washingtonpost.com
Washington Sketch

Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, January 9, 2009 12:00 PM

Post columnist Dana Milbank, who serves as the capital's foremost critic of political theater in his Washington Sketch columns and videos, was online Friday, January 9 taking your questions and comments about the things politicians say -- and the absurd ways they find to say them.

A transcript follows.

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Dana Milbank:

Good afternoon, chatters. Tell me your troubles. Or tell me about my troubles.

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Tear down this wall! Wait a minute...: I don't get the uproar over the inauguration bridge closures. It's not like they are building a wall -- there are still routes into the city via bike, foot and public transport.

Who are these people who thought it was going to be viable to drive in D.C. that day? Have they never experienced rush hour?

washingtonpost.com: Virginians See Bridge Closings As Dose of Northern Hospitality (The Washington Post, Jan. 9, 2009)

Dana Milbank: Actually I think we should shut down the bridges every day until those tax dodgers pay a commuter tax.

I live in D.C. and plan to put some air in the bicycle tires on the 20th.

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San Diego, Calif.: Dana, why are you chatting on a Friday? Did you get tired of people confusing you with the other Dana and asking complicated national security questions you couldn't answer?

Dana Milbank:

Yes, moved it to Friday because it would invariably work out that whatever I was covering on Thursdays would happen at exactly the time I was supposed to be chatting.

Based on the number of questions today, though, I suspect I'm headed for the coveted 4 a.m. chat slot.

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Actually I think we should shut down the bridges every day until those tax dodgers pay a commuter tax.: Or learn that it's not acceptable to drive all the way to the end of a merge lane and merge into the front of my car? HATE driving into the district from Virginia.

My husband and I are also biking into the city from Bethesda that day -- woo hoo Capital Crescent Trail!

Dana Milbank: Be careful and let them in if they cut you off. They are all required to carry guns in that state.

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Arlington, Va.: Has Virginia attempted to secede again in protest of the Inauguration Day road closures?

Dana Milbank: It is the only sensible option.

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Blameworthy: Do you agree with Gov. Palin's contention that the press was guilty of treating her with a heady mixture of sexism/classism/intellectual relativism?

(BTW, did she really give back all those clothes and accessories she scored during the campaign?)

Dana Milbank:

I was struck by her view that Caroline Kennedy would be treated gently because of her noble breeding. It seems not to have occurred to Palin that she was running to be vice president, not a senator.

And I will not even answer your second question because you would never ask if Caroline Kennedy returned her wardrobe to Saks and Nieman.

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Obama vs. NFL: An overlooked problem with Obama's inauguration schedule: his welcome event is likely to conflict with one or both of the conference championship games that day. Is this just another slight to "Joe Six Pack"?

Dana Milbank:

And speaking of Joes, did you hear that Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher has got a new job as a Middle East correspondent for a conservative website?

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Atlanta: Hi, Dana,

A semi-serious question, but snark is welcome. Is Harry Reid as weak of a leader as he appears to be to those of us way outside the Beltway? He caves on everything. Any chance of getting someone else a Majority Leader? Thanks.

Dana Milbank:

Bless Harry Reid. He said this week he plans to be majority leader through 2015, which means Chuck Schumer will have to poison his drink. He's actually quite a tough guy -- an old boxer. Problem is he speaks first (tourists are smelly! we won't seat Burris!) then looks silly when reality catches up to him. This is why I think one of the least appreciated people in town is his long-suffering press guy, Jim Manley.

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Behavior-challenged: Much is made of the hallowed protocols of the U.S. Senate and the courtly traditions of the senators in dealing with one another. So how does Mitch McConnell get away with behaving in such a shabby manner when one of his esteemed colleagues (the first one in 40+ years) has been elevated to the Presidency? For shame.

washingtonpost.com: Pompousness and Circumstance (The Washington Post, Jan. 9, 2009)

Dana Milbank:

Maybe he has arthritic knuckles and clapping would be very painful.

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Blacksburg, Va.: Are you amused by the fact that in every WashPo story about how Franken was certified and the odds are narrowing for Coleman, there's a cute little Capitol icon next to Coleman's name saying that he's the next Senator of Minnesota?

Dana Milbank: Maybe this could be part of the deal: if he concedes defeat, he gets to keep the cute Capitol icon for life.

And I'm not counting him out yet. He may have been locked out of his office in the Hart building, but the Minnesota Supreme Court has plenty of room on its docket now that Larry Craig has dropped his bathroom appeal.

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Alexandria, Va.: So, Blago is impeached. What happens to Obama's seat now?

washingtonpost.com: Illinois House Impeaches Gov. Rod Blagojevich (The Washington Post, Jan. 9, 2009)

Dana Milbank: Please let me have Burris. I call it an even swap for Ted Stevens. And I'll take Franken as a fair trade for Larry Craig.

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why doesn't someone do something about the weather: Folks complaining about the inauguration crowd control are unrealistic to think something generating that much traffic would not change anything about transportation systems. I think they want the impossible, a special event AND a magic wand to make their commute unaffected. Get realistic folks: You. Will. Be. Affected.

Dana Milbank:

Well, a magic wand would probably be preferable to digging the bicycle out of the garage.

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What I want to know is why: I had to learn about Burris's mausoleum from Gail Collins at the New York Times.

Why didn't you tell me?

Dana Milbank:

Sorry for the lapse.

Yes, he has already constructed a mausoleum for himself listing all of his accomplishments.

Yes, his children are named Roland II and Rolanda.

Yes, he once dressed up as Muhammad Ali and shouted "I am the greatest!"

Now do you see why I need him in the Senate?

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Evanston, Ill.: Is Harry Reid more or less of a mediocrity than he seems?

Dana Milbank:

More! He is an outstanding mediocrity!

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Bethesda, Md.: Obviously Virginia is being cut off from the Inauguration as punishment (well-deserved, if a bit late) for reneging on its agreement to cede land for the capital city. Enjoy your commonweal, losers.

Dana Milbank:

I had no idea there was so much rage in the benign burb of Bethesda.

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Joe the Intrepid War Reporter: Did the GOP cook that up to burnish the image of this temporary campaign hero, or did the Dems gleefully pay someone to tell Joe that Iraq is the best place for an inexperienced "reporter" to get that show on Fox?

washingtonpost.com: Joe the Plumber to become war correspondent (The Associated Press, Jan. 7, 2009)

Dana Milbank:

He did such an excellent job in his last role, pitch man for a company selling digital conversion boxes, that this promotion was inevitable.

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Chattanooga, Tenn.: Hi Dana -- Leon Panetta is well know for his intelligence, integrity and organizational skills. Are Diane Feinstein and Jay Rockefeller just whining because they weren't consulted?

Dana Milbank: Hey, you're not going to get any complaint from me about Panetta. I like hacks and wish more would be appointed. I think Obama should have made Lanny Davis attorney general. Or maybe he's saving him for associate justice. . .

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Albany, N.Y.: What did you think of the fact that when Sarah Palin saw a picture of you she shrieked and shouted "THAT MAN IS EVIL." Do you consider that a slap in the face of a sign of grudging respect?

Dana Milbank:

No, no, that was a photo of Steve Schmidt.

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And I will not even answer your second question because you would never ask if Caroline Kennedy returned her wardrobe to Saks and Nieman.: No, because Caroline can afford her own designer clothes.

Dana Milbank:

I will not have such class warfare in my chat! Surely even the wealthiest women occasionally have second thoughts about an outfit and return it to Saks.

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Larry Craig Memorial Toilet Stall: Did you read where the Twin Cities airport, despite being hard up for money during the recession, is declining to auction off the infamous toilet stall where Larry Craig sat wide and tapped his toe? Evidently they could've gotten major money for it on eBay. Where's the financial accountability to taxpayers here?

Dana Milbank:

I believe in an earlier chat we discussed how the Smithsonian should make a claim on this bit of plumbing.

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NYC: The vote in the Illinois House to impeach Blago was 114-1. Which begs the question no stories have answered: who was that one who voted against impeachment?

Dana Milbank:

From our beleaguered brethren at the Chicago Tribune:

"Rep. Milt Patterson (D-Chicago) was the lone vote against impeaching the governor. Patterson, from Chicago's Southwest Side, said after the roll call that he didn't feel it was his job to vote to impeach the governor. He declined comment on whether he approved of the job Blagojevich is doing."

I don't know this Patterson but I have a strong sense that I would like him if I did.

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Arlington, Va.: Speaking of weather, wouldn't it be funny if it rained on Inauguration Day? A real big thunderstorm to (pun definitely intended!) rain on everyone's parade. Think that would be the perfect icing on the hysterical cake that's been this inauguration?

Dana Milbank:

Here's a little secret: I'm actually hoping for a blizzard. Paul Kane and I are the two Post representatives designated to attend the inauguration if it has to be held indoors because of weather. The Capitol Police fingerprinted us with cornhusker oil and everything. So if the weather is miserable, I get to watch the ceremony in comfort while everybody else digs snow caves on the mall to survive. On the other hand I don't know how well my bicycle will work in a blizzard.

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Wasilla, Alaska: Gov. Palin, whiner or legitimate complaint?

Dana Milbank: You betcha.

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Ocala, Fla.: Isn't Burris the New York Giant who shot himself in the leg?

Dana Milbank:

No, Plaxico is the person who is going to be nominated to the Senate by Gov. Paterson of New York, not to be confused with the Patterson who just voted against Blago's impeachment.

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The Internet is about to implode...: Inaugural parade tickets just went on sale.

Dana Milbank: That's it; I'm getting on my bike and going home. Thanks for chatting.

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