Good morning everybody! It's Sunday morning and it's time for the Sunday Morning Political Shows And Their Discontents, including especially myself. Aloha, my name is Jason. As most of you know, there was an election this past Tuesday, which already feels like it happened a month ago, that all the little Sunday morning creatures have to run off at the mouth about today. Here are 73 "takeaways" from that election, all of which form a bunch of overriding media uber-narratives which I mostly predicted would come to pass. Now, I guess we don't need to have these shows today!
But we're going to have them, all the same. Chris Christie is "Full Ginsburging" today, which is usually left for someone who is involved in some sort of gigantic cock-up. But Christie, I guess, wants to have all of the Sunday hosts look upon him in amazement and ask, "Gosh! Are you gonna run for President?" as if they are a) the only one who thought to ask him that question and b) fairly convinced that they will be the one to wheedle out the answer.
Because of the election's temporal proximity, they are going to try to milk "GAME CHANGE 2: WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING ME WITH THAT GLOVE LIKE THAT, IT'S CREEPING ME OUT" for a second week. Halperin and Heilemann have been dispatched to different shows; I'll be flipping a coin to determine who I'm going to watch today. I've actually been pretty lucky, because no one has assigned me to write anything about "GAME CHANGE 2: TIRE FIRE OF THE VANITIES," so I've not had to read it.
The first GAME CHANGE is pretty bad but it has one really good part where the economy crashes and suddenly there is something important happening to the world to talk about and the book's reporting, for a short while, achieves what we would colloquially call "seriousness" and Halperin and Heilemann demonstrate that they are capable of being more than a pair of really sexist geeks (of the carnival variety) who transcribe what every venal coward in politics has to say about every other venal coward in politics.
I have been told that the second book doesn't have a "good part," and, indeed, lingers long on the so-called candidacy of Donald Trump, and so I am pretty comfortable skipping. I have "THE GAMBLE," by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck, which is a book on the 2012 campaign for adults, to read, and I think that will be fine.
You'll note that no Sunday show books Sides or Vavreck EVER.
At any rate, that's today: "Are you running for President, Chris Christie?" followed with a soupcon of "Can you believe what that guy said on the campaign trail?" Sit back and try to enjoy that. As usual, you can feel free to mix things up in the comments, drop me a line if need be, follow me on Twitter if that's what you're into, and peruse my Rebel Mouse page for Sunday Reads if you get bored waiting for more liveblog.
And that brings me to a bit of a programming note. At some point in the past few weeks, it occurred to me that I have been watching these Sunday shows for six years, making this liveblog one of the longest-running exercises in futility on the internet. It's been six years of recapping these shows, learning their tropes, funning on the spectacle, and building a little reader community here.
Of course, it's also been six years of me, missing out on friends and fun and not being able to travel. Six years of Sunday mornings ruined, of Saturday nights ended prematurely, of rushing around on Sunday evening trying to finish errands and chores. So, I have decided that I am not going to do this anymore.
This will probably be sad news to many of you. It will also probably be glad news to an uncomfortable-to-me number of others. It wasn't an easy decision to make. (It also wasn't super-hard.)
So, the last one of these liveblogs is going to be on December 29, 2013. Now, after that, I won't be abandoning the coverage of Sunday shows entirely, I'll just be doing it in a different way. Also, I won't be abandoning this bespoke commenter community either -- there will be a new and different thing on Sundays from me that probably most of you will find super-substandard but hey, maybe not.
But the bottom line is that all things end eventually and that time has come for this thing.
Okay! So, there's that, then! Let's get started with today's puddle of muck.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Chris Wallace tells us that the 2013 elections (you know, all seven or eight of them) has left the GOP convinced that "running against Obamacare is the key to winning elections." That probably is the case, actually. Or it will be, if by this time next year you don't have lots and lots of people successfully signed up for it. If the opposite is true, then running against it will be a non-starter. But it's even money how it works out, so it's not dumb to take a bet that being against the Affordable Care Act is a winning issue for 2014.
The real question is: why didn't the GOP figure this out months ago?
That said, while I think it's not a stupid position for the GOP to take at this point, considering the federal website is still ass-over-teakettle, it should be noted that the lesson of the Cuccinelli-McAuliffe race is not anything about Obamacare. Rather, the lesson is don't run some terrifying freaky-deak like Ken Cuccinelli when some other, more normal human being that doesn't publicly lick his lips at the thought of becoming the puppet-master of everyone's vaginas is available.
Chris Christie is a Washington outsider who has, like all Washington outsiders, striven to get booked on as many Sunday morning political shows as possible. Real salt-of-the-earth common man, that Chris Christie.
Carl Cameron first does a long segment that basically boils down to the idea that New Jersey is a state and there is this whole other thing called America of which New Jersey is just a small part. And did you hear that there are divisions between the "GOP Establishment" and the "Tea Party?" Okay, well now you know. I will send someone to get that rock off of you.
Finally, we get to Christie. He is happy to be here.
Chris Wallace asks him if he is going to run for President. Christie does not answer the question. Perhaps that will be the clue to Wallace that he should maybe ask him any other question in the whole wide world besides the one that he knows everyone else hosting a Sunday show is going to ask, and which is going to receive an answer so pat and predictable that I could have answered it for everyone on Wednesday.
Wallace does opt to move on, expressing some astonishment that Christie was able to get the votes of many women, and Hispanic people, and Democrats, at a time when GOP candidates typically have to build coalitions out of the descendants of Confederate generals and the sociopaths that pad out junior executive suites of most failing businesses. Christie says that Republicans in Washington, "need to get the job done" because "job getting done stuff" is really great and people should think about it. "Getting things done": Chris Christie finally cracked that code.
Wallace moves to the "lightning round," which usually means the interview is coming to an end, but who knows? Does Christie support comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship? Christie says he is in favor of "fixing a broken system." What does that mean, exactly? "The system is broken, and Congress needs to fix it." Okay! So, Christie is FOR fixed stuff. Very much against broken things. Not taking a position, though, on the whole comprehensive immigration reform thing, though, if that's okay.
It's okay, I guess, because Wallace is now asking him if he still supports some gun controls. Christie says that in New Jersey, they want to "control violence" and sometimes that involves firearms, but it's really about proper mental health care, to Christie's mind.
"I'm for violence control," says Christie, taking a brave and bold stand in a world where most politicians -- most DC insiders! -- are obviously in favor of unrestrained mayhem on the streets.
Wallace reminds Christie of his antipathy to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, and Rand Paul's recent snark directed at him, I guess because we've reached the part of the interview where we reduce 2016 to scenes from the first hour of MEAN GIRLS. Christie says, "I"m not gonna get into the Washington DC game that you are trying to get me into." He then delivers part of his re-election stump speech, to filibuster things.
Next, Wallace asks Christie about the parts of the book, "GAME CHANGE 2: SCRUMTRILESCENT CRONUT FARTZ," that concern Christie, and Mitt Romney's vetting of the New Jersey Governor, which apparently resulted in many terrifying things being revealed about Christie that made him a "DO NOT WANT" on the Veep shortlist. Also, Romney used to like to laugh at Christie.
Christie says that Romney has "completely refuted what they said in the book" and the book is "part of the parlor game of Washington, DC" and then he delivers more of his re-election stump speech.
Next Wallace asks about the TIME magazine cover, and Wallace says that "More than any other question, people wanted me to ask you how you feel about that." This indicates that Chris Wallace really needs to get out more. Christie says that he does not care about the cover, and it's not the first weight joke that's been thrown his way.
Is Chris Wallace going to ask a question that I could not have predicted he'd ask? It's looking like the answer is no.
Chris Christie is short-tempered and Wallace wants to know if he'll become even-keeled enough to run for President. Christie says, "I'm the Governor of New Jersey, and if you don't think being Governor of New Jersey tries your patience, then you haven't spent enough time in the state." That's a pretty creative way of answering that question, actually. "Why am I so angry? Well, you would be too if you had to live in this state of anthropomorphic dung piles. Seriously, Chris Wallace, the Garden State is basically filled, wall to wall, with assholes with legs. It's one long slog through the hell-swamps, living here."
He goes on to say that the people of New Jersey came together and re-elected him, and I guess later the spot where everyone had come together was declared a Superfund site.
It's worth pointing out that I go to New Jersey every year for Thansgiving and I never ever feel the urge to yell at people or impoverish teachers, so maybe these aren't so much "universal truths about New Jersey" and more "Chris Christie's personal problems."
Oh, the interview is over, cool. We'll do this again in just a little bit, with George Stephanopoulos asking the same questions.
Now we've reached the part of the show where a couple of people who have had their plans cancelled get to come on and do the whole "Queen For A Day" routine. Typically, with these stories, is that they don't really pan out as victim sagas, because you find out that the lost insurance is terrible and that the ACA exchanges could hook a person up with something better and maybe even cheaper. However, this is not always the case! On the margins of those affected by the changes in the insurance market wrought by Obamacare, you'll find people who are coming out of it authentically screwed. Like these people.
Of course, to get the real story you need to have a reporter as diligent as Charles Ornstein is in the above instance. Skeptical, but responsible, and thorough. To pull that off, though, you need a journalist who is nominally invested in the notion that people should have access to affordable health care, and who set about aquiring expertise in the health care markets. Political reporters lack the expertise, and many of them lack the "concern for other human beings" part.
So, instead of that, two Queens For A Day will talk about what happened to them, and a guy named Ron Pollack will try to convince them that everything will be okay.
The first QFAD lost a pricy plan with a low deductable and has concluded that the only policy option he has is a cheaper plan with a higher deductible. Again, I have no idea if any of that is true, but it is "the closest thing that" the person could find, so for the sake of argument, we'll go with that. The other QFAD had a plan, which is now priced at 60-70% more, and there are no further details on that, but he finds the premium increase "unacceptable." I would not be surprised if the second QFAD has simply been upsold by Blue Cross Blue Shield, but in this QFAD's defense, it's not like he can go to the Healthcare.Gov website and do any comparison shopping.
Oh, hey, QFAD #2 has been really well coached on his talking points. Really solid work from either Americans For Prosperity or Heritage Action.
Having applied no skepticism to the claims of the two QFADs, Wallace now turns to this Pollack person, and I suspect that the interlocutions will become a lot more tenacious. Pollack gives it a shot. He points out that many of the insurance policies that are being cancelled have lifetime caps that strand the customers, and that the vast majority of people who are eligible for subsidies.
Wallace points out that these two QFADs aren't apparently eligible for subsidies. Pollack says that the subsidied nevertheless extend down into the middle class. The first QFAD disputes this, saying that he's not eligible for any subsidy, and that he didn't have a "swiss cheese" policy in the first place.
Pollack says, these two QFAD's aside, the vast majority of the people affected by these changes are affected because their policies are substandard. All of the sudden, QFAD #1 speaks up, and objects to this, saying that it's not true. It is, of course, totally true. Here is a long study from Consumer Reports that was undertaken at about the time that the health care reform battle started in 2009. It reflects the state of the industry back then. The salient point is this:
For our investigation, we hired a national expert to help us evaluate a range of real policies from many states and interviewed Americans who bought those policies. We talked to insurance experts and regulators to learn more. Here is what we found:
--Heath insurance policies with gaping holes are offered by insurers ranging from small companies to brand-name carriers such as Aetna and United Healthcare. And in most states, regulators are not tasked with evaluating overall coverage.
--Disclosure requirements about coverage gaps are weak or nonexistent. So it's difficult for consumers to figure out in advance what a policy does or doesn't cover, compare plans, or estimate their out-of-pocket liability for a medical catastrophe. It doesn't help that many people who have never been seriously ill might have no idea how expensive medical care can be.
--People of modest means in many states might have no good options for individual coverage. Plans with affordable premiums can leave them with crushing medical debt if they fall seriously ill, and plans with adequate coverage may have huge premiums.
--There are some clues to a bad policy that consumers can spot. We tell you what they are, and how to avoid them if possible.
--Even as policymakers debate a major overhaul of the health-care system, government officials can take steps now to improve the current market.
I don't know why QFAD #1 has taken it upon himself to defend the insurance industry, but I suspect the reason is that he is a member of it. At one point, during his interjection, he says, "...we've been selling for twenty-five years and we don't sell a sub-standard policy."
Wallace boils all of Pollack's concerns about how terrible insurance policies are to "Washington telling people what they can't buy." He then kicks it back to QFAD #2 for some sterling enunciation of Washington talking points.
There are legitimately negative things to say about how the insurance market is getting roiled, but this segment is a complete kayfabe. It is hilariously transparent how fake this whole set up is.
Anyway, freedom is apparently another word for people being allowed to have rotten insurance policies because when their shit really hits the fan all of us taxpayers are going to subsidize their misery anyway.
I can't believe how slowly I am slogging through these shows, considering that last segment was mostly stupid and the Christie interview was like, "Fisher Price's My First Interview With Chris Christie." So, here's the panel. I will try to dispense with this quickly.
Hume is, as you might expect, not impressed with Obama's apology about the health care michegas, and honestly, the only way to impress a person with an apology is to come with the apology quickly.
Liasson points out that the Affordable Care Act was always intended to be a disruptive force in the insurance market, and that we'll not know about a "bottom line" or a "net impact" until well past 2014. (Assuming that the website is ever fixed.)
George Will seems to be upset that Obama ever implied that there were situational realities to the American health care that were going to bring about this pain. By Will's historical revision, Obama is fully responsible first for the terrible status quo ante of the insurance market, and then for the pain caused by trying to make the status quo less terrible. That is a weird position for Will to take, but it's not surprising, considering the fact that Will probably hasn't had a substantive conversation with a non-elite in sixty-five years.
Williams reckons that the healthcare enrollment period for the ACA could be extended. If the website isn't working by the end of the month, they'll pretty much HAVE to extend the enrollment period.
Brit Hume is working on his irony act today. Williams points out the non-controversial fact that if young people get health insurance, it is obviously preferable to not having health insurance. This is because young people, while set to live for many decades, are still just skin-sacks filled with fragile organs and breakable bones.
Hume scoffs, "Who says it's good for young people to have health insurance, Big Brother?" JESUS CHRIST. Brit Hume's Obamacare derangement has him spitting straight sociopathy on the television. "Risk your lives and your future bank accounts, young people!" is what Hume is saying, referring to the more responsible position -- "Get health care coverage," which is something my own parents worry about me and my brother and sister having every day, because they love us -- as the "Big Brother" position. Hume sounds like a goddamned corner drug dealer, assuring people that one hit isn't gonna kill you.
I'd worry about Brit Hume poisoning the minds of young people more if I thought that anyone under the age of 59 watched Fox News Sunday.
Williams gets to essentially call Hume a socialist, saying that he's essentially endorsing "free riders" on the system. Hume bleats, "Well they ought to be willing to pay for it." Indeed, that is why we have a complicated exchange market of insurance plans, instead of a single-payer system, dingus.
George Will has a few sentences of sophistry that he wants to get off his chest, and we go to commercial.
Horsey-race politics time! Wallace says that he was "struck by how mellow" Chris Christie was this morning. That's because he wasn't asked a single question that he didn't know was coming and you let him, on two occasions, filibuster you with portions of the stump speech he's been giving for the past year, Chris! I'd be mellow too!
Liasson says that there's a new front-runner every month, in terms of 2016 horse-race coverage in 2013. This is a way of saying, "There's only so much attention that can be paid to this." This won't be the lesson anyone extracts from this.
George Will suggests that Christie's strength is that he can say that he got a blue state behind him, and his weakness is that he can say that he got a blue state behind him (so he much be a squish).
We are not going to talk about how Christie couldn't even extend his coattails to other Republicans in the Garden State? Really? Okay, that's cool.
Williams points out that Cuccinelli lost because Virginia figured out that he was some kind of super-weird social conservative creep. Will does not buy this argument. Will's argument is: "Had a lot of people who voted against Cuccinelli instead voted FOR Cuccinelli, then Cuccinelli would have won."
Hard to argue with world-class logic like that.
Liasson says that nonetheless, the GOP will continue to use Obamacare as the electoral "weapon of choice." This is actually a good outcome for America, because in order for it to be used as the "weapon of choice," it will have to exist, which should mean that we are done shutting down the government or coming to the precipice of a default crisis as a means of getting rid of Obamacare. Hopefully! I am applying "brainpower" to this conundrum.
Everyone should just make a bet on Obamacare -- it will succeed or it will fail -- and we'll see it play out. The winners will win a lot of elections, the losers will lose a lot of elections, and that will be just and fair* and we can do that without taking a periodic dump on the economy or having a weird crisis every ten weeks.
(*To everyone who is not a normal human American with terrible healthcare options, anyway.)
Oh, I think this is the week where I get to indulge myself in this crazy-faced nonsense!
THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
Okay, so the first topic on the agenda of this genial, manic shitshow is 2013 horsey-race bellwether shiny shiny OMGZ!
McLaughlin wants to know if the GOP establishment would endorse a 2016 run from Chris Christie. Really? Have we not established that, about the Establishment? Well, I guess we have to ask the big questions because it's Sunday. Pat Buchanan reckons that yes, yes indeed, the GOP establishment would be okay with Chris Christie, and the way he's tricked many people into thinking he is a moderate, by simply not taking the same positions as a dead-eyed creep like Ken Cuccinelli. According to some hot-hot rumors, Christie was asked to campaign with Cooch, by the way, and Christie very smartly said, "LOL, yeah f--k that."
Buchanan points out the kinks, though: Christies opponent was abandoned by her party; Christie faces the same problems that Northeasterners face when they go to meet Americans in the South and the Heartland. As Buchanan notes, Rudy Giuliani rubbed plenty of people to wrong way.
But as the chairman of the RGA, Christie's going to have his chance to meet those people, as Eleanor Clift points out.
Susan Ferecchio says, "It's really early though." BURN HER! BURN THE WITCH!
Mort Zuckerman says that Christie has a "natural talent" for talking to effete rich people like Mort Zuckerman. McLaughlin counters by saying that New Jerseyans seem to prefer Hillary Clinton over Christie in terms of who they want to be President, but that's okay with Mort, because Hillary is really good at talking to effete rich people, too.
Buchanan says that Christie's inroads with women and minority voters disappear in an election against Clinton. Clift agrees, but notes that even some marginal movement toward Christie may be enough to be decisive.
Now they are talking about the Time Magazine cover, and whether or not it's a cheap shot. Zuckerman thinks that it is, and also it isn't. It's mean, but it's the cover of Time Magazine! So exciting! So many old ladies will see it at the dentist's office!
Buchanan and McLaughlin trade quips about William Howard Taft, and his enormous bathtub, because why not? WHY THE HECK NOT. #YOLO, am I right?
Clift says that Christie is "smart enough to make his weight work for him" and also that he'll be scrutinized over his health over the next three years, I guess, because we are all garbage people with nothing better to do.
There is some light yelling.
Buchanan says that Christie "has already been in brawls with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio," and says there is going to be a "bloodbath" in Iowa. I think we better pause for a special message:
Hi. My name is Jason Linkins, with a special message.
"Brawls." "Bloodbaths." When we talk about Washington DC's culture, we use a lot of violent imagery. And I worry that it frightens off a lot of good people who might become involved in politics, either as a policy-maker, or as someone who writes about politics. It seems that now, more then ever, there is such anger in Washington. Such incivility!
Here's the good news. American politics have always been extraordinarily incivil. You should see what people said about each other back when our nation was first founded! Because it happened hundreds of years ago, and it was all written on parchment and they had those parts were some of the "s" letters looked like "f", we sometimes get the idea that everyone was so decent, and elevated back then. But no, people were coarse and vulgar, and there were even occasional duels where people straight up killed one another!
So all of the people who tell you that society has grown coarser and more incivil? These are prattling, ignorant morons.
Which brings me to my next point -- no one in Washington is going to do anything violent to you, so stop worrying about that. It's been a long time since Alex Hamilton and Aaron Burr has the guts to duel one another, and that sort of thing doesn't happen anymore. Almost every single person you'll meet on Capitol Hill is a super-delicate, super-effete mega-deluxe ponce with super-soft and well-moisturized palms and extra thin-skin, and you don't need to ever worry about anyone ever "stepping to you" for any reason, and honestly, if one does, just do that flinch-punch thing and they usually start crying.
You will, in all likelihood, live your entire life and ever ever meet a lawmaker or a government functionary or a political reporter who is even remotely physically intimidating, so don't worry about all that. Come on in, the "bloodbath" is fine.
Now we will talk about the Fear And Loathing In Virginia in which Cuccinelli is the "fear" and Terry McAuliffe is the "loathing," and Virginia is a "a doomed place that should be nuked from space, please."
QUESTION MCAULIFFE CUCCINELLI OBAMACARE WHAAAA? Ferrecchio says that Cuccinelli lost because he was not "adept." I guess, "adept," in this construction, is a euphemism for "the ability to not come off like the super-duper mega-crackpot that you actually are."
My wife, who is listening to this asks, "Does anyone ever go on these shows and just say the obvious thing about an election? Like, in Virginia, it's obvious that Cuccinelli lost because he was even too much of a kook for Virginia?" I tell her, no, the point of political punditry is to be a garbage person willing to make simple things super-complicated in order to demonstrate how savvy you are.
Buchanan and McLaughlin notes that the establishment failed to fund Cuccinelli's campaign, but seriously can you blame them? Why did anyone give any money to either of those candidates? Surely there are worthier soup kitchens.
There is some light yelling.
Who was the biggest loser on Tuesday? Buchanan says Obamacare, Clift says Republicans, Ferrechio says Obama, Mort says Obamacare and Obama, McLaughlin says everyone is right. I say the biggest loser was Michael Bloomberg and idiot-elites, but this victory will probably be short-lived.
The panel will now get way way into Obamacare and its hilarious problems. Mary Landrieu and Joe Manchin hace, predictably, responded in a very weird and stupid way, trying to pass a law that will allow everyone to keep their insurance plan. That would be the wrong remedy to extract from this! We very much need most of this "people losing their plans" stuff to happen. The last thing we want, healthcare-wise, is for these garbage plans to continue to flourish.
Ah, but that's your lawmakers. Panel, do you have some gum flapping to offer?
Buchanan says that these laws won't get passed and won't become law, so everyone can stop worrying about it. He also says that if the upper estimates of policy dropping is true, there will be "guillotines set up in Farragut Square." Again, this is actually probably not going to happen. This is America, where you can start stupid wars that fail in costly and extravagant fashion, and never have to accept even a thin scintilla of responsibility. So even if the Obamacare website never comes online and the Affordable Care Act ends up a bust, President Obama will live out his life after office as a wealthy and relaxed celebrity, just like his predecessor.
Mort Zuckerman is pretty sure that he knows what's going on in the health care market, and that everyone hates this whole attempt to give poor people insurance. Clift says that this is a "huge remaking of the insurance market" but in the end, the worst parts of the previous insurance regime are going to go away and the vast majority of people will be more secure.
This is, essentially, the bet everyone is making on Obamacare. Ferrecchio says, "It's going to have to turn out exactly the way Eleanor says for this to not be a disaster" for Obama.
That's exactly right!
So, will the Democrats lose the Senate in 2014? Buchanan says the odds are that it will. Clift says no. Ferrechio says yes. Zuckerman is generically excited that the attempt to offer poor people insurance has failed. McLaughlin says yes.
Some predictions! Buchanan says that the next entity that will receive a bailout will be Puerto Rico. Clift says Obama will campaign for his bill in states that have not accepted the Medicaid expansion. Ferrecchio (I have spelled her last name a bunch of different ways and I hope I was right at least once) says the law will be tweaked to alter these cancellations. Mort says that a lot of people on Obama's senior staff will be fired. McLaughlin says that Hillary Clinton will be one of three women who run for President in 2016. Bye bye.
THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
Today, Chris Christie! Will George Stephanopoulos ask any different questions than Wallace? I am guessing no. But let's find out!
First there is some news about the ongoing attempt to make a deal with Iran on their nuclear program, and the typhoon in the Pacific. The latter event is a human catastrophe of proportions too vast for me to do justice. The former is just more foreign policy meanderings. As ABC reports today, there was hope for a breakthrough, but it's all basically gone by the wayside:
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. What a whirlwind of talks just then. Just a few hours ago, there was this huge anticipation, even a giddiness in diplomatic circles that this historic first step confidence building deal was about to be done.
And what happened as you point out, well the French happened, as Secretary Kerry concluded marathon talks directly with Iranian officials, unprecedented sight there really. The French stepped in and said this proposal wasn't tough enough. They wanted more restrictions on Iran's ability to enrich uranium, control of a new reactor that might produce plutonium. And they called a halt to it all.
The Iranians have responded on Twitter. Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei is on Twitter, naturally. And he said that French officials have been openly hostile to the Iranian nation. But the talks will continue.
I think that the sentence "the Iranians have responded on Twitter" basically sums up everything you need to know about the world right now.
Anyway, here is Chris Christie. Will George Stepanopoulos ask an interesting question that has, so far, gone unasked today?
Hey, he gives it a try! Noticing that he has to "segue" between "Iran" and "Chris Christie" he puts the two things together:
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Terry, thank very much. Let's take this right to Governor Chris Christie. First, congratulations on your win Tuesday. You have heard these reports out of Geneva. Secretary Kerry still optimistic. Benjamin Netanyahu calling the deal dangerous. Where do you come down this? What would you need to see from Iran in order to support relieving sanctions?
Yes, where does the crucial statehouse of New Jersey come down on this matter? Christie says, "I think it's dangerous for folks like me to get involved in the middle of this and start giving opinions. Listen, we have to let Secretary Kerry do his work. And then once we see the produce of that work, we can all make a judgment. But, right now, I'm not briefed well enough to be able to give an opinion."
WHAT THAT'S ACTUALLY SORT OF REASONABLE, BURN THE WARLOCK!
STEPHANOPOULOS: But can you support a deal that allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium?
CHRISTIE: Yeah, George, listen, I'm the governor of New Jersey. And I think for me to be expressing opinions on this this morning would be ill-advised. And I'm not going to do it.
Well, you know, it was worth a try. Now it's up to Stephanopoulos to keep up this interesting interrogation.
What do you think of Rand Paul, he asks. What about 2016, he asks. Are you running, he asks. What do you think about comprehensive immigration reform, he asks...FOUR TIMES. (Did no one tell George that he was asked this question an hour ago? Was there a plan to pry out a different answer? Or did everyone just naturally assume that Stephanopoulos' animal charisma was going to melt Chris Christie's heart and he was gonna REALLY open up about this stuff?)
Oh, hey, Stephanopoulos asks about the Affordable Care Act:
STEPHANOPOULOS: There's also been a lot of questions about the president's health care plan. You called on him to apologize this week. He seemed to take your advice, a couple of days later he did apologize for people who were getting their health plans canceled. What should he do next? Are you for delay in further implementation of the law?
CHRISTIE: Listen, anybody who has run anything in their lives could see this coming a mile away. And that's why we didn't do a state based health exchange. We didn't do it because we could see that this whole program was going to be a problem. And so that the president's biggest problem right now is he's got to tell the truth and we have seen this in New Jersey. I have told a lot of hard truths in New Jersey that people didn't necessarily agree with, but they give you credit for looking them in the eye and telling them the truth. So let's get to that point, let's own up, tell the truth about what's going on. Then they can worry about whether he can work something out to fix the problem.
I'm pretty sure that you can also see, from a mile away, the tremendous potential for the problems getting fixed, seeing as how this health care plan was already implemented in Massachusetts and there were problems. Nevertheless, I am also pro-owning up to things immediately, myself. I have never really considered Christie some sort of avatar of that philosophy, but I'll be sure to pay attention going forward.
Of course, this didn't stop Christie from taking the money that tha ACA offered him. Stephanopoulos wants to know what Christie thinks about what other people are gonna think about that. He doesn't worry about it too much, in case you are wondering.
Then we are back to the predictable questions. What did you think about the "Game Change 2: Mars Needs Dildos" book, he is asked. What about the Time Magazine cover?
One delightful newsy line: "Political advice from people who ran the Romney campaign, is probably something nobody should really give a darn about."
And that's that. He got interviewed on Meet The Press and Face The Nation, I think, and I expect that there was not a whole lot of deviation.
Okay, Bob Menendez is here. He is also from New Jersey. Huge data point, I guess.
Menendez says that Christie "had a big win." That's good, I am glad we got corroboration on that.
Menendez says that he's concerned that "we seem to want to make a deal even more than the Iranians" want to have a deal, and that this is wrong way to behave when "Iran is on the ropes." He's "glad to see that the French took a hard position" on the matter, and his larger position is that "there is no right under international law for nuclear enrichment," and that peaceful domestic nuclear energy programs don't involved enrichment.
I think that Menendez and Kerry are going to have a chat in their future about all of this. In the meanwhile, Menendez says, "I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward on a package that ultimately would send a very clear message where we intend to be if the Iranians don't strike a deal and stop their nuclear weapons program."
Now, for some reason, Jeff Zeleny is interviewing Rick Perry. About Chris Christie. I'm sure this all made sense to somebody?
JEFF ZELENY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, governor, thank you very much for joining us. I want to show you a copy of this week's Time magazine. Chris Christie had a big win in a blue state. Was his win impressive?
PERRY: Yes. Absolutely it was an impressive victory.
ZELENY: Is Chris Christie a true conservative governor?
PERRY: He was a successful governor in New Jersey.
So, basically, this is like a test for cognitive development, of some kind. "How many words can you make with the 'b' sound? What are some things in your house that are colored yellow?"
PERRY: We're all different states. Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?
ZELENY: It sounds like you're skeptical that it may not be.
PERRY: I'm just saying that we'll have that discussion at the appropriate time.
Okay, that will be a fun discussion I guess. Let's make some more secret plans to talk about other stuff!
Perry says that he enjoyed Ted Cruz the most when he was "standing up and pointing out the foibles and problems with Obamacare," as opposed to the time where Cruz beat the stuffing out of his pal David Dewhurst in the GOP primary.
He says Obama needs to "stand up in front of the American people and say, 'You know, what? I perpetrated a fraud on you.'" You know! Like that time Rick Perry took responsibility for an innocent man being put to death, and didn't interfere with the investigation of that miscarriage of justice at all!
Jeff Zeleny asks: "Is it too early to be asking the 2016 question?" That, in terms of actual things that actual reporters asked actual people, is right up there with, "What about your gaffes?" and "Would you please teach me how to pee?"
"He knows if he makes another White House run he'll have to take his famous debate fumble head-on," says Zeleny.
Oh, of course. The entire American economy is basically depending on Rick Perry successfully facing down the time he couldn't count to three.
Now we panel! With Paul Gigot and Cokie Roberts and Ana Navarro and Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and John Heilemann, who won my "GAME CHANGE 2: MAGIC PANTS!" coin toss earlier today.
We begin with HORSEY RACE MUSINGS from the 2013 ELECTION.
Gigot says Christie should not run as a moderate, he should run as a reformer, and be a governor. Roberts says, yes, and also run as a "pragmatist" who "gets things done." Navarro says he should not run as a "moderate" or a "Republican," but rather run as "Chris Christie."
This is why none of these people have been hired to be a corporate brand manager.
Keith Ellison trolls the panel by pointing out that all of Christie's "pragmatic decisions" are also the ones that the GOP purists would criticize as "liberal."
Heilemann describes what "GAME CHANGE 2: CLOVERFIELD MONSTER" says about Chris Christie, to George Stephanopoulos, who asked Christie about it earlier? It sounds to me like Stephanopoulos could have asked Christie a lot of harder questions than he did.
Ha-ha, Ana Navarro, you are great!
NAVARRO: I spoke to Beth Myers who is a friend of mine and a colleague of mine right now...
STEPHANOPOULOS: She ran the vice president...
NAVARRO: And she ran the vice presidential search. I spoke to her last night about this. She's a colleague of mine in Harvard right now. And she told me that none of these issues had anything to do with why Christie wasn't picked.
She also said that she'd never heard of Project Goldfish until about 10 days ago, so it wasn't something that -- you know, which is what in the book, it's called -- she doesn't think it's factually correct.
Ha, she is sitting right next to Heilemann, saying that his book is basically bullshit. It is hilarious. It is golden.
Heilemann says that "there's no real way to know what happened in Virginia." That's not true. What happened in Virginia is the GOP did away with the primary and picked a gubernatorial candidate in a convention. And instead of nominating a normal, reasonable Virginia Republican, like Bill Bolling -- who is super conservative by the way but not some loathsome freakazoid from the Spanish Inquisition -- they nominated...well, a loathsome freakazoid from the Spanish Inquisition. It was a bridge too far for most Virginians, even as an alternative to Terry McAuliffe, who lost the Democratic primary the last time out to Creigh Deeds.
THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED IN VIRGINIA. SAYING THERE IS NO REAL WAY OF KNOWING WHAT HAPPENED IN VIRGINIA IS BULLSHIT. STOP SAYING THIS.
Gigot becomes the 786,209th person to observe that "Republicans are united on the substance of opposition to Obamacare, the differences in the shutdown were tactical."
Ellison reckons that the website is going to get fixed, and people will like Obamacare more widely to the previous insurance regime. Here's why: "57% of all bankruptcy filings were because of medical debt."
That's the bet.
Ellison however, did a big no-no for Sunday morning guests: he empathized with poor people. So the subject is swiftly changed and instead of talking about the structural inequities of the health care system and how there were a lot of losers already in the winners and losers of health care is kiboshed and we're back to talking about a national healthcare tragedy as something that only impacts the electoral fortunes of mega-rich political celebrities.
HEILEMANN: But there's a lesson in all of these things which is that a lot of these issues that seem to be game changers for a moment, turn out to be really evanescent.
Yeah, sure. TOTES EVANESCENT. All those people who go into debt or die are a super tripledown chickensandwich GAME CHANGERZ OMG.
The segment ends with Stephanopoulos saying: "More roundtable coming up. Plus that crazy story out of Toronto, the mayor smoking crack." And basically, we've hit the part where the producers of the show just sort of give up. Poor Rick Klein was dispatched to interview Chuck Grassley about Twitter, because Twitter had an IPO this week, and Chuck Grassley frequently uses Twitter to demonstrate that he knows how to write in a sort of pidgin English.
The panel then talks about Twitter. No one says anything interesting. Heilemann notices that technology has sped up the newscycle.
Stephanopoulos says Twitter "reinforces this tendency to chase after the brightest new object out there."
That's not true. If Twitter did not exist, that is still precisely how George Stephanopoulos would behave.
George Stroumboulopoulos shows up to explain Toronto to everyone. Essentially, Rob Ford has gotten by, despite being a drunk idiot racist who smokes crack, by presenting himself as an authentic, salt-of-the-earth populist who represents Toronto's underclass against a "downtown elite." This is all a huge put on. But give Ford some credit! He basically is winning in Canada with the same phony bullshit that every American politician uses.
There is a segment now promoting some teevee show that Amazon made about politics? I am not liveblogging that, sorry.
Okay, well, this day has stretched beyond all the sane boundaries of liveblogging so I'm calling a halt to it. Thanks for coming by! Please continue to do so through the end of the year. And have a great week!
[The Sunday morning liveblog will return on November 17, 2013. In the meanwhile, check out my Rebel Mouse page for the best reads from around the internet.]