Dana Milbank Live

Sep 30, 2011

Dana Milbank chatted about why democrats should be nice to Mitt Romney. Other topics up for discussion included Rick Perry, a useless debt committee, how house Republicans are benefiting from job loss and more.

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.

Good afternoon.

From the question queue, it appears we'll be discussing Chris Christie and other weighty issues.  So let us begin.

Any comment on Eugene Robinson's cheap shot against Chris Christie today on his weight? He conveniently ignores Obama's smoking habit, which is arguably a worse health issue.

Did you see Michael Kinsley today?

As I wrote in the column just posted, I like Christie and hope he runs.  But certainly there's a reasonable question about whether he can handle the physical demands of a job that has, well, weighed so heavily even on a fitness fanatic like G.W. Bush. 


Do you think Mr. Cain has received wider popularity due to his trip to Israel, his association with Mr. Beck and the warmth of Fox? Is this popularity only with the Tea Party?

No, I believe this is a direct result of my shameless flacking for him.   I intend to keep this up through his entire 8 years in the White House.

Mr. Milbank, As somewhat as an authority on Glenn Beck, what do you think about Mr. Beck's plan to include children's programs on his online network? He has in the past condemned a different type of indoctrination of 'youth' in a different time and in a different country...Do you think he is attempting to do the same thing?

I don't think you're ever too young to start hoarding freeze-dried food and gold bullion in the basement.

Can he squeeze into anything? I do agree that he couldn't transform American politics. Too many politicians try to convince us that they are tough enough, and unyielding enough, to create a more productive government. Not even a pretense of bringing the country together. They will create change by conquering the opposition (those wimps). Reminds me of Iran.

There is a certain efficiency to the Iranian system, you have to admit.  They probably don't get any guff from the teachers unions, and people get off the beach when a hurricane approaches.


I go with Maria Melina the weather girl. Why cant CNn and especially MSNBC have hot hews babes like Fox. CNn does have Brooke buts she cant compete with Fox chicks.

I don't think you can get any hotter than Chris Matthews.  (And this has nothing to do with his recent decision to have me on Hardball on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)


I can't buy into your column's point Dana. Obama did control the house and senate and pushed through policy he and Dems wanted, but unfortunately it wasn't necessarily what the country wanted and especially what the business community wanted. Since then, we've had to varying degrees a capital strike, with investors and job creators counting the hours, minutes and seconds until they can get a community organizer they've grown to despise out of office. With Christie in (or Romney for that matter), capital will flow like a tidal wave as everything the Dems shoved down the country's throat is reversed with help from a Republican house and undoubtedly Republican Senate due to the party disparity of senate seats in play. Republicans, as long as they stay away from the social issue lunacy craved by their base and stick to economic issues they have a clear majority support on, will have no problem creating positive outcomes.

As long as they stay away from the social issue lunacy craved by their base?

I give that strategy about 10 minutes.


If Perry is trying to deflect his debate performances by saying he's not a slick debater but he know what he believes than why is he backing away from his stated belief that people against his immigration/tuition stand don't have heart? Doesn't he know what he believes?

See, I think Perry should deflect this issue the way Perry deflects his weight issue.  Running against Corzine, he admitted, "I'm pretty fat."  What if Perry were simply to say, "I'm pretty dumb, but my heart is in the right place"?  

I was just curious, and maybe you're not following the U.S. Senate elections that closely yet, but is it likely there won't be any Black candidates who win? Correct on this, but there still aren't any Black U.S. Senator at-present, right?

You have no idea how I miss Roland Burris.  It will be hardest at Christmastime, because that's when he would have been on the Senate floor reading a poem.

Another big solar outfit (Mesa, Az) has hit the skids. You know, from skid row. Another one w. govt. loan guaranty, subsidy, bailout, whatever. Energy Sec. Machu Pichu has said he cheated on the Solyndra deal. So Obama's going to run on his sunshine govt. transparency record? After all, we don't know how many SECRET deals his administration has entered into in the name of OPEN GOVT. Thanks much. HLB (Mt. Lebanon, PA) p.s. Go Steelers.

Go Stillers.  When you make this big a bet on solar energy I think you pretty much have to run on your sunshine record.

Obama too is a fitness fanatic -- remember those swim-trunk photos in Hawaii? He doesn't smoke anywhere near as much as Christie eats. Obama's trying to kick the habit and reportedly has it down to just a couple of smokes a day.

2012 bumper sticker?

Obama: He smokes less than Christie eats.

to use the bully pulpit to argue government is the problem rather than government is the solution. I think that's where your left leaning column lost its bearings regarding Christie and Obama

Maybe so.  I got a lot of grief from the left when I raised doubts about the messianic Obama.   Even got me exiled from Keith Olbermann's show.    We'll have to check back in a few years and see if I'm correct that the messianic Christie was also overhyped.


The Fix didn't get to my comment so I'm hoping you might chime in. The big news out of Arlington is the GOP raised a whopping $ in September. And no, that's not an Onion link. It's from the Post.

Come on, be fair. They raised $4.



Don't let them change "Dana Milbank Live" too.

Getting a lot of these about my friend Mr. Fixit today.  I don't know what they did to him but I will attempt to make them stop. 

It's hard to call Robinson's column a cheap shot when he extensively quotes Christie as knowing that his weight is well beyond the norm and admitting how unhealthy it is. If he really does weigh in excess of 280 pounds at 5 feet 11 inches, the man has a serious chronic health problem. Herman Cain, on the other hand, seems to have beaten two types of cancer that had reached Stage Four. Best of all, Cain gave an interview to a reporter this week while drinking a glass of wine--in the morning. If that's when he starts in on the Bordeaux, I frankly can't wait for the first prime time news conference.

Now you're beginning to understand why I am beating the drum for Cain.

I didn't call that column or anything else Gene has ever done a cheap shot -- a questioner did.  Gene, for the record, is a marvelous physical specimen.

Speaking of (not quite) marvelous physical specimens,  I have lost four -- count 'em, four -- pounds, and will be going to the gym immediately after this chat.  Unfortunately I will be following that up with a Spanish feast this evening involving no fewer than five cheeses.


A bunch of uber-rich New Yorkers and a few ex-Bushies want Chris Christie to get into race, so therefore national political press must go nuts for Gov. Christie? Really? It's this more of a "Money in politics" or "Bushies, despite the hype, still have influence in Republican party" story rather then "Will Christie run" story?

In my case I think it's because, having grown up on the south shore of Long Island, Jersey guys are familiar and not frightening.

Actually Barack Obama campaigned and got elected as an ex-smoker. It was only after the election that White House Press Corp proved their worth (not really) by asking a zillion and one question about it.

I am already preparing for all the questions at the first briefing of the Christie administration:  Atkins? South Beach?  Macrobiotic?

Doesn't the fact that Chris Christie talks and looks more like Pizza the Hutt than a Jedi warrior sort of undercut his appeal as a miracle worker? Or will his Jedi mind control tricks win out? "These are not the candidates you are looking for."

Pizza Hut and Godfather's in the same primary -- tasty.


Would you return if the ban was lifted? That orange crossing guard vest must be gathering dust.

Still got the orange hat.  But the question has become moot now that Keith is himself on Al Gore's Elba.  At any rate, the star of that operation was the executive producer, Izzy Povich, who now does her magic for Lawrence O'Donnell.

Could you see Jersey from your porch in southern Long Island? You should have run for office.

It was put a short drive over the Verrazano Narrows.  Would take about 45 minutes to get to Jersey without traffic, but in practice it usually took about 2 hours.


Won't those compromising pictures of Cain and The Noid make a Papa John candidacy more likely?

These questions are lining up like Domino's.


I was charmed that Michelle Obama snuck into Target mostly unobserved yesterday. Reportedly she purchased Lysol Wipes and Febreeze. Have you shared with her the excellent qualities of Purell?

Big development on that front: Just purchased a fishbowl with 30 of the 1/2 ounce bottles of Purell.   I'm thinking of handing them out for Halloween.

and have a few Dos Equis with your Spanish feast as the most interesting columnist in the world (just grow a beard and you'll be all set)

Mexican beer?  Hay carumba!  We are having Sherry, Cava, Albarino, Ribera del Duero and a sweet Jumilla I just picked up at Calvert-Woodley wines.

First he said he wouldn't appoint any Muslims. Then he said he would have them take a loyalty test. Now he is saying blacks are brainwashed. Replace Muslim and black with white or Jew and wouldn't everyone conclude he has issues with bigotry?

You could conclude that, but then you would be muddying up my efforts to get him elected.

Which Republican should I vote for in the primaries?

An embarrassment of riches for you that this point.  Maybe Santorum, out of pity.

I think you should pledge to lose a pound for every dollar the Arlington GOP raises. Or alternatively, have a glass of wine for every dollar raised. Your choice, Sir.

I like the wine suggestion because it has more upside.  If the Arlington Republicans were to raise $150 in the next quarter, I'd have to do a whole lot of swimming.

You correctly identified that Obama was raising expectations well beyond anything he could deliver in terms of changing DC politics. So what? Would we be in any different spot objectively if Obama had been much more prudent in laying out expectations? Would the Republicans have been any less confrontational in blocking reasonable compromises? Would the economy be different? Beyond having his voters feel a little let down and Republicans feeling vindicated, so what?

I think we would be in a different spot objectively, because Hillary would be president.  Republicans would not have been any less confrontational but she would have been right back in their faces.

What if he said Jewish voters are brainwashed for voting heavily democratic?

I would be surprised if he has not said this already.

how do your chat ratings compare to other commentators? Are you ahead of the Fix? I guess Hax must have an insurmountable lead, right?

I am more concerned with quality than quantity.  (How's that for flattering my audience?   I'd like a response from both of you on that.)


I hope, along with Fino, Manzanilla, Oloroso, and that Jumilla, you are finding marcona almonds to munch along with those cheeses. Please tell me one of the cheeses is Manchego.

Yep, got the almonds.  We're having manchego, of course, and Cabrales with membrillo.  My favorite is the San Simeon, which they call "titilla" because of shape.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Given that the GOP has such a cow about "nanny state"-ism and want government out of everyone's business, shouldn't Christie's weight be a non-issue for them? I mean, they only want the government intruding in your sex life, right?

I am including this question because the mention of "cow" relates to our discussion about Spanish cheeses.

How much longer can she really milk this? What does she gain by teasing the right wing for another month? Didn't Joe Mcginnis just end her career?

"Milk" this?  I get it!

You guys are the absolute cream.


I have occasionally read your columns and conservations. Why do you find it so necessary to constantly belittle people that you disagree with and oftentimes insult them - examples are Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Herman Cain, etc.?  Can't you disagree with others views without being nasty? I fear the internet is to the point where people feel that athey can try and destroy people without having to face them with their meanness, you included.

Possibly you skipped right to the comments section?

I'm certainly guilty as regards Beck, and possibly Palin, but you will not find a greater Cainiac. 

And I certainly am not about to, uh, belittle Chris Christie.

We approve of qualitative quantity.

Thank you.

You may now return to Hax.

Was William Howard Taft the last truly rotund President? Teddy Roosevelt looks less than svelte in some photos, but the Rough Rider uniform makes up for a lot of figure flaws.

I think the Rough Rider uniform is exactly what Christie needs.

The trick to weight control is to take smaller servings.

I know. Problem is I tend to forget this after the first couple of servings of sherry.

Anyway, thank you for the culinary, health and political questions and advice this afternoon.   Let nobody accuse us of avoiding the Big questions. 

Until next week, Salud!

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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