Dana Milbank: Why Obama Won in '08, Dick Cheney in 2012, More

Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, April 24, 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, April 24 at noon ET.


Dana Milbank:

Good afternoon, Sketchreaders.

I've been watching today's return of the Goracle to Capitol Hill so you don't have to.

Best exchange so far was after Gore attributed floods, hurricanes and other bad things to global warming. Joe Barton said he should have blamed the Dallas Cowboys' losses on global warming, too. Gore compared Barton to Bernie Madoff.

The best part should come later this afternoon when Newt takes his turn before the House committee.

And, while I'm at it, here's a tease for a new product that's launching on May 4: a joint video venture by Chris Cillizza and me. Hope you'll keep an eye out for it.

Looking forward to your questions.


Montgomery Village, Md.: Dana

Most interesting column this morning. Truth serum indeed ! In keeping with the spirit of the column and with full respect for your journalist responsibility and neutrality, was there a particular event, point in time, whatever, where YOU "knew" that it was over for McCain or that Obama had locked it up?

Dana Milbank: I knew it all along. I also know who is going to win in 2012 and 2016, but I am not telling.


Evanston, Ill.: Steve Schmidt's "candor" may be impressive, but, um, might it be possible that other factors were at play here? After all, his job is to get people to hire him to run their political campaigns; if he can frame McCain's loss as a foregone conclusion, it might help his professional prospects, no?

Dana Milbank: Yes, but the more impressive bit of honesty was him dumping all over the Republican Party, which includes the entire universe of people who would hire him. I was also struck by how Plouffe acknowledged that he knew McCain was cooked in August and September.


New York, N.Y.: Dear Dana, why couldn't we have injected Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Zubayah with truth serum, instead of waterboarding them hundreds of times? Or, perhaps we could put truth serum in Dick Cheney's tea? It always worked in those old movies...

Dana Milbank: I think they tried the truth serum but all they got out of KSM was a long diatribe about how Rudy Giuliani's Florida strategy was dumb.


McLean, Va.: So. Is today the first time The Post has called it torture on the editorial pages?

washingtonpost.com: Where 'Those Methods' Lead

Dana Milbank: No, the editorial page has been torturing readers for years.

I am, of course, just kidding. I am very fond of Fred Hiatt and am glad he ran my column on Sunday about all the wacky comments. I am also grateful to those of you who contributed comments to last week's web chat that formed the basis of that column.

Finally, I am grateful that no crazy comment makers have noticed that I am having this chat today.


Philadelphia, Pa.: I find it politically interesting that the Republican attack dog against Obama is Dick Cheney. Is anyone thinking Cheney should be the Republican pick for President in 2012? I think he could threaten to torture all Republicans to vote for him in the primaries.

Dana Milbank:

Cheney in 2012: A sketchwriter's dream.


Springfield, Ill.: Do you find it remarkable how Rove and Cheney are portraying potential criminal behavior as a "simple policy disagreement" for which their minions should not be held responsible?

Dana Milbank: On the contrary I think it is a brilliant explanation. I expect that before long the Craigslist Killer in Boston will chalk it all up to a "simple policy disagreement" -- he thought the Office of Legal Counsel had authorized him to kill his masseuse.


Schmidt and Plouffe: Did they hold hands at any point during the evening?

Dana Milbank: Well, there was some private time before and after.

But Cillizza assures me that they are both married (not to each other) with children (not the same ones).


Arlington, Va.: I am concerned about your description of Justice Thomas's behavior at the Supreme Court hearing. You should remember that this is the man that Bush I called the most outstanding candidate for the Court during the year that he was chosen. Will this make Justice Thomas recuse himself if a case involving you made it to the Supremes?

washingtonpost.com: The Supremes Sing the Oldies

Dana Milbank:

My dispute with Justice Thomas is a simple policy disagreement: I think he should not take naps and eat candy during oral arguments, and I am supported in this opinion by memos written by Jay Bybee and John Yoo.


Epicenter, Del.: What other earthquakes can we expect from First-in-the-Nation, Delaware? The Blue Hens take the BCS?

Dana Milbank: Delaware already leads the nation in many categories, but primarily:

1. tolls

2. traffic

I am pleased to report that I was able to avoid both yesterday by exiting I-95 in Maryland and taking a smaller road to Newark before I got on the infernal Delaware Turnpike.


Philadelphia: I enjoyed today's column about the campaign post-mortem at the University of Delaware. Is there a video of that available online? I'd like to see it in its entirety.

washingtonpost.com: Not that I'm able to find quickly. Anyone else?

Dana Milbank: There were a couple of cameras there but maybe not TV stations. The Wilmington paper had a guy there, and I sat next to Politico's Ben Smith, whose fine coverage justified the $70 cab ride he's going to expense with Jim Vandehei.


Arlington, Va.: Thanks for putting your political hat on to help us get answers. My question is that since you knew Obama would win 2008, do you think Powell and Condi Rice helped lay the groundwork for African-American leadership in our nation?

Also, do you think Obama won Iowa and other primaries because people just do not trust Hillary and he won the nomination as the anti-Hillary candidate?

Dana Milbank: My magic eight ball says: Signs point to yes.


Miami, Fla: Have you seen the movie "State of Play" with Ben Afleck as a member of congress? Did it appear to you as a typical "all members of Congress are either a crook or having an affair" theme? Also, were you uncomfortable with the Russell Crowe reporter keeping evidence from the police?

Dana Milbank:

I have not yet seen it but I believe many things in that film are grossly exaggerated. For example, I am a reporter but I do not routinely have affairs with congressional wives. I do this once or twice a session, at most.


Baltimore: I see via your allied publication Slate that Mitt Romney has been forced by the economy to sell two of his mansions, netting only about $10 million in the process. I presume that by 2012 he and his brood will be hunkered down in a simple log...palace.

washingtonpost.com: GOP Downsizing: Mitt's Had To Give Up Two Mansions

Dana Milbank: This is bad news for all those undocumented gardeners he had.


Dallas: Dana, I believe my dream would be to see Cheney prosecuted for all his scheming since coming into office with Bush. Starting with his secretive meetings with the major oil companies and then their record profits. Halliburton's no-bid contract in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would love to see some justice in this country. "Cheney's Law" should finally be broken.

Dana Milbank:

Yes, but that isn't the Washington way. They'd go after him for something small like failing to use correct postage, the way they (briefly) got Uncle Ted over the shiatsu lounger.


Evanston, Ill.: Hey Dana, Thanks for quoting me in your Sunday piece. I feel distinctly honored. It also seems your Evanston cohort is expanding. What's your take of the Jane Harman fiasco? After supporting and defending warrantless wiretapping she is denouncing and condemning legally authorized wiretapping that just so happened to catch her making a quid pro quo with an alleged Israeli agent. Why is the Washington establishment not commenting on this? Why is she not cooked?

washingtonpost.com: The Choler of Online Comments

Dana Milbank: There seems to be some sort of an irony hotspot in the Chicago suburbs.

I feel a bit out of the news this week because the Harman story and the torture-memo story haven't yet bubbled up to a congressional hearing or the like. Hopefully we'll have a sketchable event on those next week.


Dunnellon, Fla.: After last week's chat, I was visited by The Washington Post's Brown Shirts, and made to see the error of my ways. Henceforth, I shall only direct my obscenities at the politicians and not at you.

washingtonpost.com: I thought they took the buyout?

Dana Milbank: We have them on contract from Bill O'Reilly.


Delaware: Also No. 1 in credit card companies thanks to their insanely lax incorporation laws. I am sure Joe Biden is going to crack down hard on them. Obama was quoted the other day saying that the credit card companies had to stop, "some of their abuses." Only some abuses? Do they get to pick?

Dana Milbank:

Yes, they get to keep only the best abuses, as well as some of the finest problems. Here's what he said:

"But we also want to do so in a way that eliminates some of the abuses and some of the problems that a lot of people are familiar with -- people finding themselves starting off with a low rate and the next thing they know their interest rates have doubled; fees that they didn't know about that are suddenly tacked on to their bills; a whole lack of clarity and transparency in terms of the terms and conditions of their credit cards."


Alexandria, Va.: If our Supreme Court is there to legislate reasonable behavior, then perhaps we are at a tipping point. Does affirmative action make sense anymore now that we have a black president?

Dana Milbank: I think it is possible that the Supreme Court doesn't make sense anymore.

Hope you all saw this gem from Justice Breyer during Tuesday's argument on strip searches:

"In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, okay? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear."


New York: Regarding the idea in your column that the Republican party is extinct, isn't this just a valley similar to the Democrats losing 73 seats the House and many seats in the Senate in 1994? After John Kerry and the Democrats suffered in 2004, did the Democrats look extinct? What is your viewpoint that many Democrats won their House seats as either pro-life or pro-gun candidates like Kirsten Gillibrand from NY?

Dana Milbank: They actually got into this a bit last night -- there's that quote in the column from Plouffe about how they won all but the most conservative districts. And both gents agreed that the opposition will eventually recover.

I of course know exactly when this will occur, but I am not telling.


Evanston, Ill.: Hey Dana, do you always need an event to write a piece? Can't you just piece together some disparate quotes with your snark interspersed. I really think Nancy Pelosi and Jane Harman could fill up a good eventless sketch.

Dana Milbank: This is an excellent idea! And I need never change out of my pajamas. Possibly this could be the theme of the new product I launch with Cillizza. We could call it snark central.

Ok, back to CSPAN. Al Gore is having an excellent fight with Marsha Blackburn.

Speak to you next week.


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