Good morning everyone, and welcome once again to your Sunday morning liveblog of whatever is happening in the world of televised political chat shows that I've randomly TiVoed. My name is Jason, and the loud cheers and packs of people running down the street outside my window means one of two things. Either evacuations for the coming hurricane-perfect storm-airborne snow volcano-deathbringer are already underway, or today is the day of the Marine Corps marathon. Or both? I suppose it's hard to know, exactly. Maybe some of the cheering I hear is for this liveblog, though I doubt that.
There are now only two more Sunday mornings before the election, and things are getting awfully rote, now. Surrogates spin whatever is going on in whatever way they can to project a winning attitude. Pundit panels litigate their traditional nonsense and make predictions that do not affect their reputations. Somewhere, John McCain is booked, and we will do our best to avoid him, because the sight of a man regressing into his own stereotype is sad. Speaking of, I haven't seen an electoral college model of what happens if Hurricane Sandy shears off the entire Eastern Seaboard, but I'm sure someone is doing one.
At any rate, you know the drill -- I will be quickly typing things for the next few hours that will occasionally cohere into a recounting of the flickering images on my teevee. You all may sit back, relax, enjoy each other's company in the comments, drop me a line if need be, all which enjoying brunch or whatever. You are welcome to follow me on Twitter, if that's something you are doing. And as you are waiting for more blogging to appear in this space, you can go over to my RebelMouse page, where I have set up some Sunday Morning reads from this past week on the internet both informative and diverting.
Okay, let's start.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Today, Fox News Sunday reports that "Obama and Romney are pulling out all the stops," which is a weird way of characterizing "Obama and Romney are repeating the exact same stump speech several times a day." I hope that's what's meant by pulling out all the stops, because if the alternative is "having Ron Johnson, Rob Portman, Mark Udall, and Mark Warner smear their pure animal charisma all over the screen" then the stop I pull out is the one that makes this actually stop.
(Ron Johnson: Huge, huge phony, by the way.)
Why are these four here? Because Wallace wants to "track what's going on by talking to four Senators from key swing states." Why this will help anyone know "what's going on" is a bit beyond my ability to discern, but let's go with it. Rob Portman is from Ohio. He should have probably been the vice presidential pick. Ron Johnson, laughable phony, is from Wisconsin. He beat Russ Feingold as a Tea Partier despite the fact that Feingold opposed the TARP bailout every chance he got, while Johnson was a bailout baby with his puffy lips wrapped around the TARP teat. Mark Warner is the former governor and current Senator of Virginia, and is an excruciatingly dull man who the Democrats probably see as a big 2016 prospect, which tells you all you need to know about their 2016 prospects. And Mark Udall is one of the three Udalls you've heard off, including Mo and Tom, he sort of looks like someone just slapped him across the face. He's from Colorado.
So, what does Rob Portman think about Romney's chances in Ohio? He thinks that Romney is fine and the polls are closing and that they are currently a "dead heat." "Dead heat" is what you say when you are losing. When you are winning, you say, "We are ahead."
Will the storm have an effect on Election Day in Virginia? Warner says that he doesn't know how badly it will impact early voting in Virginia but the point is that Obama is doing great in Virginia and he'll totally carry the state (but they've already had to cancel a rally that he was going to attend).
Johnson says that the GOP has a strong ground game in Wisconsin and Romney is going to totally win the state, and in particular, Wisconsinites are really really into talking about Benghazi, because Waukesha County is the Benghazi of the midwest.
Finally Udall says that Obama is doing awesome in Colorado. They have a great ground game and everyone loves Obama, etc. I'm already so glad I tuned in to this today, because I am totally getting a clear view of WHAT'S GOING ON, in the election. It's like I'm a seer, or something. I think I'm ready to be one of the oracles at Delphi, or a witch from Shakespeare. Hey Macbeth, probably you should totally murder a bunch of people, okay? Rob Portman says you have a great ground game in Cawdor, while Udall thinks that turnout is off the charts in Glamis, so you will probably be King hereafter, no worries!
Wallace wants to talk about the economy, which has been middling, yet improving. But, hey, Ron Johnson -- don't you think Obama is starting to turn things around?
No, Johnson does not think that Obama is starting to turn things around. It was touch and go there, for a while, I thought he might come out in favor of the President. But he pulled it out, probably with help from his father in law.
But what does Mark Warner think about all of this, specifically, "the economy" and also "the President?" He says that we "all remember how bad things were four years ago" and though he'd like to see the economy in a better recovery, we are "back on the right track." Because he is in a purple state, he throws in, "we have to avoid going over the fiscal cliff."
Obama has a new brochure that explains his goals for a second term, that includes, in Wallace's estimation, "a lot of recycled targets from four years ago." What does Udall think about that? He says, "If you look at what the president has accomplished, we are moving Forward(TM)." Also, "we strapped the President into an airplane that was headed to the ground at Mach speed, he's now riding that airplane, we've got some lift...he deserves a second term." Okay, but what about that metaphor, dude? How did the President unstrap himself? And if he's just "riding" the airplane, then who is flying it? Also, is the President riding dirty? Is that why so many people see him rollin' and they hatin'?
Now Senator Portman is going to "weigh in on the Obama agenda" and whether Romney represents a return "to the policies of George Bush." Portman pauses, gulps, and a look of desperation crosses his face and he says, "Crap, Chris, you got me. Yeah, the Obama agenda is awesome. I don't even know why we're even trying anymore. I wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror and I still can't get used to the hollow shell of a man I see staring back at me." KIDDING, Portman is totally all, "LOL OBAMA AGENDA."
Richard Mourdock is the ninth inning wedge issue du jour, so now we'll have all these middle ages white dudes talk about rape for a few minutes. Johnson, who needs to think of his father in law to simply achieve the tumescence of that three-year old, half-empty tube of AquaFresh that fell to the bottom of your linen closet and you only found it -- it's exterior now a cracked husk bleeding dusty cream that has only the barest trace of the minty aroma of its youth -- just as you were preparing to leave your old apartment for new digs across town, says that ladies should totally look past Romney's positions on women's issues because "Romney is an individual" who worked with Democrats in Massachusetts and he's rambling and Wallace is like, "Huh?" and Johnson says, "BLAH BLAH BENGHAZI."
Warner, on the other hand, says that "he finds it remarkable that these Republican candidates are making outrageous statements about rape" and he dings Virginia's Transvaginal Ultrasound Crew for turning the Old Dominion into a national laughingstock. He says that the Romney/Ryan platform is "exactly the same as what Mourdock and Todd Akin" has put forward. Warner finally brings something exciting to the table, fighting Wallace on whather Paul Ryan is the guy who voted for the Todd Akin Style on reproductive rights, or if he is now subsumed within Mitt Romney's passel of positions. "So, Ryan has changed his position?" Warner snarks, "I guess that's news."
Warner, by the way, is so hoarse that I half expect him to start singing Tom Waits' "Murder In The Red Barn," or something.
We will move on to Libya. Not literally, of course. That would be dangerous. Udall says that the intelligence committee and the state department is going to continue investigating the incident, and that in the meantime, any fair observer would say that the matter has become politicized, and we ought to "act in the spirit of Chris Stevens." Wallace yells about that, as is his wont, and Udall clarifies that he'd rather we approach the matter in the same politics-free spirit as we approached September 11th. (Was that politics free, though?)
Wallace asks Udall is the drones that flew overhead were armed, but he does not know if they were or not. Wallace presses, and Udal says, basically, "Hey, I look forward to talking about this when I actually know something about it."
Portman, naturally takes the other tack, saying that the whole thing was a bungle, but he admits that the President gave some kind of order to keep people safe -- which to Portman's mind, means one of two possibilities: either the order wasn't followed or the order was never given, though he just said that the order was given, and if it wasn't then you can't blame anyone for not following it, and I don't know but a third possibility is that it was followed and things just didn't go everyone's way, for some reason. Or there is a fourth possibility, in which Obama ordered a hit on Chris Stevens. Or a fifth possibility, that there is just a lot of fog of war happening and we probably won't know all there is to know until January.
"There's been a lot of confusion," Portman says, "and the bottom line is that it shows there is a lack of leadership." Or, you know, just an abundance of confusion.
Warner says that some of the reports that Fox News has put out on this matter have been explicitly denied. Meanwhile, Thomas Pickering and Mike Mullen are going to investigate the bejeezus of this, and they are like the Holmes and Watson of figuring out what happened in Benghazi. Wallace still wants to know about the drones -- Warner says that he cannot provide any comment on the drones on or off the record.
Johnson flaps his gums for about three minutes, on various conspiracy theories. "It was either msileading or it was incompetent," he says, "Now, it looks like it was probably both." Actually, if you seriously consider the evidence, it runs solely in the direction of incompetence. But why doesn't anyone want to broach the subject of whether we should have intervened in Libya in the first place? That's an actual matter of foreign policy! Guys? Guys? Oh, too bad, we've gone to commercial.
Okay, time to Panel Our Way To The Center Of The Earth with Brit Hume and Karl Rove and Joe Trippi and Juan Williams. This will be more excitement than I can possible bear.
We begin with Rove's electoral map. It's kind of crackers. Connecticut is a battleground state, the equivalent of Missouri. Minnesota and Oregon are "lean Obama." He needs to move Nevada and Wisconsin right out of the "toss-up" category. But this is what you get when you ask a dude who runs a Romney super PAC to do your electoral projection.
Rove is not impressed with Obama's field operation, which is really a huge surprise. He says that the Romney campaign has "busted the metrics" on door-knocking and voter contacts. What he's not telling you is that when you knock on the door and no one answers, it counts.
Trippi simply says that Obama has led the vast majority of polls conducted in the state and is the favorite to win. Hume goes poll dancing, and to his estimation, Romney is winning, gigantically, and it's nuts to think that Ohio will not vote according to the Gallup polls. "Mitt Romney does not lead in a single Ohio poll right now," says Hume, adding that it is "difficult to imagine" that any of those polls are correct. I mean...they could be wrong, but is it really "difficult to imagine" they are right? I mean, I can imagine laser-fitted unicorns fighting in space in the orbit of Neptune!
Juan Williams basically says that Romney has never led in Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, and is perpetuating an illusion of momentum. How is he doing this? "He's trying to pretend to be Moderate Mitt." That's a separate issue, though. Williams then says that Paul Ryan has disappeared from the campaign trail, and I don't think that's fair to say. Rove, at any rate, shouts at him about it.
They fight over early voting. Rove says the Democrats are cannibalizing their election day turnout, which is very possible. It's also possible that it will be easier to move a smaller population to the polls on election day, with so many having already voted, that they could max out their potential. Or, neither of those things. I'm sort of all over the shop on the overall implications of early voting, to be honest.
Now we'll move from horse race statistics to newsy stuff, which will probably eventually just be Rove and Williams yelling at each other and me getting up to get more coffee. Hume says that the whole incident and aftermath in Benghazi "looks terrible" but "we don't know enough now about how these decisions got made and by whom." He allows that rescue missions aren't just something you can gin up, but the extant questions over drones is a good one. He suspects that somewhere in there, the President made a call to execute a mission or not execute a mission, and "he won't tell us."
Williams is a bit all over the place on this, as to whether it moves voters or it it's being politicized pointlessly, finally concluding that it doesn't seem clear that it has "the power to shift the dynamics of the race." Rove, whose "expertise" on military procedures can be safely discounted as fan-boy level whatevering, says that the Romney campaign needs to keep making economic arguments, and that Benghazi has had whatever "corrosive" effect it's going to have on th race.
Rove and Williams are yelling at each other. Looks pretty heated. The White House should overfly a drone.
Trippi becomes the 90th person today to tell Wallace that it's pretty likely that no one can spill the beans on what drones were where and when doing what, sorry. Hume does a blithering emo routine about how only Fox News is covering the Benghazi story, which is weird because he doesn't seem to actually know all that much about it. Trippi says that the drive to try to figure out what's happening before the election is a mistake, because the facts will take many weeks to be discerned.
We are all out of people for Chris Wallace to ask about drones, now.
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW
I thought I had set up my TiVo to tape FACE THE NATION, but I guess I was wrong? Or my TiVo thought, naaaaah, because there was something about FACE THE NATION that it knew I wouldn't like? Oh, well, whatever. Today, at Chris Matthews Algonquin Roundtable is Joe "I Thirst For The Blood Of Middle-Eastern Four Year-Olds" Klein, Katty Kay, Kelly Evans, and David Ignatius.
Matthews: "We are staring down the wind tunnel now at the perfect political storm of the last nine days of this campaign." Dude, even Thomas Friedman would throw that metaphor in the bin. But, okay -- let's get into the "mind games" that are being played by both campaigns. Obama is expressing quiet confidence, while running ads that fearfully recall the 2000 election and how 537 votes ensured the existence of the Bush administration, which...actually...in a weird way ensured the existence of the Obama administration. Right? I mean, it sort of did, didn't it! OH MAN, CLASSIC MARVEL COMICS RETCON OPPORTUNITY.
Meanwhile, Romney is plaintively telling people that he's totally winning and it's time for everyone to jump aboard the bandwagon, like so many people did with the Washington Nationals.
Joe Klein says he "has no gut feeling about this election" but that "optimism is a more fundamentally American ideal" so advantage Romney. Kay says that insofar as there are voters who prefer to go with a winner, it's smart to project oneself like a winner -- she says that Romney is looking to appeal to those white male voters that might quietly change their minds at the last minute. Ignatius says that the President is "sitting on a lead" and being "too reticent," and that Romney has got "body language" that means "momentum." Evans says she is not entirely sure that fear will motivate Obama partisans as much as hope did.
So let's talk about Ohio, forever. Matthews notes that the gender gap is really wide in Ohio, and Obama's share of the white vote is higher in the Buckeye State than it is elsewhere. Is the auto-bailout the tip-top issue there? Klein says it is, especially the Chevy Cruze, which is the most Ohio car of all, is the game-changing vehicle of the 2012 election, and will probably have several chapters in the new Halperin/Heilemann book, in which it repeatedly screams at John Edwards.
Evans says that there are important swing states with lower unemployment rates than others, but more broadly, there has been a "brightening consumer sentiment" across the nation that could slightly tweak up Obama's advantages. (Of course, is the brightening consumer sentiment based in the imagining that Romney will soon be president?)
Matthews moves the conversation to women. Kay notes that women are weighing parallel messages -- one side talking up reproductive rights and traditional women's issues, the other side saying that the economy is bad enough to look past Todd Akin's cray-cray knuckle-dragging and straight-out trolling. Klein mansplains that women are now way more focused on the economy, but Kay is like, "ha, yes, I got this."
Ignatius slurs his way through a sentence I could not understand? But ends up saying that Romney managed to outlive the character assassination attempts of the Obama campaign. He's been at the debates, he looks plausible and shiny and positive.
Evans, on the other hand, finds that some of the utility of Romney's economic messaging is starting to get stale, with austerity's lustre dimming, even "Wall Street" is starting to "question what Romney would mean for growth."
The panel can't decide if Obama is likely to win Ohio or not, because it's pretty close, and Romney's image is no longer trashed. Kay says that both sides, in Ohio, are pretty sure they have momentum, which basically suggests that they do not know what's going on either.
Now Chris Matthews is just showing some old campaign ads, for kicks.
So, there is one last job number coming Friday and it could maybe be the final OCTOBER SURPRISE GAME CHANGER OMGZ. Evans goes in for that cautious, rational approach to jobs numbers that somebody always has to attempt to encourage before throwing that out and going butternuts-crazy about it -- "the unemployment rate is supposed to hold steady but don't be surprised if it ticks up." Periods of optimism can bring more people back into the job market, hence the sort herky-jerk way the rate has traveled on its relatively downward trajectory.
Alternatively, you could toss all of that out and suggest that the BLS is subject to a White House conspiracy where they "fix" the numbers to get Obama re-elected. If that was true, of course, they could have done a whole lot better than 7.8% unemployment. But that is the sort of resulting nonsense you get when you start listening to the shriveled husk of Jack Welch.
Kay says that the Democratic strategists are saying that women voters are simultaneously "erratic" and "careful" in the voting, which I think just means that they decide on their vote late in the game and carefully weigh the latest information when they make their call.
Matthews wants to know if anyone is anticipating a "Black Swan event," by which he means he is wondering if there are still some sort of highly improbably event out there that could reshape the election, and does NOT mean that he wants to know if the electoral college could be decided based on the psycho-sexual longings that Natalie Portman has for Mila Kunis and the resulting mental breakdown that ensues when those longings are misplaced emotions that paper over a larger, and more fatal, set of insecurities.
Klein says that maybe the stock market fluctuations mean something? Agh, shut up. Ignatius says that an uptick in unemployment for the president is a "big problem for the President." Kay says that the original "black swan" everyone was worrying about was Europe and it not seems unlikely that Europe is going to swing the election one way or the other. Matthews finally lets everyone know that he was looking to discuss whether the Hurricane Sandy Slaughterhouse was going to be the game-changer, but everyone missed it.
Things that Chris Matthews does not know include: Obama weirdly opted, initially, to keep a Des Moines Register interview off the record, and it doesn't make any sense because it was a good interview (Klein); in Nevada, there is a huge housing boom happening -- but among Asian and Australian buyers (Kay); we are getting a "a key read on the jobs report Thursday...a private sector tally...the methodology is being revised for the first time coming out next Thursday, it's going to reduce the headline number, but basically everyone is going to say how weak will Friday's report be and bring down expectations and even a mediocre report could wind up beating them. Maybe that will give them better tone, better theme to the data." (Evans); and China is undergoing a political transformation that is "unexpectedly rocky" with "key leadership positions being fought over" (Ignatius).
Matthews asks if Romney would agree to a "big tax increase" as a part of bringing balance to the budget, per the recommendations of Simpson-Bowles and others. Klein says it's impossible to know, but he won't get a settlement on the issue without accepting higher revenues. Kay concurs. Evans says that based upon the promises he's made and the image he's projected, he doesn't know how Romney could possibly get a tax increase, and "that's why Wall Street is so nervous." Ignatius thinks "he's going to do revenue increases through tax reform," apparently because he has not yet actually heard Romney's position on tax reform, which he always, always, always emphasizes will be "revenue neutral."
THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, OR SOMEONE LIKE HIM
This is a "special election edition" of This Week, which is sort of hilarious because it's not going to be any different from any of the other not-special election editions of This Week, unless your idea of "special" involved Stephanie Cutter, Newt Gingrich, and a room full of broken bottles. Anyway, there will also be a special panel discussion, that will not differentiate itself in any way from any of the previous panel discussions that have been on this show for the entire year.
After a few minutes rehashing the coming weather event, complete with "dude standing unnecessarily in the path of a dangerous storm, covered in sea foam and nasty." We get to the special game-changing discussion of the election season with Cutter and Gingrich.
What does Cutter think about the one poll that shows that Ohio is a tie? "Well, George, that's one poll." BUT WHAT IF IT'S THE SHINIEST POLL? WHAT IF THAT IS THE DOUBLE RAINBOW ACROSS THE SKY POLL? Probably you should just concentrate on polling averages. Or not! Pick through the entrails of dead birds, why not!
Then Stephanpoulos notes that the new ABC News poll " Romney really making headway on the economy and who offers a clear plan on the economy" and that it's swung from a 16 point Obama advantage to a tie. Cutter responds by saying, essentially, "BUT BUT LOOKIT THIS POLL FROM VIRGINIA THAT SAYS WE'RE UP!"
Cutter is happy to talk about economic plans, so long as a paragraph of generic talking points will do, because Lord knows she is in no way wanting to actually "make news" today if she can possibly avoid it.
But, but, but, momentum, right?
CUTTER: George, we can look at these polls a million different ways. They all say something different. At the end of the day, what we are focused on is getting the president out across this country, meeting as many voters as possible, but also implementing that ground game that we've invested so heavily on. Our people are coming out. Ohio, Florida, the first day of early voting in Florida yesterday, record numbers of people are coming out to vote. It's something like we've never, ever seen. And that's a sign. That's a sign that there is momentum behind the president's re-election. There is energy on the ground. We're a little over a week out, and we're confident.
But, but, but, newpaper endorsements, though? What about the Des Moines Register going with Romney? Cutter says that they were all up and down Romney's pants during the primaries. But just when you think she might confidently dismiss it, she gets defensive about how it "didn't seem to be based at all in reality," and seemed to be under the impression that Romney was some moderate compromiser, when "over this last six years, he's never once stood up to the far extreme right wing." And that's a fair assessment, I suppose -- Paul Ryan did just have a closed-door Birther fundraiser with Donald Trump.
Anyway, she says, Obama has lots of cool newspaper endorsements too, and I'll admit it -- it is pretty awesome to be able to say that you have something called the "Youngstown Vindicator" in your corner. I mean, that is a boss sounding newspaper.
You best surrender, perpetrators of injustice, because you about to get yourself YOUNGSTOWN VINDICATED. The Youngstown Vindicator is the only paper in America that has plaques of Samuel L. Jackson movie quotes all over the walls.
Cutter says that they've taken all precautions in advance of the hurricane, but maybe Obama should stop the hurricane with his bare hands?
We move to Newt Gingrich. Gingrich thinks the Des Moines Register endorsement is a total game changer, and also there is one in Florida that's a game changer, and everyone is totally talking about these newspaper endorsements. He reckons that all the polls in Ohio are skewed and wrong, and Benghazi is bad, and there all all these "things that drag down the Obama campaign," including, hilariously, this:
You'll notice he's canceling his trips over the hurricane. He did not cancel his trips over Benghazi.
Ha, yes, because "Benghazi" was not something that brought high winds and terrible danger to a bunch of people standing around in a tent in Virginia to hear a stump speech. I guess what Gingrich is saying is that Obama should continue to hold rallies in the teeth of a hurricane?
Gingrich says that Obama would definitely trade his job numbers for the ones the Romney put up in Massachusetts, but I think the more important thing is that Obama would trade what Romney had to deal with, walking into office, too. Gingrich predicts that Romney will win the popular vote: 53-47.
Gingrich yells about how "person who buys gasoline today is paying $2 a gallon more because of Obama's energy policies," because he didn't find the Magic President Changey The Gas Pricey Button. Bush didn't find that button either, but he did manage to get gas prices way down when the entire economy collapsed. (Romney recently made this argument at a debate, and it was rebutted so firmly, that Newt is probably the last man standing willing to attempt to articulate it.)
Gingrich concludes his appearance by restating the odious "Obama is in favor of infanticide" canard from four years ago. And hopefully, that is how Gingrich concludes his career as joke-candidate turned joke-pundit of America's election seasons.
Now, let's have forty some-odd minutes of agitated panel discussions with George Will and Gwen Ifill and Nicolle Wallace and Andrew Sullivan and Austan Goolsbee.
Will says that both campaigns are completely bluffing about having momentum, but maintains that the "trend" favors Romney. Sullivan says that the trend in the state polls, however, favors Obama, because of the stasis. That says, Sullivan, as is his wont, is very panicky over the one Ohio poll that happens to show a tie. Wallace says that there's no path to a win for Romney without Ohio, but also thinks that the Des Moines Register endorsement may have a ripple effect, which seems dumb. Why would the Des Moines Register matter more to Ohioans than the Youngstown Vindicator?
I sort of want there to be a superhero names the Youngstown Vindicator now! He could be a member of the Avengers, or, even better (though more obscure) the Authority.
Goolsbee says that we'll be "up late on election night." Which, yes, thanks for reminding us.
Will reckons that women are "recoiling" from the "condescension" of the Obama campaign, whose constant reminders that Romney's social policies are deleterious to women is certainly something that women find offensive.
Sullivan is amazed that Romney got away with showing up at the first debate an entirely different person with entirely different positions, which suggests that Sullivan may not be familiar with the career of Mitt Romney, what he's done throughout his time in politics, and the many, many, many Obama ads that all warned that Romney had no core and no soul and always changed his positions in order to get voters to like him.
"But we like him now," enthuses Wallace, attempting to explain this to Sullivan (and perhaps explaining that women are shallow and easily led and prone to gravitate to whatever is shiny?)
Goolsbee presents a number of statistics that give the lie to the Des Moines Register's notion that Romney "worked across the aisle" and wonders if the endorsement will have an impact once people "peel the onion." But the truth is that no one is going to peel that onion, but that's not a big deal, because the election is not going to be decided based on Mitt's record in Massachusetts or what the editors of an Iowa newspaper think about it ten days before the election.
Will says that Romney can totally live with the charge that he's now trying to come off like a moderate, and that the "Romney attack is buttressing Romney's strategy." Goolsbee says that once you start unpacking Romney's economic plans, though, you lose the thread of Romney's policies. But we're done unpacking that stuff.
Wallace is pretty certain that the Romney campaign is enjoying the momentum, and that Obama has undermined his own attacks by attacking Romney as a changeling. Sullivan objects to that, and notes that the core details of Romney's fiscal policies and foreign policy are "severely conservative." Ifill says that she's not actually sure the "Romnesia" argument works.
Goolsbee simplifies things, saying that the "final arguments" are these: Obama wants you to consider how Romney would take is back to Bush-era policies, and Romney wants you to consider the insufficiency of the Obama recovery.
But we'll talk on. Will challenges Sullivan on his position, and we briefly have a moment of yelling:
WILL: If I just heard Andrew right, he said vote against Romney because he would balloon the deficit. That's an odd argument for voting for the man who added $5 trillion to the deficit. That's Mr. Obama.
SULLIVAN: We know that the recession added $5 trillion to the deficit, which was caused by the previous administration.
WILL: And the...
SULLIVAN: And we also know that Romney's policies will increase the debt, massively, immediately.
WALLACE: But voters believe that Obama's will do so much more harm. I mean, I think that's...
SULLIVAN: That's just wrong.
WALLACE: Voters, unfortunately, are choosing between two men, each of whom are -- are far from perfect. I think that's why you see a lot of the message in the final days...
SULLIVAN: But one of whose math adds up...
WALLACE: ... is very negative.
SULLIVAN: ... and one of whose math does not add up, one of whose math will lead to balanced budgets, one of whose math will not, ever.
Ifill and Wallace agree that Romney has the mantle of change. Goolsbee and Will agree that the election will come down to which candidate's vision of the role of government tracks with people. On that regard, Goolsbee says, "It will be interesting to see, if you had a huge hurricane" -- HINT HINT HINT -- if people wouldn't be left thinking, "Whoa, do we all want to be on our own when something like this happens?"
That sort of means that Obama better have an aces-high response to this reportedly unprecedented weather event ready to go!
The panel chats about the recent Obama ad that recalls the Florida recall, and Ifill points out that it's just intended to remind the Democratic base of their worst day. "What both campaigns want to do now is raise that number and make sure the people who show up are their people," she says.
Sullivan reckons that everything might come down to the auto bailout. Ifill reminds everyone to not discount the possibility that pollsters are undercounting Latino votes. Everyone agrees that the nightmare scenarios of the popular vote going one way and the electoral vote going the other would be a sphincter-tightening moment in American politics. Will reckons that it is par for the course, no big deal. Sullivan counters that you can date the start of the mounting polarization in the electorate back to the 2000 election and recall. I'd agree -- but not because the election result was necessarily polarizing -- rather, that was the election that first addicted the media to the crazy, meth-fueled horserace coverage and got everyone sociopathically bent on "political narratives." The way politics has been covered, since 2000, has much more to do with the polarization in the electorate than the actual politics. On politics, both parties are largely in agreement -- we have to stay at war in order to remain strong and we need to flatter and favor corporate masters to remain in office.
Sullivan says, "If Virginia and Florida go back to the Republicans, it's the confederacy, entirely. You put the map of the Civil War over this electoral map, you've got the Civil War." But West Virginia is going to go with Virginia, too, if Virginia goes to Romney! Will says that's wrong: "2008, from Obama, gets that many white votes. This time, the polls indicating may get this many. We're trying to explain this difference. Now, there are two possible explanations. A lot of white people who voted for Obama in 2008 watched him govern for four years and said, "Not so good. Let's try someone else." The alternative, the confederacy hypothesis, is those people somehow for some reason in the last four years became racist." Sullivan says, no no, "I'm just pointing out that the white people who've changed their minds happen to be in Virginia and Florida." Will says, "Andrew has made an empirical statement that is checkable and false, which is that the people moving -- or the white people moving away are in those two states."
Sullivan asks, "Which Confederate state is for Obama right now?" Well, Maryland really, really wanted to be part of that gang, if I can believe the frothy anti-Lincoln verses of their state song, so let's call that one for Maryland.
This panel discussion continues, relentlessly, seeming to distort the rules of temporal reality. Will notes that the GOP should not be having the problems they are having in the Senate. Sullivan wonders if the Republicans will read the result of Democratic retention of the Senate as a natural by-product of their having sprinted to the fringe.
Ifill and Sullivan have a discussion on "what we talk about when we talk about people being crazy":
IFILL: Thanks to the hurricane. But, you know, I've interviewed both Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. And here's the thing. Neither of them come -- I don't like the words crazy and insane to describe people who are actually trying to put themselves forward to run for public office and represent people, because both of them are speaking to constituencies in their states, in Missouri and Indiana, who respond to what they say, who believe that life believes at conception.
So they don't think what Richard Mourdock said was crazy. They're not so -- they didn't like what Akin said about rape, women's bodies shutting down, but they were willing to forgive him for it. And that's why those races are closer...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he's not out of it right now.
IFILL: Akin is not out of it, and Mourdock is not out of it.
SULLIVAN: He's crazy to believe that evolution is a lie.
IFILL: And you may disagree, but I'm talking about what it takes to get Senate candidates elected in these conservative states.
SULLIVAN: But I'm just saying, on the principles, they deny that evolution takes place. I think that puts you in a crazy category.
George Stephanopoulos is fairly excited about the Romney campaign running ads in Minnesota, but he should just calm down.
Okay, well, that concludes another run though the whimsy of Sunday morning politics. Now I am going to go to the Harris Teeter and see if it's been entirely ransacked or if there might be something edible and/or potable to bring home and put in the kitchen against the possibility of Hurricane Sandy ushering in a new Dark Age. Hopefully, those of you out there in Sunday Morning Liveblogland are either far removed from this monstrous weather event, or are better prepared than I. Never fear, though! I am quite certain that fate will preserve me, if only to punish me anew by the light of my television next Sunday morning. Until then, everyone be safe.
[The Sunday Morning liveblog returns next week. Until then, feel free to visit my RebelMouse page, where fun content from around the web has been stacked up for your perusal.]