Good morning, people! And welcome to another version of your quickly-typed semi-liveblog of your various, Sunday morning political chat roulettes. My name is Jason. We've had quite a week of pseudo-events, haven't we? Royal weddings, and birth certificate reveals, and White House Correspondents' Dinners, and today the news media will almost certainly struggle to cover these stories alongside the more important ones they also struggle to cover, whilst omitting the ones they aren't smart enough to cover at all. And panels will discuss these things!
Oh, hey! I nearly forgot: next Sunday is Mother's Day! Don't forget your mother!
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
So, today, we'll have Michele Bachmann, because I was having too nice a weekend, right? Plus "Conrad and Graham," as if Kent Conrad and Lindsey Graham were some sort of stories comedy pairing.
Meanwhile, there was some sort of NATO strike that, per NATO, wasn't targeting "any specific individuals" but hey, was it awfully adjacent to Muammer Gadhafi? Huh? NATO will take that, say the people of NATO. Some of Gadhafi's family members may or may not have been killed. No big whoop, right? I mean, this is the war we're really trying to not be in charge of, from what I remember.
There is going to be a debate in four days! A 2012 debate! I can't believe we're actually doing this. The debate will be between Tim Pawlenty and a bunch of third tier candidates. Lots of teevee time is going to be devoted to Buddy Roemer. Buddy Roemer!
Here's Bachmann, who may be running for President, or she may just be making "run for President" noises in order to stay in the news. She voted for the Republican Study Group over the Ryan Plan, because it didn't cut enough government spending, and it didn't do so in the shock doctrine terms that she prefers. "It's an aspirational document," she says -- you know, like many Americans' "cover letters" are in this time of unemployment. But this confuses Wallace as to whether she'd actually stand by what it called for or just voted for it out of a sense of ceremony. She sort of doesn't answer. She has "convictions" is all. And she thinks that Paul Ryan's plan is adorable.
Wallace points out that the Ryan plan would require seniors to pay more for their healthcare. It's an "area of concern" for Bachmann, who has put on "asterisk" on her "blog post" about it. And she says that Ryan is willing to "tweak" that part? I doubt it. BUT SHE PUT AN ASTERISK ON IT, SENIORS. Remember that when your RyanCare voucher buys you less and less with each passing year -- Michele Bachmann totally deployed some important punctuation marks on your behalf. She might go "full-tilde" before too long. You don't know! You can't begin to fathom what Michele Bachmann is capable of!
She's not "wedded" to a voucher program. She wants to totally be curing disease, with government money. Remember when the government cured polio? She is big upping the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, began by FDR, now known as the "March of Dimes" foundation. Never thought I'd see Bachmann do these things. She also wants to cure Alzheimers. Not with stem cell research, I'm presuming. With Bachmann-voodoo, maybe!
On to the debt ceiling. She won't vote to raise it unless the Affordable Care Act is dismantled, and she'll force us to pay off our creditors first. Wallace mansplains to her that this would "merely be default by another name," and with that default would come economic collapse and all of us growing beets by the side of the road to feed ourselves in the post-apocalyptic landscape. Is she willing to default on the debt? Her answer is basically, "Bleeeaaaahhhhhh, uhhhhhhhm, yeah. But I just don't accept the premises of any economists, anywhere, ever."
Wallace attempts to explain again that defaulting would be a disaster. Bachmann says, "I"m not advocating a default." She just wants to pay everyone off. Wallace points out that the Treasury Department says that's deault. "That's their opinion," Bachmann says. Wallace says that her idea will have detrimental effects throughout the economy. Bachmann doesn't accept these premises.
"I want to switch to foreign policy," says Wallace. Why?
Bachmann says we shouldn't have gone into Libya, per Robert Gates, and cites that we don't know who the rebels are. Okay! She's actually doing pretty great on foreign policy so far!
Oy. But now she's saying that the "Tripoli Ambassador" reported that 10-30,000 people were killed in airstrikes last night, and Wallace is like, "Huh? Who is the Tripoli Ambassador." And Bachmann is like, someone from the Gadhafi regime, and Wallace is all, "Oooh, are you sure he's credible." Bachmann says I don't know. She just wants to point out that for a war that was undertaken for humanitarian reasons is killing civilians! (So is the War in Afghanistan, and the Whatever The Hell We're Doing in Pakistan, With Drones.)
Now we'll run through the "flaky" things she says. Like misplacing Lexington and Concord, New Hampshire. She quips, "I promised never again would I use President Obama's teleprompter," which I guess is a joke? She actually should "use" some "research" that's "factual" and then load those sumbitchin words all up into that teleprompter and it will work just fine. (Plus, the dude who invented the teleprompter died just this week! TOO SOON, MICHELE!)
What about the time she said the government was now 51% of the private economy, when it's actually about 1.3%? Oh, you know, she just got some numbers from a guy who is a crackpot professor, or something. "I stand by that source," she says, because it's an awesome source of misinformation, and you know, those things she said aren't less "true" just because they aren't actually "factual." Her truth is a kind of truth. You know, maybe shark people are imposing shark sharia on coastal communities in Iowa. YOU DON'T KNOW! And don't give me that "Iowa doesn't have coasts," line again. I stand by whoever says that Iowa has coasts, because the threat of shark sharia is too great!
Why won't she participate in the upcoming debate, Wallace asks, because this stuff is GOLD. It's because she's not making a formal announcement until June. She will be announcing on June 31, probably, because she's Michele Bachmann, and if she says a June 31 exists, then July will just have to wait to start. Even if it has to wait, all the way to June 36th!
Oh boy, here's the exciting Kent Conrad/Lindsey Graham interview. Graham says that trying to attack Gadhafi directly is a "good move by nay-too." They have to go after him, chase him with bombs. Wallace points out that it's illegal to assassinate foreign leaders. "He's not a foreign leader, he's a murderer," says Graham. O-kay! So, it's legal for NATO to go after murderers with bombs? What if NATO kills more people than the murderer, with murderer seeking bombs?
Conrad is more cautious. But Graham is like, NOW NATO GETS IT! PEW! PEW! GUN NOISES! GET GADHAFI! PEW PEW! He's not worried about what might replace Gadhafi, because what could possibly go wrong? John McCain spent some time with those rebels, just last week. "Shhhh," the rebels said, "Try not to brag about the time we were totally killing McCain's countrymen in Iraq. I'm not sure he even noticed what was happening in Iraq, but let's not take chances!"
Kent Conrad is part of the "Gang of Six," but he won't talk about the "status of their negotiations" because he made a promise to the others to talk about it. The Gang Of Six meets every day in a broom closet of the Russell Senate Office Building and they have chocolate fondue and they explore each others bodies while whispering to each other about the deficit, and the six-some, now one -- merged together in a writhing mass of chocolate-coated, skin-on-skin force for deficit reduction, is "making progress," and they want to be "relevant" so they'll soon come up with a solution. And then what? Do they go their separate ways? Will they call each other? Will it be awkward when they pass each other in the halls? What happens when new gangs form, and with them come new issues to discuss, and new harnesses in which to discuss them. Kent Conrad will preserve these memories as best he can.
Does Graham prefer Paul Ryan's Medicare voucher plan or Obama's independent panel? Graham says that "you can't balance the budget without dealing with entitlements." Ryan was "brave" he said, the way he'll force seniors to crawl off into the woods to die, which is probably why "it won't get 60 votes." Graham hopes that the "Gang Of Six" will fix it. "Medicare is a great program that will fail and bring the whole country down," says Graham, which is why, tonight, at approximately 8:15pm, NATO will bomb MediCare, may God have mercy on our souls.
Isn't the President's plan a "cop-out?" Conrad says no. He says that Ryan "shreds the social safety net." Graham counters with what sounds like a plan to means-test Medicare, based on personal wealth, which if is something he supports, he should put in a bill.
Would Conrad support caps on the deficit or spending to vote on the debt limit? He won't vote on a longterm raising of the debt ceiling without a comprehensive plan, and no one has convinced him that such caps constitute a "comprehensive plan." Graham says that we need to create private sector jobs, which we've been creating for a couple years now, so I don't know what the problem is. Nevertheless, he's in agreement with Conrad.
As to 2012, Graham wants the most "conservative candidate who can win independent votes" and "that person may not be in the race yet." Does Graham take Donald Trump seriously? Short answer: no. "Most Americans don't want their President going around saying the f-word," Graham says. Actually: I'd disagree with that. And I'd say that his propensity for saying the word "fuck" is the least of Trump's problems.
Wow, Wallace is so up in arms about the whole Trump swearing thing -- what an important and pivotal moment in American politics! -- that he's going to have the panel talk about it. Today we have Hume and Kristol and wan Juan and Nina Easton, sitting in for Mara Liasson.
First, Wallace says that when Michele Bachmann said the "Tripoli Ambassador" had said NATO strikes had killed 30,000 people, what she should have said is that the "U.S. Ambassador to Libya" said that 30,000 people had been killed in the entire conflict, on both sides. Bachmann will probably rush back onto the set and say, "That's just one opinion, Chris!"
But, okay! Donald Trump! HE SWORE AT A CASINO! Who does that? AN AMERICAN CASINO, which were given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, to lose our wages at the gaming tables. Now people are swearing in these sacred places? The coarsening of our society continues!
So, is Trump dunzo? Hume grumbles, blah blah blah, "I don't think he was ever a serious candidate...he's a pretty exotic character." Hume rips on Trump's hair, as he's one of the few humans Hume can get away with doing that.
But the GOP field! Romney and Huckabee and no one else? What's the deal? Easton (who discloses that her husband works for Romney) says that these early polls do not mean anything.
Romney: Wallace says so far, he's doing okay. And he is? Will this panel bring up his weird gaffe when he said we were at peace? Nope, probably not.
"Mitch Daniels will get in in the next two weeks...Huckabee will run," says Kristol, instantly dooming the chances of these things happening.
Daniels will cut the Medicaid funds heading to Planned Parenthood, which will cost Indiana a lot of Medicaid funds beyond that as a penalty. Poor women will suffer as a result. Naturally, Juan Williams praises Daniels as a "serious, solid guy," because what would Williams know or care about the lives of poor and underserved women in America.
Hume says that the deficit debate are the "things that are important in Washington." Of course, the important thing outside of DC are jobs, and saving Medicare from Paul Ryan.
Speaking of, people are yelling at the GOP Congressmen about that, at town halls. Easton says, "it's a problem in explaining it." (Because the explanation is: yes, we are screwing you.) But, to Easton, this is the start of an important conversations, which I guess only start in DC after someone tries to inveigle.
Bill Kristol points out that the Ryan plan doesn't touch anyone 55 or over, because he was smart enough to not screw natural GOP constituents by making them part of the shared sacrifice. It's a celebration of pure pandering, today!
I find it amusing that Senators say they won't have a clean vote on the debt ceiling, because they prefer a vote that comes after a "plan for the debt" is in place, as if they weren't the very people who are actually tasked with the job of coming up with that plan. It's like going into your bathroom with a loaded gun and staging a hostage crisis with the mirror.
Hume: "Juan, I love you, but sometimes I think you're deaf." Juan Williams doesn't mind this, because unlike NPR, Fox is paying him millions of dollars to be the butt of Hume's jokes.
FACE THE NATION
Scheiffer is going to have Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on the show today to talk about the deadly tornadoes that have devastated the state this week. Also, John McCain, on Libya, so if you're doing the drinking game thing, prepare to be ass over teakettle.
But first, bless, we'll actually cover something important. "The more we know these tornadoes that roared across the South, the worse the story becomes." Worst natural disaster since Katrina. Bentley joins in from Rainsville, which is looking absolutely devastated. He says the confirmed dead is about 250 people, 1,700 people injured, and sad to say this, an "indeterminate number of people who are missing."
Bentley says that the state has been well served by first responders, as has the national guard. FEMA has declared a natural disaster, and there's local, state, and federal coordination that Bentley says is "making a difference." He also says that volunteers across the state have turned out in droves to help. So that's all to the good.
Meanwhile, Libya: you've heard the whole thing about the NATO airstrikes. Here's John McCain, to tell us that he's not "sure what the situation was" or what the "outcome" was, but he presumes it was an attack on the "command and control" of the regime, and "we regret any loss of innocent life."
McCain says that we need a strategy to help the rebels succeed, and is not happy with the "backseat" role that the U.S. is taking. The British and French don't have the "assets" we do...but there's never been a question about our assets being involved! We're using Predator drones! Okay, this McCain acknowledges. Essentially, I think that McCain wants America to be the head cowboy, it's just intolerable that the French should be in charge, I guess. Not that McCain wants out "boots on the ground."
Schieffer changes venue, to Syria, where Libya is happening again? McCain: "The question is, what do we do to affect the outcome, frankly I don't see a military option." Why? Because there's no "rebels" that can be supported militarily. And so, "It's going to be a bloody time in Syria." Sorry, Syria! Don't go out now, and hilariously start a "rebellion," because that would make it even harder for McCain to draw distinctions between has pet warmaking projects and the stuff he wouldn't expend American prestige doing.
McCain says that the rebels are awesome! One dude went to the University of Washington! Straight up PAC-10, y'all. He's not worried about the dudes who were shooting at our dudes, in Iraq, at all.
What's McCain's opinion on "American leadership?" He says that American leadership is awesome! We should not be "following!" We should be nation-building in Egypt and nation destroying in Libya. Not Syria, though! Poor Syria. Those guys...well. They'll need to suck it up!
Will McCain vote to take away subsidies for oil companies? He says he has "mixed emotions." SO EMOTIONAL. Oh, how the matter of companies scoring record profits at a time when gas prices are higher than ever have torn McCain's heart muscle asunder, and filled his soul with woe! So many people need to make sacrifices! But we can't possible "disincentivize" more drilling, by denying subsidies! We should just skip the middle part, and hand oil companies money for oil spills in the Gulf. THANKS FOR FEEDING THE MAGIC MICROBES.
McCain says that he wouldn't accuse Donald Trump of racism, which is what Schieffer himself accused Trump of.
Now we're joined by Michael Eric Dyson and Michael Gerson, to chat about stuff. Like the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Man did Obama make some news-making jokes! Oh man! Comedy was never more important to America. And the White House Correspondents' Dinner was never more important to the American people. Yes, many of you are unemployed and in debt and you don't know what form of health care is going to survive long enough to be implemented. BUT FEAR NOT! Obama TOTALLY LANDED HIS GARY BUSEY JOKE LAST NIGHT, and that's even better than having a sandwich, to divide into pieces and partially feed your family.
Gerson speculates that last night was "more than a comedy act" but a strategy. "Every minute that Trump stands on the stage is a moment that a serious Republican does not." Yeah, but man, imagine being Mitt Romney, taking the stage for the first time and seeing fresh meat like Trump standing there. Mittens has it in him to take Trump to the mat. Don't think that he wouldn't mind the opportunity.
Dyson says that Trump's birtherism and his criticism of Obama's academic history is "racism by inference." And he gets in a good burn of his own: "We don't have to fear that Donald Trump is the face of the Republican Party, another part of the anatomy would be more correct." TOO HOT FOR THE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' DINNER! Someone on the set is choking back laughter. Schieffer, definitely, but I think Gerson was getting in on some of that too. "Others ought to distance themselves" from the birther nonsense, says Dyson.
Gerson says that Trump's fallen back on that nonsense because his politics are all over the map and he can't really pretend to be a genuine Republican anyway. "He's using these issues to appeal to the worst parts of the Republican coalition," says Gerson, who adds that this is tantamount to "perpetrating a fraud," and "being very cynical."
But did Obama do the right thing by putting out the long-form birth certificate? Dyson seems to imply no: "Obama has been called to account by someone who lacks his intellectual ability" and can't match his standing. THAT DESCRIBES ALL BIRTHERS, BY THE WAY: relentlessly dumb, relentlessly whiny, they relentlessly had no point, and relentlessly sought relief from other people, who they relentlessly wanted to do the legwork for them in terms of reporting, only when we all came back with the same story -- Obama was born in Hawaii -- they relentlessly whined and carped and fumed some more. And they're not going away just because this new document has been released? They are a lingering fart, trapped in a room, and you can't de-stink that room by adding new "facts" to it. You have to leave the room, board it up from the outside, and let them stew in their own odors, which is really what they want to do in the first place.
The narrative that the birther brigade has adopted is simple: Barack Obama is alien. Because he is alien, both in terms of his nationality and his race, his accomplishments cannot be his, and must be the result of a vast conspiracy of white Americans who wanted to use him (in the most contrived scheme of all time) to do...something. At some point. The reason this smacks of racism to so many minorities is because it's the same thing that every minority goes through when they succeed. If you're young and black, you're sent the message that you have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and succeed, and stop whining about how you're such a victim. If you do succeed, however, you've inherently victimized some cohort of white person, probably because someone gave you a leg up that they didn't have. You can never win and never succeed on your own merits, unless you happen to pull a Bill Cosby and savage your brethren for not having your success. Merit, particularly for blacks, is not a matter of what you've done, but a matter of what you're willing to let your success say about the unwashed hordes who trail behind you.
Barack Obama is suspect in the eyes of birthers because he is a prominent minority who refuses to burn the bridge behind him. Whatever his failures as a President and as a leader, he is not willing to turn his race into a badge of shame in order to curry favor. And because of that, we'll be talking about the Photoshop layers on his birth certificate until January of 2017.
"Do you think this is the end of it, as far as reasonable people are concerned," asks Schieffer. Gerson says, "I think this was ended among reasonable people a long time ago...[for] conspiracy theorists, nothing ever ends the conspiracy." PRECISELY RIGHT. Excuse me while I stand here in my apartment and clap my hands for David Gerson for about five minutes.
Schieffer spends his final though praising Karen Pratt, the show's executive producer -- today is her last show. Congratulations and farewell to Karen!
MEET THE PRESS
David Gregory says that we're going to cover the "strange twists and turns of the 2012 presidential race," which is weird, because the 2012 presidential race hasn't started, and nothing that's happened is particularly strange. Haley Barbour dropped out, which is not strange, because he wasn't going to win the nomination ever. Donald Trump is an ass, also not strange. But he is polling well -- sometimes! -- which I guess is strange, but that will stop when...wait for it...the 2012 presidential race actually begins. I think what David Gregory is trying to say is, "SHINY SHINY LIGHT! OOOOOHHHH. LOOKIT LOOKIT LOOKIT!!!"
We can just call this first part of the show: "A Random Conversation Between Some Random People: David Axelrod, Michael Bloomberd, and Bob McDonnell."
Gregory shows Bloomberg the cover of a magazine, and reads him part of a story in that magazine. Hooray, magazines! He asks what kind of recovery this is. Bloomberg says that first, companies tighten their belts, and then later they decide to expanding. Some geographic areas are doing better and some aren't. Petroleum prices have gone up, as has food, statistics don't always do enough to capture what's actually happening to actual people. But there are some bright spots. That said, Bloomberg says that there's a disconnect between the skill-set of the unemployed and the demand that currently exists.
Eventually, Bloomberg works his way around to his recent pet issue, comprehensive immigration reform, which involved sending immigrants to Detroit. Presumably to "own and general manage the Lions," and hey, I think that's a strong idea.
What about soaking the rich, with taxes? Bloomberg says, that meaningful reform has to happen, and the Democrats need to understand. He also says that Republicans need to understand that they'll never get to where they need to be just by making cuts. You need "revenue enhancements, or taxes, you can call them whatever you want." Bloomberg is, of course, rooting for the Gang Of Six, because it's bipartisan and No Labels-y.
On to tornado aftermath! McDonnell says that it's been a "heartbreaking" period for the states affected by the tornadoes. He says that "the systems are working about as good as they can," but frets that it will be a long time before the communities will be made whole again.
What was all the birth certificatery about? Gregory does something that few have reported or alluded to: that Obama had to actually get a special waiver to have that long form certificate in the first place. To get a full view of the laws that governed the matter, and how confusing they were, click here!
Axelrod says that the decision to put a stop to the birther issue -- or at least to try to -- came when an interview aired, in which he had discussed a range of other topics, that led with the birth certificte nonsense. I'll also note that it came one day after Ed Henry pressed Jay Carney on birtherism, at a time when his own network, CNN, had aired what they billed as a definitive debunker of the matter. (Ed Henry may be the one White House Correspondent whose questions actually end up making everyone in the room dumber than they were when they started.)
Bloomberg thinks that the GOp should maybe end their obsession with oddball conspiracy issues.
Gregory asks if there was a strategy from the White House to "elevate Donald Trump." Axelrod says no, and then goes on to slag the Ryan Plan, because he's evidently as sick of talking about birtherism as I am about hearing it discussed.
"Just one more question on birtherism, is it racist?" asks Gregory. Axelrod: "GAHHH." Gregory: "But I hear that other black people find this offensive?" Axelrod: "EVERYONE FINDS THIS OFFENSIVE."
What about Trump? Bloomberg says that he has the right to run, and lots of people will run, and some will drop out after having to face disclosures, and after media criticism.
Bloomberg says that the approach to fixing the deficit should not begin with freaking out and cutting stuff. Rather it's a process of 1) Deciding what programs are necessary or produce good outcomes, 2) making sure those programs are run efficiently, 3) having a debate on the merits and 4) being up front about how much it will cost to run the program, and then raise the money to run the program. "We're all looking at this the wrong way." Axelrod says that he thinks they're a lot closer to that way of thinking that Bloomberg gives them credit for. O'Donnell points out that Virginia's unemployment rate is down to 6.3% (of course, the "ruling class" lives, among other places, in Northern Virginia, and we typically ride out these economic tempests better than most of the country.)
I just realized that so far, there's been no mention of the royal wedding which is like a Sunday morning miracle!
Axelrod compliments O'Donnell for being willing to make important decisions, and for admitting that "in the past 30 years, most of the deficits have been run up by Republicans" -- it spares me from having to bust out my favorite chart -- but then Ax goes on to point out that Virginia's budget got balanced with "money from the recovery act...borrowing against future receipts on transportation and against pensions that will have to be paid back."
"You did it because you are managing through difficult times, and you didn't want to burden the taxpayers of your state during those difficult times, but those bills are going to have to be paid." said Axelrod. O'Donnell says, that Governors have to balance budgets. Axelrod says, "When you borrow from the future, the next governor will have to wrestle with that."
Bloomberg says that Obama has to "show he understands the pain" of...somebody. Presumably Michael Bloomberg. And he needs to have cuddle parties with the business community.
"We have banks with a lot of money, they are scared to make loans," says Bloomberg, "Why?" Uhm, because the assets on their books are all marked to fantasy and if one day they ever have to reckon with the true cost of the junk they acquired they'll be up the creek unless they are sitting on a mound of capital obtained through the good graces of Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner? Bloomberg says that banks are scared to make loans because they keep getting "attacked," and the world runs on the lack of hurt feelings from the Wall Street community, who should be allowed to destroy the economy from time to time.
Boring discussion of the relative values of whether governors should be president. O'Donnell is not "pessimistic" of the GOP's chances in 2012. Why would he say otherwise?
Gregory asks Axelrod if Obama's recent fundraising decisions are going to be the thing that destroys campaign finance reform. JESUS, DAVID GREGORY. Axelrod points out -- not that it will help -- that the Citizens United decision was the think that destroyed campaign finance reform, and that disarming yourself in the face of superior gunfire for the sake of a principle is a stupid thing to do in politics.
Another Gregory classic: "What if the Iraqi government says that the U.S. troops should stay beyond the withdrawal date." Well, you know what? If the Iraqi government says that, we'll probably stay because ONLY THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT CAN MODIFY THE STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT. But I have to tell you, the last time anyone asked the Iraqi government, their position on U.S. troops was GTFO. And from what I understand, there's going to be a Tahrir Square Event in Iraq if everything doesn't go according to plan. Axelrod says that there's been no change to what's been promised.
But seriously! Why is it that David Gregory a) wants to stay in Iraq so damn bad, and b) why can't SOMEONE explain to him what the status of forces agreement is and what it means? You'd think he could pick up on this stuff in two and a half years!
Marco Rubio is here, so it's time to wonder how many times Gregory will badger him with questions about whether he's going to run for President. (Rubio started fielding these questions hours into his Senate tenure, and responded with admirable zings, but lately he's just been worn out by the constant inquiries.)
What kind of impact has the tea party had on the sentiment? Rubio says it's had a big impact on the deficit debate. He says he doesn't run away from Tea Party support, but doesn't ascribe that mantle to himself.
"But there's a purist streak to the Tea Party," asks Gregory. That sort of depends: there's a tea party that's primarily made up on Ron Paul supporters who are the OG's of the movement, then there are some "Tea Partiers" who want to stand up for predatory lenders and stick it to poor people, then there are Tea Partiers who actually dislike things like TARP and bank bailouts and who think lobbyists have too much power, then there are "Tea Partiers" who are just eliminationists who think that people who share different viewpoints should not exist, and then there are Tea Partiers who find legitimate encroachments of government into their lives on the local level that are essentially unfair and restrictive, finally there are "Tea Partiers" who are just "affluent, white Republicans" who have "rebranded" themselves to keep up with the hot new fads, and who hope to co-opt those people's energy without ever really giving them any real power or concessions. I'm not sure where Rubio is on that spectrum. (Mainly because he's only been in the Senate for a few months.)
As far as the debt ceiling goes, Rubio won't vote to raise it without a deal in place for some long-term reforms. Geithner calls that irresponsible, but Rubio says the borrowing is irresponsible. Will he vote for the Ryan Plan? Not sure! Seems so: he says that people who criticize the Ryan plan should introduce their own plan. "I'll vote for any plan that saves Medicare, protects seniors, and doesn't hurt economic growth," he says. (He should talk to Raul Grijalva about his plan, then!)
Will Rubio jack seniors in Florida? Rubio doesn't seem to understand how Ryan's voucher program works -- that the value of what seniors get diminishes over time until it's not sufficient to purchase anything. Gregory doesn't seem to understand that "seniors in Florida" are going to be okay because the Ryan plan leaves them out of the sacrifice. Rubio says that Medicare as we know it today is not sustainable. He's not wrong! What he's failing to do is level with people. He can say, "Under the Ryan plan, something called Medicare will continue to exist," but he needs to add that the money is saved by "no longer paying for Medicare."
Rubio says that people need to stop criticizing and start proposing, and that the thing that marks you is serious is that you put forward a proposal. Okay, I agree, so here you go. I'll point out again that the people who grind on and on the most about how everyone needs to contribute really just want those "contributions" to come in the form of submission, and the guy who screeches the loudest about "everything needing to be on the table" typically comes with the longest list of stuff that they feel isn't allowed on the menu.
Rubio doesn't like the President's policies, duh.
Will he run for President or VP if he's asked? He says no. That's once. He's doing a good job filibustering, but Gregory asks again. That's twice. He asks a third time. So if you had, "David Gregory will ask the question three times," pat yourself on the back!
Now Gregory is asking Rubio about Trump. There's nothing noteworthy about the response except for the fact that Rubio correctly anticipated he'd get the question and very deftly pivots around it to talk about the stuff he wants to talk about: the deficits, terrorism, his wanting Obama to "lead."
Rubio says the Gadhafi has to go, but hopes that Gadhafi will just leave of his own accord.
You had to figure that this show would be the one to devote a segment to the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Fortunately, they have Seth Meyers, who this morning is drawing a distinction between himself and just about every other comedian who performs at these things in that every Beltway fathead isn't walking around having a pathetically outsized emotional response to some jokes. Hell, they even liked Meyers, gave him a standing ovation. This is no small achivement in American comedy.
Ha, ha. Meyers got in a good zing, at Meet The Press: "Mostly I'm just going to run from previous statements and stick to talking points." Yes, that is the ancient and mystical method of surviving an appearance on this show. It's not exactly something that was handed down by Shaolin monks.
How did Meyers prepare for it? He planned for a wonky room, and absolved himself of the worry of reaching beyond the room. Based upon what I've seen, he seems to have succeeded in both.
How does he get material? He watches the news, spends time on the internet, looks for stories for "Weekend Update" that the writers feel will be in the common vernacular, so they don't have to do a lot of educating the audience in a show that goes from quick hit to quick hit. "Our first goal is to be funny."
Meyers says that Obama was a good guest, and is great at telling jokes at the WHCD. I'll say, however, that I personally found Obama's SNL cold-open appearance in 2008 to be a little stiff, frankly. Meyers also says Palin was a great guest, and a great sport, and I'd agree that her "Weekend Update" appearance was pretty great. McCain, he adds, "has always been a great sport," and cites the "QVC" sketch he did with Tina Fey, which was all-around hilarious (but oddly self-deprecating at a time when McCain was desperately trying to win). He says that a Donald Trump campaign would be good for SNL, but not good for anyone else in the world.
Someone will one day have to explain to me how that Steve Forbes/Rage Against The Machine lineup on SNL happened.
Oh is that it? Yes, that's it. NO MENTION OF THE ROYAL WEDDING! Hooray! Today, we truly have shaken off our colonial roots. Well, everyone welcome to May! May your week be Spring-y and cheerful, and we'll see you again next week, unless all these shows are miraculously canceled, in which case, let's go to brunch! Or church! Or bed!
[More live blog coming next week. While you wait, seriously, you should check out Zach Carter and Ryan Grim's epic story on the swipe fee debate in Congress, "Swiped: Banks, Merchants And Why Washington Doesn't Work For You." I mean it, I mean it. You can skip this entire liveblog today, frankly, and just read that, and you will feel like your Sunday has been worth it. Trust me.]