TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning everyone, and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog of the political chat shows, Hurricane Irene edition. I hope all of you who are or were in the path of the hurricane are safe and dry. The last hurricane I disrespected was Hurricane Isabel, and she dropped a 250-year-old tree on my car. So, no disrespecting these storms anymore for me! Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), my power has been spared and so I get to watch Meet The Press today, hooray!

Naturally, you should feel free to leave comments, send emails, follow me on Twitter, or whatever. Just stay safe, and if you're far from the storm path, take some time today to check in with any loved ones that are. Chances are they're okay, but it's always nice to find out that someone is thinking of them.

Okay! Let us begin! Insert Washington DC earthquake joke here.


So, the hurricane, it is bad, bad enough to mandate several of minutes of coverage on the show today. Let me liveblog: there's rain, there's wind, it's wet, people are evacuating, the end.

FEMA's Craig Fugate is here, hopefully to make a case for government-run disaster management before Ron Paul comes on and vows to defund it. Fugate says that all of you folks still in the path of the storm should "not let your guard down," and the biggest concern for folks in the New York City/New Jersey area remains the storm surge, and the flooding that can result from it.

Okay, at last, here's Ron Paul!

Chris Wallace gets right into Paul's beef with FEMA, and how much better things were in 1900, when hurricanes decimated communities and they stayed that way for years. Paul defends himself by citing New Orleans and Katrina, and what a bureaucratic disaster it was -- mainly because it was staffed by a complete moron. But the good news is that he's not planning on doing away with it right away, if elected. He will slowly destroy it, and then hurricanes will slowly destroy your lives. This is a position that Paul's had for years, and he keeps getting re-elected on it, so it must be the correct one!

Paul won't vote to authorize emergency funding for FEMA unless we end our illegal war in Libya, and use that money. Good thing we have that rainy-day illegal war we can cut. "You want these organizations to do as best as they can, but then they need money. Well we have no money, this country is bankrupt," says Paul. Also, according to Paul, the existence of FEMA and disaster relief and insurance creates market distortions that induce people to build homes and live in places where hurricanes occur. The "market" should clearly disallow that. So, basically, we need volunteer actuarial scientists to determine the safest location in America, and then everyone go there, immediately -- when we arrive, en masse, the private sector will surely build us a biodome, and we will huddle there forever.

Why is Paul "gaining such traction?" Paul says that "the tea party and the independents" have "woken up" and realized that we have Wall Street bailouts and illegal wars, and he was the guy who wrote the book on inveighing against that stuff. He makes fun of Wallace calling his philosophy "unconventional," because to Paul's mind, he is about "liberty" and that should be "conventional."

Paul says that he is "in it to win it," and will shrink the power of the Executive Branch and live within what he perceives as the originalist parameters of government.

Does Paul really think that getting rid of Gadhafi is a bad thing? No, Paul says. But the resulting long-term consequences of having done so could have negative impacts. Paul cites that presence of al Qaeda fighters among the rebels, and worries that the power vacuum leaves room for another al Qaeda stronghold. Paul says that he gets more donations from active duty military personnel than any other candidate in the race. "Miltary people want to defend this country, but they don't want perpetual war." Presumably, defending the Anti-Disaster Dome from its safe location in the one part of America where there is no bad weather or plate tectonics is even easier to manage.

The National Guard, Paul says, should not be in Afghanistan. They should be stateside, helping Americans with floods. I agree with that, but I wonder if Paul thinks that the National Guard is somehow different in nature from FEMA, because last time I checked, it was still a government organization, funded like FEMA.

Now we get into the whole "Austrian economics" stuff, and Paul is asked, "What would Ludwig von Mises do to fix the economy?" Obviously, the first thing von Mises would try is see if there's any money to be made in convincing people to never abandon the economic arguments they made in their dorm rooms while smoking reefer. Failing that, however, Paul says that von Mises would have everyone resign and fail and fall. Then somehow, you make the currency strong, enforce property rights (that's the one "hands on" thing Paul believes in), don't let the Fed bail out their "bunnies" or their "buddies."

Is Paul's criticism something that led Bernanke to pull back his hand? Paul says that Bernanke hasn't pulled back, except symbolically. "He is contantly quantitatively easing...what he needs to do is stop monetizing the debt, interest rates would go up and Congress would be forced to cut." And we should return to the gold standard. So, Yahtzee!

Okay, panel time, with Stephen Hayes, Mara Liasson, Dana Perino, and Juan Williams. This panel represents only a Category One potential belittlement of Juan Williams. It's even possible that Perino and Hayes and Liasson only leave him feeling tropically depressed this morning.

Rick Perry is surging! Much in the same way Donald Trump surged, as Wallace points out. Hayes points out that Perry has a record and a "more coherent worldview" than Donald Trump. Keep in mind that people who have been recently hit on the head with a shovel tend to have "Worldviews" that are "more coherent" than Donald Trump.

Liasson says the Romney needs to change his strategy! Change it change it change it! Do something different! Panic! Definitely sweat Perry, and let everyone see it! But seriously, Romney's not got the clout with the GOP base that Perry has. And Perry's likely to do what Pawlenty didn't do -- really go at Romney over CommonwealthCare.

Hey, now Perino is saying something very stupid. She says that when the history of this election is written, people will say that the Affordable Care Act was the flashpoint for voter anger. No, Dana, the Affordable Care Act is not a radical idea. It's a conservative idea, developed by conservatives. What makes people angry is that there's a massive, unreported-on unemployment crisis happening in America. Everyone beyond the Beltway is either unemployed or underemployed, or they know someone they care about that is, and so nobody has a future.

It's only that environment that fosters anger toward the Affordable Care Act. Here's a dirty little secret: if unemployment were at 6.5% and we were adding the amount of jobs we need to add every month to the economy, polls would show nothing but high approval for the Affordable care Act. "Oh? It's not single payer or National Health style health care? It's what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts? Okay, that sounds worth a try. I have a job and a decently clear view of my future. I'm not afraid of what lies ahead for my family or this country."

Williams says Romney should not panic and wait for Perry to make mistakes. He also seems to want to debunk the "Texas Miracle," but Hayes snatches away the conch before we can have a deep discussion about it.

Liasson says that we're not premature in calling this a two-person race. "Name another candidate who can challenge Mitt Romney." Wallace offers Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, but Liasson isn't having it. I'd posit that the number of days between now and January are too many for anyone to be perfect and mistake-free.

On Libya, Hayes says that there's reason to be concerned with what comes next in Libya, but that there's still a role for the United States to play. He says that Paul doesn't know what he's talking about when he says that there are al Qaeda fighters in Libya. Hayes says that Obama needs to "resist the temptation to step back."

Ha, ha, Chris Wallace: "As we saw with Iraq, things can get worse," after a dictator is removed. You think? Understatement of the year, old chap. The pros actually figured Iraq as a post-Saddam chaos-pot way before the invasion or occupation.

Given the fact that Libya fell without any U.S. casualties and at a discount price, does this prove the intelligence of "leading from behind?" Perino says, "Possibly in this instance." Well, this is the only instance, Dana. So, one-for-one? That what you're saying? And are we going to bring up the thorny issue of legality? Because I'll tell you: that was quite a be-thorned issue. Many prickings! But we'll probably pass on that because who knows? Maybe someone Dana Perino likes will want to have an illegal war in the future!

She goes on to suggest that the Super-Committee better lay off the military budget because, per Perino, our military proved to be "indispensible" and "indefensible." I'm pretty sure she does not know what one or both of those words mean.

Perino says that America can play a role in preventing "revenge killings" in Libya. How do we do that? Under what authority? How much will it cost? Will it require "boots on the ground?" I geniunely want to know if there's a sensible way we can put a stop to "revenge killings." In the first place, it seems to me that it requires psychics.

Williams basically asks, "On to Syria?" Good question! On to Syria?

We are getting better at killing the al Qaeda "number two guy." Progress! We used to only be good at killing their "number three guy," who was always like the "Spinal Tap drummer of terrorism."


Okay, well, it was pretty stupid for me to TiVo this show, obviously, because CBS is doing all-Irene, all the time today. Which is probably a sensible use of the news capacity. So...


Okay, MTP is starting off with Irene coverage, with interviews with Chris Christie and Martin O'Malley and Craig Fugate, and reports from the field. There's little worth recapping here. Certainly everyone's done what they've done, and it's too early to start assessing how good every mayor or governor did. Everyone seems to have really drawn at least one lesson from Katrina -- be pro-active. Mayors and Governors of Irene-affected regions! I am rooting for all of you today! I hope it's a real challenge, a few days from now, to assess who did the best job.

Fugate anticipates that power outages are going to become the big post-Irene headline, perhaps moreso than flooding. Gladly, it sounds like we're going to be talking about downed trees, structural damage, and power outages, and not the loss of life, which so far seems to be minimal. Which isn't to say we shouldn't have the eleven that are confirmed dead from Irene in our thoughts and prayers today, just that I'll take a hundred downed power lines over a hundred felled people every day of the year.

I will make note of the fact that Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, is making a plea for more infrastructure investment. "Our infrastructure is getting very aged, and we haven't had the investment or the resources to put into it, to keep our infrastructure strong and have to understand that investing in infrastructure is going to save us money over the long term."

Okay, well, that's that as far as Meet The Press' hurricane coverage. On to the blather with today's panel of Michael Eric Dyson, Katty Kay, Jamie Gangel, and David Brooks.

First off, what feelings does David Brooks have about this montage of governors telling their constituents to get out of the way of the hurricane? Oh, you know. INSERT LOBBYIST JOKE. And then, some Classic Beltway Punditry:

BROOKS: Obviously, since Katrina, the message to politicians is go all out, maximize the warning. and I suppose that's fair in parts of the country, That's fair, but in places like Washington where it wasn't that big of a storm, what's going to happen over time if they do this every time there's a storm, people will begin tuning them out.

Ha. You know, since the massive underreported unemployment crisis began, the message from the people has been to go all out, maximize the response. In Washington, where unemployment isn't that big a deal, people just tuned it out.

So much projection going on here, it's hilarious. Only could a DC pundit suggest that their disease -- "rapid tune out-itis" -- is equally felt by everyone in the nation. Good God. This is basically a Sunday Morning rule: count on Meet The Press to deliver the sharpest dose of pure, uncut cynicism no matter what the news story is.

I don't know if this is fascinating enough to merit writing about, but it seems that President Bush and Vice President Cheney differed on who was to blame for the Katrina cock-up. Bush says that he took to long to make decisions. Cheney said that Kathleen Blanco "dithered." Jamie Gangel says that when Cheney uses the word "dithered" it's usually "a firing offense." I guess everyone in the administration was terrified of the old man with the human-sized safe and his barbed thesaurus.

No politician wants to get "Katrina-ed" anymore. Which is too bad, because back in the '90s, there were places on Capitol Hill where a fellow could go and get "Katrina-ed" something fierce! As luck would have it, the act usually involved a wading pool, a wind-machine, and thirty-pounds of Creole-seasoned shrimp, so the madams that used to offer it felt, in the end, that it was all a little too close to the nerve.

Katty Kay notes that Michael Bloomberg brought out "the experts" to stand behind him and back him up on his evacuation plan. I'm guessing that this time, Bloomberg didn't just assume that some lifetime manager from Conde Nast was an adequate expert in planning this response. (Bloomberg's "overpreparedness" may have had a lot to do with the fact that everyone yelled at him for last winter's failure to cope with snowstorms.)

Dyson points out that Bloomberg's plan didn't account for the prisoners being held on Rikers Island. He goes on to call for the "beefing up" of national infrastructure, and continued interest from the Federal level on disaster preparation and management.

Okay, well, that's that on the 'cane. We can resist the siren call of the political horse race no longer!

"Another Texas governor" is "storming his way forward!" Ugh. "That metaphor's been used even by the Romney people who said they were hunkering down as Hurricane Perry was coming over top." Oh, well, of course we want to use any or all metaphors put together by the Romney campaign team. Those guys are the new Algonquin Round Table.

"What does his candidacy mean?" That's a question, asked on a political show. What does it mean?! Double rainbow, across the sky! Magnets, how do they work? Brooks says, basically, that Perry is very shiny. So shiny! He's the new frontrunner. Go, run in the front, Rick Perry! The election is like a Tour De France with no bicycles and four times as much doping.

Brooks says that the 2012 GOP base has moved to the right. They hate Washington. They hate the Acela corridor. They hate everyone that got hit by the hurricane. That's Brooks making these assertions, not me! Rick Perry has "pioneer virtues" that people like, but also a "ton of baggage." Meanwhile, Jon Huntsman wants to be a strong voice for Jon Huntsmanning, in America. But no one's interested in Jon Huntsmania, because maybe Jon Huntsman doesn't want the people in Acelastan to die, in hurricanes and earthquakes?

Gangel says that maybe Perry is exciting to people because Romney is not exciting too people. And she says that sometimes the nominee isn't the person who's leading in the polls. That's so totally true except in all the cases where it totally isn't true. I'm so glad we covered it.

David Brooks says, "I started out the week wanting to write a column saying Huntsman's going to have his day because the electorate is still there in the Republican primary. You look at the data, it's not there." And that's the incredibly true story about how actually looking up some empirical facts prevented David Brooks from writing a column that would have been pretty terribly wrong if it had been published. (And it would have been published, too.) Now, why is David Brooks only finding out about the base's antipathy toward Jon Huntsman this week?

David Gregory is pretty sure that Romney and Perry will have to maybe have a fight at some point, almost as if there's a nominating process that might take place in six months or so.

Meanwhile, the massive underreported unemployment problem is still, per Meet The Press, primarily something that impacts Obama's re-election hopes. Shout out to the L.A. Times, who "framed it succinctly." Per Gregory, "[Obama] has yet to really confront this in a way that lets people think he's not vulnerable." Right. Obama needs to confront joblessness, but the higher priority is that he does so in a way that makes him seem like he's not "vulnerable" to losing the election. Everything else is secondary. Dyson says that the "plan" Obama comes out with must be "legible." (It also has to maybe SOLVE UNEMPLOYMENT?)

Then we're back to making tropical depression/hurricane jokes about Romney and Perry.

Jamie Gangel has an interview with Dick Cheney coming up, so we need to synergize within Lean Six Sigma parameters. Big news: Cheney didn't care for Colin Powell. "Cheney says this isn't a score-settling book," Gangel says, "but people are going to disagree." I wonder if Maher Arar, the Canadian man who was accidentally shipped off by the United States to Syria to get tortured, which the United States has never apologized for, is writing a "score-settling book" of his own. I surely hope so, and I wish that Dick Cheney lives a long life, so that he might get to read it!

"Dick Cheney is known as the man who would never write a book," says Gangel, seemingly forgetting about this book, and this other one that Stephen Hayes wrote for him, so he didn't have to.

Cheney's continued defense of torture is "remarkably unapologetic." Brooks says that the "serious people" need to "bring the little people" along, or you don't...have a mandate to commit major breaches of morality?

Ha, ha. Dick Cheney really told a great joke, to Rahm Emanuel that one time, so he's not such a bad guy!

David Gregory turns on his wall-sized Tweetdeck 3000, and declares that the "#irene" trending topic is a "great source of information." Really? Let's plus that in to my Tweetdeck and see. Okay! There are hundreds of tweets coming through, at lightning speed, I'm getting a warning that my "tweet stream is being throttled" (which is also something you used to be able to get Capitol Hill prostitutes to do to you), and the sponsored "#irene" tweet is from the "Online Education Database" asking "college students and professors" to send hurricane preparation tips. Now that the hurricane is mostly over, let's definitely get hurricane advise from the Barnard's philosophy department.

Gregory also says to stick with MSNBC for hurricane coverage, which indicates that Hurricane Irene may have been locked up in some kind of prison.

Anyway. That's it for your Irene-truncated day of Sunday morning news. Here's hoping that everyone in liveblogland is safe and well, along with your loved ones. And if you're feeling like maybe you overprepared, or did too much, or went too far, or that too big a deal was made over the hurricane, remember that this is a real fortunate benefit and something for which to be very grateful. And when it happens again, do everything the same way, please.

Here's hoping for a less-eventful week!

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