TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Hello, fellow Muggles, and welcome to this week's edition of your Sunday Morning Liveblog, your weekly, occasionally witty rundown of the week in political monkeyshines and the Hollow Men who rend their garments over it, whilst you sleep off your Saturday Night USA. My name is Jason, and I will be your sherpa. Today! we'll have many of the same topics as last week, and, indeed, many of the same conversations. But today! We'll also have the people on our teevee attempt to wrap themselves in the corpse of Walter Cronkite. It could get disgusting, watching all these people who fail miserably at living up to his legacy claim to be inspired by him. But that is what our Gag Reflexes are for, and why we keep a fresh paper bag by our sides each morning, when these shows come on. (I also use mine in case the kitties vomit, something which may or may not be related to these shows, I don't know, cats, they tend to vomit.)

Anyway, as always, leave a comment, send a missive my way via email -- like fans of Pat Buchanan and Glenn Beck do! (I have learned this week, for example, that I am a "dirty Jew" who should "kill myself" which sounds delightful, God bless you, fans of Pat Buchanan and Glenn Beck, I have decided to become a Kabbalist.) -- or follow me on the Twitters. Let us relax, sit back, and enjoy our first show, FOX NEWS SUNDAY AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN.


So, right off the bat we have Peter Orszag, so, I hope you ladies are up early. I know that many of you can barely contain yourselves when he busts out the mad wonk and starts discussing budget figures and cost overruns.

Wallace is all: "Damn, Peter, Douglas Elmendorf thinks your health care reform package is going to be a massive turdie, budget wise!" Orszag says, "Well we won't sign a bill that expands the deficit." (I assume he means long term.) He says that the CBO analysis looks good and that there are other parts of the program coming into play that will lower costs. Additional steps that will make it "better than deficit neutral" include AWESOME COMMISSIONS OF DOCTORS COMMISSIONING.

What about the crazy TAXAPOCALYPSE! About 1.2% of America will have to pay higher taxes! Like they do in Denmark! By the way, Denmark: REALLY GOOD SOCIAL POLICY THERE.

What will happen to the teensy portion of small businesses, that may have to pay extra, so that people can have the sort of health care that will keep them from dying. Orszag points out that they are working to save the economy so that people will buy the products made and dols by small businesses. I'm guessing the whole LESS PEOPLE DYING OF TREATABLE ILLNESSES AND INJURIES will probably boost their bottom line as well.

What about taxing health care benefits? Ruled out? "It's something the President doesn't favor." Because of unions? UHM, HOPEFULLY BECAUSE HE MOCKED HIS ELECTION OPPONENT FOR PROPOSING IT, REPEATEDLY.

Wallace then asks if a commitee of doctors will be telling health care providers WHO WILL LIVE AND WHO WILL DIE, like a health care Star Chamber from the depths of Roger Ailes paranoid fantasia? Orszag says, "that's the biggest canard out there," and that's saying something, because there are some BIG CANARDS out there.

Is Peter Orszag prepared TODAY, to tell America that the public funded health plan will not include abortion? He's "not prepared to rule it out." Great news for women, I guess! No one is prepared to rule out your personhood!

Why was Peter Orszag so WRONG about unemployment numbers? He says, "almost everyone was wrong about the economy." He says that you cannot go from massive losses to massive gains in a fingersnap. "It's going to take time to work our way out of this."

Meanwhile, Judd Gregg! Remember when this guy was almost in the administration? What a wild time in our lives that was. Anyway, guess what, he thinks Doug Elmendorf is a wise and sage individual. "Those were pretty damning words," he says.

Gregg says that taxpayers should not have to pay for abortions, if they find it immoral. OKAY, THEN! GIVE ME MY IRAQ WAR MONEY BACK, PLEASE?

Wallace asks if the status quo on health care is acceptable, Gregg says no, and the GOP have three plans that they are pretending will work. Gregg says that the current plans "put bureaucracy between you and your doctor and will lead to rationing in the end," which makes me want whatever health care plan Gregg has, because my health care plan right now puts a massive bureaucracy between me and my doctor and which rations health care out the yangles, and which keeps me in dread that one day there's going to be something put on my chart somewhere that will cause an alarm to go off, dropping me from the crappy health care I do have. See, I'd listen to Gregg and people like him if they'd stop pretending that American health care is something that it isn't.

I think though, that Gregg's health care plan is called, Being An Impossibly Rich Lawmaker With Many Many Lobbyists To Orally Stimulate On A Daily Basis.

Anyway, their plan would be for young people to stay indestructible, and pay one third of their alreay tiny incomes for catastrophic care, because who needs good preventative care. Also, the plan is for our streets to be clogged with dessperate and sick illegal immigrants. It's a blighted hellscape of the dead and dying and impoverished, but Judd Gregg will still enjoy gold-plated care, thanks to me.

Anyway, Panel Time! I'm assuming the Buzz Aldrin section was more celebratory than newsy. And anyway, Charles Krauthammer is on today, so this will get INTERPLANETARY real quick.

One thing I share with Bill Kristol, and sympathize with him on, is the inability to smile naturally on camera when introduced. Like him, I sort of make this, "I'm holding back some serious farts" face, which I think is preferable to Juan Williams' "Look at meeee! I am farting!" face or Krauthammer's "I, myself, am a collection of noxious gas that has somehow formed a rubbery skin" face.

WHERE ARE WE ON HEALTH CARE? Kristol says the Democrats' plan "is in trouble." This, of course, means that it's in good shape. "What is the case for doing it this year?" Kristol bitches. UHM, the MORTALITY OF POOR PEOPLE?

Liasson says the White House might "lose the narrative." OH NO! THE NARRATIVE! FIND IT! HURRY! This great nation needs our narratives found! We are a giant KINDLE OF POLITICS! I hope Walter Cronkite cuts a deal with Jesus to spit celestial tar at every newsperson who worried about narratives.

Meanwhile, Krauthammer says that everyone is getting taxed and that Elmendorf "exploded the entire rationale of his plan." Juan Williams HAS A SAD because he's been hugging conservadems this week and they are SAD PANDAS, who only want to pass something that won't really work but that comes larded with the magical powers of BIPARTISANSHIP, which makes everything better.

Then Williams yells the word "point" about a million times! "The point is this is not the point, point point McPoint!"

Liasson says that this calls the legislative strategy of the White House into question. DUH.

Kristol says the country will not get a health care bill, and that's great for the country, because maybe some people will finally learn to achieve immortality by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

Meanwhile, OLD MEN WHO LOOK LIKE LESBIANS PARTY WITH SOTOMAYOR. What does everything mean? Wallace is like, "Wow, she contradicted everything she ever said about race!" which is something you can say if "everything she said" is NOT an entire career of legal judgements and instead is the three words "wise Latina woman." By the way, if the Congress says "wise Latina woman" fifty times, area Five Guys will be giving out free hamburgers, so let's keep our fingers crossed that our Congress is filled with dim-bulb morons who glom onto one idea, milk it to death, and then brainlessly stumble to their next committee assignment as powerful lobbyists tell them what to say, because they are hollow sacks of human filth but HEY FREE HAMBURGERS MAYBE SO PLEASE KEEP SAYING "WISE LATINA WOMAN" YOU TERRIBLE HUSKS!

Liasson says Sotomayor did all the things that SCOTUS nominees do, which is humor this jackasses in the Senate by allowing them to ask their idiot questions, and do nothing controversial.

Wallace asks, "Have these hearing become a waste of time?" YES. And maybe if you TURNED THE CAMERAS OFF, which just encourage these popinjays to MUG FOR THEM, it would become valuable again. THINK ABOUT IT.

Anyway, Juan WIlliams says the GOP did a "good job attacking Sotomayor, making her out to be a quota queen." YES. SHREWD LEGISLATIVE STRATEGY. That will serve them well with all the Latina women Obama is sure to nominate.

Naturally, Bill Kristol thinks the value of Walter Cronkite has to do with the ratings he got. So does Liasson. Krauthammer says something I'm not even remotely interested in transcribing. Williams says he didn't pander and was a real newsman and "we all honor that," even though no one on this panel actually does honor that, GAH SHUT UP ALL OF YOU.


Health care reform! Are discussions of health care reform the nations' leading sickness? I think maybe! If not then, then now, because it's Charles Rangel and Orrin Hatch, z-listers both. Harry Smith is all: HAVE YOU BOTCHED THIS JOB? Rangel says, no, "at the end of the day, we'll have health care for the country." Will taxing the rich fly with Republicans, Smith asks Hatch. WHY EVEN HAVE THIS SHOW? Of course taxing the rich will not fly with Orrin Hatch! The rich need tax cuts, all of them! Then Hatch laments the fact that everything's become "so political." Also, it's all "going too fast." WHY ALL THE URGENCY? IT'S JUST HEALTH CARE.

Anyway, Harry Smith, really wants America to try--really, REALLY try--to think about what it's like in the United States today to be an impossibly wealthy person! SO MANY DEMANDS! Have you thanked a rich person today? YOU BETTER.

Rangel says that everyone in the House is waiting for the Senate to do ANYTHING. Orrin Hatch is like, GOD OUR HEALTH CARE IS AWESOME. Somehow, long waits and constant denials of care are just BETTER when they are American. The men who settled this nation dragged themselves off into the woods to die from easily treatable infections, and so can all of us!

Rangel points out the the GOP is involved, and that Chuck Grassley hands out at the White House all the time, and so they cannot deny that they are playing a role in shaping the bill. He's right: what usually happens is that the Democrats bend over backwards and allow all sorts of amendments to the bill from the other side, and then they don't vote for it. It's awesome, the political process! And then there's the whole LET'S FILIBUSTER EVERYTHING IN THE SENATE NOW, which Rangel is just laughing about, like a jackass, but it's really just rendering both houses of Congress impossibly useless.

John Glenn and Bob Schieffer are here to talk about Walter Cronkite. Astronauts! Anyway, Glenn says that Cronkite was a really great friend to the Space Program. Schieffer says that American's trusted Cronkite because he was a reporter, "on the scene," whose "suntan" didn't some from "studio lights" and a few other darlings that are difficult to transcribe.

"Was Walter Cronkite in the right place at the right time?" Smith asks. The answer, "Yes." These inquiries are truly advancing our understanding of the news business!

"When [Cronkite] said somebody died, they died, and you didn't have to put flowery language around it." IRONY!

John Glenn says Cronkite was friendly and had a "lot of jokes" and he wanted to be an astronaut himself. He "may have sent a letter" wanting to go up in space. Laying hands on that would be a newsy thing! Make it happen, NASA.

Harry Smith assures us that Cronkite was not an "Accidental Tourist" or a "Zelig" or an "American Werewolf In London" or someone who'd be "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" or was "Lost in Translation" or a "Spaceballs."

Cronkite "spoke truth to power" about the Vietnam War. Schieffer says that it meant something because "Walter seldom took a stand on something," which must mean that everyone in news is a Cronkite now because no one ever takes stands on anything.

Harry Smith thinks it's "audacious" for reporters to "contradict" powerful people. It should be de rigeur, but it isn't. They also praise Cronkite for going on the scene, asking people to be sources, and getting an informed opinion about an issue. THAT'S FUNNY, because in HOURS AND HOURS of discussion of health care reform, I've yet to see any of these people even bother to seek out even one opinion from even one American who is living with no health care in this country. But I do see a lot of nodding about how the US has the "best health care in the world," all from people who happen to be lucky enough to be receiving it! They were all busy sending Mark Sanford emails that read, "DEAR MARK SANFORD: I HAVE POSITIONED MYSELF ON ALL FOURS, WOULD YOU LIKE TO TAKE ME?"


God, all you need to know about what a crapfountain David Gregory is in his introduction: "The view from top Republican Mitch McConnell...will health care reform be BIPARTISAN." Not, will it be effective. Not, does McConnell/Obama have any ideas that are strong on the merits, and if so what are they? Just, "OMG! WILL SWEET SWEET BIPARTISANSHIP SAUCE BE LADLED ONTO AMERICA!?"

But first, Kathleen Sebellius. And Elmendorf! Will costs be contained? We should do nothing, maybe? AGHH! Sebellius says that the package will be full of recommendations that will help to bend the cost curve or whatever. BUT ELMENDORF, MY GOD! Sebellius says, that the status quo is unsustainable and must be addressed. BUT ELMENDORF, MY GOD! Was Gregory unable to get Elmendorf on this show? he can be questioned, as well, you know!

WAS IT A WAKE UP CALL? Sebellius says, UHM NOT REALLY. "There's no scoring right now for the things we know will save money long term."

Maybe it would just be awesome to LOWER COSTS on Americans that go into debt getting baseline care?

Universality, Sebellius is not a priority, but it must "cover all Americans," which, I DON'T KNOW, seems like a CONTRADICTION!

David Gregory is in fine form today! I don't think there's anything in the world that makes him happier than the thought of health care reform failing. He is like a Girl Scout anticipating the next batch of Dosidos!

"WHY WOULDN'T EVERYBODY CHOOSE A PUBLIC PLAN?" Gregory asks. I don't know! WHY DOESN'T EVERYBODY BY THE GENERIC MEDICATIONS AT CVS? Seriously! They are the SAME EXACT DRUGS. Yet somehow, Advil gets sold. There are generic brands of everything at grocery stores. Somehow, brand names get bought. Probably because some are better, probably because PEOPLE LIKE STATUS. Anyway, I think that will drive people to private insurance plans: 1) Some will find competitive ways of outpacing the public plan, and 2) Some will simply say, WHAT ARE YOU, A POOR PERSON? DON'T LET YOUR FRIENDS THINK YOU ARE SOME SORT OF WRETCH WHO NEEDS POOR PEOPLE CARE? HAHAHA, DON'T BE A LOSER. David Gregory will probably personally shill for such wares.

Gregory and Sebellius get into a row about whether people would get to keep the doctors and care they have, which is a matter I do think the White House has been more than a little disingenuous about but which once again ELIDES THE LARGER POINT, that right now, through whim and tricksy circumstance, you could, at any time, lose the doctors you have and the care you're getting! I would love to have simply kept seeing the same old allergist I'd been seeing for years, but guess what, suddenly I could not, without spending a bloody fortune! And then it took two years to find another one! But health care isn't RATIONED, no no! I loved the health care I had where I paid ten dollars for prescriptions, but now I don't have that anymore! So what Gregory presents as problems, I see as "the current crap we lucky few who are allowed to have health care in this country have." And it's crap, but so far it keeps me basically alive, and so, it'd be great if everyone could just have access to the live-giving crap that I have, instead of just having asthma attacks and hoping for the best!

Like this. GREGORY: "Will Americans accept the fact that there are some limits to what the government will pay for?"

SEBELLIUS: "There are limits right now."

Reporting live, from DUH, is David Gregory.

Gregory is up in arms about the tax that will be levied on Americans. Let's see exactly how brutal this tax will be!


But Sebellius has apparently been given instructions to not just say, "OMG THESE FILTHY RICH PEOPLE WILL BE OKAY, REALLY, AND SO WILL JOBS." So, instead we get long, drawn out hemming and hawwing.

GREGORY: "He thinks upper income Americans should shoulder most of the burden."

ME: "UHM, THE 'BURDEN' IS MILLIONS OF PEOPLE GETTING SICK, WITH NO DOCTORS. With that in mind, I think that upper income Americans will be shouldering almost NO burden."

Sebellius says that by mid-October, we might have a swine-flu vaccine, which will make watching David Gregory much easier.

Now it's time fro Gregory to sit down with Plutocracy's Wingman, Senator Mitch McConnell. What does he think about the timing of the bill? McConnell says that neither bill should be passed, that their "rush and spend," and that OMGZ TEH DEFICITS WHICH I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH BUILDING! "What we truly need is a bipartisan proposal, by which I mean either watered down junk or massive sops to the insurance industry."

Gregory wags his foolish little tail, nods along and asks, "Will it not get passed? PLEASE SAY IT WON'T GET PASSED." McConnell says he thinks it shouldn't. Gregory says, OH YEAH, DID YOU HEAR HOW SEBELLIUS TRIED TO ANSWER THAT?

"Let me just tell you is flawed about their whole approach, David," McConnell says, spitting canards about how Canadians all wish they could have our awesome health care system. Let's keep in mind that while he has Sebellius on, Gregory was constantly interrupting here, peppering her with questions. What does McConnell get? He gets to complete his sentences -- his melodramatic sentences -- withourt question.

MCCONNELL: Surveys say* that Americans overwhelmingly like their health care.


Gregory, finally attempting actual reporting, asks McConnell if that isn't just a myth that we have the best health care in the world. He reads from an op-ed penned by Shannon Brownlee and Ezekeil Emanuel that somehow made it into the Washington Post past Fred Hiatt's all-nonsense-all-the-time policy.

MCCONNELL: That's one expert!

Uhm, it's actually, TWO EXPERTS. TWO. Counting: it's important to be able to do, to run the country.

MCCONNELL: If you look at the surveys....


MCCONNELL: ...they don't think quality is the problem. They think cost and access are the problem.

Cost and access being two things that make our health care system of very low quality!

McConnell says that Safeway will save us! They are fighting smoking, and obesity! And yet, I bet if I go to the Safeway, ten minutes from my apartment, I will be able to buy cigarettes and pork rinds!

Gregory reads Ted Kennedy's op-ed aloud, for the sake of sentimentality. He attempts a complicated metaphor about the auto industry abotu Ford whining about how the government's intervention in Chrysler and GM's financing is undercutting their own, and this proves that the private industries will all collapse. Except that people are still buying Toyotas and Hondas and BMWs and VWs and whatnot, so maybe it's really Ford, who's selling cars nobody wants, because they are terrible? YES THIS IS THE CASE. I concede that government intervention in an industry will be of no benefit to anyone who'd like to get rich manufacturing or selling crap that everybody hates, and that this is too bad.

McConnell says the stimpak has failed and that there should be no more stimulus. What would he do? Gregory doesn't ask. Instead, he asks why he won't support Sotomayor, to which he says she won't be an umpire and call balls and strikes.

McConnell is disturbed by anyone who would force an American soldier to say bad things about the country under duress, but really, Mitch! Those are just "enhanced interrogation techniques!" Dick Cheney says that's all okay.

Gregory says wow, it's do or die time for health care, and it's so exciting that it's not working. The president is in "campaign mode." CAMPAIGNS ARE SHINY. Why can't more Americans stop being sick and learn to embrace the healing powers of the SHINY. Gigot points out that Democrats won't be able to bring themselves to do the right thing unless everyone's approval ratings are totally high and everyone's assured of re-election, and THAT IS BASICALLY TRUE.

Norris notes that it's the last-minute horse trading that makes legislation worse. I think it's "allowing Ben Nelson to talk about stuff and try to do things" that ruins legislation. Seriously, Ben Nelson belongs in a high-chair so that he doesn't hurt anyone.

Richard Wolffe says Obama has to be unconventional...different...not normal...there's a word, I think...that best sums it up...OH YEAH! RENEGADE. Make it about pocketbooks, like a RENEGADE. RENEGADE THAT STUFF. SOMEBODY ALREADY USED THE WORD "MAVERICK." SO LET'S GET RENEGADEY!

Harwood wonder how anyone will be able to get the public to credit the Obama administration for economic gains that lad behind the present moment? UHM, IF HE DESERVES CREDIT, YOU COULD REPORT IT AS SUCH.

Now, Richard Wolffe is talking abour how awesome Obama is doing in Michigan, because of all the RENEGADING.

Okay, this is the worst segue in the history of the news industry:

GREGORY: [with beaming, schoolgirl excitement] You talk about health care and you talk about the economy and it just leads you to start thinking about the campaign and opposition from Hillary Clinton and then all of the questions about the Secretary of State who is now, India sort of off the injured list here and her elbow in better shape and so she was in India in a deplomitic [I think he means to say, "DIPLOMATIC" but the word that came out of his mouth was "DEPLOMITIC"] mission over this weekend this is what the AP wrote on Wednesday about Hillary Clinton falling off center stage...

And then he reads an article from the AP, for some reason. But read that transition! Who wrote that goddamned thing? Sarah Palin? YIKES.

Michele Norris says, "I think that too much has been made of this Obama versus Clinton narrative." I think that too much is being made of MEET THE PRESS' ability to WRITE A NARRATIVE.

Wolffe says that all the principals like one another, but that the staffs are rancorous jerks.

David Gregory says that it was awesome to be able to afford to take his son to the All-Star Game (and to afford health care for his family, presumably) and he thinks it's great that rich baseball players deigned to shake the hands of people who do community service! WHY IT WAS A NEAT MOMENT WHERE RICH CELEBRITIES PRETENDED THAT MIDDLE CLASS PEOPLE HAD ACTUAL HUMANITY AND IT WAS SUPER NEAT! "As a dad sitting in the stands, I thought that this is what's wholesome about baseball." And then those community service went home and struggled to pay their health care bills, BUT WHAT A TEACHABLE MOMENT FOR DAVID GREGORY.

Oh, and look, if you think for one second I am going to sit here and listen to what David Gregory has to say about Walter Cronkite's legacy, the answer is NO, NOT FOR ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD. I am going to save David Gregory's thoughts on Walter Cronkite for the time of my death, so that me and Walter Cronkite and Jesus can all gather by the celestial cathode ray device and have a good laugh. Then I'll faithfully wait for my wife to arrive so that we can try out "angel sex."

Anyway, tra la. That is all for this week in the life of our Sunday mornings. Now for the BAD NEWS! The BAD NEWS is that do to some important Huff Post team maneuvers, related to an office move, I will be unable to bring you a live blog next Sunday. THIS WILL BE PRACTICE FOR WHEN I GO ON VACATION! However, I will be putting up a post like always on the site, so that those of you who watch the shows, read along, and kick it with each other in the comments can continue to do so. What I think would be great, is if any of you happens upon the sort of important news story during the week that so often gets ingnored on Sunday, send me an email and I'll toss it in the post as something to discuss. Think about this as an opportunity to program your own Sunday morning show.

Again, very sorry I will be away next week. BUT YOU WILL SURVIVE, provided you have health insurance. Have a great week.

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