Dana Milbank Live

Jan 13, 2012

Dana Milbank chatted about his latest columns 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, dear readers. 

It's good to be home from the wilds of Iowa and New Hampshire.  I expect I'll be grounded for a good while now, because Wednesday's column revealed that all of this campaign coverage is a waste of time.  But this isn't entirely a bad thing:  One of the Forsythia bushes on my block has begun a premature bloom.

Anyways, I have a column that will be posted soon about Mitt Romney suffering from a Gore problem.  Happy to discuss that, Newt's Kamikaze mission,  Romney's rich-guy problems, and other things reporters should not tell editors.    Fire away.

Regarding his vacation with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car: Could Mitt be one of the world's few living heart donors?

But he loved the dog!  And he preferred it up there!  And it was a completely airtight container!

Am I the only one who thinks it's much worse because it was an airtight container?

I want some snow.

Romney is the rainmaker.  And Gingrich is very cold.  So I think the two of them together could help you. 

"Net-net", does Mitt count the number of jobs lost by American small office supply companies pushed out of business by the big box Staples coming to town in his overall "job creation" stats? Does it help the country if Mitt invested in a company which ended up killing the same if not more American jobs than he "created" and that's his main qualification to become President? Or was it just switching out a fewer number of lower paying and lower benefits jobs? Mitt likes to talk about "net, net" so someone should ask him what the actual net, net was for the country. He's not running for chairman of the board of Staples, he is running for President of the United States and our overall employment rate is what matters.

I think the net-net of Mitt's net-net remark on Monday was that you shouldn't use words like net-net when you are running for president.   Of even more concern was his use of the phrase “get a pro forma together.”

I am really disturbed by Mr. Romney's pet treatment history as I am sure other dog lovers are. Isn't it ironic that Mr. Romney's former rival (Ted Kennedy), well known for his love and care of his dogs, can be credited with introducing Bo to the Obama White House? Could Bo possibly draw a great deal of the dog lover vote if Mr. Romney is the nominee?

But Bo is at the other extreme: He is coddled.  When he soiled the carpet on Air Force One, they didn't just spray on a little enzymatic cleaner; they replaced it.

So perhaps this is what the election comes down to:  Do Americans believe the government should coddle them?  Or do they think individuals should be strapped to the roof and learn to brave the elements? 

How would you like to go to a blackjack table in Vegas, buy a bunch of chips of place a bet and then have the casino hand you back the cash you paid for the chips but allow you to keep them on the table and keep the winnings if you win? Welcome to Bain Cap/private equity and forcing companies to add even more debt then you added when you invested to pay Bain Cap a dividend that pays them back what they invested but allows them to keep their "chips on the table"/equity stake. Great work if you can get it. Don't ask about getting a lower capital gains tax rate on other peoples' capital...

One of my colleagues likened Bain to the scene in Goodfellas where they take over a restaurant, sell off all the liquor and burn the place down.

Dana: Al Gore was known to be quite an amusing guy in private and in on on one situations with people. Yet when he got in front of large groups, he was like your vice principal in junior.high school. You've observed Mitt Romney up close. Do you think he has a loose, funny side to his persona when he's not before large audiences, or is that too much to hope for.

We all thought it was funny in Iowa when Mitt described Ann as the "Mitt stabilizer," which sounds as if it is the very definition of built-in redundancy.    My best information is that he maintains a sort of fifth-grade humor level in private (not that there's anythign wrong with it).  

Is it just me or did Rick Perry gain some IQ points over the last two weeks?

Did you watch Saturday night's debate?   I couldn't tell which one was more confusing:  Huntsman in Mandarin or Perry in English.

Even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.

Unless Perry shoots him first.

I don't get your point. Or you saying a future Pres. Romney will put the First Pet on top of Air Force One?

You are giving me hope that a Romney presidency might not be as boring as I fear. 

I'll give Mitt one thing over Obama. At least he just refers to wife as "Ann" while Pres. Obama always calls his wife "Michelle Obama" at public events.

Also in Romney's favor:  He doesn't refer to himself in the third person, as Rick Santorum does.

We have a few questions about your campaign coverage trip expenses. It would seem that the coverage did not qualify as actual business/journalism. You will have to reimburse the Post for your expenses until you can justify going out on the road again to cover the campaign.

That's okay.  By the time I do my expenses it's too late to get reimbursed anyway.

Did we ever get a NH pancake report back?

Matter-o-fact I do have a New Hampshire pancake report for you.   The Red Arrow Diner in Manchester had some pretty good ones, but the best were at the Bedford Village Inn.    In related news, I cannot recommend the Texas Toast sandwiches from Dunkin Donuts.


On the Report last night they insinuated that they have a huge amount of cash. When if ever do they have to report it?

I have consulted the regulations in light of Citizens United, and the relevant section is this:

"nobody ever has to report anything about any amount received from anybody for any purpose."

It seems minor, but I could see some Democratic PACs running ads where you've got some poor dog strapped to the top of a car and the tagline, "This is how Mitt Romney treats his pets. How do you think he'll treat you?"

Or, they could have a surprise ending, and the guy who got lost his job because of Bain's takeover would come out of the kennel instead of the dog.


Can this election cycle become any stranger? So far, this has been the longest and strangest election cycle that I have experienced so far (I have been voting for 20 years only, so it certainly could become weirder, but I certainly hope not). Do you think that any other candidate than Romney actually has a chance of becoming the nominee, now that he has won both Iowa (barely) and New Hampshire? Thanks for considering the above, and I do greatly enjoy your articles, though I tend to be somewhat conservative (I used to consider myself a moderate entirely, but the moderate section of the voting populace seems to have disappeared in the past few years).

Glad to have a conservative, or lapsed moderate, on board.   I have no doubt that Romney will be the nominee (which is why you should immediately go and bet all your money on somebody else).   This cycle has been very strange, but not long.  Sadly, my hopes have been dashed for a fight lasting into March for the Republican nomination.

It isn't Democrats who are the source of those Romney hates dogs ads, it's Republicans.

And they are so good at it.  The Gingrich ad with the highlight film of Romney bloopers should become a classic.

Kind of a weird thought if Romney's dog Seamus sank his political ambitions while Nixon's dog Checkers saved his.

This chat has taken a strange turn.  Who let the dogs out?

Didn't LBJ grab a beagle by his ears?  Link

See what I mean?

I am confused by the airtight container. How could it be airtight when it was not pooptight?

I think we will need a special prosecutor. 

Can we start the Dana Milbank Super PAC?

Proceeds will go to cover my rejected expenses.

Does anyone really care who the GOP nominee is?

Not based on the crowd sizes up in New Hampshire.

Ironically on the subject of IQ, I believe it's a blind squirrel not pig that finds the nut/acorn. A double irony is that is what Romney claims he hunted for his NRA check the box, "I'm a hunter too" experience one time as a teenager. He was also forced to walk in the woods with a gun again while drumming up campaign money with fat cat Republicans last time he ran for office. I think it is one of those hunting lodges where they gather/trap the animals to make them easy to shoot at close range so these guys don't have a heart attack, you know, actually hunting...

Well, if it's a blind pig finding a truffle, Rick Perry will shoot it.  If it's a blind varmint/squirrel finding an acorn, Romney will shoot it.  Hope that clarifies things.

Now we know why the Obama's Christmas Card highlighted Bo. Sneaky, sneaky.

Let's face it, I'd way rather chat about presidential First Pets then the 2012 South Carolina Republican presidential primary (yawn...)

Apparently you are in good company.

I own a cat. Who should I vote for?

I think Huntsman is your guy:  Keeps away from the pack, defies herding, a bit snooty. 

That's my only question. Well, that, and where do they buy them? Or do they just look stupid?

Was just discussing this very point.  Romney's jeans have actually been described as "skinny jeans," but they aren't all that tight.   Santorum, like Obama, wears "mom jeans."  I'm not entirely clear on what "dad jeans" are.  I am a dad and I favor straight-leg Levis.

But Romney would love and eat the truffle..... Perry wouldn't know what that smell was...!

This, once again, is the kind of journalism you just can't find in places other than this chat.

There are SO many reasons for folks not to vote for Mitt Romney that if the dog is what gets them there, I'm fine with it.

I guess you call that ruff justice.

But I don't have a dog in this fight.

Thanks for chatting.  I'm going to walk my dog, Z.Z., who has never been on the outside of a moving vehicle.


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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