TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday morning liveblog, here at the Huffington Post. My name is Jason. So, today, because man does not live on bread alone and variety is the spice of life, I decided to give myself a brief respite from Fox News Sunday. But because many of you will think me a monstrous person for doing so, here's what you missed: Chris Wallace yammering on and on about why Obama won't use the word "victory" - WHY WON'T HE WHY WON'T HE WHYWONTHEEEEEE. At this point, since it has zero practical bearing on any actual military matters, I'm going to say he does that SOLELY to mess with the heads of people like Chris Wallace. Also, Sam Stein says that Brit Hume is hilarious, and he doesn't think Obama can pass his budget. Also, Bill Kristol was relatively quiet and that Juan Williams and Hume "are not feeling each other," which either means the two men were literally NOT LOCKED in a loving embrace, the kind that only two news colleagues can share. Mara Liasson wore black or something, and Brit Hume got mad at Obama's tax plans.

Anyway, Fox News Sunday sounded exciting in a boring way. So, la de dah. Skipped! See you next week!

Anyway, this week, this guy I know, Michael Calderone, went through some nonsense after he was named "Third Worst Person in the World" or some such nonsense by Keith Olbermann because, uhm...why, exactly? Someone on MSNBC said "Oh, God," at the sight of Bobby Jindal and Calderone, like the rest of us, everywhere, wanted to know who it was, everyone figured it was either Olbermann or Chris Matthews, blah blah. Michael did really nothing, in reporting it out on his blog at the Politico, than the rest of us did, but for some reason, Olbermann picked him at random to wring out. Then Michael provided a blow-by-blow of what he did, and Olbermann made him the "best person in the world" the next day, for apologizing, or something.

I've met Michael two or three times and he's a very friendly and geniune guy. He's nice! He's engaged! He listens to you and stuff. If he was ever REALLY the worst person in the world, than the world would be an awesome place. He's not even remotely the worst person in the world, okay. Just wanted to say that!

Anyhoo. Write me an email, leave a comment, follow me on Twitter. Time now for...


Today we are going to have a battle of the bespectacled! Peter Orszag and Eric Cantor.

Orszag starts the day, telling GS that we've inherited some crazy deficits, and that the stimulus is intended to close the gap in one of them, the GDP. But will it work? Orszag says his forecast depends on the econbomy growing at the projected pace. Naturally, those results from last quarter should make everyone a little tetchy. But by 2014, "hopefully" everything will be fine.

Orszag sort of dodges a question on cap-and-trade by "rejecting" a pair of broader premises, that growth only comes by keeping the marginal tax rate on wealthy Americans low. And then some stuff about Pell grants. But does Obama have cap-and-trade right? Yglesias says:

For my part, I was initially puzzled by the linkage of carbon permit auction revenues to the administration's Make Work Pay tax credit. But then I thought about it again on the Metro and it made more sense to me--it lets you characterize the proposal as a tax cut for working people financed through a tax on polluters.

The trouble with the plan, of course, remains what it's long been namely that "my best guess is that Obama's climate proposals are too ambitious to be enacted and too timid to avert catastrophe." In other words, this is a good proposal. But it's not good enough to avert catastrophe. And it's overwhelmingly likely that to get it passed through congress it'll have to be watered-down.

Orszag insists that health care reform is going to get done this year. GS wonders how it will pass without the "reconciliation process," which sounds like new jargon for an old idea--give up on good ideas for the sake of ideas that will pass with lots of opposition votes.

What about the $750 billion placeholder for bank bailouts? GS says, "the odds are you are going to need something." Orszag says, "That's why we've put a placeholder in, in case it's necessary." GS harangues, Orszag keeps repeating the fact that that's why they've put in some wiggle room, in case it's necessary. I GET IT, of course: we're used to people on the take. At the same time, maybe we could have more transparent budgets if we put an eye to anticipating the bad stuff that could happen.

What about all the earmarks in the Omnibus Bill? LOTS OF EARMARKS. And John McCain does not know how we will MANAGE THE BEAVERS. Orszag basically says: this budget is last years business, earmark reform will follow in the future, McCain will get some help with all the beavers.

Flip over to Cantor! He wants a "money-mouth" juxtaposition, lines drawn, waste stopped, and about a dozen other homilies. My God, can that man rip through some platitudes! Anyway, he's talked to small businesses who live in darkness, like gnomes.

"We want to work with this president!" Cantor says. And he means it! Obama's numbers are really high!

Cantor blames Pelosi, naturally, for the House GOP's ideas not making them into the bill. GS points out that the administration credits the House GOP for adding tax cut ideas and internet transparency. Cantor wishes that Obama had gone even further with the transparency, and allowed the public to see some of the ideas that were up for deliberation rather than just putting the final products up on the web. I'll admit, that sounds like an interesting idea - giving people a close up idea of hos your legislative sausage gets made. I'll takle it a step further, maybe a wiki style approach can be added, where research on what decision is tied to what campaign contribution is presented for public perusal.

Cantor won't respond to Governor John Huntsman yelling at him, nor will he endorse the Limbaugh, "I hope Obama fails" line. Pelosi doesn't need his votes, either. And Peter Orszag looks exactly like him, except the ladies are a little bit more into Orszag. Basically, Eric Cantor is doing the best he can with what he has to work with, which is sod all, frankly.

Email from Katherine Carpenter:

"Just to quickly say that I am finding it hard to watch everyone this morning, because it seems like the phrase constantly coming out of their wordholes is some variation of let's be clear. Carry on."

It's just too early in the morning for this liveblog to endorse drinking games. I'm sorry. But if you must, that's a good place to start!

Today's panel includes Karl "Twitter" Rove, Katrina VandenHeuvel, George "I Just Make Stuff Up And Put It In The Washington Post With Fred Hiatt's Permission, No Wonder Post Profits Are off 77%" Will, and Stanley Greenberg.

Will, who Just Makes Stuff Up And Put It In The Washington Post With Fred Hiatt's Permission, No Wonder Post Profits Are off 77%, runs down Obama's "ambitions." GS has this phrase he's using, "overloading the circuits." If you are doing so, anyway: drink. Rove "admires boldness in the executive," but seems to think universal healthcare is an "extreme" position to take. It's actually a perfectly mainstream position.

KVH advises Obama to keep going "outside the bubble" of Washington, and bringing his case to the American people. I think you risk being called out as a permanent campaigner, but...then again, if it works, if it keeps people focused on the work that THEY have to do, in turn, then it's a good thing to stay out there in the public eye. I'm reminded, actually, of what a good job Bill Clinton used to do on the trail, breaking down complicated ideas into terms that ordinary people could wrap their heads around. Obama's not that good at that sort of thing, yet. I see some occasional flashes, though, now.

Will, who Just Makes Stuff Up And Put It In The Washington Post With Fred Hiatt's Permission, No Wonder Post Profits Are off 77%, wonders what about government performance under the last two Presidents makes Greenberg and KVH confident that the government can grow the economy. Greenberg says, basically, "Bush sucked." He maybe should lead with the successes of the Clinton economy - maybe he doesn't because it's architect, Joe Stiglitz, remains on the outside, looking in, at the Obama administration.

Rove's just pretending now: THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN WAS ALL ABOUT GOING LINE BY LINE THROUGH THE BUDGET, MAKING CUTS. Uhm, in fairness, that's not what it was ALL about.

KVH is hammering Rove on being the BUSHBRAIN behind a ton of bad debts and insane wars. Rove wants to be called Karl instead of "Mr. Rove," but other than that, he plays the victim. "WE HAD 9-11, and KATRINA, and the TECH BUBBLE BURST." Ugh. Call Karl Rove the Waaaambulance. YA BUGGERED UP YOUR RESPONSES TO THOSE TWO, DIMWIT.

Greenberg and KVH are tag teaming the crap out of Rove, who keeps trying to make snark interruptions off camera, which is not part of his calm-spoken style. Will, who Just Makes Stuff Up And Put It In The Washington Post With Fred Hiatt's Permission, No Wonder Post Profits Are off 77%, tries to play peacemaker, but KVH isn't letting up. Rove tries to navigate his way back to his talking points, but now Stephanopoulos is dogging him with questions. Greenberg basically says, "Your best idea was Joe The Plumber."

"When are you going to understand you are continuing to go down a failed road," Greenberg says.

Rove keeps suggesting that the Obama campaign said a bunch of things it didn't. "YOU SAID there would be tax cuts for 95% of Americans. I think most Americans expected you to cut taxes, not raise them!" I think 95% of Americans probably anticipated that taxes would get raised, ON THE LEFTOVER FIVE PERCENT.

Amazingly, they only gave a brief amount of time to the Iraq withdrawal announcement. I guess there's not as much fun yelling to be had!

Anyway, I sort of think Rove got worked like a speed bag! Maybe Nouriel Roubini and Paul Krugman are waiting in the green room to suck the marrow out of his bones!


And now it's time for the "OH, GOD." Show with antebellum Bayou mansion enthusiast, Chris Matthews. Today, he is joined by Helene Cooper of the New York Times, Steve Inskeep of NPR's "Morning Edition," Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC, and David Ignatius, who writes columns that need to be double-checked for accuracy, thanks to George Will, for the Washington Post, whose profits are off by 77%, we remind you.

So, Matthews found Obama's speech before Congress "inspiring," duh. But what about Iraq? The awesome MATTHEWS METER, which has been known to accurately predict what twelve random people in the media think about things nearly half the time with a margin of error of maybe 85%, says that there is now bipartisan consensus that the war is over, UNLESS, of course, there isn't. Remember, this is all proven, with science.

Mitchell says: YES THE WAR IS OVER. The military wants it to be over. They think that Iraq's about as solved as it's going to get. Ignatius says that Obama is "delivering on his campaign promise" to get "our of Iraq as carefully as he got in" but that "it's complicated." Why? Well, because the timetable is, to use Ignatius' terms "several months" later than he suggested. I guess "two-or-three" now counts as several! That's like HALF a Friedman unit!

Anyway, imagine Obama's boot, stomping up and down on David Ignatius' face, forever, for two or maybe three months. Like Avril Lavigne said, it's COMPLICATED.

"We don't know what's ahead," Ignatius says, as if that's a special sort of "insight." We didn't know what was ahead when the war began, but we didn't let that get in the way of the gung or the ho. Especially the ho!

Inskeep is right that American troops are now seen as part of the solution to the Iraqis. See, the solution is getting them more or less the eff up out of there, so now that they're headed in the right direction, of course ther are seen as a solution. We've laid that out in a Status of Forces Agreement that's been in play for months.

Matthews wonders if leaving behind 50,000 will anger the "left." Maybe! If the strategy is sound, though, there's nothing instrinsic to the presence of troops that's scary. What's scary is bad strategy! It's time to start examining whether Obama's Afghanistan strategy is a good one or not. "Afghanistan is Barack Obama's war," Mitchell says.

Cooper says that the plan in Afghanistan is going to be a counterinsurgency strategy, not a "Central Asian Valhalla." But will people say "enough?" Is there a military solution? WIll people support the military solution? Will the military get sad at the people? Will the solution be a solution of the people don't love it? Can the military do their job without the people's support? If a tree falls halfway up the Hindu Kush and it doesn't inspire a Sons of Afghanistan movement, will Obama get re-elected? Has everyone basically accepted that the Surge did little more than prove the efficacy of reinforcements? What if that tree falls on the surge? Shouldn't a Central Asian Valhalla have some Central Asian Valkyries? What's with the uptick in Norse mythological terms, anyway? Surge Afghanistan Petraeus Hawk Gates The Left Counterinsurgency Valhalla Karzai Cylon Cakewalk Cheney Pants Party? THIS PANEL WILL KEEP RESTATING THESE QUESTIONS, FOREVER.

Will America continue to support the mission in Afghanistan? The answer? No, unless, of course, they do. In which case they will.

Matthews decides to talk about Twitter, which is more his speed. THIS JUST IN: Claire McCaskill tweets a lot of personal minutiae! Chris Matthews compares Twitter to Bob Graham's diaries.

I think that maybe it would be a bad thing to introduce Bob Graham to Twitter, but you know what's worse? READING TWITTER TO PEOPLE ON THE TEEVEE. And now Chris Matthews is reading Bob Graham's diary to me, on the teevee. WHY IS HE DOING THIS? The teevee will never ever get this time back!

Everyone on the panel laughs and laughs. But when the show breaks to commercial, Matthews, Inskeep, Mitchell, Cooper and Ignatius will all share a silent revelation: BLAH THEIR LIVES ARE MOSTLY EMPTY, TOO.

Meanwhile, my wife is excited about what appears to be a pending SNOWPOCALYPSE in our area, and wonders why I don't liveblog her excitement. So there you have it. She's excited. REALLY excited.

Meanwhile, is the recession ending? Cooper says that the administration will look for anything that bolsters confidence in general, and that the psychology plays a role in economic health. Inskeep says that if the government keeps the economy on life support long term, then the time frame to worry about is five years from now. Matthews says that this is the smartest thing he's heard in weeks! I caution everyone: consider the relativity at work there.

Mitchell says, "Being level isn't going to be a feel-good moment." That's too bad. It should be! It will be a huge accomplishment, getting back to sqaure one. We could, of course, agree to capture it as a feel good moment! If we wanted! Anyone?

Things Chris Matthews doesn't know! Cooper says that we have a new Israeli government, led by Bibi Netanyahu, who is a hawk...waiting for the thing he doesn't know, here...okay, she thinks he'll reach out to Syria for peace talks. Matthews notes that Bibi has a Philadelphia accent - SHUT UP YOU AREN'T RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN PENNSYLVANIA.

Inskeep says that he's been "hearing" that Iranian-American businessman are trying to open up mercantile channels, in the hopes for moderation. Mitchell says we might downsize that BONKERS embassy in Iraq. Ignatius says that the dollar is rebounding, for some reason.

Chris's big question is: Which issue is Obama likely to get his way on? Cooper and Ignatius say energy. Inskeep and Mitchell say health care.


Been looking forward to this, because the dynamics of the Obama/Gates working relationship are really fascinating to me. I was talking about it yesterday morning with the Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman (we were helping Jezebel.com editor Megan Carpentier move...there's some exciting oversharey details from my personal life, yay!) and he made note of something really astute that's been in the wind since transition began - which he was good enough to lay out in a smart blog post:

Defense Secretary Bob Gates told reporters on Friday that Obama's combat-troop withdrawal plan had the support of Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno. I imagine he's going to send that message on the chat shows tomorrow as well. And that got me thinking: What hasn't happened in the month between Obama's inauguration and the withdrawal speech? There haven't been damaging quotes from anonymous military officials to the Washington Post and the New York Times about how Obama was gambling with the hard-won security gains in Iraq in order to appease his political base. Jack Keane hasn't been all over TV saying that Obama is a liberal version of Bush, ready to disregard his best military advice to suit an ideological agenda. And there hasn't been a metanarrative in the press about heavy-handed Obama political hacks acting as if they know strategy better than the generals.

What happened? At least two things. First, my understanding is that Petraeus was impressed that Obama didn't solicit his advice in a superficial way, but seemed genuinely interested in making Petraeus a partner for devising the plan. Second, with regard to Odierno, one of Odierno's key concerns was having a significant force in place through the next two rounds of Iraqi elections this year -- district and sub-district in August and national in December -- and so Obama basically gave him what he wanted.

A great observation I wish I had made!

Emailer Henry Kamerling says, w/r/t the Olbermann/Calderone tiff:

Have to say about Olbermann and Caldarone, that you are looking at it all wrong. It is really something of a badge of honor to be in Olberman's "Worst Person" ring of fire ... except when Olberman *really* means it as he does on occassion. But mostly he delivers this segment in an over-the-top, tounge-in-cheek way. I wish I inspired someone to think me the worst person in the world.

That's all well and good. I guess, then, let me just say that for what it's worth, I think Michael's a decent and a diligent guy, and I don't think he went about blogging about the incident irresponsibly.

Meanwhile, Meet The Press. My wife sighs: "UGH. The bombastic strains of Meet The Press once again flow over our household, like I'm trapped inside the world's worst graduation ceremony."

Today, like I said, lots of Gates. Then a one act play with Harold Ford of the DLC, Mike Murphy of various McCain campaigns, former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. Just TONS OF SUPPORT on that panel for "new ways of thinking about government" on that panel! WOO.

But first. Robert Gates and David Gregory, meeting, pressing. Obama says that the combat mission will be over in August 2010. BUT WILL THE WAR NOT BE GOING ON? Gates says that the mission will be training, assistance, limited counter-terror, and even more limited embedments. He says that the risk to our troops will gradually decline.

Gregory asks if this is a stand-down/stand up scenario? Gates says yes, and I hope he's right.

What about the size of the residual force? Pelosi thinks it's a little big. Gates says that the number came out of "a lot of analysis." Commanders, he says, were inclined to err on the side of preserving a combat ready force until the end of 2010. The larger residual force "mitigates" these concerns. Gates says that the decisions were based on analysis of this kind, and "in dialogue" between all parties.

Significantly, Gates says of the residual force: "It's a waystation. As he pointed out, in the absence of any new agreement with the Iraqis, we have to be at zero by the end of 2011."

Let's go back to Gates' post LeJeune conference call:

The defense secretary was asked if he supported keeping troops in Iraq beyond 2011, when the Status of Forces Agreement that President Obama pledged today to support mandates a full U.S. withdrawal. Gates said such a move would require a revision of the SOFA, a move that, if it happened, would "almost certainly" come from an Iraqi request, not U.S. initiative, and the "Iraqis have not said anything" about such a revision.

"It's hypothetical, because no such request has been made, and there's no indication it will be at this point," he said, cautioning that his "own view" would be to "be prepared to have a very modest presence for training, help with equipment and providing perhaps intelligence support beyond" 2011. But the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement are "what we are operating under now."

Gregory says that Thomas Ricks is a non-believer, as far as the nineteen month plan goes. He asks Gates what happens if things get worse in Iraq. Gates says that Obama has said, as Commander-in-Chief, he retains the right to be flexible, but "I don't think any of us think it will be necessary," adding, "I would characterize the likelihood of adjustments to this plan as fairly remote."

Gregory wants to talk about flashpoints. One, he mentions is Kurdistan. Finally, the media is thinking about Kurdistan! Gates believes that Mosul and the "Arab/Kurd" tensions are a problem, as is the need for an oil law. "There's unfinished business, but we will maintain a significant presence there for the next eighteen months." Gates seems confident that adhering to the SoFA, will spur the right sort of political reconciliation, even as the threat of open-ended military occupation spurred the wrong sorts of political antipathies.

Gregory asks about the potential for renegotiating the SoFA. I swear, it's like the media is DESPERATE for withdrawal to fail. "BUT MAYBE WE CAN KEEP THE TROOPS THERE! CAN WE CAN WE!" Gates repeats that it would take a soup-to-nuts negotiation, and that it would come at the behest of the Iraqis. Gregory counters by saying that Odierno "expects and would want" troops at some level (35,000 range) "until 2015." Gates says, basically, we signed the SoFA, we're adhering to the SoFA.

Will we have "achieved victory?" Gates says that terms like, "won or loss or victory or defeat" are for historians. Iraq has been a "significant military success," and a "work in progress" politically. Which seems honest and realistic to say about the state of play? I mean, your victory is going to be very limited when the strategy was so bad to begin with. Did we create a Western style democracy in Iraq? No! Did we disarm enemies of "weapons of mass destruction?" No! Did we significantly impact the war on terror, to our benefit? No! Did we bring any measure of stability to the region? No! I think the real victory is learning that a prolonged occupation of Iraq doesn't net you any of those things. If we don't do this crap again, EVER, then WOO VICTORY. How's that, David Gregory?

Meanwhile let's head to the AfPak region. Waiting for Gregory to ask a question...waiting...waiting....waiting. GOD THIS GUY CAN PREAMBLE. And what does he eventually ask? What worries you the most? Gates answers the safe havens that have been established in the border region. IN CASE YOU DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW. I would have been surprised if Gates had said, "We need to watch for the rise of the Wolfen!"

GREGORY: "Let me ask you specifically, about Afghanistan?" Uhm, isn't that what you've been doing? This interview has really levelled off for me - we've moved from the "Interesting Things I Predicted Gates Would Say" to the "Uninteresting Things I Predicted Gates Would Say."

Gates says the forthcoming strategy in that region is currently under review.

Is it possible to get Iran to abandon its nuclear program? Gates disputes the premise that either Bush or Obama have lost sight of Iran. O-kay!

As far as the Mexican border goes, Gates thinks that the new government is moving against the cartels and that "old biases" between inter-related strategies between the U.S. and Mexico may be fading. Gates also avers that the global economy is a more wide-ranging threat than terrorism. Russia, Gates says, is a mystery as far as where they are going, but is convinced that Putin wants to restore Russia as a "major player" internationally. He supports Biden's contention that the U.S. and Russia can "reset their relationship" along diplomatic lines, because of extant common concerns and dovetailing points of view (arms control is cited as one of these). "We'll see if we can make some progress with the Russians, but it's been tough."

How long will Gates stay at Defense? "That's up to the president," Gates says. On the differences between Bush and Obama, Gates laughs, "That sounds like a good subject for a book." Gates eventually, tactfully offers, that Obama is "more analytical" and makes sure that everyone in the room gets heard. "They don't speak up, he calls on 'em." Bush, Gates says, "interested in hearing different points of view, but didn't go out of his way to make sure everybody spoke."

And now it is time for Meet The Press Panel Time! Which once again we shall render in the form of a playlet:

To-DAY! A brief and lamentable lamentation in one act, entitled:

"The More Things Change, The More They Stay...GAH!"

David Gregory: a presser, of meet
Harold Ford, celebrated taker of half-steps
Joe Scarborough, excitable in the mornings
Dee Dee Myers, star of world reknowned political comedy "Bill Clinton Said WHAT, Now?"
Mike Murphy, a man being consumed by a beard
Me: A blogger, of limited repute
The Page, not the horrible TIME blog, but a marker of the passage of Time.
The Heritage Foundation, screaming meemies


GREGORY: The budget! The more it seems to want to reverse Reagan era government, the more it stays GAH.

SCARBOROUGH: You will love this if you love wealth transfer! But isn't this just more of the same? Didn't George Bush engage in stimulus spending? I would say reckless spending! Ha! We're not turning the page.

THE PAGE: Really, because maybe there aren't a whole lot of terrible goddamn bad ideas on the other side of me.

GREGORY: Let's hear from another Republican!


GREGORY: Let's hear from the Heritage Foundation!

THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: [emits one long piercing banshee like scream]


MYERS: I know! I'm not sure, somehow! Maybe it's all the screaming in the room, confusing me.

FORD: Believe it or not, I am not going to join in all the doubting. The truth is, these policies met with the same criticism during the Clinton years, and yet we enjoyed the largest peacetime expansion in the economy.

ME: Peacetime? That could be a key word, in fairness.

SCARBOROUGH: But you forget! There was a LEVELING WIND called the Republican Congress.

ME: Really. A levelling wind? That's the metaphor you're going to go with?

SCARBOROUGH: The economy exploded on the strength of everyone's LOATHING for one another. Dont' you understand! It's gonna take a LOATH LOAF to bring this country back!

FORD: My point is, you are recycling the same complaints.


FORD: I am going to gamely continue to be this panel's version of Yearly Kos

ME: This is, admittedly, a little weird.

GREGORY: I am talking about some things, now. I also intend to be the last man in America to quote Judd Gregg.

ME: Seriously. You need to put Gregg on that list with Blago and Burris and Octo-Mom as far as people we just aren't going to listen to anymore.

MYERS: There's this whole concept of laying out money up front to gain yourself cost reductions down the road. The green economy is all about that. Still, I'm going to call it a "gamble," because why not?

MURPHY: I'm going to call it a leap of faith! Why do anything? Though I am glad that we're means-testing entitlements and cutting Ag subsidies. But this is the moment where Obama becomes "just another politician."

ME: OKAY, it's the afternoon. EVERYBODY DRINK.


SCARBOROUGH: Bleah. There aren't enough "tough choices" being made. We made tough choices! I think that Obama needs to make a tough choice between the stuff he said he'd dom and other stuff that he rejected. As soon as he chooses the stuff I like, he'll have made a tough choice. But as long as he's going to keep up this nonsense, of doing what he was elected to do? And parlaying his widespread approval into doing more of those thing? Well, he's just another politician I'm afraid. There should be a middle ground, ground that's really arch-conservative ground! LOATH LOAF, 1996 STYLE!

GREGORY: What about this crazy idea about cutting the deficit.

FORD: He'll pay a political price for coming short. But he's talking a great risk, and why not? Still, I am going to call arresting pro-cyclical trends that threaten to put the economy into a long-term coma "a gamble."

GREGORY: OMG! Obama wants to fight! He used to seem so nice?

MYERS: He's saying "bring it on!"

SCARBOROUGH: That's just not big enough of a LOATH LOAF for me.

MURPHY: We are becoming France!

SCARBOROUGH: Obama owns everything!

FORD: Obama will have to fight some key Democratic interests.

ME: Like you, probably.

FORD: Probably.

GREGORY: OMG. What does Stephen Hayes have to say about this?

ME: Who cares what Stephen Hayes thinks? If you were in the habit of countering Hayes with his equivalents on the other side - like writers from the Nation or the Prospect - but you are contrasting him with RUSH LIMBAUGH?

GREGORY: Republicans: do they want failure? Or do they want successulure?

MURPHY: We are becoming RUSSIA. Reagan would have lost this election, though! We will become a party of cranks if we are not carefully.


MYERS: I think that the GOP has got no leaders, no strategies, and no alternative lidea, and also you have to kiss up to Obama.

MURPHY: I think he's going to the left.

GREGORY: It's amazing! You know, as it turns out, after months and months of attempting to characterize him as a Centrist, and nakedly assuming that the nation is a "center-left" country, it turns out that just because the press spits some dumb idea, over and over again, that maybe there's this overarching reality that stays resistant to even out most cherished, and opt-repeated stupidities.

ME: Man, this Christmas, the Ghost of Tim Russert's going to have to show up in Gregory's bedchamber, covered in chains, to give Gregory his last best chance of saving his soul or something.

SCARBOROUGH: We were worried that Obama might cripple the Republican party by supporting it more fully. Now that he's proven resistant to our ideas, we have this country right where we want it!

GREGORY: Does the government have a role in bailing out the economy? LOOK AT THE DOW!

FORD: I know, if the Dow is any indicator--

ME: And it's not.

FORD: Then no. But if the President's plan works in a year from now, he'll be in a stronger position. If not, then he won't be.

ME: God, you'd think that stuff like that would be self-evident.

GREGORY: Let me put my question another way. Will the American people continue to support this President even if he fails in some of these attempts to revive the economy?


ME: How is that different from what Harold Ford just answered?

SCARBOROUGH: No one will ever learn anything and we are doomed.

MURPHY: The economy is Obama's Iraq! Afghanistan is Obama's Vietnam! The Wrath of Khan is Obama's favorite Star Trek movie!

SCARBOROUGH: House Republicans are tragically misunderstood, and not voted for, by anyone. But they are the keepers of the LOATH LOAF.

GREGORY Even if Obama succeeds, we shall be leading the charge to suggest that the economy recovered for a million different reasons, other than these White House policies.

ME: Jeez. That panel really annoyed me more than usual!


And so, that's that, for another Sunday morning. My wife reminds you all, tomorrow is Dr. Seuss Day tomorrow, and that you are supposed to Read Across America. You should spend the rest of today, however, hoping that the DC-area gets enveloped by a paralyzing blizzard. Have a great week!