Aaron Schock's revealing photos and more: Dana Milbank Live

May 13, 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.

I write to you on this Friday the 13th with some sadness.  American Brewer magazine has not yet taken me up on my offer to appear shirtless on its June cover so that I, like Rep. Aaron Schock, can show off my six-pack abs. 

I am further saddened by former Senator Ensign.  He has deprived me of what might have been some of the greatest Sketches of all time,  starring Barbara Boxer as ethics committee chairman.

But my sadness is lightened by other developments:  The formal arrival of Gingrich and Ron Paul in the presidential race, and the decision by Romney to have a very public argument with himself about Obamacare.

Tell me what weighs on your mind.

Dana, I enjoyed your piece on my former governor today. However, you slipped in the "a business man would be hard to beat in this economy" trope, and I really wish you hadn't. Nothing in Romney's past qualifies him as an expert economist who favors policies that benefit the middle class. When you make a Romney-sized fortune, it's from laying off workers, not creating jobs. Please don't fall for that.

Well, I have thought for some time that those management consultancies are the Bain of American industry.  Wrote a piece about the evils of McKinsey & Co. in the Wall Street Journal 20 years ago -- and it set them back not a single dollar.

I meant my Romney line more in the sense that Obama is in terrible shape on the economy, and he really should be vulnerable because things have turned around so much more slowly than expected.  


My only feeling when I saw Aaron Schock's ab's was a slight queasiness. If I had to choose between seeing Chris Christie's abs or Aaron Schock's abs on a magazine cover, I would pick Aaron's. But I would prefer to not see any politicans abs at all. I certainly did not look at the cover and say oh, what a great leader he is. Now Ms. McCaskill is tweeting that she is feeling a little fat. TMI people!!!!! I don't care. Why don't they do their job? And what is with some of these congresspeople wanting to look at OBL death photos? Creepy. I don't get it. I can't even think about the Ensign affaire. ICK!!! If I wanted ickiness I can go see Charlie Sheen or Glen Beck.

As long as Senator McCaskill is not tweeting out offers to appear shirtless on a magazine cover I believe the republic is safe.   

I didn't get into this in the column, but I do have a certain distrust of people who are improbably fit.   It seems to convey vanity rather than the seriousness of purpose I'd rather see in pols.  But, again, I'm probably just jealous because my BMI is still 26 or 27.  Speaking of TMI.


Mr. Milbank, is it too simplistic to say Ryan's plan will take 6 trillion from medicare recipients and give 4 trillion of that to the rich, or is that putting it in a nutshell?

I think the actual talking point is he is going to put 6 trillion Medicare recipients on the street. In wheelchairs.

Surely this Obamacare/Romneycare singularity will be an albatross about his neck throughout the campaign, and will be used both by fellow GOP contenders and the Obama administration to undermine him. In a debate situation, say if Gingrich goes after him for it, do you think Romney will be able to get his message across in a 2-minute rebuttal? or will this issue be his undoing?

The two-minute rebuttal will suffice only if he can supply audience members with the full 25 pages of PowerPoint slides.

What mad scientist concocted the creature know as Charles Krauthammer?

Marty Peretz.  He concocted me too.


How have you fed your Herman Cain addiction since last week's historic debate perfomance?

I have not until this very moment.   I fear that he has faded a bit now that the Hannity/Gingrich ticket has emerged and the two-headed Romney has surfaced.  Feel free to send your proposed Hermanator slogans here and I'll add them to the chat.

I had to laugh at your comment about the auditorium for Romney's speach at the the University of Michigan. Based on my experience there, they'd have trouble filling that room even if every student and faculty member who ever voted for a Republican showed up.

From the cardiovascular center's website it looks as if the place seats 100.   Hopefully they've got a few more Republicans than that in Ann Arbor.

My favorite is the Newt. And where has the Donald gone? All we need is rudy and we could have a Supreme Court of former/current wives.

Yes, the Donald has disappeared, along with Osama bin Laden and the birther issue.   Pleased to see it was not necessary to declare a Trump moratorium. On the other hand, had a declared a Trump-free May it would now appear that I was responsible for his demise.


When you cut off Medicare for anyone under 55, isn't it time for all 54 years olds to change their Republican registration?

This is another reason why I see a problem with Paul Ryan's fitness craze.  He's encouraging people to do the P90X to get in better shape, which could in theory reduce healthcare costs.  But wouldn't we reduce healthcare costs more if we lived extremely unhealthy lives and died before we reached Medicare eligibility age, thereby reducing Medicare expenses to zero?


or maybe not, given this terrible way the website works. Anyway - re: the whole healthcare thing. If we can't have the media informing people, who will do it? Massachusetts is perfectly within its rights, as a state, to pass a law requiring everyone in the state to do something. The federal government does not have that right. The issue at hand is states' rights vs. federal govt. most people don't have any clue how all of that works - and the media is perpetuating that. i'm not the biggest fan of romney - but really - it's true that MA can do something that the federal govt has no right to. But then you have the media saying that he's being hypocritical when he is most certainly not - when he says he signed the bill because he thought it was a good bill yet obamacare is a terrible thing - that is not speaking out both sides of his mouth.  It is completely keeping within the constitution.  You know, that pesky little document no one thinks is important anymore.

Okay, then how does Romney explain the 1994 quote in which he endorsed federal legislation with a nationwide individual mandate?   He handled this yesterday by ignoring it and wishing it away. 

Has your editor (is it still that Tim guy?) tasked you with covering Colbert today at the FEC?


Now that I am a full-time editorial-page type, my editor is usually the inimitable Marisa Katz.  Unlike Tim, she is happily married and therefore I cannot ask your help in arranging dates for her.   Also she works way too late even to go on a date with her husband. 

I am, alas, doing no Sketching today.  I must go to the gym and figure out what a P90x is.


But would you agree that some of your op-ed colleagues are completely effing terrible?


As the new kid, I walk on the shoulders of giants!  Occasionally one of them has a rotator-cuff problem or a collarbone issue, but that does not diminish their stature.



The seniors on the street will NOT be in wheelchairs: Medicare provides wheelchairs. I guess they will be on the street in heaps, then?


The 6 trillion people who lose their Medicare coverage will not be in wheelchairs because Medicare will keep those.  They will instead have to lay down on top of Medicaid patients who have been kicked out of nursing homes.


But can you still give us his email? Some of us are still on the market...

No change, ladies!  currant@washpost.com

As for Marisa, do not send her prospective dates but do feel free to tell her what I fine job I am doing:  marisa.katz@wpost.com.




I am disappointed that you don't have a dramatic video to accompany your chat--unlike a competing chatter who is hilarious. You need to step it up dude.

Carolyn Hax does videos now?

We can't afford video people.  Address complaints to Katz.

More people on the street in wheelchairs means less people needing cars, aka oil, and they can roll over the feet of anyone about to get an abortion or gay marriage. Boom, three more problems solved by the Republicans.

Some of the most vexing social problems are solved during this hour every week.

How did Sen. Ensign's "spiritual advisor" know to tell the senator to put his pants back on when he called him? Video chat, or a true psychic gift?

Wait-- senator Ensign is the one doing the competing web chat with a dramatic video?  Then what are you doing wasting time with me?

Is there any chance, any chance at all, that voters will look at Mitt Romney and ask themselves what has become of our political system that a formerly moderate governor who could work with both sides has had to reinvent himself as a right-wing extremist simply to try to win his party's nomination? Or is that hopelessly naive? Thanks.

I ask myself this all the time.  But I am not a conservative Christian living in Iowa so it doesn't really matter what my answer is. 

What are the odds Ensign goes to prison? What are the odds Senator Coburn resigns?


I'll bet he just gets sentenced to 100 hours on the P90X. 

Coburn is more important.  We really need him on the job; he is the only conservative in town who isn't afraid of Grover Norquist.





So, is the Progressive answer to issue more Metro passes?

I do not think so because all the Medicaid patients are going to jam up the escalators.

Shep Smith's new tagline.

Were you offering this as a potential Herman Cain slogan?

Any chance Sharon Angle will run again?

After taking Ensign from me too soon, that is the least the irony gods can do for me.

I'm laughing too hard at some of the zingers you are flinging around on this chat, Dana. A fan

A satisfied customer!  Remember: marisa.katz@wpost.com

If a Senator can't have sex with the wife of his chief of staff and then have his parents pay the family hush money and also get the said chief of staff a job lobbying, what kind of country do we have left? How long until the hour glass of liberty drops its last grain of sand?

The end is near -- for this chat, anyway.

Thanks for corresponding with me.  Keep it going on Twitter (@milbank) and wherever P90X is practiced.


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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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