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Dana Milbank's Washington Sketch

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The Washington Sketch toured an energy-producing trash facility with chicken litter lover and Clinton ally, Terry McAuliffe. Is it time for the Virginia gubernatorial candidate to come clean? Video by Gaby Bruna/washingtonpost.com

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Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, March 20, 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 20 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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Dana Milbank: Good afternoon. Please send me:

-- your thoughts on which breed of dog most closely fits the personality of Terry McAuliffe.

-- your best Special Olympics jokes.

-- any other thoughts or insults, and, of course,

-- any remaining date prospects for Post political editor Tim Curran.

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Rockville, MD: Dear Dana, As a Marylander, I will likely never have the opportunity to vote (or not) for Terry McAuliffe. Alas, I feel compelled to comment. For reasons that are difficult to pin down, he comes across like a used car salesman -- perhaps smooth, but ultimately somewhat disconcerting in terms of morals and manners. Do you think that he can win the Democratic nomination on the basis of popular support or are his wealth and ties to the party a more likely foundation for his future success? How does he play in front on a crowd of "regular" folks? Thanks for an interesting piece.

washingtonpost.com: McAuliffe's Campaign Junk-et (The Washington Post, March 20, 2009)

Dana Milbank:

As a D.C. resident, I, too, feel cheated that I will not get the chance to pull the lever for McAuliffe. He is a great gift to the journalistic profession. Yes, he is a freak, but he is a magnificent and beautiful freak.

My thoughts on his prospects come from my "reporting," by which I mean "asking Chris Cillizza." My reporting (Cillizza) tells me he's likelier than not to win the Democratic nomination.

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Arlington, Va.: Dana, you look great in a hard hat. My question: Why on earth did you have to wear one for this assignment? Were they afraid the trash was going to get away and attack you?

Dana Milbank: I think we only wore the hard hats just because they looked cool. The only functional pieces of safety equipment they gave us were earplugs, and those were to protect us from McAuliffe.

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McAuliffe - Sane or Insane?: Dana,

The first and only time I've ever seen McAuliffe on TV was when he was interviewed the night Obama locked the nomination and Mrs. Clinton about to make the almost-concession speech. He shouted and jerked around the screen and insisted that she would be elected president. I wrote him off as a nut job.

Now he's leading in the polls to be my next governor. I'm so frightened. I can't vote for the Republican either, who seems like a right wing religious conservative.

What's a sane Virginian to do, Dana?

Dana Milbank:

Since when is insanity a reason not to vote for a guy?

If we applied such unreasonably high standards to our Congress we would be represented only by Bob Casey, and what fun would that be?

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Bethesda: Gotta be some kind of terrier -- possessing boundless, yipping energy, and managing to be wholly annoying yet somehow endearing.

Probably a Jack Russell.

(And, though no pun was intended, "terrier" does fit nicely with his name.)

Dana Milbank: Terrier McAuliffe. Very good.

We had a lengthy debate about this in the office yesterday. Anne Kornblut was thinking Golden Retriever, but Terry's too smart.

It was Tim Curran who came up with burnese mountain dog. More evidence, ladies, why Tim is the man for you. currant@washpost.com.

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Vienna, Va.: So did Tim get any dates out of last week's chat? Or did you wind up getting more offers than he did?

Dana Milbank: Sad story, that. I had high hopes for the large-animal veterinarian from Richmond, but she never wrote.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: I noticed that news services are carrying a story under the heading "Gov. Sarah Palin rejects 30 percent of stimulus funds." Wouldn't it be correct to put the emphasis on Palin and other Republican governors refusing to apply for some stimulus funds? After all, the stimulus law carried no mandatory requirement that any funds be taken or forced upon a state. Maybe these governors want unemployed citizens of those states to eat cake.

Dana Milbank: I was amused by the purity of Palin's position: Because she believes in limited government, she will only take 70 percent of the federal giveaways.

I'd hate to be the first one over that bridge to nowhere that ends 70 percent of the way to the island.

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Chattanooga, Tenn: Apparently my golden retriever shares a common trait with McAuliffe -- she can't walk by a trash can without sticking her head down into it. Having said that, though, your point about the earplugs is well taken, and leads me to conclude that the most appropriate breed for comparison is the Chihuahua. The little runts just won't shut up.

Dana Milbank:

Yes, but the Chihuahua is not friendly or gregarious enough. I need a breed that loves to jump up and lick you all over the face, begging you to play with him.

_______________________

McAuliffe Dog: I'm thinking a Jack Russell Terrier -- very busy, very noisy, a yapper of the first order bred burrow down holes and throttle rats. Listening to my neighbor's all day long I nearly lost my sanity. Sorta like listening to Terry... and I'm a Democrat.

Dana Milbank:

They're too cute, don't you think?

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Washington, D.C.: "The boundless enthusiasm of a Bernese mountain dog." Really?! I dunno Dana, my Bernese just likes to sleep on the couch all day and get belly rubs; what's that say about "Mackers"?

Such a random breed for you to pick for this analogy!

Dana Milbank:

Possibly your bernese needs some 7-11 coffee like Terrier McAuliffe.

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Raleigh, N.C.: "Bernese mountain dog" -- you, sir, are a man of unsuspected depth and sophistication. (I have two of these great dogs.)

Dana Milbank:

I owe it all to Tim Curran. He's top dog.

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Minneapolis: Hi Dana -- As the WP's resident humorist, and after last night's unfortunate Special Olympics comment, what advice would you give the president in how to be funny, other than don't do it?

Dana Milbank: Actually, Gene Weingarten is the resident humorist (his chats are way better). I am more of the resident wise-ass, and I'm not sure I even qualify for residency because I'm doing this chat from home. How about adjunct wise-ass?

For my purposes, I would urge the president to attempt more off-the-cuff humor, because, hit or miss, it will enliven the public discourse. Much more fun than those horrible teleprompters.

Did you listen to how quickly the laughter died after he offered that line?

Also, while we're on the subject, which will do more lasting damage to the administration: the Special Olympics joke or growing arugula in the first lady's garden?

_______________________

Dog: How does Terry McAuliffe feel about food? If it's an integral part of his life, then I suggest Beagle. They have the "loves to jump up and lick you all over the face, begging you to play with him" angle covered, the won't shut up angle covered, etc. But he's got to be in love with food.

Dana Milbank:

We may have a winner here. Can anybody top a beagle?

I don't know a great deal about his eating habits but he approaches his drink with gusto (a photo on the back of his book shows him with beer can in hand), so that sounds right.

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Columbia, Md.: Enjoying your reporting on McAuliffe. Along that line, I can recommend to anyone who likes Democratic politics (probably hard to stomach for Repubs) the audio version of McAuliffe's book, What a Party. He narrates it himself, which absolutely makes the difference. The whole time I felt I was sitting at the bar having a beer with him getting the inside scoop and blarney. Lots of fun. And it's at the library so you don't have to buy it.

Dana Milbank:

That book, by the way, set a new world record for use of exclamation points!!!

_______________________

Virginia Beach: My sister is a Special Olympian, and could kick Obama's (butt) in bowling. But she laughed at the joke saying, "lighten up."

Dana Milbank:

Sadly, Tim Shriver does not have the same sense of humor.

Truth is, it's kind of a stock joke and rarely produces outrage. But our leader is held to a special, olympian standard.

_______________________

Baltimore, Md.: Terry McAuliffe a beagle? Does that mean he's Snoopy?

Dana Milbank: Yes! Dancing on top of his doghouse!!!!

_______________________

Too cute?: If by cute you mean homely, noisy, and untrainable.

Dana Milbank:

Now, now. I really don't think Tim Curran deserves that. Well, maybe the untrainable part.

_______________________

Richmond, Va.: I'm the Vet's cousin again. I didn't encourage her to write, for she is but a SMALL animal vet. Plus she's shy and wouldn't make the first move. Clearly I'll just have to forge something.

Dana Milbank:

Well, that might work. I only said large animal because Tim is so large himself. I think he must be 6'6", but I can't tell because I'm only 5'9" and I have trouble gauging distances at such altitudes.

Further I believe Tim majored in animal husbandry, at least until they caught him at it.

Possibly you could CC them on the same email?

_______________________

Boston, Mass.: Dana,

Does the McAuliffe gov. campaign compensate for Chris Matthews not running for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania?

Ol' Terry is like one of those hyperactive St. Bernards that prefers cat food to kibble...

Dana Milbank:

'Tis but a small consolation prize. But the Pennsylvania/Virginia question reminds me of another tidbit I picked up at the dump yesterday: Virginia is the number two trash importer behind Pennsylvania.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: In the manner of "Change", don't you think Terry McAuliffe has some baggage? Doesn't seem that he got away with the White House coffees, money for sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom and other campaign funding abuses, and now he thinks he can win the nomination?

Dana Milbank:

I believe the incinerator he visited yesterday took care of the excess baggage.

_______________________

Vermont: How long till public outrage forces President Obama to name Jon Stewart Treasury Secretary?

Dana Milbank: If this happens, I trust the Senate Democrats will be shrewd enough to respond by replacing Chris Dodd with Al Franken on the banking committee.

_______________________

Chattanooga, Tenn.: If quality of face wash and pogo-like jumping ability factor into the equation, then I agree with Ms. Kornblut and vote for the Golden Retriever. But I'm not sure if they're capable of saving Northern Virginia.

Dana Milbank:

Problem is Kornblut's opinion on this is suspect because she owns a Schnoodle.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Did you cover McAuliffe previously when you covered the White House? Or was his involvement before your time? I know you're a young pup.

Dana Milbank: A pup! Only in dog years.

I started covering the Clinton White House in '98, so I've had many happy years with Terrier Macker.

_______________________

Leesburg, Va.: Dana, as someone who has made much worse jokes about the Special Olympics before, I can't quite be upset with the president. Is this issue an indicator that we live in an over-sensitive society, or simply that I am a horrible, horrible person?

Dana Milbank: You are horrible, Leesburg, and I love you for it. I am reminded of the Matt Dillon character in Something about Mary, after he tells Mary he's an architect:

Pat Healy: Really, it's only a side thing for my true passion.

Mary: And what's that?

Pat Healy: I work with retards.

Mary: Isn't that a little politically incorrect?

Pat Healy: Yeah, maybe, but hell, no one's gonna tell me who I can and can't work with.

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Boston, Mass.: Did Pennsylvania take the garbage title from New Jersey?

The highlight of my weekend -- a Milbank response!

Dana Milbank:

New Jersey still leads in the Toxic Assets category, but by tonnage, Pennsylvania is the biggest dump.

_______________________

Dog: McGruff the Crime Dog for McAuliffe -- you can say "Hey Mac" and get two for the price of one...

washingtonpost.com: Groan.

Dana Milbank:

Uh, oh. You have awakened the chat moderator.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: What has Terry McAuliffe ever done in Richmond or for Virginia. Why is it often said he could win the primary? I do not know any Dems who want to vote for him.

Dana Milbank:

What if he were to adopt a new slogan?

"Chicken waste in every pot."

_______________________

McAuliffe - Sane or Insane?: Dana,

How can a guy who was a complete puppet for the Clintons be a leader, I ask rhetorically... At least the garbage trucks will run on time?

Dana Milbank:

McAuliffe: Bringing More Waste to Virginia.

_______________________

Tim Curran: If Tim wants to move to the San Francisco Bay Area, I'll give him a test drive.

Dana Milbank: I hate to part with him, but it may come to that. Unless, of course, the Richmond veterinarian comes through.

Thank you for wasting a perfectly good hour with the Washington Sketch.

_______________________

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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