest much more enthusiasm than McCain did.
When will the Obama campaign run on their record? Axelrod says that they are already doing it. Like the bin Laden mission, remember that? But in about a week, he says, you will see lots of ads that "speak to the progress we've made since the President took office."
Moving to the whole "spiking the football" issue. Has he been doing that? Axelrod says no, he is noting simply that he kept this promise and made a risky decision, and if the mission had failed, the Romney campaign would be pointing and sneering.
Tapper then moves to the whole Chen Guancheng, and Mitt Romney's premature criticism of the efforts to protect him. Axelrod says it's shameful the way some people "speak irresponsibly on half information." He accuses Romney of "blunderbussing around trying to score political points," thus helpfully referencing the new Jack White album. Gotta keep the youths engaged.
Here are some things to read about Chen Guancheng, by the way? Because I worry that he is going to live in the minds of Americans as this guy who was briefly featured as a shiny object in the election-year fiff-faff between Obama and Romney.
Okay, now we jump to the 54,348th Sunday morning conversation with Sith Lord McCain.
Where does McCain come down on the issue of blunderbussing? This is perhaps the most unnecessary question in the world. McCain wants to know why we aren't cold saving more Chinese people from China, using these "Avengers" he keeps hearing about.
Tapper reads Politico to John McCain, which is, I think, part of some Sunday morning drinking game? Do a shot, everyone, right now.
"Back and forth during a tough primary campaign," McCain says, there's a lot of things that get said. He should know! One of the things he routinely said to the other people who debated him during the 2008 campaign was "I really hate this Romney guy."
Now McCain is mad because we did not do some heavyhanded intervention after the Iranian election, so as to make life even worse for the Iranian dissidents who really would have suffered mightily had their movement become ornately stamped with the United States' imprimatur. (Also, who would have been available to "do undefined stuff" in Iran? Probably the Avengers.)
McCain says that after the Iranians chanted "Obama are you with us," the President didn't say a word, and that was shameful. (Actually, the White House took a pretty sizable risk by asking Twitter to remain in service during the uprising so that the dissidents on the ground could continue communicating with each other and the outside world.)
McCain says that Obama is bragging about Iraq and he shouldn't be because things are unraveling there. He should, perhaps, not brag about Iraq, because all the Obama administration did was follow the status of forces agreement signed during the Bush administration to the letter. That said, Iraq's unraveling is happening because we invaded it. It's called "natural consequences." We put Iraq on a path to unraveling. We basically drew up a plan to ensure this.
McCain coming hard and heavy now. Things have never been worse between the U.S. and Israel. Remember those bunker busters we sold them? We were such a-holes, for doing that. "And then there's Syria," he says. I sympathize, of course, because we created an insane standard for intervening in Libya that we're not applying in Syria. (Or Bahrain!) But again, the Avengers do not actually exist, so I don't know who gets sent into Syria for the next few years and how this gets paid for. If everyone was being honest at the time of the Libyan intervention, we would have just said, "The new standard for doing this sort of thing is how easy can it be to do."
And, hey, this is why you don't spend all you blood and treasure on pointless endeavors. When it comes to warmaking, John McCain just doesn't seem to understand that there is this thing called "opportunity cost." We'd be in an even poorer position to help Syrians if we'd followed John McCain and his blunderbuss into South Ossetia, as he'd have liked.
Does McCain have any vice-presidential advice? Sure! And it comes wrapped in a lot of coy jokes where he winkingly acknowledges the fact that he's aware he made a terrible choice himself, without ever just publicly copping to it. Wow, John, this "leading from behind" just doesn't work!
And now we're paneling with George Will and Bay Buchanan and Greta Van Susteren and Austan Goolsbee and Tavis Smiley.
George Will thinks that Obama went too far with his bin Laden ad, because Dwight Eisenhower would never brag on his accomplishments and suggest that he alone was capable of bringing peace to the world while alleging that Adlai Stevenson would make different choices and maybe get Americans killed.
Only, ha ha, sorry, George Will, that is EXACTLY what Dwight David Eisenhower WOULD do and DID do:
Lord, and he did it for four and a half minutes! How cheap was television time back then?
Buchanan says that foreign policy is not likely to be a key issue, but Obama is not "presidential" when he fails to praise the Navy Seals. Tapper and Smiley retort that Obama has praised them repeatedly, and that their actions in terms of deeds and policy are generically geared toward support of veterans and soldiers. What disappoints Smiley is that there is a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Oval Office and Obama does a lot of warring and bragging about war. (Maybe he should put a bust of John McCain in the Oval Office?)
Goolsbee points out that everyone from Romney to Biden piled on Obama when he said he would go into Pakistan to get bin Laden, and because of this, it's a relevant campaign issue. It's not hard to imagine, of course, Romney going on a big Told You So Tour if the mission had failed. (No one would have said, "Hey, Mitt, have a heart and don't kick the Navy Seals when they're down," either.)
Greta Van Susteren wants to extend our interventions to Honduras and Mexico and the Sudan, among other places. I'm excited for the possibility that she will, in about fifteen minutes time, decry the large deficits. I mean, fingers crossed. I can actually get high, now, on publicly televised cognitive dissonance. Or maybe this isn't so much a high as my brain having a tiny stroke. Either way, all the colors go all tinty, and there's some numbness, and I usually pee myself.
George Will says that the Chen Guancheng matter demonstrates once again how nasty the Chinese regime is, and how foolish it is to expect their authoritarianism to be curbed by gradually introducing market dynamics into their system. Suck on that, Adam Smith, I guess.
Apparently, super power-mad dictators don't go all soft because there's a Starbucks and McDonalds down the street? If anything, McDonalds should only harden authoritarianism, like arteries.
Ha, ha. Did you ever imagine that Jake Tapper would attempt an Adam Yauch remembrance with George Will and Bay Buchanan sitting right there? Okay. Well, cross that off your "signs of the apocalypse" list.
Will says that if you look at the unemployment rate in a weird way that no one does, the unemployment rate would be 11%. Goolsbee retorts by pointing out that this just means that it would be down from 17%.
Van Susteren thinks that everyone has an enthusiasm problem, because Obama didn't fill 4,000 seats in Columbus, and all of Romney's endorsers are all, "Blah, Romney, whatever. I guess I endorse him."
Things get tedious for a while, until Will says that the push for more student loans is the "slow motion creation of a new entitlement," and decries both parties for supporting it. Smiley tries to argue that getting people into college is good for their job prospects, Will counters by saying that the margin of salaries between high school graduates and college graduates are a pittance. Smiley says why not give no-interest loans to students when we give them to banks. Will says, hey let's not give no-interest loans to anyone.
Goolsbee and Buchanan spend a few minutes chicken vs. egging on education and jobs. We should invest in education, says Goolsbee. No no, we need job creation, says Buchanan. Which is why he supports education investment, says Goolsbee. You should be creating jobs, says Buchanan. We did. No you didn't. No seriously we did, and Bush was terrible.
And we're on to the Lugar- Mourdock race. Buchanan is very excited about Mourdock. Van Susteren says that she could curb her enthusiasm, because Lugar is much better. Smiley says that despite Lugar's conservatism, he recalls Lugar's public service very fondly, and says it's too bad that a guy who's been a faithful conservative is losing because he lost some arbitrary purity test, balanced against his career.
What does the John Edwards trial mean, for America? The panel discusses as I get more coffee.
And now they are talking about Junior Seau's death. Is it possible to be in favor of this? No. Will agrees that football is in trouble because the game's players have developed to the point where the violence that can be doled out is too much for the humans playing the game to take. Smiley says that all the money in the game will keep things from changing. Van Susteren is more concerned about Drew Brees breaking some record. Goolsbee compares it all to glory-seekers who climb Mount Everest, which is literally a mountain covered in trash and corpses.
MEET THE PRESS
Okay, so, Joe Biden is here, I bet to talk about this whole "Obama campaign" thing. Also, Kelly Ayotte will be getting get first turn at Sunday morning surrogacy, when she panels with Chuck Todd and Tom Brokaw and Diane Swonk. These are three people whose names would be fun to hear pronounced by Tom Brokaw: "With Chuck Tawhawhd, Kelly Ayoughought, and Diane Swahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhnk, I'm Tawm Brokahhhrrrrrrwwww."
I make my own amusement! Anyway, going to try to get through this last hour of chatting as quickly as I can. We begin with Joe Biden, who previously taped his sit down with Gregory.
So, the economy? Is it the suck? Biden says no, and that revisions keep picking up the prior months' numbers. "We're on a patth," he says. Gregory asks if there's a certain amount of stagnation happening. Biden says no. "There's been steady growth -- not enough -- but no stagnation."
Of course, Romney disagrees, preferring to cite the discouragement. Biden admits that people across the country are still feeling the economy as if it were still in recession. Biden says that what Romney's proposing -- tax cuts for the rich, obstacles to education, eliminating R&D and infrastructure investment -- will not help. "The good thing," he says, is that "they're not hiding the ball this time, God love 'em." Between the Ryan budget and the obstruction, the GOP, he suggests, are being very open about their desires. (Romney could still decide to distance himself from some of this.)
Gregory points out that the recovery has been a lot slower than previous recoveries, so why not give the ball to someone with a background in business? Biden says that Romney lacks the background he thinks he actually has. (He also points out that this recession was historically terrible.)
Biden gets into some specifics, pointing out that they would have been allowed to save a few million additional jobs had a tiny tax on millionaires income been levied, to help keep cops and firefighters on the job. Gregory scoffs, "But you can't guarantee jobs." Dude, you were the one who just asked, why not hand the whole government over to the guy with a business degree.
Moving to Chen Guancheng. is his future in America? Biden says yes. He says that he expects Chen to be permitted to come to the United States, with his family, to study at NYU, and they are prepared to grant him a visa immediately. Biden is much more surefooted in discussing this type of foreign policy interaction, and he explains that the situation developed last week along the lines of what Chen was seeking to do -- at first, he wanted to remain in China with his family, later it became his desire to get out.
Gregory asks if it's more important to stand up for freedom or maintain good relations, and Biden says that standing up for freedom is more important, and he's impressed that upon the Chinese repeatedly.
Joe Biden is going to run for Vice President. There is a few minutes of what Gregory and Biden imagine to be "hilarity," followed by a quick question on the talk of replacing him with Clinton, which is only ever discussed at cocktail parties in DC, by the foppish courtiers of the Beltway.
What about the "evolution" of Obama and Biden on marriage equality?
BIDEN: I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction-- beyond that.
BIDEN: The president continues to fight, whether it's Don't Ask, Don't Tell or whether it is making sure, across the board that you cannot discriminate. Look [at] the executive orders he's put in place: Any hospital that gets federal funding, which is almost all of them, they can't deny a partner from being able to have access to their partner who's ill or making the call on whether or not they-- you know-- it's just-- this is evolving. And by the way, my measure, David, and I take a look at when things really begin to change, is when the social culture changes. I think Will and Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody's ever done so far. And I think-- people fear that which is different. Now they're beginning to understand.
Okay, so, great synergy with Will And Grace. But all of these comments have already been walked back. My thoughts on this are that if Obama gets re-elected, he'll probably say, "Hey, wow. Look at me, I'm evolved now." Maybe sooner if rich libertarians give his campaign half a billion dollars! And that's me, being cynical, hooray!
Was all that bin Laden football spiking Obama's "Mission Accomplished" moment? Biden says that the trip to Kabul was a legitimate meeting to sign a "war-ending" document that took twenty months to negotiate, completed coincidentally on the one year anniversary of bin Laden's death. I mean...I'm still in the vaporous haze of the previous paragraph's cynicism, maybe, but it was awfully convenient, and frankly, this agreement doesn't really feel like a slam-dunk war ender to me.
Gregory points out that having questioned Romney's foreign policy bona fides, Biden opens himself up to criticism that he opposed the bin Laden too. Biden says that's a valid point, but nevertheless, the President was "the only person with a full-throated 'go' was Leon Panetta." And even though Biden opposed it, he says that ultimately, he just wanted the President to "follow his instincts" because they were "always unerring" and...wait. Does Biden really believe that? Because the next question is, "Oh so does that mean you are now convinced that keeping up the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan was worth it?" Because Biden's instincts at the time told him that it wasn't.
Anyway, Biden says the only thing they differed on is that he wanted "one more day" to do one more "test," before the raid. But the White House did pick a great time to do the raid -- the White House Correspondent's Dinner, when all the city's reporters are too drunk, ignorant, and chasing celebrity approval to notice something huge going down. (More than usual, I mean.)
Biden says that the United States' reputation in the world has been enhanced under Obama, and based upon what Romney's said about foreign policy -- our arch-enemy is Russia, for example -- our standing would be damaged.
Does Biden think there's a huge right-wing conspiracy to obstruct Obama's initiatives? He says no, it's just that the GOP has been taken over by the Tea Party, and it's like the way the "far left took over the Democrats back in 1972." "We go through phases, like this," he says. "We need a strong Republican Party...two or three people who can speak for the party and make agreements," he says.
I would make the case that everyone suffers when one party goes off the rails as well. Democrats aren't working important muscles debating Michele Bachmann and the Randian Haircut From Wisconsin, for Pete's sake. And we're about to turn out Dick Lugar? He's a solid conservative being made to feel ashamed for failing some purity test. If I'd told you that was going to happen eight years ago, y'all would have called me insane.
For this reason, Biden has a lot of sympathy for John Boehner. Know what? I schedule a little time on Tuesdays and Thursdays to do the same!
Who would Biden want to face on the debate stage? He says that he's looking forward to the debates and he'll assume that whoever it is will be tough. Will he run for President in 2016? Biden basically says, "Me and Hillary will run as a team. OMG, J/K, LOL!"
Panel time, with David Gregory and Brokaw's Unpronounceables. How does the Romney campaign feel about Obama's kick off? Ayotte says it's sad that the guy who promised to be a different kind of president is, like, totally trying to run against Romney by criticizing him and stuff! Also, she hates Obamacare and stimulus, and for the most part, foreign policy -- especially the same stuff McCain stuff about Iran. Ayotte speculates: what if making some big thunderous display of support had resulted in regime change in Iran? Well, it doesn't work like that. I mean, does it? Does wishing make things so? How come Kelly Ayotte hasn't gotten the Iranian people bald eagles and soft-serve icecream yet? It's because she doesn't want it bad enough.
Anyway, Gregory has some newspapers to read to everyone and questions to ask. Diane Swonk says that economy is a "measure of human behavior" and we are in a dense forest, a forest of wonder. An erotic forest, where paupers clutch at each other for warmth. But I digress. Because do you want to hear that "Europe could take us off a fiscal cliff?" FINE. Europe could take us off a fiscal cliff. It's just beyond the forest, this cliff. Where paupers are boning.
Brokaw is here to say some bromides about how the country "feels" about the economy, and acknowledges that he's is reciting a disaster of "mixed metaphors," but whatever. Economy be tripping, here's a six minute monologue about it.
Todd says that he finds it fascinating that the Obama campaign's shifted their message to, "Will you be better off four years from now, if you change to Romney." This is not actually a new tactic. This is the war president strategy. You can't switch horses in midstream. It's just being applied to the economy. We've won back the auto industry and are about to storm the shores of the economy's Normandy.
It's a little weird to have a panel with three reporters and one candidate's campaign surrogate, because what we're getting is three bent-over-backwards neutral types and one panelist who is out there with knives.
Swonk says that she's equally offended by both sides in the way that people haven't settled on a simple plan to cut some deficit and raise some revenues through taxation, and when are people just going to see the sanity of that and do it, because it would an easy fix for so many things! My advice to her would be to stop being so equally offended! You know, just be offended at the side that's preventing all this from happening. Lordy, this lady is Thomas Friedman in a scoop-neck blouse. That Thomas Mann/Norm Ornstein piece must have been read by nobody.
Brokaw says there's a movement to bring back the Simpson-Bowles plan, and it's failure was a black eye on the president. First of all, there is no such thing as a "Simpson Bowles plan" because the Simpson Bowles committee very famously failed to produce one. Had they done so, we'd have gotten to the stage where the president would have urged it's passage, and it would have been defeated, because the President urged its passage. What exists is a "Chairman's mark," and people really should be more specific about these things.
Anyway, if the President wants to pass anything that looks like something that might have not been totally kicked to death in the Simpson-Bowles committee room, he would need to make a big demonstration of how NOT for it he is. Otherwise it doesn't stand a chance. Were the President to caution America to not put their hands on the open flames of a gas stovetop, the GOP would all run home, burn themselves half to death, and criticize the President for being divisive.
Jamie Dimon is for "Simpson-Bowles," whatever that is, and we should all totally listen to Jamie Dimon, according to Tom Brokaw.
Is everyone high?
I simply cannot endure much more of this so I'm going to turn the sound off and put it on fast-forward and then summarize what I see from everyone's gestures.
Okay, David Gregory is like, "Huh?" and Ayotte responds, "Crickety-crickety-pippapippapip." "Blappitty, blippity, floo-owww, diddydiddydo," she adds. Head nod.
Gregory says, 'WAAAUUGH" and Brokaw is all, "HAWWDEEDAWWW, nim nim nim." Then there are pictures of George Clooney hugging people.
"Vamm," says Gregory, "Dipple-dipple-tit." Chuck Todd replies, "Oh, rim, oh ram, mickey jam."
[Ha, actually, I found out that the part I was driven too far into boredom to transcribe was Tom Brokaw throwing shade on the annual Masque of the Red Death known as the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and Todd and Gregory sort of feeling sheepish about it.]
And we are done. So much easier that way!
Okay, well, that is out liveblog for today. Thanks to everyone, as always, for participating. Just as a reminder, there will be no liveblog on May the 20th, because I'll be out of town and watching my wife get a masters degree that she's actually already received, but there are sacred traditions that must be observed. In the meanwhile, have a great week, and we'll see you next Sunday.