Good morning everybody and welcome to the first of these Sunday morning liveblogs of the new era in which we are no longer concerned with the 2012 election and What It Means. Instead, we begin our headlong sprint into the What Does The 2014 Off-Year Election Means period of our lives, which will last about two years of our lives, and continue to provide a ruch source of comedy. My name is Jason. Congratulations-slash-condolences to President Barack Obama, who is probably sorry/grateful for another term in the White House and regretful/happy to have put another campaign season behind him. Everything is different, and nothing has changed. Only maybe slightly re-arranged, beginning with CIA Director and sometime dude-thought-to-be-a-President-one-day General David Petraeus, who seems to have been having a little bit of a counterinsurgency party in his pants. So that's new! That's pretty neat.
Anyway, today is the first Sunday after the election which means we'll have some regrets, some gloating, the weird idea that we live in a "center right" nation and thus Democrats should never be allowed to do stuff will probably be enforced, there will be talk of mandates and maybe some snickering at Karl Rove, and Sunday pundits will start to rebuild their tattered reputations after getting shown up so brilliantly and thoroughly by political scientists and statisticians. (Hopefully they will do this quick enough so that they are nearly upright again when the next election comes along to make them look like laughable fools anew.)
As always you may mix it up in the comments with one another, drop me a line if you need, or follow both/neither my Twitter and RebelMouse accounts, the latter of which has articles from this week on the web which you can read whilst waiting for me to continue liveblogging. And if you are reading this on an iPad, remember that our app hates my liveblog for some reason, and to switch over to Safari right now.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Chris Wallace and the gang sure aren't dwelling on the election any! Today we will have Dianne Feinstein talking about David Petraeus' resignation and a Congressional foursome jawing about the fiscal cliff, including Republican Senator Bob Corker, Republican Representative Tom Price, Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, and Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen. This is the consolation prize for white dudes, I guess. Plus there will be a panel discussion with Bill Kristol, Laura Ingraham, Kirsten Powers, and shattered former human being turned lobbyist-homunculus Evan Bayh.
But first! David Petraeus has made this a special Veterans Day for America, with the revelation that he and his biographer have, for the past year or so, been executing a pretty decent "clear-hold-build" strategy in his crotch, but the surge seems to have failed, because now we all know about it. It raises many questions, none of which I can particularly answer, because I spent the weekend away from the internet, not caring about any of this stuff. But okay! One question I have is: Doesn't the director of the CIA get asked stuff like, "Hey, you don't happen to be putting it to a married lady right now, do you?"
Also, should I be relieved that the director of the CIA just didn't have his paramour and her husband...you know...made all "desaparecidos?" Because I am choosing to be VERY RELIEVED by this. Maybe the takeaway here is that America does have a teensy bit of moral fiber left, where we do not send hard men in black masks to take care of the nation's top spy's pantaloons problem before anyone can find out about it.
Anyway, Senator Dianne Feinstein -- the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- is here to answer some or all or none of my questions.
Feinstein, at first, said that she would have rather Obama not taken Petraeus' resignation, but on futher reflection has reckoned that everyone did the right thing. "When you realize the additional complications," she says, Petraeus did the right thing and Obama was right to accept his resignation.
There is, apparently, another lady that knew Petraeus and with whom his biographer-cum-mistress, Paula Broadwell, was getting shirty with, and all of this touched off an FBI investigation of some kind and forced Petraeus to disclose that ladies be all up on him at all times of the day and what not. Feinstein says that all of this forces the relevant authorities to ensure that national security has not been breached somehow, and thus far, this seems to be the case. Still, all of this, she says, "comes as a big shock" and further hearings on the matter are going to ensue, and Petraeus will be part of "the hearing process."
Wallace asks again after the second lady, and Feinstein doesn't know anything about whether the second lady was also having her central intelligence personally directed by Petraeus, but apparently they were close enough that Broadwell sent her a bunch of emails that were of a threatening enough nature to warrant her (the second lady, now) bringing the FBI into it.
Wallace asks about the FBI and their role in the investigation. Is it true that the FBI gave DiFi and her committee no advance notice about this stuff? She tells Wallace that is correct -- no one was given any advance notice about this scandal. "It was like a lightning bolt," she says, before going on the describe the process of calling everyone on the "we just had a sex scandal at the CIA" telephone tree.
Wallace mentions that Petraeus is going to be swapped out with his deputy, in an upcoming closed-door hearing about the Benghazi attacks, and wants to know if Petraeus' resignation has anything to do with Benghazi. DiFi says no, and that "if you really think this thing out, everyone will come to that conclusion." But this is Sunday morning television, so why we would start "thinking things out" is beyond me.
What are her biggest questions and concerns over Benghazi? She says that there are "literally hundreds of threat warnings" leading up to the attacks, over many months, and she'd like to know why more wasn't done. "Changes," she says, "were made," but they were not robust enough, and this "raises major questions for the future," because we have embassies all over the place. (Of course, many of those Embassies are not swarming with CIA people at all times!)
Did officials in Washington have enough warnings in advance to beef up security in Benghazi? DiFi says that is the purpose of the inquiry. Personally speaking, she thinks there was sufficient intelligence to make a decision, but she wants to see what the "extenuating circumstances are." Wallace asks if she feels there was sufficient time between the first attack on the consulate and the later attack, to have deployed additional protection. DiFi says that to her estimation, there was not enough time to provide more, but that this will be a matter for the inquiry.
Now, for whatever reason, we have a pretty misleading montage of U.S. official statements, which Wallace suggests is evidence of "shifting statements." DiFi says that the officials in charge did not act in the way they did because of politics -- rather, it was a changing assessment based on additional evidence. At any rate, all of this stuff will be the focus of the upcoming series of hearings. "This is a live incident to show that something went wrong in the assessment, and I want to see what that is," she says, without jumping to conclusions in advance.
Okay, well, now it's time to start Fiscal Cliff Panic OMGZ, with a bunch of pasty legislators.
Again this is Senators Corker and Conrad, and Representatives Price and Van Hollen, who we are told will be "at the center" of negotiating our way around the Fiscal Cliff, which is probably more frightening a prospect that the Fiscal Cliff itself. Heck, they may even be a more frightening prospect than an ACTUAL cliff. What would you do if you were told that you had two choices: 1) jump off a cliff or 2) follow the advice of Mssrs. Conrad, Corker, Price, and Van Hollen? (The correct answer is: "How close are they standing to the edge of the cliff, and how many can I push over to effect an escape from this grim situation?")
Man alive, that's a lot of Viagara victims seated around one table in Washington, folks.
Price says that he "certainly hopes that the can doesn't get kicked down the road," even though that is totally what he is best at doing. He says that he's "hopeful" when he hears from Boehner and Obama, and that the key to the puzzle is Medicare reform.
What about just sailing over the cliff and blaming Republicans? Conrad says that isn't his plan. He would rather do revenue reform and entitlement reform, and we need to also reform Social Security because "it's headed for insolvency." Not if you guys maintain the ability to do simple arithmetic it won't! Raise (or remove entirely) the income caps on Social Security contributions, consider the problem solved, and move on with your lives. It's called my "Make Alex Rodriguez Pay More Social Security (And Make The New York Yankees Match) Plan," and the only people who hate my plan are the ones who think we need to make "tough choices" where "tough choices" means "further impoverishing vulnerable people."
Can Van Hollen accept a revenue-positive package that does not raise taxes on the wealthy, but rather, closes loopholes and deductions? Van Hollen gives a long and tortuous answer, using "Simpson-Bowles" as cover, to basically say, "no." At least we are maybe done talking about "revenue neutral tax reform," which as I've been saying for some time is the equivalent, in terms of being a wasted human enterprise, as "cake-neutral baking." That is an impressive first step, as our congresscritters grapple with the real world. Van Hollen, however, seems to be fond of the Clinton-era rates, but it's about as muted as he can be.
Price, on the other hand, is asked about whether he intends to "hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage" against the threat of raising them on the wealthy. He basically says yes, because he's seemingly unaware that the President was re-elected, and holds all the leverage.
Mind you, just because Obama has all the leverage doesn't mean he'll use it! It sort of depends if he's still determined to "change the tone in Washington."
Corker has a complicated metaphor based on "yin and yang," so you can perhaps expect the Fiscal Cliff discussion to be a series of zen koans about the uselessness of Congress.
Wallace notes that about a year and a half ago, Obama and Boehner were involved in a "Grand Bargain" in which the President was prepared to give ground on Medicare eligibility age and Social Security spending outlays. Wallace brings it up in order to ask Van Hollen if he could live with those terms, but the amazing thing here is that we have one of the immediate consequences of Obama's re-election: suddenly the media is rescuing the "Grand Bargain" between Obama and Boehner from the memory hole into which it has spent the past year or so, languishing.
It has hitherto been very, very important for the Beltway media to feed its readers and viewers waters from the river Lethe, in order to characterize Obama as being unwilling to bargain. The past year's output of Thomas Friedman and David Brooks has depended on the pretense that this bargain between Obama and Boehner never happened. It's extraordinary to hear Wallace talk about it as if it's something he's naturally spent the past year talking about, with his media colleagues. In reality, I've had to continually point out the existence of the Grand Bargain, again and again, in response to numerous media types pretending it never happened.
Glad that dumb period of time is over! (Maybe?)
Will the Congress keep on trying to repeal Obamacare? Price basically says yes. This will continue to be futile. Price also says that the "election says that the people don't want unified government, they want divided government" and also they want the government to "provide real solutions." (I think probably the election says that the American people wanted more "Obama presidency stuff," but as a consolation prize, the GOP can be happy that they did an amazing job gerrymandering the House in their favor for another decade.
Wallace says that he is a bit surprised that he is getting sort of the same old answers to his same old questions.
Corker says that we probably won't go over the fiscal cliff, even though this discussion has done nothing but make me surmise that going over the cliff as quickly as possible wouldn't be the best option. If Corker/Price/Conrad/Van Hollen recommended a restaurant, I would probably put that place on my "Ptomaine Watch List."
Conrad says that Congress can probably develop a "framework" and a "backstop" so that the world can see that they are "serious" about doing things, which all pretty much screams "SPOILER ALERT: THESE GUYS WILL BE USELESS, AS ALWAYS!" right in my face with the force of a thousand gales.
"The fiscal cliff was designed not to happen," Conrad says, reminding all of us of that time the Congress agreed to a series of super-harsh budget cuts to hand like the Sword of Damocles over the "Supercommittee" as a reminder to them that they needed to solve the problem, or else, and the Supercommittee said, "Ehh, we'll probably find a way to weasel out of our commitments and somehow keep out seats in Congress by assigning blame to somebody else, just like always."
Okay, panel time with the aforementioned Kristol, Bayh, Ingraham, and Powers.
Can or will Obama work with the GOP to pass bills? Kristol reckons that the second term will feature the President passing big bills and the GOP giving in a bit much more than they currently expect. Bayh, of course, thinks that Obama needs to "move to the middle" on "fiscal issues." As that is currently where Obama sits on fiscal issues, what Bayh is saying is basically, "Obama needs to get really conservative." Ingraham is drinking that Kool-Aid, too, saying that Obama "doubled-down on liberalism" (hilarious) and that the GOP needs to decide "what they stand for."
Did she miss this: the GOP voted to repeal Obamacare thirty-two times! Let's just admit, once and for all that Obama's master plan has been to bend over backwards in his attempts to reach gentlemanly compromises on either incremental trajectory adjustments, while suggesting big policy changes that were steeped in stuff from right-wing policy shops -- like, you know, the Affordable Care Act -- in the hopes that everyone would come aboard. As master plans go, it was obviously not a bad one -- a majority of Americans decided this week to re-up.
Moving to Petraeus, Bill Kristol says that it made him super-sad to watch Petraeus resign, and now he wants to know what we are going to do in Afghanistan. (Probably stay forever, I'm guessing?) Bayh adds that Petraeus' resignation was a "tragedy." Was it a tragedy that he got caught out, boning some lady? Ingraham agrees that it is a tragedy and adds that it's strange that people were allowed to send emails to one another, and that the President should have people's personal emails immediately brought to his attention. Might as well just "CC:" Obama on all your personal junk, for national security, guys!
The discussion moves to "How does the GOP come back from a tough election loss?" Well, if you recall, Fox News Sunday greeted McCain's loss by launching a special series on coaching the GOP comeback personally, so it seems to me that the best comeback strategy, for GOPers who want to amount to something, is to do the exact opposite of whatever this panel recommends? But, let's not pre-judge, because there's a good chance someone will say, "Don't be such retrograde idiots, is my suggestion," or "Start thinking about including people in national missions," and we can call it a day.
Ingraham says that trying to appeal to ethnic interest groups will not work, and instead they need to "sell economic populism" to new voters and then goes on to descrive the execution of the "Southern strategy." So...make naked appeals to ethnic interests groups it is, then!
Powers says that all of this reminds her of 2004, where all the Democrats totally over-reacted to losing an election, and recommends that the GOP just calm down...but yeah, they really should nevertheless try to pass comprehensive immigration reform over the objections of their nativist base.
Bayh, naturally, thinks that the big lesson of the election is that Democrats should above all, not do Democrat stuff, and urges Democrats to find common cause with people on their right. Again, Bayh is recommending this after an election that the Democrats won. He really does not like it when conservative policies are not in ascendance. (Which makes sense, because he is a shill for interests that prefer regulatory capture to being policed on behalf of consumers.)
Somehow, Ingraham and Bayh are nevertheless fighting!
Kristol says that "Republicans should not kid themselves" because they lost the Presidential election, a Senate opportunity, and held the House against a national House vote that went against them. They need "fresh thinking" and "new ideas" and maybe they should never nominate a Wall Streeter for President again. He further suggests that the GOP should not treat every compromise as a sign of apostasy: "Don't scream and yell if one person says, 'You know what, it won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires,' it really won't, I don't think."
"Really, the Republicans are going to fall on their sword for a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic," Kristol says.
Kristol says that the GOP does not have a "Tea Party problem," but come on, dude, here are two words never mentioned consecutively at the GOP convention: "Tea Party."
MEET THE PRESS
Meet The Press will basically be the same show as Fox News Sunday, just with different people. So: Petraeus, fiscall cliffing, and election panel chit chat. Andrea Mitchell will handle Petraeus. The segment on FISCAL CLIFF PANIC OMGZ will be taken up by Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Coburn. For some reason, Jim Cramer is going to talk about "the politics of the economy," so look forward to us all growing incrementally stupider together. And finally there is a panel chit-chat sesh with Joaquin Castro and Steve Schmidt and Chuck Todd and Bob Woodward and, of course, Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Let's get on with it. then. Woodward joins Mitchell to talk about this stuff, for whatever reason. Mitchell relates the story about this other unnamed lady getting harrassed over email by Paula Broadwell, which led to the whole affair between Petraeus and Broadwell coming out. She reiterates that none of this began with an investigation into Petraeus and that nobody is alleging anything criminal. Everyone wants to know, though, what people knew and when and why other people weren't told before the Friday after election day.
Broadwell and Petraeus went jogging a lot together, which is a testament to the sexual attraction to one another that each felt, because jogging is maybe the least sexy thing you can do with another person. "Hey, sweetie! Let's both run down the side of the road sweating out every pore and with a look of pained misery on our faces!"
"Interestingly enough," says Woodward, "I don't think the David Petraeus story is going away." Be careful out there on that limb, Bob!
Woodward explains that the testimony on Benghazi that Petraeus would have offered Congress will now have to be provided by his deputy, Michael Morell. Now, the testimony Morell will offer will be the same, and Morell is as experienced a CIA official as you can find anyway, but according to Woodward, in the warped Washington environment, where cocktail party attendance means more than actual intellectual credibility, the Obama administration gives up a lot by not having well-respected philanderer David Petraeus offer the super-important Benghazi testimony, instead relying on a super-experienced CIA official, who no one has heard of. Michael Morell? Has he even been invited to the Vanity Fair White House Correspondents Dinner afterparty? If not, then he can hardly be expected to credibly explain national security matters.
Mitchell says that her reporting leads her to believe that the White House did not know about any of this before Wednesday, but you have to imagine that somehow the president's college transcripts are mixed up in there somewhere.
Woodward and Gregory have a "make this about me" colloquy in which they each talk about how awesome it is that they knew stuff about Petraeus and/or knew him personally. Gregory assures us, because he "spent time with Petraeus" that he "loved his job" and was also "engaged with his job" and also -- and this is super-important! -- "had tremendous bandwidth in terms of his counter-terror operations." Awesome insight, David Gregory! Let me see if I have this correct. David Petraeus had "tremendous bandwidth" to run counter-terror operations, ALMOST AS IF HE WERE THE HEAD OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY OR SOMETHING. Hmmmm. It makes you wonder if the light I am seeing out the window right now suggests that the sun has "tremendous bandwidth" to "shine" during "daylight hours" on "Earth," or something. I don't actually know, because I've never been afforded a sit-down interview with the star at the center of our solar system. I can only speculate.
Time for fiscal cliffery, with Schumer and Coburn. First, though, Gregory asks Schumer if Petraeus should have resigned. Schumer says that the decision is one best left to Petraeus and "your heart breaks" (it does?) and her, Petraeus was a "New Yorker" just like Schumer, so he's pretty sure that he knows him better then anyone. Coburn adds that "leadership matters" and you have to "set an example" and so he did an "honorable thing" when he resigned his post from schtupping that lady. So much "honor," everywhere.
WILL MICHAEL MORELL BE ABLE TO HANDLE TALKING TO CONGRESS? Chuch Schumer says that we will have to see, but a nation sure hopes so!
Okay, David Gregory is like, super convinced that the "mandate" from this election is that the people want "compromise" and so "what pain do Republicans have to accept to get to a deal." The correct answer is "none whatsoever" because "the Republicans" in Congress are part of a perma-privileged elite who will never experience "pain." The Democrats in Congress are similarly positioned. And Gregory doesn't understand what the "mandate" from the election is at all. Here is where I can help him out. Per the Washington Post (who are probably very sad to have to publish this):
Deficits aren’t at the top of voters’ minds. In Washington, the question of how to reduce the budget deficit has been front and center for two years now. It dominated the debt-ceiling debate in 2011, and is returning to center stage as Congress and the president get set to negotiate a resolution to the “fiscal cliff” — the tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
Guess what: Voters are focused on other things.
Only 15 percent named the budget deficit as their top issue in exit polls. That was far below the number who said the economy (59 percent) and even below those who listed health care (18 percent). Getting the nation’s finances on a more sustainable track may be necessary, but the impetus to move quickly isn’t coming from voters themselves.
This is an area where voters’ opinions match fairly well with what financial markets are saying. The usual reason deficits are harmful is because government borrowing pushes up interest rates, crowding out investment by the private sector. Those high debt levels can cause investors to lose faith in a government’s ability to repay, sparking a fiscal crisis, as Greece and Spain can attest.
But neither high debt nor investor panic has been a serious problem in the United States. Interest rates are at all-time lows, and companies are reporting no trouble borrowing money at low rates by issuing bonds. The U.S. government can borrow money for a decade for 1.68 percent, suggesting that any fears of a U.S. fiscal crisis are distant, at best.
The voters are very smart!
Anyway, Schumer and Coburn talk such a convincing game about compromise that they will almost assuredly find themselves unable to compromise on any level when the moment for compromise finally comes. Schumer, for example, says that there needs to be "real revenues" and not "dynamic scoring" gimmicks or "closing loopholes." Schumer is basically in favor of the Clinton-era tax rates, Coburn is sure that a pound of flesh can be seized from the rich by ending deductions. I suppose it's progress that we're at least now picking over the fatty part of the carcass.
Are we going to finally get comprehensive immigration reform? Schumer says that he and Lindsey Graham are set to "resume" the talks that were previously "broken off" on the issue. Of course, the guy who keeps wrecking the comprehensive immigration reform talks is Lindsey Graham, petty little whinging baby-monster:
Legislation is entirely about feelings and deal-making for Graham. He’ll join in apparently good-faith efforts to craft pragmatic solutions to complex problems, but the second anyone looks at him the wrong way he’ll dive off the bandwagon and accuse everyone else of ruining the compromise by not following some bizarre script that exists solely in Lindsey Graham’s head to the letter.
And Schumer is just a silly idiot if he doesn't see history repeating:
So when Graham lets it be known that he is working on immigration reform again (with Senator Chuck Schumer), it is not really about passing immigration reform (which is impossible anyway, because members of Graham’s political party now control the House of Representatives, and Graham did not bother to help get reform passed back when he had the chance because he got cranky about the fact that Harry Reid wanted to actually try to do it instead of delaying the process forever). It is about signaling that Graham is a powerful bipartisan deal-maker, and that all legislative compromises must go through him.
If you are working on a compromise with Lindsey Graham, you are not actually working on a compromise! Lindsey Graham is who you turn to when you want to create a "deal-neutral deal."
"Our plan does four things," he says. "First of all, close the border. Make sure that's shut." Yep. Just, you know, "make sure!" Shouldn't be too hard, at all!
Okay, time for about a half hour of panel-yammer.
Todd says that the Petraeus scandal unfolded without the White House largely knowing about what was going on beyond a tight circle of officials, and they didn't expect this position to be one of the ones that they needed to fill in the second term. Todd, at least, seems to think that Morell is sufficient to the task of leading the agency.
Schmidt says Petraeus will "make big contributions" in the future, so long as he "navigates" this terrible personal failing. Goodwin says that "we've got to find a way" to give some "private sphere" to our officials to be philandering douchebags, because what if FDR or Bill Clinton had to resign because they were philandering douchebags?
Gregory wants Castrol to "define the mandate" on the fiscal cliff and he says that the people want Congress to take action. Again, I think the voters clearly want Congress to take action on the short-term economic calamity and leave the long-term policy trajectory of the country aside until the recovery is achieved.
Chuck Todd says he thinks that "Wall Street will end up playing the biggest role" in the fiscal cliff negotiations, which is like saying that the nation is about to end up in a found-footage horror movie.
Yikes! Here's Jim Cramer! It's like a ghost walked over my grave! Cramer says that Wall Street has to come behind the President because not solving the fiscal cliff could "gift wrap a new recession."
Cramer makes it clear that the perverse incentives (CEOs desire lavish compensation packages) work in the President's favor because it adds to his leverage, so I guess that's good news.
Goodwin makes a good point -- now that Obama has his base mobilized and organized to help him win an electoral battle, he needs to keep them mobilized and organized to help him win some governing battles.
Woodward is Meet The Press' official version of the "Guy Who Will Now Suddenly Remember That There Was An Obama/Boehner Grand Bargain After The Media Willfully Spent A Couple Of Years Obfuscating It," and he says that there is a willingness on both sides to "cut Social Security and Medicare and get tax rates down," and Obama was willing to sacrifice a lot back then.
Maybe Obama's second offer will be more favorable to progressives, and not less, but it's not something that Gregory is willing to contemplate.
Todd says that Obama's election night win was a product of demographics, and not any bullroar like "Hurricane Sandy interrupted Romney's momentum." The white vote, as Todd points out, is on the decline. He is, however, wrong when he says that the National Vote Composition was "74% white and 27% non-white" in 2008, because that doesn't work, mathematically. These demographic shifts took place in dramatic fashion in both Ohio and Florida. (Todd also points out that third-generation Cubans that don't care about hating the Kennedy family and punishing all Democrats forever for the bay of Pigs, turned out for Obama.) He goes on to add that slowly, the electoral makeup of Arizona and Texas is swinging back in the Democrats' favor.) Every District has a median voter, though, folks!
Schmidt goes on a lengthy monologue that basically can be summed up by saying that the GOP has a strong nativist clique that needs to be turned out into the wildnerness for the GOP to have a future of any kind.
Now, there is a clip of Rush Limbaugh, blithering for some reason, about, "Does the GOP need to start handing out birth control pills?" They should probably do exactly that, if they want to combat these terrible demographics then YES, they absolutely should be very judicious in their generosity, vis a vis contraception.
About five minutes of unlivebloggable nonsense follows.
Todd suggests that the Democratic party has mastered keeping a liberal base in their tent without fully giving themselves over to it, and suggests that the GOP needs to do the same. Of course, that sort of suggests that the Democratic party has a bunch of fringe wackos in their party, roughly equivalent to those in the GOP. Schmidt, bless him, points out this isn't the case, noting that it's the GOP's "brand" that has become associated with words like "loons" and "wackos" in the minds of swing voters. He goes on to argue that the "conservative media-entertainment complex" is only adding to the GOPs larger misery.
(Chuck Todd often gets this stuff pretty wrong. I still recall when he characterized those who wanted an investigation into Bush-era torture policies as being on the fringe when in reality, a substantial majority of the country wanted some sort of inquiry.)
Now we are going to talk about the movie Lincoln, for some reason. I am going to use the loo.
FACE THE NATION:
Face The Nation will pretty much plumb the same depths as every other show this week, leaving me to hope that future weeks might lead the producers of all these shows to produce shows that are, in some way, unlike one another. At the very least, we will have Lindsey Graham, to operatically whine about American life, on the show today.
Graham is in Clemson today, and his gast is just as flabbered as everyone else's over the whole David Petraeus matter. He has no new information to add to the story, but he's awfully sad about the whole thing, because he's got a bunch of Petraeus' posters hanging on his wall and such. Graham characterizes the Obama administration's decision to follow the Status Of Forces Agreement negotiated by the Bush administration with the Iraqi government to the letter as "Obama fumbling the ball" in Iraq. He and John McCain continue to compete with one another to determine which one can be more ignorant of the existing agreements made between the United States and Iraq's sovereign government and the conditions under which said deal could be altered.
Graham says his chief concern is that the Petraeus story doesn't impede getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi, which is pretty neat to hear since he's played a role in pointlessly politicizing, and thus impeding, what happened in Benghazi. He would like the Benghazi matter to be investigated by a joint select committee of Congresscritters, which he will whine about and try to scuttle the moment they decide to print their daily reports using the wrong font.
Graham says that he "cannot imagine promoting anyone associated with Benghazi" and so it looks like Susan Rice will not be the Secretary of State any time soon. (This also pretty much means that he will basically block anyone the President sends up to replace Hillary Clinton.)
Schieffer says that one lesson from the election is that the GOP needs to rethink their approach and Graham is all, "Ha, you think." He says that the "immigration debate...has built a wall between the Hispanic community and the GOP" that stems from the tone and tenor of the debate. "It's one thing to shoot yourself in the foot," he says, "but it's another thing to reload it, and I intend not to reload it in terms of Hispanics." It's worth, I feel, taking a minute to remind that we are talking about a metaphoric gun, okay? Graham goes on to say that he intends to "tear down the wall" between the GOP and Hispanics, and, again...METAPHORIC WALL. Graham almost CERTAINLY intends to build a LITERAL wall between himself and Hispanics, as a part of "comprehensive immigration reform."
"We have nobody to blame but ourselves," Graham says. Does it mean a "path to citizenship?" Graham says that mainly it's about securing the border and penalizing employers for hiring undocumented immigrants. As for those in the country already, Graham wants something "firm and fair." But first, you secure the border, and then you "bring the 12 million" undocumented out of the shadows and on a penalty-laden path to...something else.
"Failure is not an option on the fiscal cliff," Graham says, adding that if Obama "says yes to Simpson-Bowles," so will he. Failure is always an option though! If it truly wasn't an option, then Simpson-Bowles would have actually agreed on a plan. (Once again, I have no idea what, exactly, Graham means when he says "say yes to Simpson Bowles," but I'll assume he is referring to the "Chairman's Mark" that the rest of the members of the Simpson-Bowles committee already, collectively, failed to say "yes" to.
Now, here's David Axelrod, to talk about how he thinks Obama is poised to win re-election, and -- oh, wait, I forgot, that's over. Sorry, everyone. Muscle memory.
Axelrod says that the president's position on restoring Clinton-level tax rates on upper income earners remains his position, and on "this particular issue," he has a certain mandate, that includes raising revenue in an "equitable" fashion from those who have "benefitted disproportionately from tax benefits over the past decade." Pressed on details as to whether the budget gap by simply closing loopholes, he won't write it off entirely, saying there are "many ways to skin the cat."
When did Axelrod know they'd won the election? He says that the campaign quants predicted a good result, explained how the votes would roll in, and when they started to roll in as expected, he knew it was going to be a good night. He points out that for all the talk of Romney's great first debate performance, it was an event that simply restored the fundamentals of the election, and those fundamentals favored an Obama win. Their lead was "narrow but consistent" and the notion that there was late-stage electoral volatility that favored Romney was an "illusion."
What was it like for Axelrod to be in the same room as an emotional Obama as he thanked his campaign staff? Axelrod says it was emotional. What is he going to do next? He will start a political program at the University of Chicago. So that's that, then.
Now let's panel our way to freedom with Peggy Noonan and David Gergen. Other panelists will be coming along soon.
David Gergen assures everyone that he knows David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell personally, and sends them emails, and has sent them emails during this very rough period of time. So, terrific. That really assures me that things will only be a little bit awkwardsauce at Sally Quinn's next party. He assures us also that Petraeus has a "sense of shame" about this, which makes him kind of a rara avis in Washington.
"Peggy, you are a woman," is something that Schieffer used to prompt a reaction from Noonan, who doesn't understand why Petraeus "had to leave." (Here's a hint: the possibility that the director of the CIA could be lured into a honeytrap or blackmailed with the disclosure of shameful news about his personal life is generally not thought of as a particularly good thing from a national security standpoint.)
Schieffer offers an editorial comment, in which he basically says that our politics is full to the brim of suckers' money and enough con men to convince people to spend it on a bunch of horsecrap and that maybe rich people should just give their money to charity and not to fund a $4 billion election.
I am assuming that Schieffer has to keep doing his "final thought" editorial because not all of CBS' affiliates have picked up the hour-long version of Face The Nation. This is something I hope changes in the next year, because it makes the show kind of weird to watch.
Gergen and Noonan are joined by Dee Dee Myers and John Dickerson, as we pick up the panel discussion already in progress.
Gergen is forced to reiterate that he is not condoning Petraeus' behavior, rather that we should weigh his failings alongside his successes and "understand his human-ness." Myers says that people are laudably willing to forgive people's failings, and I guess as a fomer Clinton White House official, she would know something about that!
Noonan says that Benghazi is "one of those 'what the heck is going on' moments" and that it is a "little 'Homeland'" which proves that Saturday Night Live was right when they joked that "los blancos love Homeland." (Speaking of, yes, I am finally going to start watching Homeland, like all the other white people, now that the election is over and I have "free time" to "do stuff.")
Bob Schieffer says that he wants to talk a little bit about the election, so we're going to talk about that. Dickerson says that the Romney campaign just did not see the loss coming, and their reaction was akin to a "death in the family." The Romney senior staff dismissed polling data and shrugged at any notion that Democratic turnout was where the polls said it was. Meanwhile, Ohioans in particular proved to be very willing to accept the argument that Romney was wrong for the economy and out of touch with Ohioans in particular. Schieffer finds it flabbergasting that Romney ran against the auto bailout in Ohio. Dickerson says that the Romney team just completely missed what independent voters wanted -- the white working class didn't end up rejecting Obama as much as Romney would have preferred, and the rest of Obama's base came out strong.
Myers says that when you try to suppress the right to vote, it makes the voters angry. I would cosign with those who have posited that if the GOP would make it easier for more people to vote, they would get a lot more votes. There really isn't any glory in being the party that gleefully brags about how good they are doing at voter caging.
More panel discussion. Noonan says that the GOP base has been "concussed" and needs to change. "The Tea Party," in particular, is a "style of rage that is not one that wins over converts." "I think a friendly persuasion...needs to begin now," says Noonan.
Gergen says that the GOP has a fundamental problem because they are perceived by women as too radical on social issues, and that was a big factor in their immediate defeat. But he goes on to point out that the coming two years have perils and pitfalls for the GOP as well. McConnell and Alexander and Chambliss, he notes, are all up for re-election in two years, and may be put in a bad position if they make a deal on the fiscal cliff that their base doesn't like. (Maybe Gergen can just go tell their base that they need to be more "center right?" I'm sure they'll listen!)
Now there is a lot of Noonan-Gergen blather-banging going on, because they both agree with each other so hard, but neither will shut up long enough so that I can make out what the other is actually saying.
Myers says that the president has the upper hand on the fiscal cliff, because he picked up seats in the House and the Senate. He had the upper hand, anyway, it's just good that he was re-elected and thus doesn't have to conduct the negotiations as a lame duck. Dickerson's long reckoning on the matter basically suggests that it will be interesting to see if Obama's opponents start warming to the sorts of big compromises that he's long been offering. Gergen, himself, wants everyone to do some Simpson Bowles stuff, whatever that means, and that the worst effects of the so-called cliff can be staved off long enough to manage a compromise.
It's pretty clear that Gergen represents the emerging consensus on the fiscal cliff, which is that it will be deemed reasonable by the Beltway flame-keepers to raise rates on the rich as long as entitlement cuts are also on the table. Which means what Obama should do is say, "I'll see your raise-taxes-on-the-rich-in-exchange-for-entitlement-cuts and offer you the following deal: let's raise taxes on the rich and have no change whatsoever to the earned benefits of Americans."
But hey, at least Obama will have media cover for the compromises he's been trying to make all this while, so I guess elections do have consequences.
Anyway, that's that. Welcome to the post election period, everyone! Also, welcome to November -- a month where by tradition, we skip doing this liveblog because of the holidays. So, everyone mark your calendars -- there will be no Sunday Morning Liveblog on Sunday, November 25. That is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and really, you should treat yourself to a weekend free of these shows for the holidays anyway. But we will be back next weekend, probably to do more fiscal cliffdiving. In the meanwhile, have a great week!
[The Sunday morning liveblog returns next week. While you wait, there are some fun and engaging articles curated up on my Rebel Mouse page, so feel free to indulge!]