TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

OMGZ who is the dreamy new CEO of General Motors and is he ready to withstand the cotton candy interrogations of?

So, here's what I accomplished yesterday. My front hall closet, untouched and unmolested, for about six years, into which all manner of coat and hat and scarf and mitten has been stuffed, willy nilly, resulting in an inpenetrably dense forest of fleece and wool - it has been solved! Yes, in one of our most successful Chore Saturdays, we have bagged up many coats for goodwill, thrown away much detritus, sent much crap to storage, and successfully re-enacted the opening scene from two or three 30 ROCKS ago with many bags of plastic boxes from the Container Store that are going to change our lives forever. I now have a front hall closet that is full of fewer coats, stuffed with empty modular containers awaiting their fulfilling storage destinies, and finally, there's is room somewhere for the enemy of cats - my vacuum cleaner to live.

It's maybe not worth blogging about, but in this recession we take our successes where we can. Suck it, world!

An now it's time for your Sunday Morning Liveblog, where the world sucks back. My name is Jason and today, OMGZ who is the dreamy new CEO of General Motors and is he ready to withstand the cotton candy interrogations of MEET THE PRESS? Probably! And also other things. Please feel free to leave a comment, or send an email, or follow me and my witticisms on the Twitters. And if anyone has any organization suggestions for a linen closet, let me know, because I am on a hot streak! And now...


Today! Kim Jong Il's crotchrocket, Obama goes on his wacky European vacation, and YAY GOP REBRANDING WITH the Kim Jong Il of South Carolina, Mark Sanford.

Apparently, North Korea fired a rocket while we were all sleeping, so, Major Garret, who will hopefully be one day promoted to Colonel is reporting on it in Prague. Yes, it's HIPSTER COLLEGE VACATION for Major, and this rocket is total buzzkill. Anyway, Obama called the move a "provocation," that doesn't jibe with his desired reduction of missiles.

Anyway, David Axelrod is here, and so is friend of the liveblog Ana Marie Cox, who quips: "Axelrod is putting me to sleep with his moustache, it's calming and gentle." We both are really excited to hear words like "fissile material" and "loose nukes" on a Sunday Morning. Wallace doesn't understand the principles of nuclear disarmament. WHAT ABOUT MISSILE DEFENSE? Obama is not taking "missile defense off the table" but he feels that he has "an obligation to not put systems in the field that don't work."

Wallace wants to know why and if they will shoot the missile down. Isn't that the sort of thing that you don't announce in advance?

"SOME CRITIC" are apparently saying that Obama is "pandering" to the Europeans, apparently. You know, some degree of ass kissing should presage the pitch, especially if the pitch is, "HEY, IF YOU AREN'T DOING ANYTHING NEXT WEEK, WHY NOT COME DIE IN AFGHANISTAN WITH US?"

Ana Marie: "Imagining that this is Fred Armisen and Chris Wallace is making this already far more entertaining than either actual show is or was."

Axelrod says that the Euros are sending a bunch of non-combat personnel and cash, which isn't bad, really. But Lord knows your Foxies aren't impressed with anything European if it's not some sort of cowboy nonsense. WHY COULDN'T OBAMA HAVE CONVINCED DENMARK TO DISMANTLE IT'S SOCIALIZED MEDICINE SYSTEM? IS HE INCOMPETENT?

Doing Axelrod no favors: this lighting. Ana Marie: "I think it's what they used to use at Gitmo."

GAH, "lightning round." Why would the administration allow executives on Wall Street get richer? Because if he didn't, you'd ask why we weren't allowing that! No, actually, it's because Obama is surrounded by Goldman Sachs executives and Larry Summers, who was paid by financial institutions to make money for them.

Why not just cut the cord on General Motors? Basically, they are getting their one last chance, but maybe people will like their new Fiats, who knows? Wallace asks if the unions will agree to "a severe haircut." Axelrod points out that the unions have had their hairs cut so much, that the next step involves guillotines.

Jason: NoW: GOP rebranding, with Mark Sanford and Newt Gingrich.

Ana Marie: Because they're so.... rebranded?

Ana Marie: Unless they've recently been burned by a hot iron, then I think these guys are not exactly examples of GOP rebranding

Jason: Would President Gingrich have "taken out the North Korean missile?" YES. He would have sexed another missile, while that missile was in the hospital with cancer.

Ana Marie: I LOVE, love that Newt used the NoKo missile as an excuse to plug his NOVEL

Jason: Gingrich wrote a bellicose best-seller about it. "ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE changes everything about these weapons." Also, the fissile material.

Ana Marie: "GOP rebranding, with Mark Sanford and Newt Gingrich" is a little like "Rebranding Germany, with Hitler and the Kaiser."

Jason: Sanford says that "in the countryside in SC, you have to back up your words with action." So, I guess no one has said these words: "LET'S FIX THESE TERRIBLE HIGHWAYS. LET'S SHOOT FOR JUST CRAPPY SCHOOLS, AS OPPOSED TO ABYSMAL ONES."

Ana Marie: rather when sanford talks about "shooting for crappy schools" he imagines he's just putting them out of their misery

Jason: What does Newt think about getting rid of nukes? Gingrich goes right for the "Jimmy Carter at Notre Dame speech." He calls non-proliferation a "fantasy foreign policy."

Ana Marie: "fantasy foreign policy" is what Kissenger plays during the off season

Jason: It's what the Project for a New American Century plays full time.

Jason: Mark Sanford wants Obama to treat European human beings the same way he treats the economy.

Ana Marie: SERIOUSLY: NEWT on "rebranding"????

Jason: And he inflects the wrong syllable of "contrite." Because South Carolina's schools are awful.


Jason: I like how they've left the whole point of this discussion to the end of the segment.

Ana Marie: overtaken by events, jason, overtaken by events

Jason: None of the people who are currently shooting their mouth off about GOP rebranding will be the ones to successfully rebrand it. Nothing Gingrich is saying is new.

Ana Marie: and also managed to answer the question about rebranding by talking mostly about the Obama admin

Jason: So, if Ross Perot is willing to help, the GOP will succeed.


Ana Marie: he may not know!

Ana Marie: that would be one explanation?

Jason: Mark Sanford says he won't spend money on education or public safety unless a lot of people are willing to be unemployed. Sanford says that scenario is from a fake budget designed to scare people. As opposed to Mike Pence's Fake Budget Designed to Confuse People, with Pictures of Windmills.

Jason: GM made reforms?

Ana Marie: and a chart having to do with the tides

Jason: Newt Gingrich converted to Catholicism because the Church is bringing back plenary indulgences, right?

Jason: "I converted to Catholicism because WOW WHAT A WEDGE ISSUE!"

Ana Marie: the fact that Newt can enter a church makes me doubt my faith in God

Jason: Newt is the one man in America who can look into Ratz's eyes and see "joy."

Jason: I see, "villain from Dan Brown novel."

And now, Panel Time, with Bill Kristol, Mara Liasson, Rich Lowry and Jim VandeHei.

Bill Kristol says that this North Korea test is a "de facto Iranian [missile] test." Read all about that in the forthcoming Foreign Policy Initiative white papers. Liasson also calls the Iranian nuke a fait accompli. Lowry, naturally, wants either pre-emption, always, forever, or a missile defense system, and believes North Korea has "played a weak hand in e perversely brilliant way." VandeHei, naturally, says the Obama trip to Europe was a failure, and it's failure forever.

Kristol is happy to defend Obama on Afghanistan, and has no basic problem with Obama's "humble" rhetoric in Europe, especially if it helps. If it becomes the mission, he'll yell and scream about that.

Chris Lehmann joins us, for commentary:

Chris: oh my god, mara liason has JOINED THE GESTAPO!

Jason: Yes.

Chris: Stormtrooper coat and PEARL CHOKER? They let children watch this? OK, focus: tax havens.

Jason: What a panel! Kristol is the sane one. Lowry wants everything to be the game missile command.

Chris: Queen touching! Mara arbitrating style. Our civilization grinds to a halt

Jason: Don't worry about civilization! Newt Gingrich will save it, with his CATHOLICISM.

Chris: Lowry's poignant closeted plea has given me a sad.

Jason: Jim VandeHei has given JOURNALISM a sad.

These unemployment numbers, by the way? They are indeed bad! And what's worse is that they have exceeded the margin that the administration had adopted as their worst-case scenario. I've been told by credible people that when it comes to the "stress testing" of the banks, it's going to have a big, and negative effect.

Kristol thinks that "the Republican Party is united in a prinicpled way." They aren't united in a "sensible solutions to get us out of the mess way." But on principle, they HATES BIG GUVVAMINT. If only they could re-sodomize the Glass-Steagall Act!

Mara Liasson says "cronyism is a potential problem." UHM, HOW MANY MORE KABILLIONS DO THEY HAVE TO GIVE LARRY SUMMERS BEFORE HE'S A "CRONY." Jeez. You buy me a nice lunch, and I'll crony it up for anybody!

Ana Marie: VANDEHEI? OMG. The pug-nosed purveyor of conventional wisdom? He's on that Fox panel to WIN THE BRUNCHTIME

Jason: YES.

Ana Marie: I think Rich Lowry is going to go completely gray before his voice breaks. Also the difference btw "cap and trade" and "carbon tax" is more than just the name. That was just dishonest. It's like saying "Democrats oppose torture, or, as Republicans call it, 'tickle parties.'"

Jason: I am against anyone, from either party, having a tickle party. Unless they're being tickled with acid-tipped ostrich feathers.

Fox closes it down with a segment on how awesome Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is. WORD.

Ana Marie: Fox News Sunday is on Hulu? Gonna mash that shit up with DOLLHOUSE. Panelists blank personalities imprinted with a personality specific to the assignment.


Susan Rice is here today. And, if you are keeping score at home, that's no disclosure from GS that Rice is the wife of executive producer Ian Cameron. So, there's that.

Rice "feels very strongly that" NK has violated international law through their action, and will take her case to the UN, where she says a strong response is wanted. Of course, China wants no sanctions. Is the U.S. prepared to pressure them? Probably not! They sort of own the United States, right? Rice says that China has "multiple concerns," but that China is with the U.S. where denuking North Korea is concerned.

But they seem so determined! Rice suggests that there have been "fits and starts," mainly citing the temporary shuttering of a plant. She's got mad goals, though! And promises to achieve "united action." Her concern is the prevention of developing and proliferating more nukes. North Korea is considered a "proliferation threat."

Should we be worried about a missile that could hit the U.S.? Rice says the assessment is that North Korea is an ongoing concern, and these developments represent a need to revisit and reassess, but that the result of the test does not suggest that North Korea has succeeded in developing a missile that could hit the United States.

Rice hopes Iran will "seize the opportunity" to develop a new relationship with the United States. Of course, Israel is all about TEH BOMBINGS. Does an Israeli strike concern Rice? "It's not productive to speculate," she says. I think that given all the myriad crap the U.S. is dealing with at home, that maybe now is not the time for Bibi Netanyahu to be dialing up air strike requests.

On the Af-Pak region, Rice says the administration is "very concerned" about human rights abuses, especially from the Taliban. Horrific video of the Taliban beating a woman is shown, and GS points out that this is all going down in Pakistani territory. Why all the aid, then? Rice hasn't much of answer, other than to say that forthcoming world aid is going to be tied to rooting out extremists.

I applaud Rice for using the word "genocide." It's actually very important that this word gets used, over and over again.

And there's your Ian Cameron disclosure! Thanks, George!

Panel Time! George Will is talking about the "surreality" of the North Korean test. Richard Haass notes, ruefully, that we're looking at the failure of sanctions. My boss, Arianna Huffington, notes that the financial collapse is going to impact this situation, because it's going to be harder to pressure China. Martha Raddatz calls is "complicated." Full time Charlie Foxtrot.

George Will refuses to believe in a "community of nations." "It's the old planted liberal axiom that harmony is natural, it's not." Arianna says that the "community of nations" is an aspiration that needs to be worked toward. Will says he's not suggesting that diplomacy should be abandoned and that she's feckless. Of course, Will's frame of reference is EFFING WOODROW WILSON AND CLEMENCEAU. The cutting edge proponents of liberal internationalism basically agree that a return to Wilsonianism is not desirable. But a whole century has passed since then. I can't believe were discussing how to approach Iran and North Korea through a WWI frame of reference, but crimony, what has George Will actually learned in the past fifty years, exactly.

Jesus. A man goes on teevee, suggests that the only alternative to bombing the sizz out of the parts of the world we object to is a resuscitation of Wilsonianism, and then calls someone else feckless. What a world we live in. AND EVERY DISCUSSION ON THIS SHOW GOES THROUGH WILL FIRST. It's the most unearned perk in the effing world.

OK. I'm still grousing, so I've missed what's going on. Will's talking about removing helicopters from Europe. Arianna says something about "Greek exceptionalism" and money won from the IMF. An international crackdown on tax havens, by the way, also a good outcome from the European trip. Frum says that Obama's trip was a total failure, but it's a net success because Europe won't be running up their debt. He also points out that bureaucratic miltary nonsense prevents foreign troops from being effective combat troops, so why bother.

Arianna isn't in favor of massive troop increases, and Haass suggests that it's time to "define suggest down." I think that where the rubber is going to hit the road in Afghanistan is whether a COIN strategy, imported from Iraq, is going to succeed in Afghanistan. I think the jury is out on that. Of course, what no one on the panel is talking about are two critical unknowns: WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE IN AFGHANISTAN. WHAT BENCHMARKS ARE BEING ESTABLISHED AND HOW STRINGENTLY WILL THEY BE ENFORCED.

Frum thinks the Obama administration's use of euphemism is unprecedented. Uhm, Clear Skies Initiative?

Arianna points out that paying the Sunni leaders monies to be our friends turned Iraq around. I'd add that negotiating our way to a the current Status of Forces Agreement also was a huge success for us in Iraq. Much more than the Surge, establishing a timetable for withdrawal has been a major success for us, because it's given the Iraqis the breathing space they've needed to start planning for their future. They had no future under a prolonged occupation.

Raddatz leads a chorus of agreement on the matter of Pakistan being the primary regional problem. This is something that was true on September 11. Tragic time has been lost, not being realistic.

Arianna should have George Will re-evaluating an earlier comment. The left is more likely to peel away from the Obama administration on the financial crisis than Afghanistan/Pakistan. I'd note that the Obama administration never promised the "left" anything other than a War In Afghanistan. To pretend that there was never going to be an increased troop presence in that region is just fatuous. BUT! We were promised a "new era of responsibility," weren't we? Well, in this new era, Larry Summers seems to be responsible to answering to people who've given him a ton of money.

R.I.P. Tom Braden, btw.

Going back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY, briefly: I agree with Friend of the Live Blog Jeff Peckerman that the next time Jim VandeHei goes on teevee, he should try it without a teleprompter.


Let's meet Fritz Henderson, HE'S THE BOSS of General Motors. The new boss. Today, we shall compare his experiences in General Motors, to this:

DAVID GREGORY: What's the typical day in the like of the boss of GM like?

FRITZ: BEG FOR MONEY! (Like a boss!) BE APPRECIATIVE! (Like a boss!) BEG FOR MORE TIME! (Like a boss!) TO GET A BUSINESS MODEL! (Like a boss!) HAVE A BALD HEAD! (Like a boss!) WEAR A COLORFUL TIE! (Like a boss!) GO ON MEET THE PRESS! (Like a boss!) ANSWER QUESTIONS! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: Where do you think the company misjudged it's own reality, and the way forward?

FRITZ: TALK ABOUT MISTAKES! (Like a boss!) SAY I'LL LEARN! (Like a boss!) ANSWER CALMLY! (Like a boss!) PROJECT CONFIDENCE! (Like a boss!) PUT A SUIT ON! (Like a boss!) IT'S A BLUE ONE! (Like a boss!) BE SUCCINCT! (Like a boss!) SUCCINCT IN A SUIT! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: Your predecessor, Rick Wagoner, was pushed out by the White House...under his tenure, GM lost $82 billion in four years, the stock value has plunged 95%. Do you think the firing of Rick Wagoner was the right decision?

FRITZ: SAY RICK WAS MY FRIEND! (Like a boss!) SAY HE'S SELFLESS! (Like a boss!) TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE! (Like a boss!) SUGGEST WE HAVE ONE! (Like a boss!) CRY SELF TO SLEEP AT NIGHT! (Like a boss!) WAKE UP SWEATY! (Like a boss!) TAKE SOME XANAX! (Like a boss!) IT'S NOT WORKING! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: Can you point to some areas in which the company has really faltered?

FRITZ: BEEN A HARD YEAR! (Like a boss!) MANY CHALLENGES! (Like a boss!) NOT JUST FOR GM! (Like a boss!) BUT WE'RE LEARNING! (Like a boss!) I GREW A MUSTACHE! (Like a boss!) IT'S A GOOD ONE! (Like a boss!) TAKE A MUSTACHE RIDE! (Like a boss!) JUST FIVE DOLLARS! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: Is there a double standard, where the banks are concerned.

FRITZ: I DON'T THINK ABOUT IT! (Like a boss!) IT'S TOO PAINFUL! (Like a boss!) WISH I WORKED FOR A BANK! (Like a boss!) I'D GET A BONUS! (Like a boss!) WASN'T SMART ENOUGH! (Like a boss!) DIDN'T HAVE THE RIGHT CONNECTIONS! (Like a boss!) SERIOUSLY THOUGH! (Like a boss!) TAKE A MUSTACHE RIDE! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: Isn't the White House running GM?

FRITZ: NO THEY AREN'T THE BOSS! (Like a boss!) BUT THEY GAVE US CASH! (Like a boss!) NOW WE'RE BEHOLDEN! (Like a boss!) TO THE TAXPAYER! (Like a boss!) SO WE NEED TO WORK! (Like a boss!) GET SOME NEW IDEAS! (Like a boss!) I'M JUST SPITBALLING! (Like a boss!) WHY NOT MUSTACHE RIDES? (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: How can an insider like yourself be relied upon to make transformational change!

FRITZ: I GOT EXPERIENCE! (Like a boss!) I'VE MADE ADJUSTMENTS! (Like a boss!) I SIZE THE GLOBAL NEEDS! (Like a boss!) OF THE MARKETPLACE! (Like a boss!) I'M COMMITTED! (Like a boss!) I KNOW THE LANDSCAPE! (Like a boss!) AND IF THAT FAILS! (Like a boss!) MUSTACHE RIDES! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: Is bankruptcy inevitable?

FRITZ: WE CAN RESTRUCTURE! (Like a boss!) WE GOT INSTRUCTIONS (Like a boss!) WE CAN PULL IT OFF! (Like a boss!) AVOID BANKRUPTCY! (Like a boss!) WE NEED TO GO DEEPER! (Like a boss!) AND GO FASTER! (Like a boss!) SO GO DEEP AND FAST! (Like a boss!) SIT ON MY MUSTACHE! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: Who is going to buy a car from GM, given the question marks that surrounds your company?

FRITZ: WE'RE GETTING MONEY! (Like a boss!) YOU COUNT ON WARRANTIES! (Like a boss!) WE HAVE SOME GREAT NEW CARS! (Like a boss!) AND NEW PROGRAMS! (Like a boss!) COMPETITIVE PRICING! (Like a boss!) GREAT SERVICE! (Like a boss!) AND WE'LL THROW IN! (Like a boss!) SOME FREE MUSTACHE RIDES! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: What's the message to the unions?

FRITZ: WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER! (Like a boss!) GIVE UP SOME MONEY! (Like a boss!) MAKE SOME SACRIFICES! (Like a boss!) FOR THE FUTURE! (Like a boss!) WE'LL COME TO THE TABLE! (Like a boss!) MAKE CONCESSIONS! (Like a boss!) HERE'S AN EXAMPLE! (Like a boss!) BREAK ROOM MUSTACHE RIDES! (Like a boss!)

GREGORY: What's the future of GM?


And then David Gregory asks about a million more questions about how we'll solve all the problems by eliminating unions forever, won't we? Won't we? Won't we?

The shorter version of all of this, courtesy Aaron M.:

Said in summary GM is doing great. We don't need to change. We don't need help. I get a base sallary of 1,300,000.00. Public perception according to high command must be restructure. I will make sure we don't change anything but an irrelevant public perception.

By the way, Fritz says Americans should buy the sort of cars that excite them, whether it's American or not! Okay. FLYING CARS PLEASE.

Brian C., who is well on his way to joining Jeff Peckerman and Linda Tilsen and Chris Blakely (I'm sure I'm leaving some out) as Platinum Level Friends of the Liveblog, brings us highlights of today's Chris Matthews Show:

--Chris Matthews asks if the Administration needs to "whack a few heads off" on Wall Street a la GM. Anne Kornblut says she's not sure there are any heads left on Wall Street to whack. Dan Rather "respectfully disagees" (thanks, Dan): He cites several names who remain at the heads of their various gigantic investment/commercial/insurance banks right through the bailout thus far. John Heilmann commented that he liked the fact that Chris equated "finesse" (the word he used to describe Obama's treatment of GM) with "cutting off someone's head off".

--Matthews recalls Michael Moore's "Roger & Me" on its 20th anniversary. The clip shows Roger Smith announcing that GM was closing 11 "older" plants yet opening 11 Mexican plants. Wife: "Everyone thought Moore was wrong, didn't they?"

--Matthews asks whether the panel thinks Obama did the right thing "taking over" GM. John Heilmann says if GM ends up in bankruptcy, Obama may be seen in the Midwest as the "one who pulled the pin". But, John, don't you think that he might have been seen as the "one who didn't do shit" if he simply let GM go down under its own weight (the question that wasn't asked...).

--Chris does his "tell me something I didn't know" schtick. The only person that has something that I didn't know was Heilbrunn who says Tim Geitner has been working with Obama's speaking coach for the last couple of weeks and it shows.

By the way, Brian collects mugs and would very much like one of the special CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW mugs. MAKE IT HAPPEN, MSNBC!


Hi. I'm Jason Linkins. You might remember me from many liveblogs, like the one you are reading now. It's come to my attention that many of you feel that me leading off each Sunday with FOX NEWS SUNDAY indicates that I love FOX NEWS SUNDAY, and want to meet the FOX NEWS SUNDAY pundits and give them all tongue kisses. This is not the case.

Then why do I lead off every liveblog with them? Well, see if you can follow this reasoning: WHERE I LIVE THEY ARE THE ONLY ONE OF THESE SHOWS ON AT NINE IN THE MORNING, OKAY? All the other shows are on afterwards. I have to TiVo one show a week, usually Meet The Press, but other than that, I blog along live to whatever is on.

So, chill, mofeaux. I hate all of these shows, equally! (Except for FACE THE NATION, and it's elfin wunderkind from Rivendell, Bob Schieffer, so some of you hate, I know, WOO, so we have different opinions, WHATEVER.)

And now, Panel Time! Today we have Bill Rodgers, Katty Kay, Michael Gerson, John Harwood, and Joshua Cooper Ramo, who wrote The New Age Of The Unthinkable.

So, the North Korean rocket! What's everyone think about it, besides all of the bad things that accompany with North Korea putting anything in the air. Katty Kay says their "timing was exquisite" in that it tested the United States on the day of a big non-proliferation speech. At the same time, the silver lining is that China may have to "sit up and pay attention" for a change. Ramo says that this is a great opportunity for statesmanship, but that now the U.S. has to lead on non-proliferation.

And, at the same time, we have Israel, begging us to bomb the bejeezus out of Iran, and various neo-con nimrods suggesting that the Iranian people would even welcome it. Harwood says that Iran will be watching our response to NK carefully, and he suggests that painting NK continually, as the "Keystone Kops" instead of a genuine threat is the key to whether or not Obama's going to be able to walk the "words must mean something" walk, and not just talk the talk. And Harwood notes that Robert Gibbs is already emphasizing the rocket's failure.

Anyway, European trip! Obama cold hittin' up hostels, riding Eurorail and what not! Katty Kay praises Obama for finding a way to earn the right to issue indictments of Europe - true and useful ones, at that, frankly - on the back of charisma. Gerson praises the same assets, in part, but he's of the belief that Obama was pandering to a "European agenda." He seems to be contradicting himself, though...I mean, the reason Michael, that he did not win all the concessions he would have liked is because more economic stimulus and more Europeans dying in Afghanistan are NOT A PART OF A EUROPEAN AGENDA.

Gregory shows a clip of Obama, talking about fighting terrorist, pretty much explicitly NOT PANDERING to a European agenda.

Gerson has this weird idea that David Petraeus has authored the successful war on terror strategy, when what he really did was manage the military mission as best he could through the strategic muddle that was the Iraq War, which sought to achieve a bunch of unrealistic strategic goals, like curb Iran create Western-style democracies. Luckily Ramo is there to point out the obvious in Afghanistan: "We had eight years to prepare for this. Today we can't build schools, we can't build hospitals. We've got election in Afghanistan in August...that's what's going to determine the outcome there. The only thing we can get there is soldiers. It's just a level of irresponsibility that's very hard to come to terms with." Kay notes that the Obama administration has done a good thing by narrowing its goals - fight terrorists INSTEAD of wishing for miracle Jeffersonian democracies in a land where AGREEING TO THE LEGALITY OF MARITAL RAPE is a major concession for political coalition building.

Should the redefining of these goals bring any hope for European involvement? Kay suggests the possibilities are there, and that the redefining of these goals, bringing them more into a realistic realm, are essential for this to happen. Harwood makes the same case, but has repeatedly cautioned that it will take time. Harwood is unwilling to accept the premise that having not won a total agreement on all policy points represents a failed venture. That said, can't wait forever, can we? And, for the time being, as Kay says, we own the Afghan War.

Gerson doesn't like "overseas contingency operation" as a term, and neither do I. Of course, I typically go one better and insist that "harsh interrogation techniques" be called torture.

What did the G20 accomplish? Harwood says it MOLLIFIED THE MIGHTY DOW JONES, THE MEDIA'S NEW GOD. Professor Rodgers points out that stimulus packages were passed in advance of the G20, and now the world is in wait-and-see mode. He sees us coming out of the recession - about ten to twelve months time - with Americans learning hard lessons on spending, and adjustments being made. Gerson says that Gordon Brown was the real victor in the G20.

What about China buying U.S. debt and the future of reserve currencies? What does their future look like? And what of our entanglements? Ramo says that Tim Geithner is meeting with his Chinese overlord, and the latest meme on the Chinese blogs is "leave the dollar behind." It does rank number one on "STUFF CHINESE PEOPLE LIKE." Number two is "Terrifying Olympic opening ceremonies."

Rodgers says that if you work in all the people in America who are working part time for various reasons, our unemployment rate is closer to fifteen percent, instead of eight-and-a-half.

Gerson says the loss of cap and trade in the budget bill is a serious blow to the Obama administration. It's actually a serious blow to everyone who wants a sustainable future, but, whatever, everything can have a stupid, narrow, political ramification in the world of MEET THE PRESS.

Kay continues to make sense, week after week, with good cautions that it's way premature to suggest a turnaround in the economy. No banking fix means the problems in the banking-based recession continue to mount. And, importantly: a reduction in household spending/increase in household saving - GOOD HABITS THOUGH THEY MAY BE - will have an effect on the unemployment rate that will have to be weathered, and ultimately (one hopes) stabilized. Let's bear in mind, also, that a lot of people are going to have their asses spared from the fire on their mortgages. That's ultimately a good thing, BUT: it means a lot of folks who might go on vacation, remodel their home, buy a new car, send their kids to college, won't be doing those things. All of that will need to be weathered.

On the matter of David Brooks criticizing Obama for laying down ultimatums in the auto industry, maybe I just don't get it. Seems to me that before this week, all the talk was of how the administration was erring by not laying down ultimatums. Now that we have a brief scent that this can - kicked so often down the road - may be about to get picked up - suddenly we have to hear about how the prescription that was bellowed week after week at the White House is politically risky. "Is the White House ready for the headline, 'Middle America Drop Dead,'" asks David Brooks? Jesus! NOW DAVID BROOKS WANTS TO BE JENNFIER GRANHOLM OR SOMETHING? Wouldn't the headline have been "OBAMA DOES NOTHING AGAIN FOR THE AUTO INDUSTRY, DROP DEAD SOME OTHER CONSTITUENCY?"

Tough decisions carry political risks. The media is so used to covering our elected officials in terms of the savvy they display in avoiding taking the blame, taking the responsibility, and by extension TAKING ACTION, that when someone actually does something pro-active, NOBODY KNOWS HOW TO COVER IT. OH NOES! THERE GOES HIS "TEFLON!" Know what, the minute people started praising "political teflon" is where it all started to go wrong. You're not supposed to be IMPRESSED by that stuff! You're supposed to strip those defenses down to the bare skin.

Ramo: "This is a time that demands dramatic, out of the box thinking."

Jesus. How is David Gregory going to cope with this? How will any of these people? I think Fareed Zakaria might cope well, actually, but the rest of these gotcha quote spouting, hologram building, lame panel empaneling, ancient George Will worldview subordinating, ask a man if he's running for President eight different ways strategizing, twittering knobjobs are going to be left to wonder what happened, if this outside the box thinking actually starts to take root.

I'd hold off on optimistically predicting that's going to happen, but at least if it does, it'll manage to hurt all the right people.

Okay, by the way, Ana Marie has a touch of the sickies, so she sends her regrets as far as having to cease participating in today's discussion. I am going to sign off myself! Thanks, as always, and we'll see you again next week!

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