TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Well, hello there! You have arrived just in time for your Sunday Morning Liveblog of the political chit-chat shows. My name is Jason. Last night, Mitt Romney prevailed in the Nevada Caucuses, like everyone expected. And everyone else decided, for some reason, to keep on campaigning. So there were no real "losers" last night, except for any reporter who used some form of the "What happens in ____________ does/does not stay in ___________" construction. In addition, it's Super Bowl Sunday, or if you prefer, Superb Owl Sunday, so enjoy:

At any rate, you know the drill. Sit back and relax (or just stay in bed like a rational human) as I quickly type about the images that flicker on my teevee and try to stay caffeinated. When and if the mood strikes you, join the conversation in the comments or drop me a line, and as always, you are invited to follow me on Twitter, for some reason.


Today, Chris Wallace gets Rick Santorum and a slew of surrogates to yammer about 2012, plus the Fox Panel will talk about lady business and its impact on politics. But first a a recap of last night's Romney win -- Wallace says that the race is starting to "settle down." Which is bad news for everyone not named Mitt Romney. By the way, do you think Newt Gingrich is jealous of Mitt's new Secret Service detail? His brain contains the plans for the mission to Mars, after all!

Out of context quote from Rick Santorum, explaining away his loss: He says he didn't "drive and penetrate" in Nevada. And it's true! He did not drive and penetrate in the Silver State, and the irony there is that it's not frowned upon out there.

Worth noting perhaps: in the second straight state, turnout appears to be down, so Romney's win will come coupled with an "enthusiasm gap" narrative attached to it.

Rick Santorum is here, now. And ready to drive and penetrate the news cycle. First up, Santorum says that his daughter Bella is doing great, after a health scare last weekend. Wallace asks if part of him didn't want to quit the race and rejoin his family. Santorum says that "family comes first" but that his campaign is motivated in part from parental duty, to make America a more Santorumy place for his kids. And the cat's in the cradle blah blah de blah. Drive and penetrate.

How is he going to get competitive again? Santorum says that he's just got to wait for Tuesday. "Now we're getting to the states where everyone doesn't have a natural advantage of building out a campaign," he says. Of course, his narrow Iowa win was due, in some part, to his having built a campaign there. Beyond that, Mitt Romney has enough money to seem present in all of the Tuesday states. Santorum says he can do well in Colorado's caucuses and in the Missouri Beauty Contest Primary where he's mainly going up against Romney for all of zero delegates.

Yes, nothing says, "let the states do healthcare" like the super sensible primary election contests they schedule every four years!

Santorum says Tuesday is not "make or break" for his candidacy and he believes that he will show improvement even if he fails to keep winning delegates. Noting the low turnout, he says it's a bad sign when the top two candidates aren't generating enough energy. Of course, he is also not generating the energy.

Is Santorum taking a shot at Gingrich's philandering in his recent ad? Santorum doesn't deny it, but he says that commercial is about so much more! The issue of "character and trustworthiness and authenticity" are nevertheless "important," according to Santorum.

"Newt Gingrich would be a better President than Barack Obama," Santorum allows, but he is still a dangerous megalomanic weirdo, prone to erratic displays...or at least this: "A lot of the ideas Newt comes up with...are not connected to fiscal responbility or limited government." Santorum does not want to go the moon, because its a flat disc of cheese that circles the earth, trying to avoid the Sun, which also circles the earth, which is flat and the other side is covered with dragons!

How about the jobs report? Santorum says Romney is a "uni-dimensional" candidate who is just a "CEO" whose got no real campaign if the economy keeps improving. And Romney doesn't "create the contrast" that Santorum believes the GOP needs in the general election. "We give away the health care issue," he says, adding that with Romney, the GOP also gives away cap and trade, and gives away the Wall Street bailouts. Give it away, give it away, give it away, now. What I got you got to stick it put it in you. Drive and penetrate.

On the matter of the Susan G. Komen PR fiasco, Santorum says that "they're a private organization so they can fund whoever they want," but as the candidate, he doesn't think the federal government should be giving Planned Parenthood money because Planned Parenthood has insufficiently chattelized women. He doesn't understand how breast cancer research is advanced by giving money to an organization that helps women in need obtain abortions. SPOILER ALERT: It's "advanced" by keeping women of modest means in a state known colloquially as "alive."

Santorum also says that there are "ties between cancer and abortion." But there are also ties between erectile dysfunction drugs and prostate cancer. (If he gets to say bogus things on teevee, then I get to say them on the internet, right?) So, we need to really do something about the ties between ED drugs and prostate cancer that I just made up and which are as instantly credible as the medical frippery Santorum cites by making sure doctors give rectal exams to every patient who wants to be spreading their baby batter recreationally, long after the human race had any need of their dusty old-man seed. Folks, we need doctors to reach up there and work these prostates like a speedbag, for fun. Drive and penetrate.

Santorum is naturally not happy about Catholics receiving birth control pills and contraception, and he seems to think that the morning after pill "clearly causes abortions" (it doesn't, this is only something morons believe). Santorum says that you have to be "careful" when you take healthcare from the government, because then "they'll tell you how you can exercise those rights." Yeah, well, everyone who thinks they'll be burned as a witch for using contraception is allowed to go right on not using contraception.

We are joined now by campaign surrogates in the form of Mitt Romney-backing Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Newt Gingrich-backing former Oklahoma Representative J. C. Watts.

Watts, asked about Newt losing last night and Florida, says that he's been organizing on Newt's behalf, and he thinks that Newt will be successful in Minnesota and Arizona, and that will "springboard" Newt into Super Tuesday. McDonnell says that Mitt's last two wins were big blowouts and he carried most of the important demographics.

Gingrich has been mercilessly attacking Romney, but Watts says that this is not over the top because GEORGE SOROS, YAHHH. Or something. Gingrich, he says, is awesome and Gingrich likes gun control and abortion. McDonnell says that he is a pro-life, tax cutting governor who is a consistent conservative, where Newt loves to hang out with Nancy Pelosi and make fun of Paul Ryan.

Wallace points out that Romney has made a "series of gaffes" that make him look "out of touch." McDonnell says that he's apologized for the dumb things he's always saying! What's more important is that Romney is winning and can win, and isn't everyone "pro-winning?"

Watts says, "I am shocked that any candidate running for President would say they are not concerned about the poor." Really? Is this Watts's first time, looking at an American election? I take this to mean that he is shocked that someone actually said something out loud that they aren't supposed to. Romney did say, after all, that such discussions needed to take place in "quiet rooms."

Wallace points out the Romney wasn't in step with the conservative argument either, in citing the "safety net." McDonnell simply goes on to make that argument for him. Also, Romney gives away a lot of money to charity! Of course, he likes to consider those charitable donations to be a form of "taxation" -- after his low tax rate was disclosed, Romney started suggesting that it was actually at "40-50%" when you include charitable giving. Which one doesn't do, but nevermind. (Also, I imagine that a sizable portion of that "charity" went to aid organizations in keeping same-sex couples from getting married.)

McDonnell says that "both candidates are tough" and that this is a "contact sport" and so tough ads are going to be run, but everything's coming up Mittens. Watts says that the extent of Gingrich's ethics "shame" was a $300 fine. Newt will "make his argument to the voters," he says. (And Romney will destroy Newt with campaign ads, funded by super PACs.

McDonnell will not cop to wanting to be Vice President, and he's not going to talk about what life would be like if he ran.

Well, it's panel time, with Bill Kristol, Liz Marlantes, Lynne Cheney, and human pinata Juan Williams.

Bill Kristol says that Romney's position is "pretty commanding" but maybe Rick Santorum can do something on Tuesday. Wallace says, well, in 2008 Obama "won a string of victories" in February and yet "Hillary Clinton came back and did well." Except she didn't. Obama clinched the nomination mathematically on Super Tuesday and it was a done deal everywhere except the magical clown-brain of Democratic court-jester Terry McAuliffe.

Marlantes points out that "surviving financially" is important, as well, and Gingrich has problems in that regard. She also says that Romney had the worst great week or the greatest worst week, depending on how you look at it -- he won primaries, yes, but he also said some embarrassing things ("I am not concerned about the very poor") and did some stupid stuff (receive an endorsement from Donald Trump).

Cheney says it's "too soon to say it's over." She says that Santorum is wrong to suggest the good jobs numbers diminish Romney's case for the Presidency.

Wallace isn't so sure, given the strength of the numbers and the consistent trends. Williams, of course, agrees that if things get better it's "good news for Obama," and that the GOP is "cheering for bad news." Cheney says no one is cheering for bad news, but Obama's fiscal argument is undone by spending and deficits. The good news on that front, however, is that all Obama has to do is ensure that nothing happens, and the deficits go down.

Cheney also has a strange warning -- that a vote for Obama could mean "the austerity measures that you see in Europe." That's odd, considering that it's the Congressional GOP that's in favor of enacting "the austerity measures that you see in Europe." (If "the austerity measures that you see in Europe" were polling better, Cheney would promote them, and not denigrate them.)

Kristol says that Romney hasn't yet drawn a contrast with Obama. Wallace wonders if Romney shouldn't make a "Major Speech On How Rich He Is" the same way Obama had to make a "Major Speech On Race." Oh, boy! Welcome to America! Where your biracial heritage is the same thing as having hundreds of millions of dollars!

Marlantes makes an interesting suggestion: if the economy improves, Santorum is better positioned to make an old-school conservative argument against Obama.

Now some panel-yammer about Komen. Cheney says that Komen bungled it for both sides, that pro-lifers found out awkwardly that Komen monies went to Planned Parenthood, who also use money to help women with reproductive health. Nevermind that Komen money was not used to fund abortions, "money is fungible," says Cheney -- the only time you'll hear a conservative talk about fungibility is when Planned Parenthood is involved.

Marlantes points out that what's been lost in the discussion is that it's not clear that Koman actually walked everything back to the status quo ante. She also says that it was just a PR disaster, full stop.

Kristol says that social media is a powerful political player now, and that this is where cultural issues are fought now. Williams points out that old-school politics still matter, as well -- if Obama loses the Catholic vote, there's a portion of the Hispanic vote that goes out with it.

Kristol, horning in on Juan and Lynne's argument over Catholics and contraception, points out that at the center of this discussion lies "ObamaCare." Williams seems upset by this, and grouses, "You just changed the parameters of the debate." Yeah, LIKE A BOSS!


Today at the genius bar, Richard Stengel, Andrea Mitchell, Nia-Malika Henderson and our own Howard Fineman will discuss the Romney campaign and its tendency to say dumb things, the good economic news, and the way Republicans perceive Obama.

So, hey, there's this presidential campaign going on? And Mitt Romney's in it, and he's out there, interacting with the plebes...the common man, if you will...and he tends to act like he came from Greece and had a thirst for knowledge, and studied scultpture at Saint Martin's College, etc, etc. I know I'm always going back to the Jarvis Cocker well, deal with it. The point is...that is, the point that Matthews is trying to make, is that rich people always run for president and some are more out of touch than others, but Romney is the one "putting his electability in question." (Is he?)

Stengel says, "People on the left think that conservatism is a monolith." (Do they? Could you maybe introduce us to one, Rick?) But, he says, that if Mitt Romney is the nominee, conservatives will vote for him because "they've nowhere else to go." (Ha, now this sounds monolithic!)

"Remember, we're going to forget about [these Romney gaffes] by the time the general rolls around," says Stengel. (Are we?)

Mitchell says that Romney's "poor" remarks were a classic Kinsley gaffe and it is a "mirror into his soul" that has GOP figures worried that Romney is a bad retail politician. Henderson says that the problem with Mitt is his Mittness, and also his Romneyness, and that "he's a man...who doesn't seem to have been around a lot of different people" and who may be out of step with "today's times." She says that he looked really dumb standing there with Donald Trump.

Mitchell says that Romney's decision to take Trump's endorsement was "prevent defense" in that "he didn't want it to go to Gingrich." No, no! Let that endorsement go to Gingrich! Donald Trump's endorsement is like the norovirus -- don't catch it if you can. Fineman says, "Romney's problem is that Trump is his idea of a conservative," and that Romney was desperate to get someone in his fold that had Tea Party appeal.

Fineman says that the good jobs news we've had this year isn't sufficient to alter electoral realities, but if the trend continues, it really will detune Romney's argument. Clint Eastwood is also going to be giving a "pep talk to the country" in the form of a Chrysler ad during today's Super Bowl. So, look for that, amid all the other commercials, which are pep talks to misogynists, mainly.

Matthews and Stengel swap stories on FDR, and what a happy, slappy patrician dude he was. Mitchell says that Bloomberg is also a populist man of the earth in the way he gave Planned Parenthood thousands of dollars in the wake of that Komen decision, and didn't even ask Planned Parenthood to use it to develop high-rise condos in Bushwick or something, just like a mensch!

Haha, when the "Matthews meter" was asked if Romney's wealth would matter in the election, only Peggy Noonan said no. (And for all I know, she could be right!) Howard says that Romney's problem isn't his wealth -- it's the fact that he has bank accounts in the Caymans and Switzerland. He also points out, "There are still ten more years of tax returns" left to be disclosed.

Mitchell says that you can't get Romney to stop being himself, so look for more spur-of-the-moment $10,000 bets and for more dogs to get lashed to the top of Romney's car, to poop themselves in liquid terror. Yet for all that, as Howard points out, he's still going to be the nominee, and have a fifty-fifty shot at the White House.

But what about Newt? Does he have another comeback in him? Howard suggests he could have a "last revival" on Super Tuesday, but that's probably it. Stengel and Henderon say Newt's done, and that talk of a comeback is "journalist wishful thinking."

Now, for some reason, we are watcing clips of Newt Gingrich on the Weather Channel. Oh, the things we strive to remember, for some reason!

Polls show that 96% of Republican voters have problems with President Obama as a "human being." So there's a sad contrast, I guess, between John McCain putting a stop to come campaign trail cray-cray and Rick Santorum "cheering it on." Which are Matthews words. I dont' necessarily think Santorun WAS cheering on birtherism. He was visibly uncomfortable in that moment, and which he didn't shut it down, when he said that he was "trying to get Obama out of the government" he was just referencing the fact that he was running for President against him. BUT OKAY, John McCain was "braver."

Howard figures that we'll see more of that stuff during the primaries, and when the cray-cray comes up on the campaign trail, he will be more of the McCain figure, knowing that his super PAC will be able to say all sorts of outlandish things. "Mitt Romney will say just enough," Howard says, to keep him apart from their dirty work.

Mitchell says that Jon Ralston questioned Mitt's decision to get endorsed by Donald Trump, noting that Romney didn't question Trump on the birther issue.

Things that Chris doesn't know includes the fact some people are surprised that the president of the National Prayer Breakfast took a shot at Mitt Romney for his remarks about the poor, because that's simply not done (sticking up for the poor in DC, or taking a shot at politicians?)...anyway, WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS THINK, ABOUT THIS VIOLATION OF THE BELTWAY PARTY CODE??!? (Mitchell); Michele Obama is going to be campaigning next week (Henderson); she'll be Obama's "top surrogate" and that the President sees "health care" as "the key to the Hispanic vote (Fineman); also, Time Magazine has a cover story (Stengel).

Will the GOP push Obama to endorse an Israeli military strike on Iran? Stengel says they will and it's irresponsible. Mitchell and Henderson says the pressure will come. Fineman says that the only candidate that wouldn't push it is Ron Paul. Matthews says that "this is a time" for lawmakers "to be very cerebral." First time for everything!


Okay, so today we'll get us some Newt Gingrich, and then a discussion between Mike Bloomberg and Mitch Daniels and Deval Patrick because OOOH WOW, LOOKIT, GOT US SOME FOOTBALL SYNERGY. Plus a panel with David Brooks and Rachel Maddow and Xavier Beccera and Alex Castellanos.

Gingrich, last night, held a news conference, to lend his campaign some shade of seriousness. He said that all rumors that he might quit are promulgated by Romney's team in Boston, and that over the next few weeks, the contrasts between he and Mitt will get "wider and wider." Which makes sense! Romney will look like "a guy who wins tonos of delegates" and Gingrich will look like a "Wait, he's still runningf for President? Wow!"

But, he's here to speak for himself, and his exit polls. Nevada exit polls indicated that Romney scored with some of the few groups he's lost with before -- people looking for a "true conservative" or who identify with the Tea Party. Gingrich says that his goal is to get to Super Tuesday, where he can rile up the southern states and Texas. "The key here is to make this a choice campaign," he says. He also says he will replace the "safety net" with a "trampoline" and maybe even a funnel cake maker, but only if the poors are good and really behive themselves.

Gregory says that what he's basically been doing is complaining about how he's alwats outspent. Gingrich says that he's focused on making "change" in Washington. Then there's a lengthy snatch of Gingrich's stump speech, which Gregory doesn't interrupt.

How does Gingrich "disqualify Romney" with concervatives? Gingrich says you point out his flip-flops, his lack of job creation, his embrace of health care reform. He says that he's prepared to be the real conservative in the race, and that Romney's going to be a timid "manager of the margins," instead of doing something big. Newt will do more to depress minimum wages for the working poor, and go much larger in cutting taxes for the rich, than will Mitt Romney.

He throws shade on the good jobs numbers by saying that the top line in unemployment doesn't take into account labor force participation and underemployment. It's funny -- as someone who's constantly pointed at the U6 unemployment number in my own writing, it's pretty neat to finally hear some GOP politicians suddenly pointing at those numbers, now that the standard unemployment number isn't defamatory enough on the Obama White House.

But how seriously do I take Newt as the guy concerned with labor participation and underemployment? Not very! He's the guy who wants to toss full time janitors on the unemployment lines and replace them with part-time child wage-slaves! I'd be embarrassed for the guy if I thought he was capable of being chagrinned.

Will continued job growth make it harder for the GOP to attack Obama? Gingrich says no:

"If you are talking we go down to 7.9 percent in the fourth year of the longest recession since the Great Depression, you still have a challenge," Gingrich replied. "If it's combined with the highest-priced gasoline in the history, he will still have a challenge, and if we got to that recovery because he is borrowing trillions from our children and grandchildren, it's still down."

"By an overwhelming margin, the American people think Washington is on the wrong track," Gingrich continued. "Obama's policies have consistently weakened the country. There are very few Americans who want to see the price of gasoline raised by ... 25 cents a gallon."

Even if an improving economy is unhelpful to Republicans, Gingrich suggested there's always the culture war alternative. "It's not just an economic election," he said. "[Obama] declared war on the Catholic Church. That's the language of the archbishop in New York."

What I might have done there, if I were Newt, would be to add something like, "It's not going to be a problem for me or for Rick Santorum, or for that matter, Ron Paul. It'll be really hard for Romney. As a moderate, that argument is the only one he has to run on."

Gregory does try to understand what Gingrich's beef with these new insurance rules are:

GREGORY: This is for insurance to be provided, including contraception, for employees around the country. But religious institutions would be exempted. How is this a war against religion, while religious institutions (churches and the like) would be exempted? And there are states that have very similar rules to ensure the health and safety of women, that they get covered in their workplace, whether it be a Catholic hospital or other kind of institution.

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, you just managed to precisely repeat the Obama administration's line, which is also the American Civil Liberties Union line. The fact is, what you're saying is there cannot be a genuinely Catholic university, there cannot be a genuinely Catholic hospital. That in fact, it will have to be subordinated to the rules of a secular government. I mean, I happen to oppose rules that have, for example, forced Catholic adoption services to be closed because they're only willing to have adoptions for marriages between a man and a woman. There are states that now close that. I think that is a tremendous infringement of religious liberty, and I think you're saying the same thing. You're saying basically, "Oh, you can have the name on the-- but you can't actually be a Catholic institution. You can't actually be an evangelical Christian institution. You can't actually be an Orthodox Jewish institution because we, the secular government, are going to impose on you."

I mean, they don't have to receive government largesse in the form of tax-exempt status if it's getting to be too hard to abide by certain rules.

Anyway, electorally speaking, as Gingrich points out, there will be a cost to Obama. Fortunately for Obama, those costs are known as "sunk costs."

Gingrich insists that his moon colony idea is not a bad idea and Saturday Night Live shouldn't be making fun of it. He was totally pandering to voters on Space Coast, David Gregory! (Who, by the way, all voted for Mitt Romney.) If you don't believe in Gingrich's moon colony, then you are showing "a lack of faith in America."

Gingrich says that it's irrelevant whether he likes Romney or not. He's glad that in the counties where he's winning, enthusiasm is up, and in the counties where Romney won, enthusiasm is down.

I am not going to liveblog any of this shows football content. I'll simply note that Gregory and Gingrich achieved synergy.

Now, we have Deval Patrick, Mike Bloomberg, and Mitch Daniels.

What does Daniels think of the improving economy? He says it's terrible, because of the stuff Gingrich pointed out, and that he's pretty sure the rest of the year is going to be "gloomy." But the perception is that things are improving. Bloomberg says that what disturbs him isn't the economy, but OMG THE DEFICITZ HOW WILL THEY BE SOLVED? Ehhh, like I said, start by doing nothing. Nothing at all. Bloomberg gets that partially right -- let all the Bush tax cuts expire...that's part of the whole "doing nothing." He also says that Obama should adopt "the Simpson Bowles plan," which I'll assume means the "Simpson Bowles Chairmens' Mark" because there was no "Simpson Bowles plan" because the Simpson Bowles commission could not decide on a plan.

Obama, inspired by the work of the Simpson Bowles committee, took a plan to John Boehner that proposed $4 billion in cuts, $1 billion in revenue, and reforms of Medicare, and Boehner liked it, but his caucus was in crazyface mode and rejected it. That's the sort of thing Bloomberg supports, and he'd maybe be inclined to place the blame properly, were it not for the fact that one of the rules of political reporting is that you are supposed to pretend that this plan from Obama never happened. Every time I bring it up, I imagine that I am courting being sent to a reprogramming camp. So if I ever show up here sounding like Thomas Friedman, please send help, okay!

Patrick aligns himself with Bloomberg and notes that "the president aligns himself with that thinking."

Gregory asks Daniels an important question:

GREGORY: Governor Daniels, one of the things you hear from the campaign trail, Mitt Romney said it just the other day, is that the recovery should have been so much stronger. You know, it's very difficult to prove something like that, just like it's difficult for the president to prove that the economy would have been weaker if not for his particular policies. How could it have been stronger, had a Republican been president, in your judgment? Been in the White House, I should say.

DANIELS: Well, for one thing, national policy wouldn't have been so relentlessly anti-enterprise as it's been. If you assembled a team of Nobel economists and said, "Design us a policy to stifle and strangle investment and small business growth and innovation in this economy," you couldn't have done better than what's happened the last three years. The mindless piling on of new regulations, every one of them very expensive, and in the aggregate extraordinarily so, that's all drained away dollars that could have been used to hire someone. The new taxes, and the threat of more; all the uncertainty that's come with that. What we know is this, David. No one can prove what might have happened, but this is the weakest recovery, by far, from a deep recession that we have since the records have been kept. And I don't think that's an accident.

What's interesting about this is that for the past three years, the challenge the Obama Re-Elect team faced was having to prove an invisible argument -- had we not acted, things would have been worse. What's evolving now is that there's a sort of levelling happening here -- the GOP now has to make an invisible argument as well -- had Obama did different things everyone would have gotten this recovery PLUS A PONY! Daniels' talking points are the opening gambit.

I'll point out that the whole notion that we've lived through an anti-enterprise era is profoundly laughable. Even as recovery for ordinary Americans was flailing, corporate profits were hitting record highs.

And as I've pointed out before, Daniels' regulatory uncertainty case is nothing more than a straw man argument that most of the media hasn't taken any time to penetrate.

Nevertheless, points are going to be awarded in this election to whatever side is capable of making the best "invisible argument," though that basically assumes that Romney is going to be the nominee. Perhaps a Newt Gingrich could make all sorts of different arguments in a general election matchup.

Bloomberg obviously thinks everyone needs to be a lot nicer to Wall Street, "Just let's put it in football terms: Can you imagine a coach who would put a backup quarterback in if all he did on the sidelines was criticize the starting quarterback? I don't think so."

Did the starting quarterback nearly destroy the economy because of criminal ineptitude and unchecked avarice? If so, then yes, the coach would have to be Timothy Geithner severely effed in the head and an all-out shill for the forces of criminal ineptitude to not put in that complaining second string quarterback.

Everyone thinks there's too much bickering and debating and fussing and feuding. I don't believe for one minute that any if any of these three needed to kneecap an old lady to win office, that they wouldn't reach for a crowbar to do so. (Bloomberg is against guns, though.)

Does Bloomberg oppose a parade for veterans? No, he doesn't. The Pentagon does, though:

BLOOMBERG: I think it'd be great, but the Pentagon has asked us to postpone any parade as long as we still have our soldiers in Iraq, getting shot at and sadly killed. I think I'll leave it up to the military experts and the Pentagon to decide when they think it's appropriate, and then New York will give them a parade like we've never done before--


BLOOMBERG: to say thank you for everything they've done.

GREGORY: But does it make sense, we can deploy to two different wars at the same time and fund two different wars, but we can't have a parade for two different sets of veterans?

BLOOMBERG: Well, you know, I think the military's very sensitive. They're the ones that are out there, they're the ones that have been in combat themselves. I'll defer to the leadership.

And...everyone achieves synergy.

Panel time. Rachel Maddow is uncertain there's been enough synergy yet. That will be fixed, probably.

Meanwhile, Romney is winning Nevada and the delegate count. Brooks says that conservativesare swinging behind Romney, and that Gingrich harping on Obama's contraception policy is actually getting evangelicals to come around to supporting the "electable" Romney. Maddow says that running against birth control is going to hit a "21st century ceiling" -- provided there are enough voters in America that have made it out of the 19th century.

Castellanos says that as "government expands into every aspect of society" it "crowds out" liberty. And that's a bad thing.*

*Unless the "aspect of society" is "female reproductive organs."

Becerra says he's a Catholic and the "Constitution got it right." Brooks thinks that the Catholic Church is doing great things! So why should they have to follow "the law" as long as their so awesome? So, some real talk, from Maddow:

RACHEL MADDOW: The idea that the Catholic Church is being forced to do something that, as a church, it does not want to do is a misnomer. The initial exception in here is that the Catholic Church, somebody that is providing the service of being a church, that is operating as a church, they're already exempt from this. The question is, as the congressman says, when you want to become a health insurance provider, you must follow the rules of providing health insurance. And in this country, that means that you have to cover contraception. And 80%--


RACHEL MADDOW: -of Americans agree with that. This fits into-- you guys want to make this only about religion, but listen.


RACHEL MADDOW: Mitt Romney is campaigning today that he would like to end--

ALEX CASTELLANOS: --the administration made this all about religion. Ask the bishop.

RACHEL MADDOW: He would like to end all family planning support at the federal level. He would like to eliminate Title 10. Rick Santorum said that he would like states to be able to make contraception illegal. You can try to make this an issue of, "Oh, Democrats hate religion," but the fact is, churches were exempt from this from the beginning. This is about providing health insurance.

Castellanos becomes the latest GOP figure to suddenly find affection for the U6 numbers. Brooks says this is the "wrong approach" for the GOP.

BROOKS: You can't wage this on the cyclical ups and downs of the economy 'cause it might get better. God willing, it will get better. So if I were the Republicans, I'd say, "Cyclical, we're doing a little better. We've got these huge structural problems. We've got the debt, we've got wage stagnation, we've got families falling apart," and highlight the deep structural problems. The message for Romney out of these jobs numbers is, "I can't cruise quoting God Bless America," whatever song he quotes. "I've got to actually have some big policies." And he's cruising on a bad economy, but that may go away, hopefully.

Becerra says that the GOP "is going to try to run on pessmism" and that Americans "have never been a people of pessimism." But the party out of power ALWAYS runs on pessimism! You don't go up against an incumbent says, "Hey, I think things are going great under this guy, but why not pay me some money and give me some prestige instead!"

Alex Castellanos! Having a personal problem with women being allowed to complete sentences on the teevee since...well -- forever!

Anyway, that's that. Please enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday. I hope your team wins! I hope that on the field, there's a lot of partisan bickering! And I hope to be back next week. Until then, everyone go forth and enjoy your day.