TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

What is the Congress going to do to stave off a government shut down? Well, their workin' it out with Smilin' Joe Biden. Maybe they'll just cut a few things each week?

Good morning, one and all, to your semi-live blog of the production of Washington DC's major industrial creation, blather on the teevee. My name is Jason, and I surely hope that when our blather industry collapses, Lindsay Graham cuts the Eminem/Detroit commercial we deserve. "Whatever happened to the principles we used to compromise? Our relatively valuable real-estate? Remember when I guy could sit down with David Gregory and mentally piss his pants and nothing bad would ever happen? I believe we can still get back to those days. There are still some taxes on wealthy people we can cut. My name Lindsay Graham and I believe -- OH, SORRY, CUT, that time I actually wet myself. Pretending to believe in things is pretty difficult, y'all!"

Anyway, that's how I imagine it. But let's get to the fast typing and the frustration! As always, you can feel free to send an email, or leave a comment, or follow me on Twitter. And yes, I have far, far fewer followers than Charlie Sheen, but, no: I am not going to start beating my wife. Sorry, America!


Today, on FNS, we're going to...what now? Talk to Margie Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church? TERRIFIC. You found a way to make me BEG for Bill Kristol.

In case you've been living your lives and not paying attention to the World Of American Dicks, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the Westboro Baptist Things have the right to protest funerals. And, you know what, the Supreme Court is right about that, and I'm sorry, so so sorry. The only thing I'll say is that over the years, counter protests to the Westboro Baptist Things have grown so creative that we can say that the Westboro Baptist Things now bring out the best in people.

So, fresh from chanting "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" several hundred times. Here's Westboro Baptist Thing Margie Phelps. Wallace basically asks if her church really means all of the horrible things they say about say, the nine-year old girl who was killed in Tucson. She basically says that God hates just about everyone, and that we'd all better become subterranean creeps from Topeka.

Wallace is going to vainly wade into a theological debate with the Westboro Baptist Things, which is admirable, but it's ultimately fruitless, unless we wanted to leave Sunday believing that Wallace is a better guy than the Westboro Baptist Things, which we all already thought.

Margie Phelps says that her church is not a cult, but you can call them that if you want. Apparently, nine of the thirteen Phelps children still serve this horrorshow, the difference being, apparently, that they did not object to being beaten by their father. Religion combined with physical abuse is a pretty potent cocktail for mayhem - this stretches across all faiths.

Like Charlie Sheen, Margie Phelps is someone who thinks of herself as being very special, but is actually as pedestrian as they come.

Anyway, God hates you, says Phelps! And the "default for Mankind is Hell." And even the Supreme Court who sided with her shall go to hell because of their failure to "bring forth fruits for repentance." And President Obama is "most likely the Beast spoken of in Revelation." GOD WHAT A SHOW THIS IS TURNING INTO.

Also, the Pentagon has "declared war" on God, and this will be an "epic fail" and a "tango down." AND JUST WHEN I WAS GONNA MAKE A COCKTAIL NAMED THE "TANGO DOWN EPIC FAIL."

Phelps: hates gays, soldiers, America, etc. Bye bye. I LONG FOR THE SIGHT OF DICK DURBIN AND JEB HANSARLING, NOW.

So, what is the Congress going to do to stave off a government shut down? Well, their workin' it out with Smilin' Joe Biden. Maybe they'll just cut a few things each week? Durbin says that we need a bipartisan agreement, Hensarling says that the GOP won't agree to less than $61 million, and that this is all the fault of the Dems for not passing the spending bill last year. And then mostly platitudes about our grandchildren and China.

At any rate, Democrats apparently keep saying the words "meet the Republican halfway," but what does that mean, anyway? Wallace says it means "one-sixth of the way." Durbin responds by saying that the cuts fall heavily on poor children and college students and medical research -- but Wallace points out that taken as a whole, the cuts represent one third of one percent. "Is that the best you can do?" Wallace asks. Well, multiply that by six, and ask Hensarling the same question.

Anyway, Durbin isn't excited to talk about what the Democrats would do as an alternative. Hensarling says, that "everything has to be on the table, but under [the Dems] plan, nothing is on the table." Hey, okay, what if we allowed the American people to be the first people to put things ON THE TABLE?

I'd bet good money that Hensarling wouldn't allow what most Americans find totally or mostly acceptable on the table.

Durbin can at least say that he voted for the Deficit Commission Report. Of course, it was a safe vote, because the tax increases in it made it a non-starter for the Republicans on the Committee, which was a safe vote for them. Why won't people realize that the WHOLE POINT OF THE DEFICIT COMMISSION was to give all parties a chance to cast a Potemkin vote while being able to plausibly claim that they did a bunch of busy work? In Washington, like nowhere else, activity is frequently confused for achievement. (See also: FNS's decision to book a Westboro Baptist Thing.)

Panel time, with Juan Williams and Kevin Madden and Chris Stirewalt and Nina Easton. So, the B team.

So, wow, the unemployment rate is down to 8.9%, so pop Cristal, right? Stirewalt says that it's all uncertain and it add a "stark anxiety in Washington," which is hilarious, because the stark anxiety it breeds in Washington is "Oh no, my boss might not get re-elected and I might have to become a lobbyist or a consultant and I'll make the same really nice income," whereas "stark anxiety" everywhere else in America is "we have one can of beans left for the next five days" and "Oh, look, the neighbors have strategically defaulted on their home and now there is a family of coyotes living there!"

Gas prices are also spiking, because all these people who want freedom in the Middle East really didn't consider OUR feelings!

Juan Williams says that consumer confidence has been boosted, and there's some slow growth in the economy, but the uptick in hiring is more widespread and includes manufacturing jobs.

What about the economists who say that massive cuts in spending very fast will kill the economy? Stirewalt says that any growth that occurs hurts the White House argument on cutting spending. (Or it bolsters the argument behind three rounds of stimulus spending?)

Nina Easton says that private businesses are "uncertain," because of taxes. Just a few hundred thousand more of your dollars, and they'll start feeling sure about things, again, they promise! Duh, winning!

Let's have some chit-chat about the 2012 elections, and Newt Gingrich's fan dance about his candidacy. Wallace calls Gingrich's failure to launch a "hash" and Stirewalt agrees, saying that Gingrich is typically seen as "brilliant but undisciplined," which is a euphemism for the way Gingrich like to get married and then boink other ladies.

Easton says that calling Obama a socialist is something that Gingrich may think is a "big idea, but it's not a big-tent idea."

Meanwhile, Obama loves him some Romneycare, but Romney just wishes he would shut up about that. Madden says that Obama is "not a good judge of what a good idea is" and that it was a bad idea to craft a "one-size fits all" health care reform. (But, hee hee, that reform, as we've been getting steady notice of lately, allows each state to replace it with their own innovations -- so, Burlingtonians, look forward to some single-payer, coming your way.) Anyway, Madden says that Romney has a "command" of health care, but that also means that in the primary, everyone is going to tear down Romney on that issue as best they can, because that's the obvious path to winning. (The good news for Romney is that this is his chance to REALLY battle, and really be thought of as a political survivor if he makes it through the primary.)

Stirewalt says that Republicans want Chris Christie, but he's not running, so who can do the "best Christie imitation." Mitch Daniels, unfortunately, failed to destroy collective bargaining, and was even CONCILIATORY, like a MONSTER, and so that's a "P.R. botch" and a "capitulation" and now, Daniels should be tied to a rock and have his liver eaten daily by buzzards.

Nine Easton touts Huntsman, even though her husband is an advisor to Mitt Romney. LOT OF ROMNEY ADVISORS ON THIS PANEL.

Juan Williams suggests that Romney's only in the race to "raise his profile and raise his speaking fees" and that he is scared of Obama. (He ought to be scared of Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty.)


According to the TiVo guide, the Apple Genius bar of politics is going to talk about "Whether America is in decline," so how can I resist that? Especially when on THIS WEEK, they've got John McCain booked, and thus presenting ample evidence of America's decline. (McCain can be in that Washington DC/Eminem commercial, too: "The rate at which I changed my beliefs created enough energy in terms of friction to power seven homes, all of them mine! Washington can be great again!")

Today discussing all of this, (AND CHARLIE SHEEN, TOO!) is our own Howard Fineman, Katty Kay, Norah O'Donnell, and Richard Stengel -- whose dying magazine's cover story forms the basis for the first segment, on whether or not America is in decline. Cue clip from Jimmy Carter, worrier. Isn't the basic message of every Presidential campaign: "America is in decline, here is someone who can help" and "This is the most important election ever."

Stengel says that the French have more social mobility than us, which should embarrass us. I mean, I guess?

Fineman points out that Pittsburgh was once a steel town, and now it's a college town, so everyone should look for some TIGHT college rock to come out of Pittsburgh in the next few years. THE SEVENTH BOROUGH IS THE STEEL CITY!

Katty Kay discusses health care, and how we compare to Cuba, and I think she's using old data from the WHO that we're supposed to have dropped in favor of more current statistics.

But, yay, Katty: "The Chinese have fourteen year plans," she says, criticizing the way the shallow pursuit of incumbency prevents American politicians from forging a design on "winning the future." (Of course, that does not mean we should BE LIKE CHINA.) Stengel says that the times we've made a leap as a nation have come from times where we've questioned our greatness. (ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT THAT: We made leaps when huge portions of the population were living in Hoovervilles. Only magazine editors capture this as "questioning our greatness." The rest of the world calls it, "Not eating" and "freezing to death in the streets at night."

Matthews says, "Something something about strawberry shortcake and spinach." And then, Charlie Sheen! He's in here because Matthews wants to make a point about how a single interview can capsize a career and then goes on to compare it to Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric and Ted Kennedy's interview with Roger Mudd, and Jimmy Carter's interview with Playboy. Except none of those three were crazy addict a-holes, and all were, at least, trying to be substantive. Palin's interview with Couric may have exposed her as being not ready for primetime, but she wasn't RANTING INCOHERENTLY ABOUT TIGER BLOOD.

Mike Huckabee, Matthews says, "is not really expected to run for President." And, you know, there's been waffling and suggestion but that's still a pretty bold thing to say in this climate. Fineman surmises that the year is shaping up to a good one for the economic managers and not a good one for social conservatives. Kay points out that there's no Tea Party candidate with deficit fervor in the race, and that's surprising. Stengel predicts that a Presidential candidate on the right will make waves by staging a "Sister Souljah moment" against the Tea Party, which should obliviate any further need to ever reference Sister Souljah again, in America.

Everyone thinks that fiscal issues trump the social issues, except Matthews, who predicts that in Iowa, they'll go for the nasty. (But the more important part is that in Iowa, EVERYONE WILL BE IN AN INTERNECINE COMPETITION, NOT AN ELECTION AGAINST OBAMA. So the "nasty stuff" will be directed at the putative front-runner, Mitt Romney. The reason Romney isn't sweating it is because he's way out in front in New Hampshire.)

Things Chris Matthews does not know include: FACEBOOK POLITICAL WARBLOGGING HAS BEGUN (Fineman), the White House is "conscious" in these times of revolution in the Middle East of that time in 1991 where George H.W. Bush inspired Iraqis to rise up against Saddam which got them killed in droves forever (Kay), the biggest problem Obama is facing is...inflation (O'Donnell), and Republicans want to cut Americorps, because Americorps helps the poors and the youngs and the urbans (Stengel).

Finally, Bob Gates says that "any Defense Secretary who advises the president to send a big American land army in to Asia should have his head examined." "That was McArthuresque," says Matthews, who I guess needed to say that since the clip omitted Gates saying, immediately after those words, "as General MacArthur so delicately put it."

Will Americans be patient with the current withdrawal timetable? Fineman says yes, because people are otherwise weary of fighting over the course of the war itself. Kay agrees with Fineman. O'Donnell says that the President is "not anxious to get out of this war." Stengel says that someone needs to "enunciate" our whole purpose in Afghanistan, because it's like no one knows what it is anymore.


Bill Daley and Michele Bachmann today, so who knows what direction this will take.

Anyway, gas prices are going up, so Meet The Press will explore the way this serves as a sensational frame to ask William Daley about the political fortunes of his boss, the President, and the need to panic about TEH DEFICITZ.

Michele Bachmann is here to burnish her Tea Party bona fides and maybe continue to plant the seeds for a White House run, and we'll credit her for being willing to make more Meet The Press appearances than Sarah Palin has.

Also, David Brooks and Eugene Robinson will form the "latter half of Meet The Press panel that typically hounds me to an assisted suicide every week." (GO READ TOM SCOCCA'S PIECE LINKED AT THE BOTTOM!)

Anyway, Bill Daley is here to mansplain things to us, like why gas costs so much. Gregory is really happy he is here. Super excited!

But, just as the world economy was getting back on their feet, all these brown people decided that they didn't want to live under the autocratic regimes we financed and supported. What's to be done about it? Daley says that this could inhibit "recovery," but by the way, the average American isn't really yet feeling the "recovery" yet, anyway.

IS THERE A SHORT TERM FIX, THOUGH, FOR GREGORY'S AUTOMOBILE? Will they tap the strategic petroleum reserve? Is it even "on the table?" Daley, like everyone in Washington, says, "all things are on the table."

Is getting rid of Gadhafi a "vital U.S. interest?" Daley says that quelling the violence is important, and that we've coordinated our efforts to end the violence and provide aid "aggressively." But there's no indication that we are going to FORCE him out, that's a decision that Daley leaves to Muammar. Pressure, however, will continue to come from the international community.

Is military intervention "on the table?" Daley says that people "throw around terms like 'no fly zone,'" but most don't know what they're talking about. It would seem that we are very far away from putting soldiers in harms' way. (Where will those troops come from, anyway?) Gregory seems to really, really want us to either admit that Gadhafi's removal is important to our interests and start bombing, or admit that it's not important to our interests. I'm really not sure what he wants to trip Daley up with here, his unwillingness to launch a NATO airstrike from their studio?

Rather than capturing this as something that must be "in pursuant to our strategic interests," I'd rather know if we plan on interceding on behalf of the people in Libya who are getting murdered.

Gregory moves on to the recent WSJ/NBC News poll that found that the top concern of voters is still the thing that concerns Beltway pundits the very least: job creation and economic growth. The thing that the pundit class is obsessed with, TEH DEFICITZ, is second on the list. (Followed by health care, national security, energy (and the cost of gas! which has been mentioned on this show a billion times!), wars, and immigration.

There's another part of the poll that I bet Gregory isn't going to mention! Let's see!

"Does the president believe that the deficit can wait?" asks Gregory. Daley says no. "There's a lot of talk in this town, but the president has taken steps to bring the deficit down." On government shut-down, Gregory suggests that the two sides are far apart and wants to know how the gap will be bridged (here is a good place to go back to that poll you just cited, David Gregory!). Daley says that the two sides are not, in fact, that far apart.

Is Daley worried that Barbour isn't "driving the train," as far as his GOP caucus? Daley says that he's quite sure that he is capable of keeping his team together. Daley is optimistic that there won't be a shutdown and that both sides will compromise.

On entitlements, though? Gregory points out that Boehner and Obama have been talking about leading jointly. Daley has no real comment on that. He does object to Gregory's idiotic claim that Social Security is the greatest driver of deficits. First, as Daley points out, Medicare and Medicaid are, by far, the more troublesome entitlement. Second, as I'll point out, none of those things are the current major driver of the deficit. The drivers are our foreign wars, the measures we've taken to stave off an economic collapse, and the primary debt-driving entitlements are the massive tax cuts that the very wealthy are entitled to, apparently, and the huge trucks of taxpayer money that major Wall Street banks are entitled to, apparently:

Gregory points out that everyone seems to want the other side "to go first." Daley says that Obama won't play "the Washington game," and, okay, let's all LOL a little bit. We didn't just fall off the turnip truck (when it collided with a pile of David Plouffe strategy memos).

Anyway, here's the part of the poll that Gregory omitted. You say that Americans are concerned about TEH DEFICITZ? Well, let's remember that they had some ideas of how to fix that:

Basically, soak the rich, soak the rich, and end the subsidies of a massively profitable industry. In an era where you'll hear it constantly claimed, "EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE," you're looking at what won't actually, get anywhere near the table.

Now Gregory moves on to Daley's Wall Street past, and Charles Ferguson's Oscar speech where he points out that nobody's gone to jail for destroying the economy. This is maybe the first time that Meet The Press has allowed even the mention of the idea that destroying the economy is actual wrongdoing, so hooray for that.

DALEY: I think the president, no one has been more out front on the need for financial reform. Obviously the justice system will take its place and the politicians should not engage in trying to say who should be prosecuted or who should not. That is not a responsible thing to do. You have a number of attorney generals moving forward on cases that are legitimate. But the president felt very strongly -- that's why he fought so hard for national regulatory reform -- that the system has got to change.

Most of the laws that the financial sector worked under were enacted closer to the Civil War than to this century. He fought, it was tough, to be honest with you, I was in an industry that... fought many of it, not all of it, probably 85 percent of it the industry wanted. They wanted to stop too big too fail and a number of other of things. But it was controversial, difficult, but he hung in there and got what he wanted.

Ha, ha, not to get all Mark Zuckerberg on Bill Daley, but if the "industry" wanted to "stop too big to fail" then they'd have stopped too big to fail. (SPOILER ALERT: THEY DIDN'T.)

As for people going to jail, Daley says, "Politicians should not get involved. Producers, directors can do that. But politicians should not get involved." BUT WE DO NOT ELECT PRODUCERS AND DIRECTORS TO ENFORCE LAWS, JACKASS.

Harvey Weinstein? Would you please produce a "For Your Consideration" campaign promoting the cause of pushing the people who ran three ratings agencies that rated derivative stuffed with rotted mear triple-A out on an ice floe?

Now Gregory is asking about whether or not Obama is going to "move to the center," and whether or not Romney is the most formidable opponent. Daley says that the president doesn't spend a lot of time "talking about that stuff." Instead, he talks about winning the future and how awesome America is.

"I know we can be pretty cynical in this town," Daley says. Oh, yeah, sorry...BREAKING!!

Now Michele Bachmann is here. I will drink a shot every time she fails to answer a direct question or says something paranoid or uses the terms "gangster government" or "ObamaCare" or involves PROPS of any kind.

[COPY EDITORS NOTE: Hi, everyone! I will try to translate this mess that Jason has typed. Evidently, he was absolutely being serious about this above threat. I'm pretty sure that under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be allowed, but this liveblog is apparently something that happens in international waters, or something.]

Will there be a government shutdown? Bachmann hopes not! But she's not optimistic. She says that thereare shocking revelations about $105 billion in "ObamaCare" funding, that are so shocking that they were evidently always in the bill and Bachmann is just getting around to reading it. Great work Encyclopedia Brown! The upside is that having not read the bill, it wasn't until this week that Bachmann read the Congressional Research Service's report that made it clear that the funding for implementation is in the bill itself. (This is a shock to Bachmann, for some reason. Maybe this is her first experience with legislation?) Anyway, she wants the White House to apologize to her, for passing a bill with all of those votes.

She holds up a sign, emphasizing the point.

Bachmann says that the law's allowances that give the states leeway to craft their own health care reforms are a stalking horse for single payer. "Obamacare! Obamacare is a crime against democracy."

Gregory wants to ask about the budget: will she shut down the government over any of these things: Planned Parenthood, the EPA. Bachmann won't answer, instead preferring to rail against the deceptive $105 billion, saying the;ediks no debatez

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: Michele Bachmann has, of late, been angry over the Affordable Care Act and what she says are secret money being spent that probably could not have been all that secret, given that they were right there in the law itself. The issue is more succinctly laid out, along with what both sides are arguing, in this article in the Star Tribune.]

"You can't just slip $105 million into a bill!" ALL THE TIME, this is done. BALCK FLAG ABLUM COVER, YO.

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: I think that Jason is referencing Black Flag's 1984 album.]

Gregory asks again if hse'll shut down the govermnet, and Bachmann again says that oBama needs to give back the moneys to the people and Speaker peloisi and congress never read the bill and allo thje people on her staff that read it probably left hahahaha.

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: Bachmann is basically harping on the $105 billion that she believes to be a guarded secret or part of an ornate conspiracy. That she keeps bringing it up as the answer to whatever David Gregory asks, is part of the reason this liveblog is going off the rails.]

The tee party is all hatin' on Boehner, though, and Gregory reads and reads and readss and reads a newpaper to Bachmann so he can ask if the Boehner has wronged the tea party, and bachmann is all" WHAT ABOUT THE 105 BILLION! WHAT ABOUT THE 105 BILLION! WHAT ABOUT THE 105 BILLION! Claw it back, with claws!"

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: You know, this is obviously, a lot of work for me this week, but honestly, it's every week with this guy! Anyway: Gregory attempts to engage Bachmann on the matter of internecine divisions within the House GOP, where Speaker Boehner ultimately has to preside over the crafting of legislation that has to get through, at the very least, the Senate, to avoid the government shutdown that everyone says they want to avoid. Tea partyers in the House are taking a harder line, and Bachmann is asked if there's a way to reconcile the differences, and, evidently this is not the case -- though I'm not that convinced that ultimately, Boehner won't be a more persuasive figure than Bachmann.]

Bachmann won't raise the debt ceeling, so stop asking her! STOP ASKING GHER ABOUT THE DEBT CEINLING.

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: The takeaway here, is that Bachmann is taking a hard stance against voting to raise the debt ceiling. I actually thought she was pretty straighforward about this.]

Gregory reads more newspapers to Michele Bachmann. SO MANY NEWSPAPERS. About Tigers chasing the Tea PArty, off a cliff. It's liek a great soyr that needs more vampires and emo music to apeal to the youths.

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: I honestly have no idea what's going on here?]

Michele Bachmann: she does not think that Obama is winning in the Libyas! because of the defictz and China, and we are in the "hands of predators," which Chirs Hansen will catch on the Datelines!

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: Bachmann did say that she was afraid that America would end up in the "hands of predators." But she was not referring to "sexual predators," and so I'm not at all sure why Chris Hansen and the NBC series, "To Catch A Predator" is referenced here. ]

We are losing the Libyas! We need to sedn STRONG SIGNALS! We need to send Smoke Signals. We need to send BAT SIGNALS! We need to send deep cuts from Rush's album, "Signals" to the LIBYAS.

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: Okay, here, Jason has copied and pasted the embed code for about twenty Rush songs? Including many that aren't actually on the Signals album. Three are from Hold Your Fire actually, and it appears that he has five different versions of "Red Barchetta." I am going to take many of them out. Obviously, the Rush discography is well represented on YouTube.]

"let me ask you about 2012?" says Gregory, "Are ytou and the Mayans going to derstory the world because of ganster government?" Bachmann says that Obama has been the existinction elevel events that has destroyed the Americas. "We can do so much better," she says, and that includes preventing the Carter administration from returning to power. "OBAM A CARE UNIONS! GANGSTER GOVERNMENT! SCOPES TRIAL! TUSKEEGEE! THat X-Files episode where the fluke man lived in the toilets! Going back in time to marry robots! That dildo saw at Northwestern! Massive dynamic! The fires of Mordor!"

[COPY EDITOR'S NOTE: I've no idea what Jason intended here, there are more paragraphs of Futurama references that I've excised, and apparently he attempted to explain everything that's happened on the Fox show FRINGE by mashing his hands down on the keyboard as hard as he could, several times. I definitely think that this whole, "Michele Bachmann drinking game" was a bad idea. I will be taking over summarizing the panel discussion between David Gregory, Eugene Robinson, and David Brooks.]

Okay, I don't see any reason why we can't just get through this as straightforwardly as possible.

David Gregory points out that in the same poll that's been mentioned a few times earlier today, that a majority of those polled say that they would like government to do more. David Brooks concludes that this means that the country doesn't know what it wants, and that a public education campaign is required to explain to the people about what is possible.

I'm a little hesitant to interject here, but that same poll was pretty clear about what the American people wanted.

I understand that this has already been pointed out. I'm sure that Jason, in a more sober moment, would have been sure to emphasize this.

Robinson does point out that in the same poll, job creation was more important to the American people than deficits were. Gregory brings up the concern that perhaps this means the deficit discussion is failing to resonate. Well, maybe it's not resonating because it is not resonant. Perhaps the problem is that American's concerns about the lack of jobs are not resonating with pundits or politicians.

David Brooks suggests that we should cut things that do not lead to investment, and that we need to "reverse" a "distribution machine" that sends money from the young to the old. That's the essence of Social Security, though, a program that was established because poverty among the elderly was a drag on the younger parts of the economy anyway.

Brooks thinks we should "not be hedging" in Libya. But that means, apparently, issuing stronger statements. Not "boots on the ground." I'm not sure that Brooks understands that in Libya, we have someone who's vowed to die over this conflict, and that the only hedge-free position is military conflict, which we cannot afford or pull off, seeing as we're already overextended in Afghanistan. We should "express our values clearly," says Brooks, without giving a strong example of the same.

What follows is an entirely generic conversation about the political horse race. David Brooks like Mitch Daniels, who may not run, because Daniels is basically the spitting image of Brooks entire package of ethos. Robinson says that the GOP is presenting a weak field, and that voters are essentially waiting for Chris Christie. Gregory points out that Obama keeps complimenting Romney on his health care plan, a move that interestingly amounts to a criticism of Romney. Cynically, this reduces whatever has been achieved by the Affordable Care Act into a political battering ram, but no one on the panel mentions this.

I can sort of understand the urge to drink, actually! This is all pretty dull. Still, was liveblogging it really all that hard? I don't think I mispelled a single word.


[More liveblog will be along next week! If you haven't already, check out these Tom Scocca truth bombs in a piece called, "The Politics of Entitlement: David Brooks Will Decide When It's Time for You to Die."]

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