11/03/2013 09:49 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Hello, everyone! It's time once again for another edition of your liveblog of the Sunday Morning blatherskites and their televised emanations. My name is Jason. I am back from a week off and shall man these fortifications up until the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which "doesn't or should not count" as a Sunday for the purposes of assembling a group of mostly dumb people to make noises about politics.

Today, as you may know, is one of the precious high holy days of the Sunday Morning political television show calendar, the holiest being French Open Sunday, when Meet The Press does not air and many, many angels get their jetpacks. Today is the end of Daylight Saving, when we all get the precious hour that was stolen from us for no good reason back, and we can sleep in one additional hour before we must rise from our slumber and subject ourselves to these terrors. Mitt Romney is going to be interviewed on one of these shows, because cutting-edge relevance. So the punishment continues. But we have at least reclaimed our hour.

Meanwhile the typical stuff applies -- have fun in the comments, drop me a line if you need, follow me on Twitter for some reason I don't know, and there are Sunday Reads to be read on my Rebel Mouse page for those moments where you grow bored waiting for me to type more things. In particular, I really loved this piece by Tressie McMillan Cottam from this week, titled, "The Logic of Stupid Poor People." It's pretty much one of the best things the internet has brought me all year (and yes, the title is ironic), and so I've decided to not call for the deletion of the internet for at least another few months.

Okay, now for the part where I get closer and closer to deciding it's time to destroy all television.


So, today on Fox News Sunday, we get a steady dose of the troubled rollout of Obamacare, from the website being down to the original promise of 100% satisfaction being off by 3%. Mind you, no one will be here to solve the central problem of some 40 million Americans being stuck in the position of having no affordable health care options. But there will be some yelling. That'll help...someone, right? Anyway, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel will yell on behalf of Obamacare and James Carpetta will yell that it's terrible.

Oh, and then Lindsey Graham is here to operatically whine about whatever burr is wedged in his ass crack this week. Then there will be a panel discussion that also won't solve anything.

First, the yelling! Chris Wallace promises that Carpetta and Emanuel will now "debate what's really going on" with Obamacare's bungled rollout but I can promise you that that neither of these people have been within a crotch-sniff of "what's really going on."

I have written about what the next month is going to be like for the people trying to implement the Affordable Care Act here.

Capretta says that when Obama said that everyone could keep their plan, he should have added a clause about the few people who they even knew at the time were not going to be able to do so. And they did, in fact, know. And they did, in fact, tell people. But look at it this way: Obama said that everyone was going to be able to keep their plan in speeches that he gave all over the country while barnstorming for re-election at well-televised occasions, and the administration was copping to the shortfall in the promise in articles in The Hill that no one reads.

Fewer people read The Hill than even watch Meet The Press, if you want to get a fix on how much no one found out information from 2010 like this:

The Department of Health and Human Services released preliminary regulations in June. They state that plans would lose their grandfathered status if coinsurance and copayments increase more than a specified amount, for example.

According to HHS estimates:

--40 percent to 67 percent of individual policies will lose grandfathered status by 2011;

--34 percent to 64 percent of large employer group plans (100 or more employees) will lose their grandfathered status by 2013: and

--49 percent to 80 percent of small employer group plans (three to 99 employees) will lose their grandfathered status by 2013.

So, think of it like this: the happy-sounding part was shouted aloud at every opportunity while the actual truth was very quietly whispered because no one wanted people to be mad. (I say that if so few people are going to get boned by a policy, that's worth bragging about, but I've never run for office, and as near as I can tell in America the whole point is to put a Panglossian spin on everything if you want to win.)

Emanuel, who is going to be treated as a hostile witness by Wallace it seems, explains the whole grandfathering clause of Obamacare -- policies that existed prior to passage were given a sort of sacrosanct distinction in that they didn't have to conform to Obamacare so long as they didn't change in any way. But as anyone who has been fortunate enough to possess health insurance knows, the policies change all the time! So, lots of these policies lost this grandfathering protection.

Capretta is probably right that the underlying intention was to close off certain insurance products in the individual market, but it's worth pointing out that this is a good thing -- lots of these products are pure, exploitative snake oil. Emanuel explains that health insurance companies like this too. So, when Wallace asks, "But who gets to decide what is a good insurance policy or not," the number one answer is "Well, health insurance lobbyists."

Of course the rest of that argument is, "Well why can't people be allowed to purchase terrible insurance at cut rate prices that won't help them, YURR TAKIN' AWAY MAH CHOYSES!" Wonkette makes short work of that analogy, so I don't have to.

Emanuel tries to explain, with regards to today's latest "Queen For A Day" insurance loser, that when the Queen For A Day receives health benefits that her terrible health care plan won't cover, it's not as if society is going to force her to crawl off into the woods to die. I mean, they will give her that choice, certainly! But if she doesn't choose to make it, her lack of debt-protection on the back end is subsidized by the rest of us. So, even if their isn't a cheaper alternative she can switch to (I'm guessing we'll find out what that is in about 48 hours), the end result is fairer and less costly all around -- PLUS it increases what amounts to "safety standards" for the Queen For A Day.

Emanuel explains that in "health insurance," we all pay for things like "maternity care" because other people are paying for "that time I need chemotherapy or I have a stroke."

Capretta basically thinks that the terrible patchwork plans are the future of insurance in America. So now everyone is yelling. He also seems weirdly concerned about small businesses. If so, chill out, dude: more small businesses are planning on offering their employees health care coverage next year. They worry about how that will affect profitability in the short term, but they are going to find out what a mitzvah it is to have a happy, healthy, loyal, and productive workforce over the long haul.

Emanuel endeavors to explain that the world of small business insurance was sort of a horrorshow, Carpetta explains that Obamacare makes the horrorshow worse by insisting on higher standards. There is a lot of yelling.

Carpetta and Emanuel both agree that more people need to sign up for the private market, to avoid the "death spiral." It's Carpetta's position that the death spiral is a fait accompli and it's Emanuel's position that the private enrollment will spike in December and eventually get a big enough population to cover. Only one person can be right, and I guess we're going to find out. (Worth noting, the late enrollment was the pattern in Massachusetts.)

Emanuel doesn't think that the individual mandate should be suspended or delayed -- by doing so he's making a bet that the website will be working by the end of November. That's a really chancy bet, but I guess we'll see. Carpetta is right that not having the website available is a terrible situation at a time when that 3-5% of the population receiving letters needs to see what their options on the exchanges are.

Nobody brought this up, but it's worth pointing out, everyone who voted for the Paul Ryan budget cast a vote in favor of sending letters to between 14 and 20 million Americans informing them that they'd lost their health care coverage.

Okay, we move now from the shouted portion of the show to the wept portion of the show, as Lindsey Graham is having the vapors over #BENGHARGLE, so we'll see what's going on with that next.

Oh, so, okay. Graham wants "access to the survivors of the attack in Benghazi or he will block all of President Obama's nominees."

Let me give you the Bullshit-To-English translation: Graham has done too many "RINO" things (like not destroy the economy in a debt-ceiling default) to safely conclude that he'll coast to re-election, so he's got to impress the rubes back home somethin' fierce! So, what he's gonna do is hold up as much of the government as he can unless he gets access to a bunch of people who survived the attacks on the Benghazi compound. And as that compound was one big CIA sock-hop, it's pretty likely that the "survivors" are all people who can't just walk into Congress and start testifying. So everyone's stuck, except Graham, who gets to impress the people he needs to impress.

There's really no need now to watch the segment, but I will. Graham says he wants to talk to people, the administration says that there's an "ongoing criminal investigation," and Graham says, "I'm not trying to solve a crime." Well, of course not! That would be a helpful thing for Graham to do. He's just trying to score cheap political points and shore up his restless base.

Wallace asks if Graham is being "over the top," and Graham is like "BUT THERE WERE #FOURDEADAMERICANS in #BENGHARGLE." Dead Americans who, say, die in coal mines don't receive this sort of attention, and so they will continue to die in coal mines.

(People wonder about the reluctance to go get militarily involved in Syria. LOL. When the new standard for war-making is that you'd better avoid the natural consequences of going to war with a country (and #FOURDEADAMERICANS is about as close to natural consequences as you can get) or there will be be complete governing paralysis as a result, why would you rush off into another war? And Graham, by the way, wanted to go to war against Syria. LOL, Lindsey Graham, LOL.)

"Can you imagine if this was George W. Bush?" Graham asks, as a hypothetical. I remember being alive during the whole "George W. Bush" part of American life, and I don't have to imagine things, I was there, when no one was held responsible for anything in the most cheerful fashion imaginable, by Lindsey Graham.

Graham is also going to put a hold on women's agency and autonomy, with a twenty-week abortion ban, because maybe that will impress the South Carolina Tea Party, too? Please, guys?

Now it's panel time with styrofoam cut-out Scott Brown, Julie Pace, Karl Rove, and soulless super-lobbyist bell-end Evan Bayh.

Rove says that Obamacare is in big trouble and so is Obama's brand. But, contra-Rove, the polls actually hold that people just want the system to be ironed out. Patience could be tested, however, if the website is not up at the end of November as (re-)promised. Pace points out that as long as people can't log in to the website and go shop for policies, the policy story of the lost-coverage letters will dominate the discussion asymmetrically.

Pace also points out that when the administration says that reporters should endeavor to fact-check every story they bring forward about a person who lost their health insurance, to see if they really have merit, that reporters aren't actually obliged to do so. "Anytime you blame reporters for this, you are really going down a bad road," she says. Indeed, we should probably realize that the profession of "reporter" has little to do with serving the public with accurate and useful information, and more to do with "contributing to the buzzy horse race and political freak show."

You know how you let your cat out and he comes home and he's got some half-dead, bleeding rat or vole in his mouth and he puts it on your nice settee and it's twitching and oozing viscera all over the upholstery and you come in and you see it and you look at the cat and the cat just stares back at you sanguinely, silently saying, "Well this is what you expected of me, right?" and you sigh because yeah, you should have known better and of course no one is going to help you clean up this not-quite-dead rodent thing and its suppurating wounds that you now see have dripped all over the carpet, too? Well, Julie Pace is that cat. She's not responsible for the harm she does. Remember, it's in her nature and also her brain is, at best, the size of a walnut.

Scott Brown says that it "made his blood boil" to hear Obamcare compared to the health care plan in the state of Massachusetts, a state he loves so much that he's going to run for office in New Hampshire.

Evan Bayh explains what the legislators from both parties might do from the point of view that only he can offer, which is to say the point of view of a shallow and whiny political opportunist.

Now Scott Brown is talking again, and that's pretty adorable. He's got so many bumper stickers that he memorized for this occasion!

Rove says that "these problems were known in advance," momentarily forgetting that the current talking points hold that everyone is shocked by these sudden problems.

Oh, now we'll briefly talk about election day 2013. The day of unsurprising blowouts! Let's see if anyone makes a dumb prediction.

In Virginia, Terry "Loathing" McAuliffe is beating Ken "Terror" Cuccinelli, and the difference is that while Virginia women recognize that McAuliffe is totally undateable, he does not want to summon an army of Korean Water Ghosts to terrorize their vaginas and render them unto the state for monitoring, like Cuccinelli does.

Scott Brown thinks that Republicans should do things that help win elections but that there definitely needs to be room in the Republican Party for people who are too extreme to win elections too.

Julie Pace thinks that Democrats must be pretty happy with what's going on in Virginia right now. They are actually probably more like, "Meehhhhhhhhhhhh."

They show, like, an entire Chris Christie ad, for some reason. Rove would rather dispute Wallace's characterization of Virginia as "reliably Republican," which is fair.

Rove also says that the Virginia Gubernatorial election is going to be closer than people think, according to some lawn gnomes from Ohio that he talks to in his sleep.

Are we done? Surely there is nothing more to talk about in this week's election? What about the astounding rejection of Bloombergism in New York City? No one? Okay.

Bayh murmurs some more platitudes, intending to weave as much worldly significance out of two hopelessly parochial governor's races.

Wallace asks if Brown is going to run in New Hampshire, because he started a PAC there. Brown doesn't really answer. Nobody ever answers the "are you gonna run" question on Sunday shows.


Something tells me I'd be happier watching Meet The Press next instead of ending my day with it.

If you missed the breathy, condescending way Mitt Romney mansplained the world to you in 2012, you have a treat, because he's been dragged out of whatever shallow ditch he's been resting and brought to the Meet The Press studio for their experiement with an air pump this morning. And the rest of the show will be themed around the release of "GAME CHANGE 2: MANURE-GOBBLERS." So, for my own good, I'm going to put the TiVo remote outside the front door.

All throughout the 2012 election, Mitt Romney insisted that Massachusetts' health care law should not be considered to be a plan that could be extended to the whole of America. Gregory decides to ask him that again, and Romney's answer has not changed since 2012. Gregory knows a few things about the Massachusetts law, however, and asks a technical question about it, but Romney just uses the time-tested technique of "ignoring the question entirely and sticking to the pre-existing talking points."

Gregory continues to try to make comparisons to the Massachusetts plan, because he seems to want to actually discuss the matter on the merits. He "DOUBLES DOWN" by throwing the ancient Meet The Press clip of Mitt Romney saying that all the states SHOULD follow the Massachusetts plan. That was a different time, though, and a different Romney, and in fairness to Romney -- it was a different Republican party, who cherished that Heritage Foundation-created health care reform plan until the Kenyan usurper made it law, compelling them to hate it.

But these questions, Romney has dodged them all before! I'm sure he knew that this "gotcha" question was coming, and guess what, he doesn't flinch. He says that Obama lied when he said people were going to keep their insurance (arguably a fair thing to say!) and that now people are going to find out that they are going to losing their insurance.

Nobody brought this up, but it's worth pointing out, Romney's own running mate, Paul Ryan, put forth a budget that indicated that he was in favor of sending letters to between 14 and 20 million Americans informing them that they'd lost their health care coverage.

Gregory asks what Romney would have done as president, and he says that he cannot say what he would have done, outside of "give states flexibility" in some vague way that doesn't address the underlying issue of millions of Americans having to choose whether they will die or live penniless.

Romney does say that shutting down the government was a really stupid thing to do over all of this, and that the only smart way to repeal and replace Obamacare is to elect Republicans to office -- and "put in place something that's going to do a better job for the American people and let them keep the insurance they were promised they could keep in the first place," with the exception of the tens of millions of people who would lose their insurance just because of kicking people off insurance is a cornerstone of standard-issue GOP policy-making circa 2013.

Gregory asks Romney about stuff in "GAME CHANGE 2: STRUNK AND WHITE CALLED AND YOU'VE BEEN SENTENCED TO DEATH BY A FLOOD OF DUCK FECES." The first question Gregory has is, "Did you want to win it bad enough, because the book says no" and Romney says, "I was in it to win it, 100%." Wow, I was totally expecting Romney to admit, "Yeah, I just wasn't feeling it."

What about the fact that Romney didn't pick Chris Christie as his veep? Because the book indicates that there were "landmines" that caused Romney to veer away. Romney says that he chose Paul Ryan because Ryan had a "complement of skills" that made him more attractive than Christie, especially the skillful way Ryan was aiming to send twenty million Americans letters that they were going to lose their healthcare.

Romney says that Chris Christie is "about to win as governor on Tuesday, I think, very solidly," so Romney has really kept himseld abreast of what's happening in current events.

Gregory keeps asking Romney about Chris Christie! All anyone wants to talk about is Chris Christie. It's like Romney's convention all over again, only Clint Eastwood isn't here to draw the concern of mental health professionals.

Oh, wow, this Romney interview isn't over, yet? Usually when we get to the part where we're asking Romney, "Isn't Chris Christie so dreamy, like a tub of really yummy and warm butter?" you've gotten to the end of it.

Romney and Gregory talk about what might happen in 2016. Gregory points out that the GOP keeps nominating total RINOS like Mitt Romney and John McCain and the base is calling out for some guy with an animal skin on his body and his face covered in blood to run instead. Romney says that he was a really conservative person, guys, come on, and that the word "electable" really does matter at that level.

Romney says that Hillary Clinton is "a very well known figure." Like I said, he's really got the pulse on the modern world.

Now the interview is over! Gregory just had to ask a few, last, super-stupid questions. He can go now.

Now Deval Patrick is here, because he is now the Governor of Massachusetts. Gregory asks him if Romney was right in his analysis of the way Obama has compared the Affordable Care Act to Romneycare, and Patrick says that Romney was not right in his analysis. I am very surprised by this!

Gregory asks if Obama's statement "If you like your plan you can keep it," was a broken promise, or deception, or both. Patrick says it was neither. What it is, according to Patrick, is "truth, on nine out of ten occasions" and "huuuhhhh?" on the other occasion, I guess.

Patrick says that you can sign up for healthcare on the phone, which I don't think is true, even twenty percent of the time. Patrick goes from downplaying the website's importance to saying that yes, if the website is permanently bollixed then there are really bad days ahead. But! He says that there was a delay in getting the Massachusetts website working. It was a two year delay. Does anyone think this all survives a two-year delay?

Patrick does do a better job with the health care talking points that Romney used to embrace until the GOP told him he could no longer use:

PATRICK: You know what, that's a key issue, and it was for us in Massachusetts, the so-called invincibles, those young, healthy, mostly men who are in fact free riders. And there are some 30 million free riders in the United States, people who get health care but don't contribute to the system, and the rest of us pay for it in our premiums and in taxes. And the mandate requires a basic principle of insurance, basically, which is that everybody gets insurance so you spread the risk as broadly as possible, and you begin to bring costs down. That's what's happened in Massachusetts, and in time that's what will happen for the nation.

Gregory points out, fairly, that this is all still a "big if," but Patrick dismisses that, saying that the Massachusetts experience shows that the Affordable Care Act will ultimately be successful. That is all stuff that I guess we are going to find out for ourselves.

Okay, I am halfway through this Sunday's sludge tunnel. Gonna celebrate it by pouring myself another cup of coffee.

Okay, now we've to endure a panel discussion with David Axelrod and Bill Kristol and Katty Kay and Bob Woodward.

Axelrod says that Obama's terrible approval numbers are no big deal because they've been pretty low before, like during the BP oil spill, and things eventually worked itself out.

Gregory wants to know if this is all a brand problem for progressive governing, because "for me that's what's at stake," which is hilarious because Gregory has actually never taken progressive style governing seriously and he only occasionally meets actual progressives a few times every year. Bob Woodward, who is even less qualified to discuss progressive government as a "brand" than Gregory is, says that he doesn't know.

Bill Kristol says the Obamacare "is failing and will fail." So, finally, we have SOME good news for Obamacare!

Kay does the thing where she suggests that more evidence is needed before anyone makes a glib prediction: "It's somewhat erroneous to say at this point that Obamacare is totally sunk. I mean, we can't make that call yet because we don't know. We don't know how many people are going to sign up. We need, what, 7 million healthy young Americans to sign up to this program, and we will probably know fairly late in the six-month process because young people are not the people that sign up at the very beginning. They are young, after all. They think they're invincible. They will take their time. They'll shop around. This is a disastrous rollout of this program. This website is a disaster. But to say that Obamacare, the policy, has failed, we can't say that."

Axelrod explains that he used to be one of those dumb people who thought his substandard insurance policy was fine:

AXLEROD: I know something about this. When I was 26 years old, I got a health care policy. I thought it was adequate. I was healthy, and as long as I was healthy, it was good. And then I had a child who was born with a chronic illness. It cost us $1,000 a month for prescription coverage, which we didn't have prescriptions for her to keep her alive. You know, the treatments she needed outside of what was in the policy was paid for. I was making $35,000 a year as a newspaper reporter. I almost went broke. And there are a lot of Americans out there who may think that they can get by with substandard and I wish somebody had set standards then, David.

Gregory actually aces his follow-up question test, for once, asking Axelrod that if he had all this appreciation for the way some people were taking chances in the insurance market, why didn't he tell Obama to say something other than, "No matter what you're going to keep your health care plan," when the moment called for him to point out that these insurance plans weren't worth keeping. "Hindsight is 20/20," Axelrod says.

Axelrod continues, saying, "There is a small group of people, David-- the vast majority of Americans, that statement will hold true for." He is basically rebutting Gregory's argument with the statement that Gregory thinks he should have used at the time.

"But the calamitous thing here is that the website wasn't up because many of those people who have to transition are going to get better experience for less money, but they just can't tell that now because they can't get on the website," Axelrod concludes. All of this is true, but it makes you wonder why more concern wasn't poured into the website, because it sounds like they actually anticipated what life would have been like if the site wasn't working.

Woodward has finally caught up with me, suggesting that the thing to do in moments like these is just admit that you've cocked up. Can't wait for him to revisit some of his Iraq War-era interview subjects!

Kay asks, "why wasn't there a better education effort to get out in front of this and go to Americans whose policies were going to change and explain why? I mean, there's a fairly good case to be made about minimum standards, the kind of things that can hit you if you have a substandard policy. But never was that adult process carried through from the White House."

Gregory doesn't seem to understand that a Presidential campaign can create a different digital infrastructure than a government program can, because campaigns aren't subject to government procurement rules. Seriously! Gregory says this: "And that, of all people, the Obama people who championed computer analytics to win reelection, (you know, look at the cover of New Yorker) look so retro when it comes to technology."

I mean, David Gregory hosts MEET THE PRESS. Is it too much to ask that the host of MEET THE PRESS understand some of the basics of how government works? The difference between a government contract process and the way campaign services are procured? I mean, there must be only ten thousand people who live within a mile of the MEET THE PRESS set who could explain this to someone, anyone, who is responsible for producing this pile of shit.

The panel talks about "GAME CHANGE 2: FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICHES" for a bit, and it's not interesting.

They are now talking about 2016, a little bit. Kay is hilarious: "I think what is seen as bullying, overbearing, perhaps a little bit thin-skinned, and he goes on the attack a lot. I know that it hasn't affected him in New Jersey, but I have a feeling that when he gets out into the general audience there is a character issue there that may put some women voters off."

I mean, yeah, bullying and being overbearing and thin-skinned definitely works the best in New Jersey, whose state motto may as well be "Semper importunus et tenuis cuticulari et indomitus."

Bernard Kerik used to gleefully throw people who were convicted of non-violent drug offenses in prison, and turn a blind eye to this grace injustice, until he ended up in prison himself and suddenly became super-interested in mandatory minimums and how terrible they are and how there are people who have to live their whole life with a prison record. Now Kerik wants a lot of attention paid to what he's learned but I sort of wish Matt Lauer had bothered to interview any number of a hundred people who worked longer and harder at bringing these injustices to light before Kerik became the criminal-justice version of the Wall Street nob who made a fortune in the 2008 collapse who now thinks that we need to restore some basic levels of protection to the financial market.

"He may be a flawed messenger," says Gregory. Oh yeah! But you know what Kerik's advantage is over any one of hundreds of people who long came to the same conclusions without being a complete hypocrite? Up until now, what "mandatory-minimum reform" has lacked is a person among its ranks of advocates who was considered to be an elite member of the meritocracy. And Kerik is a high-ranking member of the meritocracy -- he got to use a taxpayer-funded Ground Zero-adjacent apartment intended to be used as a place for rescue workers to get some rest as his private pied-a-tierre whenever he wanted to bang Judith Regan.

Anyway, I hope that Matt Lauer didn't break Kerik's super-thin skin when he pinned that "Brave Prison Reform" medal on him.


Oh, I really need to get through this show quickly, for my own sanity.

So, Dan Pfieffer is here to defend the White House, because they wanted to send the one guy whose last name I struggle to type quickly.

Stephanopoulos, knowing that so many serious things are going on around the country, asks first about the scoop from "GAME CHANGE 2: LITTER BOX LEAVINGS EVERYWHERE" about Hillary and Joe Biden switching jobs. I will fast-forward through the parts of the interview that are about this book.

Okay, there is a lot of questions in this interview that have been crafted as a result of this book.

Finally, we get to discussing the launch of Is Pfieffer still confident that the website is going to be fixed. Yes, he is. So that was useful.

Pfieffer points out that "most people sign up toward the end," so there's still time to get things right. I can confirm that as a government contractor who was frequently tasked with getting large numbers of people to sign up for things, that experience teaches me that there is what I call the 75/25 Rule -- 75% of the people who you need to do a thing will do so in the last 25% of the time you have allotted them to do it.

But this isn't good news! It means that your life, as the human being in meatspace tasked with getting all of that over the finish line, is a living, breathing, hot-ass hell for that period of time. Someone better be worried about how many people they have ready to go at the end of November, how well trained they are, and how well they can handle the deluge. While the website is being fixed, these navigators who are tasked with answering questions and helping people shop for insurance should be learning their stuff and drilling, drilling, drilling, and telling their loved ones that they won't be home for Christmas.

Anyway, Pfieffer says that they take responsibility for all the cock-ups and that they will get things fixed.

But LOL, Pfieffer promised "an experience unmatched by anything in the private sector," and instead the experience is just as terrible as those in the private sector.

Nevertheless, Pfieffer says that they are confidence in Jeff Zients' ability to fix this problem, which we found out today is a problem that they had in Massachusetts, which took them two years to fix.

Pfieffer dances around the whole "grandfathering cluse" thing, and it's sounding more and more like it was always intended as a cover-your-ass safety valve, instead of a naive promise that lots of insurance policies would never change. I almost would rather Obama come out and say, "Oh yeah that was always intended to give me some political cover for policy changes I always knew were inevitable, LOL, you got me," because the alternative is that Obama doesn't know basic things about how health insurance works.

Anyway, Pfieffer says that "we own the mistake" and that Obama was not a "bystander." That allows Stephanopoulos to segue to the part where Obama didn't know that we were spying on European leaders. I think that it's weird that we don't just say, "Oh, Obama was insulated from the knowledge that this stuff was going on so that he could maintain plausible deniability." I thought we all knew that was how this stuff works.

Okay, now Rand Paul is here and Stephanopoulos wants to know if he's going to run for President and Paul won't say. That said, he does want to highlight some of the things that he and the White House agree on, like repatriating tax money from overseas, which is a thing that I think Paul only imagines that he is in agreement with the White House about.

Stephanopoulos points out that there doesn't seem to be any hope that Edward Snowden is going to be offered clemency anytime soon. Paul says that he'd rather talk about how "the national defense director lied to Congress." "I haven't heard of anybody talking about repercussions for him," Paul says, "I think he's seriously damaged out standing in the world. Now, we're seen to be spying not only on foreign leaders, but there's an accusation that we spied on the pope, as well."

As someone pointed out to me the other day, surely the Pope has no reason to gripe about being watched all the time, seeing as how God is the Vatican's NSA.

Paul wants someone new in charge of our intelligence. Stephanopoulos asks if it would be better if the NSA just put out everything Snowden has, and "get ahead of it." Paul won't commit to that notion, instead he touts the FISA bill that he and Ron Wyden are introducing.

Stephanopoulos drives good wedge:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you've taken some heat from inside your party for your views on privacy and the fourth amendment and the national security administration, including from congressmen like Peter King, who says people like you are trying to exult Edward Snowden.

And "The New York Times" reported that one of your potential rivals, Ted Cruz, thinks it could be disqualifying in a presidential run. This was in yesterday's "New York Times."

It says that, "When Mr. Cruz went to New York City to meet with donors this summer, he told them the Kentucky senator" -- that's you -- "Rand Paul, can never be elected president, because he can never fully detach himself from the strident libertarianism of his father, former Representative Ron Paul of Texas."

How do you respond to that?

Paul says that he feels that it's "actually an advantage for me to talk about the right to privacy," and that it's going to bring new people to the GOP. So Stephanopoulos asks him more directly, if he and Ted Cruz are bitter rivals. Paul says no, they aren't, and he hasn't decided to run for President. This gives me the opportunity to put the video for Sleigh Bells' "Bitter Rivals" in here:

What does Paul think of Kentucky's exchange? He doesn't think very much of it, and is pretty sure that sick people will get too much Medicaid and that the many wonderful plans on the individual market that offered people that were inadequate and that government is essentially "inept."

Rand Paul is asked about the whole mini-plagiarism scandal he's been enduring:

Well, you know, the footnote police have really been dogging me for the last week. I will admit that. And I will admit, sometimes we haven't footnoted things properly. In fact, I've given thousands of speeches and I don't think I've ever footnoted any of those speeches.

In the speech in question, I quoted from "1984," "Gattaca," "My Left Foot," Michelangelo, Einstein, and Ray Bradbury, among maybe a dozen others. And I attributed everything or attributed everything to them. But I didn't get into the secondary sources and say I quoted Einstein as according to an AP story or as according to Wikipedia.
So I think the spoken word shouldn't be held to the same sort of standard that you have if you're giving a scientific paper. I've written scientific papers. I know how to footnote things.

He also says that he loves a Niall Ferguson quote, which, gah, that's unfortunate.

I'm okay with Rand Paul reading from the Wikipedia in his speeches, especially when you consider the fact that this mini-dispute over the movie GATTACA was one of the only remarkable things about the speech in question.

By the way, it was a speech in which Paul maintained that the failure to elect Ken Cuccinelli governor of Virginia was going to inevitably lead to the Old Dominion being a eugenicist dystopia. So, Paul is actually pretty lucky that everyone focused on the alleged plagiarism, and not the bark-at-the-moon looney-toon point he was making.

Now there is a panel, consisting of Peggy Noonan, Van Jones, Jonathan Karl, and Matt Dowd, and they are going to talk about Game Change, so I am going to take a luxuriating wee.

Nate Silver is here, now, so hopefully we're past the part of the panel where the punditry is stupid enough to trigger my bullshit allergy.

SILVER: Well these are maybe the two biggest lines that each side has. The thing about the Obamacare rollout problems is it plays in this whole notion that Senator Paul was talking about where, how competent is big government? Is there overreach here, execution issues? On the other hand Democrats can say almost running an anti-incumbent campaign saying the GOP is so dangerous, when they get power, we need to dis-empower them.

Eh, I know, I know, I read political science. I have to remember that this show is for an audience that still needs to be convinced of things that Dowd points out: "here's an anecdote, wow, there's a big rally going on in Richmond, Virginia, it's going to change the nature of this."

That seems like a cheap shot at Peggy Noonan, who once confidently predicted that Romney would win because she saw a lot of Romney yard signs. Noonan, instead, has embedded with Chris Christie, who she feels is going to win, based on her observations, and also because he is just going to do so. She asks us to ponder something:

NOONAN: Let me tell you something I've been thinking about though with regard to New Jersey and Virginia. New Jersey is about to, we believe, it looks like, re-elect a Red State figure who is pro-life and he's about to win by a lot of points it appears from the polls. Ken Cuccinelli, down south in Virginia if that's still called the south, is a pro-life guy who is expected, according to the polls, to go down. So he's going to go down in a mixed state and Christie is going to win in a deep blue state. I'm trying to make my point here. It's that, wow pro-life politics and social issues can be very interesting.


Van Jones monologues about how Chris Christie isn't all that great and that "When you read 'Double Down' and you see the kinds of stuff that has not come out about him yet...the myth of Chris Christie is going to pop like a big balloon." The only people who are going to read 'Double Down" are political reporters, though, so your mileage on this whole "the truth is going to come out about Chris Christie" thing is going to vary.

I haven't been paying attention to what anyone is saying while I've been typing that. Noonan says, "The Tea Party now shows signs of not wanting to win it but of wanting to topple it over. Wanting to do away with it. That is something new in our politics."

She should read "DALLAS 1963" and disabuse herself of the notion that this is new.

Some predictioneering on the coming election day. Van Jones becomes the first person to talk about how Bill De Blasio is running to a blowout win in Bloombergtown on an income inequality argument. I'm just excited because I can't remember the last time New York City had a mayor that wasn't a complete asshole.

Okay, there is a Rob Lowe segment, now, for some reason? I'll pass.

So, I guess we made it through "GAME CHANGE" week on the Sunday shows without having too much body-horror done to us, and we're now on the glide path through the holidays. I hope you all make the most of your extra hour today, and have a fantastic week!

[The Sunday Morning Liveblog will return on November 10, 2013, probably. In the meanwhile, feel free to check out my Rebel Mouse page regularly updated with fun and stimulating reads from around the web.]