Congress like middle school? Dana Milbank Live

Jul 22, 2011

In this week's live chat with Dana Milbank, Dana will focus on how Congress is like middle school, the dangers of the Default Caucus, and more. Read Dana's column, Obama fights back, then tell Dana what you think.

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.

Good afternoon, washingtonpost.commies!

For the first time ever, I am doing a webchat from a brewery.  So you have been forewarned.

What's on tap today? 

I'm not that upset with the debt ceiling failures. I'm a Canadian and our dollar is worth $1.06 American. So thanks I guess.

Was in New Hampshire and Maine last week and noticed that the exchange rate at the toll booth was 1 to 1.  So maybe that's even better than my plan to invest in Swiss francs. 

Congressman West deserves a wedgie.

A really severe wedgie might even make him Lady like.

Politics is like middle school. Mitt is winning all the marbles at the marble games and he thinks that is what will impress his classmates. Sarah and Michelle are pulling each other's hair because they want all the attention. Jon thinks people will like the smart guy, but few are even listening to him. Instead, they are listening to Tim's book report, but it is putting them to sleep. The class loveed Herman's book report, but does the class clown really win in the end? It should be interesting who gets elected Class President.

I have received complaints from some middle school advocates because I compared Congress to middle school.  I hereby apologize for insulting middle schoolers everywhere. 


The Sunday Post article about the debt ceiling debate and the Gang of Six or Seven (possibly only five) included a Bill O'Leary photo of Senator Kent Conrad talking to reporters in the Capitol, while holding the leash for his little dog, seen in the lower right hand corner. (I will make up her name: Lady Fifi.) I realize that bringing their dogs to work is a long cherished Senate tradition, but what do they do with these dogs? Does Sen. Conrad feed Lady Fifi, walk her, pet her while on the phone, take her to meetings of the Gang of Six or Seven? Does Lady Fifi contribute to the meetings by barking at good ideas? And what does Lady Fifi think about kicking the can down the road? (Probably sounds good to her.) Why can't Sen. Conrad leave her at home the way millions of dog owners do every day? Did reporters tacitly agree never to mention these Senatorial dogs? Time for the Post to do some investigative digging.

Thanks for throwing me that bone.   I'll sniff around.


Sorry for the slowness, folks.  Technical problems.  All the questions have disappeared from the queue.  Will resume when they reappear.

Note to chatters: If you recently submitted a question, then please try again.  Our chat system had a glitch and your question may have disappeared. We suspect it may have been an attempt by the D.C. Squirrel to get more views.

I was very critical of DWS' appointment to the DNC but i have to give her kudos for picking a fight with a congressman more vile and unprofessional than herself.

You don't mess with a "lady" from Long Island. 

I love the fact that she is actually his congresswoman and would love it even more if they had to run against each other because of redistricting.  

Well, the questions haven't come back yet.  But the beer is good.   I'm now singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall as I wait.

Rick Scott, Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio, Alan West, Alan Grayson, Debbie W.S., katherine harris, Mel Martinez. What a rouge's gallery of mediocrity and derangement.

Yes, why couldn't they be more like New York:  Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, Chris Lee, Eric Massa, etc etc.

So Obama is about to sell America "down the river?" Ironic, huh? Not exactly a JFK Profile in Courage kinda guy. I wonder if Senate and House Dems will rise to stop him or will they slouch away and escape the heat. Thanks much. HLB (Mt. Lebanon, PA)

Questions mysteriously starting to reappear now, but slowly.

The deal Obama and Boehner are negotiating may be the best deal in the history of the world, but as a negotiating matter, this president continues to baffle me.  He was in an impressively strong position and had all the leverage -- and he reacted by giving his opponents everything they wanted while getting nothing concrete in return.  Maybe he should have surrendered the individual mandate up front, too?


If Boenner cuts a deal that raises taxes, in any fashion, will he lose his speaker-ship?

Having looked at these Tea Party freshmen up close yesterday, I think he'd be lucky to lose his gavel and nothing more.   But if Cantor succeeded him, he, too would have to raise taxes and be replaced, and the next guy, too.  Eventually it would just be Allen West sending out angry emails.

Is he going to prison?

 I believe in alternative punishments.  He should be forced to watch every episode of the Glenn Beck show that Fox ever aired.

Other than your own, of course. What do you suppose Wendy "The Mad Lady" Murdoch has been twittering about this week? And.. do we get to watch James Murdoch again on C-SPAN spinning the punters? Thanks. David Cameron, UK (In Government, sort of)

Of course!    On my twitter feed, it seems 90 percent of all of Twitter is composed by my former colleague Dave Weigel, now of Slate.  I have asked him for Twitter lessons.    Generally, it appears that journalists chatter among themselves on Twitter.

Eric Cantor is being branded in the national press as this big T-Party leader which I'm not buying. He's just reflecting that movement. If Cantor endorsed a deal of any form tomorrow the T-Party folks would just reject him.

Exactly.  Then it would be Kevin McCarthy (who looks terrified whenever he speaks tot he cameras), then Jeb Hensarling (who is too little to be in the shot), then Cathie McMorris Rogers (who seems very schoolmarmish to me). 

Is your editor now glad he got bumped from the WSJ?

I believe his joy predates this event by a few years.

Just curious if you ever worked for publication owned by Mr. Burns and Smithers, sorry I mean Rupert Murdoch and his son James?

I worked for the WSJ for 8 years but when it was still the organ of Mr. Dow and Mr. Jones  (actually, the Bancroft family). 

Was is Obama's best strategy for provoking a split in the GOP and causing a Tea party nominee?

Right now he seems to be principally focused on generating a Democratic primary opponent.

Does Richard Shelby eat puppies?

If he does we had better warn Kent Conrad.

Dana, which of the deals on offer, per Krauthammer, will be the final one?

The president will agree to cut 100 percent of discretionary spending, end Medicare and Social Security and surrender the Oval Office to Allan West.  In exchange, Republicans will agree to give him a third-round draft pick.


The Speaker (Boehner) is the head lemming at the front of the queue. He shouts: "Leadership." Then Cantor pushes him over the edge. Cantor is now The Speaker. He shouts: "Leadership." How many lemmings have to pile up before that train to oblivion is derailed? As a Liberal and an Atheist, I'm hoping ALL OF THEM. Thanks much.

Now, now.   We do not want to lose Allen West.  And Bachmann.   But can you imagine the headaches when she is the entire Republican caucus? 

87 bottles of beer on the wall, 87 bottles of beer....

Questions are not entirely recovering, so please do not be upset if I have missed your excellent and witty query/observation.   It only means I have not received it.

Would the religious right's collective heads explode if Eric Cantor were nominated for Republican VP?

Only if the ticket is Romney/Cantor.   And Huntsman can be the secretary of state.  And Aqua Buddha can head NOAA.

Fox and Friends proclaims the Mittster not a Christian. Will Romney have to give another speech on his religion? Does the LDS church realize that if Mitt's get the nod there will be a world wide campaign to brand them as racist?

I was unaware that Fox & Friends was a religious denomination.    

I found it rather suspicious how quickly Mrs. Murdoch reacted to the creme pie -- as though she knew it was coming -- as well as the fact that she went after the attacker instead of trying to protect and comfort her husband, which is what any good wife would do. So do you think that the pie-in-the-face was a planned stunt to distract the public from some of the seriousness of the hearings? Oh look, a shiny object!

My favorite part of that episode was the coverage on CNN, in which the anchor read the attacker's pre-attack Tweet: "It is a far better thing that I do, than I have ever done. . ."   She seemed to think it was a mad rant and didn't know what the Dickens was going on.

72 bottles of beer on the wall, 72 bottles of beer. . . .

Will the media chase this story like they did last time he flirted with a run? And what is Palin planning or does anybody care anymore.? I have to say this is the most boring primary race I can remember--- too many candidates that can't win and even their gaffes are snoozers.

I disagree.  The candidates who can't win are the only thing that keeps it interesting for me.   And just who is the candidate who can't win:   Herman "the Hermanator" Cain, or Tim "the asterisk" Pawlenty?


Have you noticed how Republicans use the term "backroom deal" all the time or they won't to part of negotiations done "in the middle of the night"? Seems pretty weak. What isn't a backroom deal in Washington? And I don't mean that in a bad way either, just people hammer out legislation before it gets to the floor. Not exactly Machiavellian corruption of the highest order.


From my location at the brewery, I think a tap-room deal would be the most amicable.    But it is true:  Hard to imagine a "Grand Bargain" being struck on, say, the House floor.   Hard to imagine them agreeing on an order for take-out on the House floor, for that matter.

If Michelle gets the nomination does West get vetted for the VP slot?

From your keyboard to God's ears.


Dana, can we (and I mean me, too) as Reform Jews excommunicate Cantor, just for his sneer? And by the way, my wife is a Cantor. Ordained, that is.

I believe all cantors should rise up in one voice and recant him. 

Headaches and gays or mosques and reading of the constitution diisability?

Please don't make me choose. 

Due to the fact that I'm about to order my second Bombay Grab IPA, I believe the time has come for me to sign off of this chat. Please rejoin me next week when we will discuss why President Obama has agreed to abolish the entire federal government in exchange for a Republican offer of a $20 Starbucks gift certificate.

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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