Dana Milbank Live

Feb 03, 2012

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.  I'm back from a delightful trip to Florida, in which I did my best to prop up the Newt campaign.   If anybody has ideas about how we in the media can continue to keep his candidacy alive, please submit your suggestion here.   I see the Sunday column (online today) about Mitt Romney's anti-Mormon cousin is generating a good bit of comment and would welcome thoughts on that topic as well, or any other.


Fool me once... Why does the MSM react like pavlov's dog and the pundocracy spend time disgussing Donald Trump, allowing him to publicize his show and feed his ego? He has absolutely no relevance other than that given him by the media.

I did a segment on Trump on Hardball last night, so I'm guilty.  But I do think it's relevant.  Romney's embrace of Trump shows he's still concerned about Gingrich. If he were focused on the general election he wouldn't be embracing a birther and accepting the endorsement of another very rich guy.   I suggested that Romney might benefit from having Trump as his campaign spokesman.

Has anyone in the press ever heard Calista speak? I personally think she is a clone of Cindy McCain and was not granted the power of speech in her new form, but that's just me.

Matter of fact I have heard her speak. It was a specific request made by a questioner at a rally, and Newt granted it.   She sounded exactly like. . .Cindy McCain.   Also flew back from Florida Wednesday morning on her flight. She was in first class. I was not.  A guy from British Sky Broadcasting, also on the flight, told me she said she was flying back to DC to have her hair done before moving on to Nevada.

Some of your recent columns have discussed Newt Gingrich's informal exchanges with the media at hotel bars. Now tell us, is Newt going down to the bar to meet the press or to scarf down peanuts? Your columns also state he travels with several different sized suits and he does seem to be fuller-figured than he once was.

He was also eating dinner. 

I was a bit surprised to learn that he yo-yos between weights.  I was under the impression it was going only in one direction.   Possibly he retains water.

I don't feel entirely comfortable making fat jokes, unless they are directed at a person who is not fat.  But Newt seems to be an exception, and a lot of people feel free to make fat jokes about him.  Thoughts? 


I confess that I sent a similar comment to The Fix chat earlier, but now think it might be more appropriate for yours. Newt seems to be getting bigger by the day, and I don't mean in polling or intellectual stature. I read a media report that said that he had to do the equivalent of "bellying up to the bar" when he was speaking at a podium recently. Given how much trimmer (and younger) President Obama is, I say that Newt's dream of debating him one-on-one on the same stage is looking less and less like a good idea. What say you?

I believe I was responsible for that report.   This is not necessarily a disadvantage. Newt has said he will not accept journalists as moderators of his debates with Obama, so maybe he will engage the president in sumo wrestling.

One often hears GOP presidential candidates criticize President Obama over his Israel policy, and then describe Israel as "Our greatest ally." I can understand why Israel would consider the U.S. as its greatest ally-- Israel would not exist without American support-- but what flows the other way? As a Canadian, I always considered that WE were America's greatest ally: longest undefended border in the world, biggest supplier of petroleum and comedians to the U.S., etc. Does producing Celine Dion and Justin Bieber cancel all that out?

Aren't we at war over softwood lumber, or something?

I think it's time to address the rumors.

Where's the birth certificate?

If media employers mandated that their reporters and columnists could not drink alcohol at night (or anytime) while traveling covering an election would many of the current reporters and columnists strike in protest? How would election coverage change?

Goodness gracious.  I would have to go on a medical leave.

Chris Cillizza just has his Sidekick do his chat. Are you actually "Milbank the Boy Wonder"?

Actually, I am Chris Cillizza.  I had my sidekick do my chat today so I could focus on the more erudite Milbank audience.

Our presidential candidates appear to be in a sing-off competition (one sided). Who is the best singer among the Post reporters/columnists? Who sings or hums the most in the office (whether they are good or not)? I am a closet hummer (that sounds bad)--my third grade teacher made me stay after one day and write on the board 100 times "I will not hum in class. I will not hum in class..." Drives my wife nuts...


Our leading Karaoke singer is a web guy named Greg Linch.   There was a showdown this week between the Post singers and the NPR singers, I'm told.  Have not heard the results.

David Letteman was sending encouragement to Gringrich last night after his showing in Florida: "Newt, keep your chins up!"

See?  When it's Newt, it's ok.

This week I said on TV that his candidacy was collapsing under its own weight and expected complaints but got none.

Mitt was produced in 1947.

Ok, so where's the patent certificate?

Is that Mitt's second cousin, or his first cousin twice removed? Is there cousin remover, something like Resolve?

They have an enzymatic cleaner that is particularly effective in removing cousin stains.


You seemed to imply in your column today that there is something wrong with being anti-mormon. Why? The mormon church has long history of racism, polygamy and ignoring federal law. Why is it wrong to form a negative judgement about that record? Mitt Romney has given tens of millions of dollars to this organization. Given his stated belief and devotion to the LDS church, shouldn't he have to account for it?

I'm not anti-Mormon, but a fifth of the country is.  That's why I think it's worth having the discussion and not pretending such things should be avoided in polite company.  (This web chat, btw, does not qualify as "polite company.")

Update.  The inimitable Haley Crum, producer of this chat and occasional Karaoke artist, informs me that Cillizza is on book leave this month.    I do not know how this squares with my seeing him in the office yesterday.  But either way I am confident his substitute, Aaron Blake, gave everybody their money's worth.

I don't see you with them on TV anymore. Did you get surgery? Or are you just vain about them?

Lasik surgery.  So far everything seems to be working out fine and I haven't xlkreuaedfkkljkyaaye vvkjeyel a  ss cv  7.


How come nobody in the press corp addressed Trump's hair during yesterday's endorsement?

You're right.  It was the orangutan in the room.

One feels that he would be happy to zero in on one's own personal foibles, if given half-a-chance. Hence, the lack of remorse on the public's part..

I don't see his size as a foible but one more expression of his belief that he is larger-than-life.


I am not sure how you can so easily dismiss claims that a religion requires allegiance to it doctrines and heirarchy above one's state as mere bigotry. It is reasonable to have concerns about such doctrinal orientations because they do exist in different religions, and to ask a candidate from one such religion whether he prescribes to that part of his faith is clearly relevant to a voter's choice on election day. Asking JFK whether he has greater allegiance to the United States or the Roman Catholic Church is a reasonable question. Perhaps, disbelieving his answer when he says that he will be president of the United States first and faithful Catholic second might be bigotted, but asking the question in the first instance is not a manifestation of bigotry. How would you respond to these points?

The word bigotry doesn't i appear in the column.  But I do think it's nuts to think that Mitt Romney is obeying orders from the church:  He's completely reversed himself on just about every position, so at one point or the other he has to have been holding the opposite position from the church.



It all depends on the way the joke is made. Dana, you are always so subtle that i presume many viewers did not catch your joke.... You are talented in that way...and that prevents you from any backlash...

Yes, I wear my subtlety like a size 54 jacket.

contest with the NPR singers? jeez, that's like Duke hoops scheduling MIT basketball...does the Post softball team schedule teams like AARP?

Whadya mean?  Those guys work out their voices all day long on the radio.    I hear Robert Siegel is quite the crooner. 

I think Newt is trying conflate his physical appearance with that of Chris Christie and thereby gain votes.

But here's a case in point.  Christie makes (great) fat jokes about himself, but when Corzine spoke about Christie throwing his weight around he got in trouble.   

I have thought of another person about whom it is acceptable to make fat jokes: Rush Limbaugh. Also I think Ted Kennedy used to be fairly safe. 



Mitt was of draft age during Vietnam. How did he avoid the draft?

Maybe he played a Trump card?

So, when does MittBot end the nice-guy subroutine and go Skynet on us all?

According to his long-form patent application, which I have viewed in a vault in the Michigan vital records department, this is set to occur in 2014.

Is needed to support his ginormous head. Otherwise it would flop back and forth more than Mitt Romney's political positions.

So his size is medically necessary!  This makes the jokes all the more distasteful.   I feel so full of remorse I am bloated.

Mitt has gone back to the shop for modifications before every different election he has entered. Not many of the original parts are left at this point...

For this reason we should demand maintenance records in addition to the original patent certificate and barcode.

Watching Newt Gingrich try to rip Mitt Romney's face off like Travis the chimp.

My colleague Gene Robinson this week had a variation on this, that Newt being savaged by Romney brought to mind the famous quote by British politican Denis Healey on being attacked by Sir Geoffrey Howe: "rather like being savaged by a dead sheep."

But didn't Romney also admit that it was "Democrat" plans that help the poor and that the reason he doesn't worry about them (I type "them" since I don't think I'm that poor).

I do not care about your question because you aren't that poor.

Fat, er... pleasingly plump women politicians?

We definitely do not talk about them.

Seems like only yesterday that Al Smith and John Kennedy were attacked for being beholden to the Vatican. Or Bill Holden to the Vatican, I forget which.

I guess we Jews are exempt from this charge because we take delight in rejecting the advice of our clergy.

Guessing Mitt Romney doesn't care about the downstairs servant parts of the show.

So pleased to have a pop culture reference in the chat.  But I believe this show is part of Masterpiece, the former Masterpiece Theater, which still comes with bad memories for me.

That would probably force a debate on religion in politics.

I feel it would be churlish to ask for any more nuttiness in this campaign.

Just run the Voight-Kampff test on him.

". . .test designed to distinguish humans from replicants based on their empathic response to questions."

I wonder if this could be done at a news conference without him knowing we were trying to find out if he is in fact a Nexus-6.


I endorse Romney, but Newt....He's gonna be HUGE!!!

Oh, I can't weight for the next one.

Have you heard the classic Gingrich anecdote where Newt asked Bob Dole: "Why do so many people take an instant dislike to me?" To which Dole, after a brief pause, replied: "Saves time." Wow, what a perfectly spartan response, worthy of Groucho Marx at his best. A capsule of Newt's personality, or lack thereof. Love your columns, which I read regularly.

That really must have cut him down to size.

Thank you for reading them. Please hit "refresh" often.

Is it true that Mitt carries a picture of Marie Antoinette in his wallet?

That is a false and malicious rumor.  It is a picture of Leona Helmsley.

This is actually true, he was his Mormon mission in (of all places) France.

Being a dude, i am way out of the loop on this one. However it did strike me as perfect subject for a Washington Sketch.

I have a feeling this pink ribbon will still be unraveling next week.

Where is the official Dana Milbank Super Bowl party be at?

Chris Cillizza will be guest-hosting the Milbank super bowl party this year.  Feel free to show up at his house in Virginia just before game time.   Newt is bring a six-foot sub, but he's not planning on sharing.

Thanks for chatting.  See you next week.  In the meantime, send me your thoughts via Twitter, @milbank. 

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
Milbank Q&As
Recent Chats
  • Next: