TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Welcome to your Sunday Morning Talkshow Liveblog, where every week, sacks of hot gas launch themselves into the skies over America confusing us with the outward appearance of seriousness and panic.

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning Talkshow Liveblog, where every week, sacks of hot gas launch themselves into the skies over America confusing us with the outward appearance of seriousness and panic until it turns out it's just the whipped up nonsense of children and emotionally stunted men. My name is Jason, and since no one wants a tune about the 100th luftballoon that was seen shooting from the teevee your room, to be a spot against the day's colossal gloom, and land deflated in some neighbor's state that's strewn with 99 others, I will liveblog this for you, so you don't have to watch. You may feel welcome to leave a comment, or send an email, or follow me on Twitter, if you are so inclined. Let's begin.


Health care reform! With Senators Conrad and Thune and Specter! Plus: what will Karl Rove and Terry McAuliffe have to say about the Obama White House yelling at Fox news? CAN'T WAIT TO FIND OUT!

Meanwhile, health care: why don't they just give up? TAKING TOO LONG, RIGHT? And what about the public option? Kent Conrad says that he won't support a public option that's tied to "medicare levels of reimbursement." Instead, he'll promote tiny, crappy, ineffective co-ops or triggers or opt-ins. But Conrad's taken just too much money from lobbyists to stand up for the American people. Luckily, Arlen Specter is so in need of some kind of political identity, that he's going to snuggle up to the public option. WILL YOU VOTE FOR ME NOW PENNSYLVANIA? PLEASE? I definitely want a version of the audiobook of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, read by Specter. I'm guessing you do, too.

Wallace asks Thune how many votes there are for the public option, which is something Thune can't stipulate. He is under the impression that the public option is wildly unpopular, and that socialized medicine doesn't work anywhere.

Conrad is now talking up co-operatives, his subtext being: "These will be so ineffective! DO NOT WORRY, MY INSURANCE COMPANY OVERLORDS!" He also pronounces the word "Kwaps," which makes them even left effective. Even Wallace is all: OH YOU KNOW THIS STUFF IS JUNK.

But: OMGZ, TEH SPENDING. Wallace: "These plans start raising money in 2011, but don't start until 2015, so you are raising money for ten years." How does he get ten years from that? I think if Wallace thinks 2015-2011=10, then I'm not going to trust him with a CBO report.

Arlen Specter says that the "Republican objections are wrong," and he should know, since he was a Republican last week. He says that the plan will "pay for itself," because annual exams will cut down costs, plus advance directives, plus criminal penalties against fraud, and anyway the GOP is the party of "No, no, no!" He points out that many of his former old-school colleagues, like Bob Dole and Bill Frist, back the plan, and adds, "Note the absence of any Republican plan." He also namechecks some dudes I never heard of, either because I'm too young and Specter has a memory like a Swiss-designed steel trap, or Specter has a bunch of imaginary friends. I think both are true, actually!

Ha! Wallace refers to Specter as a "liberal Democrat!" Then Kent Conrad starts blabbering, and Wallace is like, "UGH! This cannot be good for ratings, at all." So he asks Thune about the Afghanistan election run-off. Should we send troops if the political situation is ass-over-tea kettle? Thune says no. "We need a strategy that will succeed, and it needs to be properly resourced."

Now the two most fundamentally overrated minds in American politics, Karl Rove and Terry McAuliffe, will discuss the Obama administrations decision to "declare war" on Fox News, which, if you want my opinion is fracking idiotic. The only people impressed by standing up to Fox News (by, uhm...refusing to do so) are people who were already inclined to be impressed with you anyway. There's no reason in the world to show them favor, and the White House shouldn't respond to any of the nonsensical baiting that goes on, but fundamentally, the rule is: NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT. I think that this whole matter is just inane. Now we get to have two completely daft people talk about it, and they will sound smarter than the White House was, in their decision-making process.

That Karl Rove and Terry McAuliffe have managed to ascend to "the highest level of our politics" only goes to show that this country isn't doing politics at a particularly high level.

Rove is aghast at all the Chicago-style strongarming! He'd never do such things! Perish the thought. Terry McAuliffe pronounced the word "chyrons" as "cry-ons." GOD I REGRET HAVING TO WATCH THIS. I'm going to feed my cat.

Rove says WE MUST STOP MAKING ENEMIES AND DEMONIZING PEOPLE! McAuliffe says WHY WON'T YOU JUST CANCEL ALL YOUR HIT PROGRAMMING, FOR SPEECHES ON HEALTH CARE. McAuliffe says that Obama is going to go on Fox, and this whole thing has been overblown.

And then, HA HA: Wallace plays McAuliffe, complimenting Fox, from the campaign. They turned that into a Fox commercial. And Wallace nails him! "If the definition of a 'fair and balanced' news organization that they run stories that you like?" McAuliffe basically says that yes, if the news is helping him, then they are good news. THIS IS SORT OF RIVETING. It's like Chris Wallace has lit himself on fire and gotten McAuliffe to hug him. And by the way, Terry McAuliffe...SO STUPID. He grew up as a boxer?

Karl Rove is basically fixated on Fox's hit shows, like GLEE.

Dunn accused Fox of not covering the John Ensign scandal. BUT CHRIS WALLACE DID MENTION IT ONE TIME, BACK IN JULY! I mean, he really landed a glancing, feather-lite blow.

Rove mentions that Dunn will be leaving in a couple of months, so the White House is maximizing her effect in the meantime. That's actually right, but it's not something Rove hasn't already heard a million times before.

McAuliffe is basically telling Wallace that Obama will be coming on Fox, now. There is no way that he is not making promises he doesn't have the authority to make right now. Rove points out that hey, Hillary Clinton did great during the primaries when she was coming on Fox, all of which glosses over the point that she was basically mathematically eliminated from winning and happened to have a run a favorable states at the time that would create a bubble economy in Hillary futures.

McAuliffe is now looking like he might puke, like Balloon Boy. Now McAuliffe and Rove are yammering about the Deeds-McDonnell and Corzine-Christie-Daggett races, and GAH they should just be drowned like rabid skunks.

Meanwhile, panel time, with the regular people. How about those Afghan elections? Hume says that the election is the only "real justification" for what Hume terms "soul-searching." Yeah, well, it took Bush four months of "soul-searching" before the LOLOMGZSURGING began, and uhm...COIN strategy is an uphill climb even when your host nation partner isn't totally corrupt and steals elections.

Kristol says OMGZ you should just shove all sorts of troops into that gaping maw of nonsense and corruption. Send wave after wave of men at Afghanistan, until the Taliban gets too tired to run the country! Kristol's vision for "good government" comes when you point many guns at a government and insist that it does what you want. Juan Williams is skeptical that more troops will earn a result that the troops haven't won yet.

Meanwhile, Hume Napoleon Dynamites that BLAH THIS WAS A WAR OF NECESSITY, so let's LOLZSURGE to hell out of it, starting tomorrow, grumble grumble.

Oh! Fox is going to take up the important national issue of Rush Limbaugh not getting to be part owner of a football team? CLICK.


President Obama: is he tough enough? Why doesn't he go around, murdering people with screwdrivers, like Lyndon Baines "The Screwdriver Murdering Murderer" Johnson? Axelrod says Obama is plenty tough, and he's gotten health care a lot farther than George Stephanopoulos ever did, so suck on that and burn! Yeah, taste the screwdriver, perfectly reasonable media figure! Meanwhile: I THOUGHT WE HAD A DEAL WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANIES! We were going to swim across the river with those scorpions on our back, because we are tough. What happened?

Meanwhile, Olympia Snowe: is she our new girlfriend, or something? Axelrod says that Obama wants a public option: namely, he'd like some Republicans will publicly opt to support his bill, so that he lactate bipartisanship juice and sustain the life of David Broder, who is the keeper of our national treasure.

Can Axelrod say that the final bill will contain the public option? He says that it will "achieve goals," and "do stuff" and "get signed."

The Joint Committee on Taxation doesn't like the fees on high-end insurance. Will Obama sign it? What if the bill adds to the deficit -- now or in the future. That whole "now or in the future" statement is a hamstring, isn't it? I mean, many things that save money cost up front. Anyway, Axelrod somehow wanders off the topic...I'm not even sure what question he's answering. Axelrod eventually says that the president will account for all costs in his budget.

Is the president open to job creation? The answer should be "YES AS IT'S THE ONLY OBSTACLE TO GETTING RE-ELECTED." Anyway, la: there will be deficit reduction and a stimulus program in place, and "we'll see what other measures we have to take."

Meanwhile, why is Goldman Sachs taking my money, and lobbying the government for more of my money, and paying themselves huge bonuses? Axelrod says it's "offensive," but not so much that he'll stop facilitating it! It's also "offensive" that banks aren't lending. LEND US MONEY BANKS, OR YOU'LL BE HURTING OUR FEELINGS.

Axelrod says that the White House has little "sway" over the banks, because, I guess, the banks are higher on the org-chart.

And wow, suddenly it's time for panelling, with Will, Tapper, Noonan, Krugman, and Dionne, or, as they are better known, "The Jackson Five."

Will hopes that the President doesn't have to demonstrate toughness, because what if the ghost of Khruschev taunts him into escalating in Afghanistan? It would be just like those scenes of BACK TO THE FUTURE where it is revealed that Marty McFly's weakness is poultry comparisons. Dionne though, thinks that neo-cons want him to get tough, too. But doesn't it take a tough man to make a tender chicken, or to pull out of Afghanistan?

Now Peggy Noonan is reciting a tone poem called, "Considering Toughness: Do You See The Inner Strength, Of Ponies?"

Krugman says that everyone is being weird, because all the toughness complaints are coming when he's being tough on health care, but no one thought it mattered when he was doing a slack job on stimulus. Tapper adds that the makers of failed and unwanted cars would have told you way back when that Obama wasn't just "tough," he was "bullying."

Meanwhile, the DOW JONES IS SO HIGH RIGHT NOW, POP CRISTAL! Isn't it amazing that the Dow is doing this, with unemployment so high? It's almost as if the two things were related!

Krugman says, "this is not the worst situation we've seen, we've stepped a step back from the abyss." Dionne notes, though, that the Democrats do not want to be going into the election next year without something substantial changing in the unemployment numbers.

Peggy Noonan sings a lamentation called: "These Are Moments, For Trajectory, but lo, The Jits, They Shall Come At Night, And Shake Us From Our Jitless Slumber."

George Will is not convinced that health care is going to come off, because he doesn't think it will be paid for. The "Baucus bill is being melded to the Dodd bill," which is the first and most erotic thing I've heard about health care. Dionne objects to Will's premise that moving the bill to the "left" makes it more expensive. Stephanopoulos objects to Krugman's contention that it's easy to raise $200 billion, which he says is pocket change. Will says, our children will pay for it, laboring in the Chinese salt mines! Dionne says we'll probably pay now, raise taxes later, just no one will say so.

Peggy Noonan offers up a piece called "A Halting Oration On History, Who Is Calling Olympia Snowe, On Her Blackberry."



Meanwhile, Creigh Deeds is losing, so the GOP is awesome, right? Will says yes. Dionne says that the best options the GOP have are all moderate sorts, who are getting tagged by "the teabaggers." Peggy Noonan recites an acrostic poem called, "The August Awakening, Of The Yelly-Yells."

Krugman says that the generic ballot trends in October 2009 are not going to reveal how the elections will go. What will are presidential approval ratings, which are good for Obama, and economic indicators like employment rates, which are, as they stand, really really really really bad.

Peggy Noonan recites a villanelle entitled, "We Are All Balloon Boy -- Or Are We Attic Boy? I Guess We Will Always Have Questions, Which I Will Answer In Portentious Sentence Fragments. Whoosh! Whoosh!"


OH CRAP. I don't know how this happened, but my browser just jumped and I lost everything I hadn't saved, which was everything about MEET THE PRESS. So, yay! I am going to start the show over from the beginning, and "live" blog it again. Sorry about that, folks. I promise to save it more often, I guess.

OK. This is going to be very painful, watching twenty minutes of this show over again. Anyway: here's what happened.

Gregory asked about the economic indicators, and their downward trends. Valerie Jarrett mentioned that the Obama administration inherited a terrible economy, and that he works very hard to save jobs, and that the stimulus package is slowly unfolding, unemployment is a lagging indicator, drink, drink, drink.

Will we need another stimulus, drink, Jarrett says it's too soon to think about that, drink. Every morning, Obama asks his economic advisors about jobs, drink. Gregory wants taxes cut, drink. We're not "even halfway through" the stimulus package yet, drink.

Meanwhile, the insurance companies turn out to not be the super great friends of health care reform. "All along, we've been told that the insurance companies were the president's partner! That's what we've been led to believe." Yeah, well, it used to be that journalists didn't just stop attempting to discern the truth after they've been "led to believe" things. But that's a fair measure of Gregory's discernment. And, drink. Gregory notes that there are shiny new political battles emerging, how shiny and political, and, drink. Jarrett says, there's such incredible MOMENTUM! Please do not call it "Snowementum," oh CRAP, I just did, drink.

I CAN HAZ PUBLIC OPTION? Jarrett says that it's a good option, the public option, but there are other options, it's good to have options. WOO OPTIONS! But will Obama DEMAND the public option? Jarrett says HEY, WHY WOULD WE MAKE DEMANDS? We are about to pass a bill, and it will be HISTORY, and wonderful, even if at bottom, it's a turd. Twill be a historical turd. Gregory asks, "Has 'yes we can' become 'maybe.'" Jarrett says no, because all those bills that have been marked up by committees are so reassuring, and will one day maybe go into effect.

Then Gregory asks about swine flu. Did the government overpromise the vaccine? Jarrett says no, you can only push science as far as it will go. There's a! Did you know that? Why isn't there a We could raise so much revenue with that!

And now, Chris Dodd and John Kyl. Dodd is for the public option, Kyl is against it. Gregory doesn't understand how there will be a public option is Obama doesn't tattoo the words "ME WANTY PUBLIC OPTION" on his chest and start performing a series of David Blain-style endurance stunts to prove his love for it. Dodd reminds Gregory that there's this whole thing called the legislative process that gets used to make all sorts of bills. Kyl wonders why America wants a public option when instead, they could end malpractice suits, lessen the wallets of trial lawyers, and just keep the same old terrible insurance forever and ever.

Dodd is really happy about having Olympia Snowe as America's girlfriend, and praises her for saying, "When history calls, history calls," a statement with no meaning whatsoever. I mean, when the Chinese food delivery guy calls, he calls, but he also probably can't find your apartment.

Gregory is sore afraid about the spending! And he wonders why the War in Afghanistan can't be "deficit neutral." Kyl says that you can't "win a war on the cheap," which didn't stop him from supporting the War in Iraq, which was designed with "on the cheap" in mind, and he didn't try to keep focus on Afghanistan when he could have, which helped to squander the money invested there. Meanwhile, what about people who die, right here, at home. Kyl says, "I'm not sure that it's a fact that more and more people die because they don't have health insurance." But you know what just KILLS Kyl? The deficits. Not the deficits that Americans face when it comes time to choose between bankruptcy and homelessness and staying alive. The deficits he helped to run up because WARS CAN NEVER BE DEFICIT NEUTRAL.

Meanwhile, big bonuses are back on Wall Street. Gregory asks Dodd, "Is there something upside down and wrong here?" Dodd says that the economy is improving but the bonuses cause "outrage in the country." Should there be limits on the dollar amounts paid as bonuses? Kyl says that where taxpayer money is concerned, sure, but that caution should be taken to be sure that there's interference where none is warranted.

Dodd is sure he'll turn around his bad polls.

Now it's time for a panel discussion on this report from the Center for American Progress and Maria Shriver about women in the workforce. This probably won't yield the best liveblogging in the world, but I'll summarize for the sake of completeness. Women are about to become the majority in the workforce, and are, more and more becoming the family breadwinners. Shriver says these changes are permanent and touch on all institutions, which must "adapt and change" to meet these new realities.

Jarrett, who's back, gives CAP praise for taking on the study, and gives Meet The Press some deserving props for hosting the discussion. Podesta says that these changes "have kind of snuck up on us." "The battle of the sexes is over, David," Podesta says. Now, according to the report, begins the "negotiation of the sexes."

Interesting data point: Eldercare is a huge issue, and women are, more and more, taking on those family responsibilities as well. Jarrett says that workplace settings need to adapt to a changing workforce: that includes more women in the workforce, and more men taking on advanced and enhanced childcare roles.

Gregory wonders if men are comfortable with this change in dynamic? Shriver says that men were surprisingly receptive to talking about the issue. "Businesses that bring men and women together do better than businesses that don't." Podesta says that 80% of men said that they were fine with women in the household being the primary earner. My wife points out that this is a good thing: middle class pay is declining, so the alternative to liking the fact that women bring home their share of cash is starving.

Jarrett points out that one thing hasn't changed: women in the same jobs as men are still earning less. The Obama administration is promoting increasing women's involvement in science and technology and math. Shriver says that this is an example of what needs to change in the face of these societal movements, and that the government can serve as a model workforce, and establish best practices. Shriver also points out that women are still reluctant to ask their workplaces to factor in time off for child and elder care. Podesta echoes Shriver in that the government can help to advance this by becoming "the model employer."

Jarrett says that the administration will be putting the spotlight on companies that do a good job adapting to these changes.

As far as politics goes, Podesta says that it's "a lagging indicator." But that as society adapts, it will come around. For the time being, thought, "it's still a tougher burden for a woman to run for office."

And that's it! I'm very sorry about the technical difficulties I had today. Perhaps next week will go smoother! In the meantime, have a great week, and keep watching the skies, for terrifying luftballons!