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Washington Sketch

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Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, March 13, 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, March 13 at 12 noon ET to take 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.

Your Sketchwriter brings sad news today: Last week's efforts in this space yielded not one date for the Post's magnificently hot and eligible political editor, Tim Curran. I am not entirely surprised by this and can see why some people may find his hotness to be intimidating. So I will remind you that operators are still standing by the phone -- the "number," as Joe Biden might say, is currant@washpost.com -- and move on to other issues.

Namely, Michael Steele. I tried to pursue him yesterday but was thwarted by the RNC, which apparently has him under house arrest with no telephone privileges. This is a terrible shame, so if you have any questions you'd like to address to Michael Steele, I will attempt to answer them as he would.

So, what's on the collective mind of the reading public?

_______________________

Colorado: Hi Mr. Milbank,

What's your take on the Charles Freeman withdrawal? The Post editorial yesterday made him sound like a somewhat paranoid wacko, but the New York Times had an article that seemed to show that pro-Israel politicians played an important role in pressuring Freeman. I have no way to gauge what is correct; can you opine? Thanks.

Dana Milbank:

Don't know the fellow, but I have a couple of relevant observations:

1. Being a paranoid wacko is not a disqualifier for government service.

2. AIPAC definitely had the knives out for him, which I know from direct experience. They were pushing the stories about him that first appeared in the Washington Times, but it never quite rose the the level of a sketchable event for me because there was no hearing or similar event.

_______________________

Spokane, Wash.: What on earth has turned you into such a right wing jerk?!

Dana Milbank: Interesting. Was it my column this week about Senator Vitter (R-Gomorrah) that set you off, Spokane? Last week's on the spontaneous combustion of John McCain? Or is it possible you haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about?

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Orlando, Fla.: And this is wrong why? Better an obsession with Lincoln than the 2010 or 2012 elections. Maybe reporters could learn something if they digest some of Lincoln's writings -- perhaps that is what the president is trying to do. He needs all the help he can get to find a way for America to get out of this mess. Your snide article certainly isn't the way.

Dana Milbank: Wow, we're really off our meds today. This is about my Lincoln bicentennial column of Wednesday, which was so unsnide and unsnarky as to be boring. Just thought I'd mix things up a bit -- but I guess somebody will get stirred up about just about anything.

_______________________

Date: How old is he? I live in Ohio, but I would do a long-distance relationship.

Dana Milbank:

He is 40 but doesn't look a day over 48.

Tim is very fond of battleground states.

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Madisonville, Tenn.: Long live Lincoln!! But just curious -- how many of these events have you attended in person?

Dana Milbank:

Believe it or not I attended last week's 148th anniversary commemoration of Lincoln's First Inaugural, but then I switched my column to the truth commission.

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Florida chick: six words:

to clarify views, does Vitter Twitter?

Dana Milbank:

Well, Vitter has Twittered, and he has admitted to this "big sin," but it was before he was in the Senate and therefore he is protected from the Senate Ethics Committee by the statute of limitations.

_______________________

Los Angeles, Calif.: For Michael Steele: Have you talked to Joe Biden about hair plugs and how to avoid gaffs, or does your RNC muzzle limit your choices too?

Dana Milbank:

I love Joe Biden! Way better than that lightweight my party put up for veep! And what's with Bristol Palin and the baby's daddy splitting up? Typical Republicans!

-- Michael Steele.

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Metro DC: Mr. Steele,

Or should I say Man of Steele? It seems as though you have been fed some 'kryptonite' because your mouth is not working right and getting you into a lot of trouble. While the GOP seems to be backing you NOW, you will may have to take it easy with the talk-show circuit for awhile. So my question to you is: what are the RNC's plans to engage with the urbanites given your party's past track record?

Dana Milbank:

Our plan is to ignore the urbanites! Racial minorities, with the exception of me, do not like our party, and for good reason. In fact I have no idea why anybody would be a Republican.

-- Michael Steele.

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Watertown, Mass.: Do you have any inside information as to why Arlen Specter has become such a nice person lately? Let's face it when the guy known as "Snarlin' Arlen" starts helping old ladies across the street there must be a reason. Do you think there's something in the D.C. water or does the 2010 election have something to do with it?

Dana Milbank:

Well, he is facing a Republican primary. But that doesn't matter to me, because I'm backing the Democrat. Democrats are better because they like gay people and aren't controlled by that ugly incendiary device, Limbaugh. Would you care for a chocolate kiss?

-- Michael Steele.

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Steele: Dana, this guy is such a gift to the Sketch! Please tell us, where does Mr. Steele stand on gay marriage? Gays in the military? Stem cell research? The Octo-mom? Illegal immigration?

Dana Milbank:

I love all those Democratic things! In fact, I plan to put up some Democratic campaign posters in my office when I redecorate it to make it less masculine.

-- Michael Steele.

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Anonymous: Mr Steele: Has anyone ever told you how much you look like Dana Milbank of the Washington Post?

Dana Milbank:

Yeah, I'm kinda crazy like that.

-- Michael Steele.

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Philly: Hey Mike, Are you gonna develop a GOP stimulus program and will it include any money for homeless Philadelphians to do campaign work?

Dana Milbank: Hah! I want the stimulus to fail! I want America to fail! I want Republicans to fail!

-- Michael Steele

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Steele: Are these real quotes from Steele, or are you making them up? They sound authentic, like those SNL parodies of Palin that used her actual statements. Reality's getting too weird man.

Dana Milbank:

Kinda sorta real. Because I am being held under house arrest at RNC headquarters without telephone privileges, I have authorized the Washington Sketch to channel my thoughts.

-- Michael Steele

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Belfast, Maine: So, Dana, what's the latest on the vetting process for the Obamas' dog?

Dana Milbank:

Hopefully it's going better than it did for the technology officer and the deputy treasury secretary.

_______________________

RE: Your Response to Los Angeles, Calif: How do you define "Typical Republicans"?

Dana Milbank:

White males.

-- Michael Steele

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Washington, D.C.: Dana, why don't you turn your quasi-date service here into an auction? That way, you make some money for the Post (and keep your job if it comes down to it. You're bankable!) and your editor gets a date (or fifty)!

Dana Milbank:

I like this plan, but there's a wrinkle: It seems I'm going to have to pay people to date Tim.

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Richmond, Va.: So my cousin is a 28 year-old veterinarian. Is Tim too old for her? Is Richmond too far?

Dana Milbank:

If she's a large-animal veterinarian, have her write.

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Atlanta: Where are you chatting from today? I bet I can make it before the end of the chat!

Dana Milbank: I am chatting from underneath my desk at RNC headquarters.

--M.S.

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Sewickley, Pa.: Mr. Steele, do you expect an invitation to The Daily Show any time soon? Do you think you will fair better that Jim Cramer did?

Dana Milbank: I love Jon Stewart! Almost as much as Rachel Maddow! Much better than that lame Sean Hannity. I'd go on her show in a heartbeat if they'd only let me out of my office.

-- M.S.

_______________________

Steele: Exactly what is an "off the hook" media campaign in an "urban-suburban hip-hop setting"? I have NO idea what this means.

Dana Milbank: Kinda crazy. Want a chocolate kiss?

-- M.S.

_______________________

Steele: If the RNC decides to usher him out, let Joe the Plumber have the job. He's sampled every other career option in his 15+ minutes of fame.

Dana Milbank: From your lips to the Republican National Committee's ears.

-- D.M.

They'll have to take the gavel out of my cold dead hands.

-- M.S.

_______________________

MTV: Yo, Mike, Boxers or Briefs?

Dana Milbank: Nothing!

-- M.S.

_______________________

Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C.: Dana, forget Tim. Auction yourself off and then you'd really be rolling in the bank! Apologies to your wife.

Dana Milbank: Actually, my wife has been trying to auction me off for years. She gets about as many takers as I've found for Tim. But at least he'll get a visit from the veterinarian.

Thanks for chatting. Have a good weekend.

-- D.M./M.S.

_______________________

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