Dana Milbank Live

Apr 29, 2011

Dana Milbank Live is your weekly opportunity for a give and take with Dana centering on the latest political news in Washington and his recent columns.

Each chat also features your responses to Dana's Etch-a-Sketch requests -- his lazy attempt to get you to do his work for him by seeking your best lines about the week's political oddities.

It is a storybook wedding, a marriage made in heaven and a ceremony for the ages.  I write, of course, of this weekend's White House Correspondents Association dinner and its satellite parties, where Washington journalists, Hollywood celebrities and political power players unite as one.   I, however, will be dining with my wife at a new restaurant in Bethesda, Newton's Table. 

The Atlantic's Josh Green is the winner of my request for new conspiracy theories that could be pinned on Obama now that the birther thing has gone bust.  He suggests we blame Obama for stealing the socks from our dryer.  I have noticed that, but he only seems to steal the black ones.  Why does he only like the black ones? This is very sinister indeed.

Other thoughts, questions?

If I understand your column from earlier this week, Obama is a poor president because he's too smart. Really?

No.  I wrote that Obama is "integratively complex" in psychological terms as opposed to "integratively simple." This means he has a lot of competing ideas in his head at the same time and sometimes gets muddled.  As I wrote in the column, complexity/simplicity is not a measure of intelligence, but thinking style.  Some of the more, er, simple readers appear to have missed this point.


Obama's draft registration, on The Last Word Wed evening. Off the road into a ditch, and keeps on digging.

I called Orly Taitz immediately after hearing the long form birth certificate had been released. She answered the phone herself and said "I'll call you right back."  I'm still waiting.  I guess she had a patient in the dental chair. . .

Dana: Great column today, but it made me wonder. What if, instead of a Johnnie Walker tent with cigars, journalists had the opportunity to go to a tent where they could hang out with unemployed families or uninsured sick children? What if the journalistic dinner was a chance to hear from actual economic experts speaking about impacts of deficits or spending cuts? This is one more outrageous example of how segments of our decision making groups (politicians and journalists alike) live in bubbles that make it hard for them to deal with the situation at hand. Would an annual conference be better than a black tie dinner?

Please don't make me go into a tent with economic experts.   Or if you do make me go in there, and Mark Zandi is lecturing, I will require my own personal 1.75 liter bottle of Johnnie Walker.

Your idea is a fine one. 

In general, I don't begrudge journalists and (particularly) politicians the chance to speak with each other in an informal setting; it would probably do us some good to see each other as people rather than demons.  But on WHCA weekend, nothing succeeds like excess.



Dana: Thank you for your column today. The Post's invitation to Trump is grotesque and only serves to highlight that today's press, far from seeing itself as "ink stained wretches" now sees itself as stained by Beluga caviar, bought and paid for by K Street lobbyists. And continuing that theme, have you ever devoted a column to examining how people like Messrs. Paul Ryan, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and many others set themselves up as evangelists for the free enterprise system, yet somehow have never worked in the private sector in their adult lives? It's college, grad school, second rate academia, think tank, political office, lobbying firm, etc. These guys tell us that government is the problem, yet it's how a number of them become very rich, indeed. This is what is called irony in other countries.

Well, I think Paul Ryan worked for the family business for a while.   But your point about people enriching themselves through the revolving door of government service and influence peddling is a good one.

As for Trump, I think the best revenge would be for people to wipe their noses conspicuously and then attempt to shake Trump's hand.  He is notoriously phobic about handshakes and I doubt the Post has sprung for a ticket for the Trump aide who carries the Purell.


Would you trust a dentist who digs holes the way Orly does?

As it happens I have long had trouble with clenching my teeth during the night.  I have consulted with Dr. Taitz and she says it is Obama's fault.

I am a regular viewer of his show and have not seen any anti-semitic remarks,Just the opposite.A recent show brought together john Hagee, aJewish rabbi and Dore Gold.I think your missing his point or are purposely trying to attack him in front of other viewers who have anti-conservative views.The conspiracy "thing" of course sounds "far-fetched,unless it happens!Then what? John Collignon

Dear Regular Readers:

For reasons not entirely clear, my Glenn Beck column of a few weeks ago continues to generate a large amount of interest on the Internets, which in turn generates a large number of Glenn Beck questions.  I pass on some of the most provocative comments, based largely on spelling and punctuation, for your enjoyment.


Anyone who talks about events that the Bible says is coming they are cut off. He may have went a little far but his message is the same. Looking at how things are now in the US if you read your Bible you will see the coming events.

I have recieved a number of emails telling me the world is ending on May 21.  Unfortunately this is a Saturday so I will not be writing a column on it.

YOU OWE soul to Washington post TRy the truth you will be set free george will see to that!


Okay, this ends our Glenn Beck portion of the program. Now back to other topics.

I really don't see a huge difference between the Obama and Clinton thinking styles. If anything, as memory recalls, Clinton was far more indulgent in near-endless naval-gazing debates before he could make a decision, after which he frequently changed his mind in public, shamelessly. Obama, while clearly managing complex streams of thought, seems positively decisive and unflinching by comparison. Big difference is that Clinton was preceded by the first president Bush, who made tough, politically imprudent (but correct) decisions to help create a positive cycle that Clinton rode in his re-election year; whereas Obama was placed into a much deeper hole by the second president Bush, whose few tough, politically imprudent (but correct) decisions have been hung on Obama anyway (bailouts). If the economic cycle moves more into positive territory, we'll be talking two years from now about how great it is to have a thinking, articulate President. If not, we'll be saying that we need more "action" and less thought. There's your analysis...

Probably Obama, Clinton and GHW Bush are all integratively complex.  GWB, not so much.   I wasn't analyzing Obama's thinking as a way of saying whether he's a successful or unsuccessful president, but as a way of explaining the ambiguity so many people perceive in him.

Just wanted to say thanks for the great columns recently. You've touched on interesting issues without getting bogged down in the trending stories of the week - which incidentally coincides with the "No-Palin" month. I applaud your work of late... keep it up!

Why thank you.  I am going to send this to the guy on Twitter who told me to engage in a sex act with a chainsaw. 

Yes, and looking hot is not a measure of beauty.

That was one of my best pickup lines.

Maybe the problem is the word "simplicity."   If we put "complexity" on one end of the continuum and "clarity" on the other end, I'm thinking people would see it as less of a value judgment.



After Christiane Amanpour's interview with Franklin Graham this week, it appears that the conservatives' next field of attack with be whether the president is "Christian enough" -- very timely in light of the long-form birth certificate release. Fox commentators were harping on the lack of a White House proclamation on Easter. Since there are no credentials to prove one's level of Christianity, isn't that (as the Church Lady used to say) a bit conveeenient?

I see where this ends:  Obama will have to call the press pool down to the tidal basin and have himself baptized.

What is your opinion of George Soros

As it happens Soros was speaking at the Cato Institute yesterday on Hayek.  I was thinking it would be a good column, but I feared it would get bogged down in economic arcana rather than more pressing questions such as whether Soros is or is not the antichrist.


Are you left wing radicals in such a lost position, that you have to write such a unrealistic nonsense?

I am more of a centrist radical, and, yes, I do have to write such unrealistic nonsense.

Guess that eliminates Eric Cantor from the pool of Republican VP candidates.


Dana, Would you even want to have dinner with The One? Seems to me like a sure-fire appetite suppressant. Love your columns. Nancy Chapman

He hasn't asked.   But, yes, I really hate eating with skinny people.

Doesn't that also hurt Romney, who is technically a Christian, but, you know, . . .

And Huntsman. But as a reform Jew I should not be the one to fire the first slingshot on this question.

Doesn't it try your patience a bit to always have to deal with illiterate rightwing cranks with seemingly endless amounts of time on their hands?

Actually my editors aren't all that bad.


it's "Inshallah."

See I'm a lousy Muslim, too.

How can you forgo Grey Goose and Johnny Walker Blue? Can i use your invitation?

I gave my ticket to Greg Sargent.  Please give him a lot of grief about it.  

WorldNetDaily still has lots of questions. Fox Business thinks its a forgery. Orly Taitz says the race "African" wasn't in use then. Isn't the real conspiracy the media trying to put this issue to rest?

I'm not putting it to rest -- not until he gives me those socks of mine he stole from the dryer.

Everyone thinks they are centrist.

Fine, I will show you my voting record to prove it.  Long form.  With raised seal.

Would you please declare May a Trump-free month? After all, the concept worked well with Ms. February.

No, he is still too much fun.  But June is shaping up as a good possibility.

Thanks for chatting.  Talk again next week -- and see you at Newton's Table on Saturday. I'll be the one with the Johnnie Walker Blue.



In This Chat
Dana Milbank
Dana Milbank reviews the political theater of the nation's capital in his editorial-page column. His most recent book is "Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America;" his other books are "Homo Politicus" (Doubleday, 2008) and "Smashmouth" (Basic Books, 2001). Milbank joined The Post as a political reporter in 2000 and wrote the "Washington Sketch" column for nearly six years. He lives in Washington with his wife and daughter. • Dana Milbank Bio & Archive
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