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Washington Sketch: Dana Milbank on The Goracle, Rod Blagojevich's Last Stand, Ice Floes, Sarah Palin and Snow

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Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, January 30, 2009; 12:00 PM

Post columnist Dana Milbank serves as the capital's foremost critic of political theater in his Washington Sketch columns, videos and blog posts. He was online Friday, January 30 at 12 noon ET to take your questions and comments about the things politicians say -- and the absurd ways they find to say them.

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A transcript follows.

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Dana Milbank:

Hello Dear Reader.

This is a very sad day for the Sketch. It is the first day of the post-Blago era. I was so low I almost didn't want to leave the house today. Plus there was still some snow on my lawn so I could have called it a snow day. But then I thought of my web chat, and I decided to toughen up, as our president recommends. I am now prepared for your snowballs.

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Anchorage, Alaska: Dana, I enjoyed your article on the Goracle. What a hoot. Too bad the effects of the law and policy that may result from Congress and bureaucrats paying homage to him won't be so funny.

You might be interested in the comments of the founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, regarding the Oracle's appearance before the unworthy and timid Senate. Here's the link: Weather Channel Founder Blasts Gore Over Global Warming Campaign (FOXNews.com, Jan. 29, 2009)

Thanks for the chuckles. Cheers.

washingtonpost.com: Dana's story on The Goracle:With Al Due Respect, We're Doomed (The Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2009)

Dana Milbank:

I'm probably on, uh, thin ice leading off with a question linking to Fox News.

I should make it very clear that I have the highest respect for the Goracle and I believe everything he says about global warming. I have been assured by Gore confidant Michael Feldman of the Glover Park Group that the Goracle accepted my column as the tribute to the Goracle that it was meant to be. I certainly do not want to tempt Fate by angering the Goracle, lest I wind up like one of those polar bears drifting off to sea on the ice float.

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Washington, D.C.: Wow. Your skewering of Gore yesterday left me speechless. Your column is proof that writing is an art. And, you're almost as funny as Weingarten. Never take a buyout.

Dana Milbank: Thank you. But not a skewering! Only deep respect for the Goracle and all things Gorey.

For better or worse I am not old enough for a buyout. However, I believe that if they looked at me as we do the weather, my "feels like" age is much higher than my actual age because of certain lumbar issues, and therefore I perhaps should qualify for a buyout. And Medicare.

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Washington, D.C.: Dana, I must ask: Does David Broder actually know that your columns are meant to be humorous? I was baffled that you were mentioned in his column as an example of someone wrongly making light of Blago's situation.

washingtonpost.com: It's No Joke to Illinois (The Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2009)

Dana Milbank:

No, the Dean is always right, even more than the Goracle. I am duly chastised.

I now see Blago for the martyr he was. Right up there with Gandhi and Jimmy Stewart.

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Hartford, Conn.: I hear Marion Barry has once again failed (declined?) to file tax returns for 2007. How about you stage a "filing countdown 2009" wherein you track Barry's progress towards (or away from) filing his 2008 forms this April?

washingtonpost.com: Barry Again Fails to File Tax Forms (The Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2009)

Dana Milbank:

Apparently Tim Geithner has offered to do Mayor Barry's taxes for him on TurboTax.

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New York, N.Y.: It's pretty pathetic when a 7 year-old from Chicago can effectively diss the hardiness of your city...

Dana Milbank: It hurts, New York. I'm from New York and was pretty dismissive of weather wimpiness when I moved here. But now I have come to appreciate it as a local custom, one of those things another president once described as Washington's combination of "northern charm and southern efficiency."

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Buck up, Dana: Yes, Blago is gone. But Joe Biden shows real promise. And you can interview the staffers at Sarah.pac to see what Mrs. Todd Palin is up to these days.

Dana Milbank: And have you heard Sarah Palin's in town this weekend for the Alfalfa Dinner?

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Bethesda, Md.: My husband and I have been disagreeing about this whole Blagojevich circus. Him: Blagojevich is shameful and not funny. Me: Blagojevich is hysterical. (He's like Terrell Owens -- you don't want him on your team, but he darned entertaining to watch from afar.)

He sent me David Broder's article yesterday to prove his point, but I was delighted to see that you and Eugene Robinson (two of my Post favorites) were on my side. Thanks for making me feel like my moral compass isn't completely defective.

I bet Carolyn Hax agrees with me too...

Dana Milbank: See, this is the result of too many snow days in the Washington area: spousal squabbles about Blagojevich.

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Iowa: What on earth is the Alfalfa Dinner? Sounds like something we should be hosting here in conjunction with the Pork Producers Congress.

Dana Milbank: Alfalfa Club: Founded 1913. Some 200 politicians and business leaders. In other words: The Washington Elite.

Remember Palin's convention speech:

"I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. . . Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people."

But I instinctively like the Alfalfa Club anyway. It is named after the alfalfa plant which apparently goes to great lengths to get a drink.

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Sarah Palin's in town this weekend for the Alfalfa Dinner: Will she have Buckwheat pancakes for breakfast the next day?

Dana Milbank:

Ok, got a flurry of inquiries from you rascals out there.

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Sarah Palin's in town this weekend for the Alfalfa Dinner : O-tay.

Dana Milbank:

That's enough now.

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Baltimore, Md.: Re your "skewering" Gore: Yes, you mentioned that he was perspiring a tad, but your skewers were reserved, I thought, for the senators, a number of whom were conservative Republicans who seemed a bit cowed in the presence of a man with an Oscar and a Nobel Prize.

I guess it all depends, as the old saying goes, on whose ox is gored.

Dana Milbank: A careful reader in Baltimore. I will now post a question by somebody who did not read the piece so carefully and would like to put me on an ice float to nowhere.

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Boston, Mass.: I'm glad to hear that you do believe in global warming and in general what Gore is talking about. Unfortunately, columns like yours have the problem of just being hilarious and make Gore and climate scientists in general into an easy joke. Making the issue of climate change into a joke. Up in Alaska I hear they made a 6 foot ice statue of Gore -- see! It's an ice statue! Of someone who talks about global warming! Haha! It's cold, so who could possibly believe in global warming? Americans aren't bright people. If you are going to make something sound stupid, how about actually believing it IS stupid first?

Dana Milbank: See?

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The Founder of the Weather Channel?: Is that the best Republicans can do? In principle though, I agree. Owners of cable television channels are the most qualified and compelling scientific experts.

Dana Milbank:

Well, Sanjay Gupta is the Surgeon General, after all.

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Coleman v Gore: Just so you know, John Coleman, despite being a founder of the Weather Channel, is not actually a scientist. His college degree was in (gasp!) journalism.

Imagine that, a TV weatherman who isn't actually a meteorologist.

Dana Milbank: This guy should be on an ice float.

_______________________

Cambridge, Mass.: Do you feel the Netherlands would be a good place for President Obama's first foreign visit? Why does it always get to be Canada?

Dana Milbank:

Sorry to interrupt this chat but I recognize this as a question from Eric Weinberger of Cambridge, Mass. He was my translator when I was based in London and made frequent trips to the Netherlands. In both London and the Netherlands, it should be noted, most people speak excellent English.

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Atlanta Pedant: Not to quibble, but it's an ice "floe"....

Dana Milbank: I live in Washington. I am not good with ice.

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San Diego weatherman as expert?: And we care what the founder of the Weather Channel says....why? Because he launched a TV channel, basically a business move? The quote that global warming is a "hoax" is enough to make me stop taking their forecasts -- oh, that and how they were completely wrong on my local forecast last week.

Dana Milbank:

But don't you love their prime-time programming? I like to invite people over to see "Storm Stories" on the plasma.

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David and Goliath: Sometimes the History Channel can give some very unreliable information, but I'm not sure who would take my word against theirs.

Dana Milbank: Well, now that the Weather Channel is setting global warming policy, it makes sense that the History Channel should weigh in on the stimulus package and whether we are, in fact, in a depression.

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Payson, Ariz.: Dana, I know in the grand scheme of politics, it does not account for much. But every time House Minority Leader Boehner steps up to the podium to begin his routine, don't you find yourself thinking that Eric Cantor is one of those childish things it is time we set aside?

Dana Milbank:

Actually I find myself listening for Boehner's double entendres.

Here he was at the White House last week:

"You know, I'm concerned about the size of the package, and I'm concerned about some of the spending that's in there. How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives, how does that stimulate the economy?"

This was followed by the speaker of the House, also speaking in the White House driveway:

"And so it's not -- it's not just about how big the package is. It's about how fast jobs are created and how those initiatives that were added in the spending will contribute to long-term stabilization of our economy. And we have to keep in mind the impact of the spending in terms of our deficit. So the package will be as big as it can be successful on the tax side and on the investment side. It has grown."

_______________________

Alfalfa Club Dinner: Are you sure it's not the ALF-ALF Club, in honor of the TV alien?

Dana Milbank:

More evidence that readers of the Washington Sketch are a special breed.

Thank you for tuning in this week.

_______________________

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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