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Dana Milbank's Washington Sketch Live

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Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, September 25, 2009; 12:00 PM

Post columnist Dana Milbank serves as the capital's foremost critic of political theater.

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He was online Friday, Sept. 25 at 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, members of the General Assembly. Under Libyan rules we have 96 minutes for today's chat. What disclosures do you wish to make?

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Silver Spring, Md.: You would think Sen. Vitter would want to stay away from anything reminding people of the issue of prostitution.

Dana Milbank:

Glad you found that mention of Vitter, tucked deep in today's column. A related question: Is it still okay to refer to him as Sen. David Vitter (R-D.C. Madam), or should that be discontinued out of respect for the memory of the D.C. Madam? These are the sorts of issues we resolve in the Sketch chat.

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Amarillo TX: There was at least one report that ACORN staffers, prior to the surfacing of the video scam, reported to the police that a pimip and his prostitute had approached the organization seeking help. Is this true? If so, it seems that would change everything.

Dana Milbank: Yes, I think that in one town, maybe Philly, they called the cops. But while I am feeling very free-wheeling this afternoon, I don't think I'm going to mount any defense of Acorn.

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Washington, D.C.: Dana. Dana, Dana, Dana.

I'm usually a fan of your column. Love the satire.

But seriously? You're busting Michelle Obama's chops for having Secret Service protection? For buying exotic vegetables? For encouraging the expansion of farmers' markets in the District? For encouraging Americans to eat better? For supporting American farmers, not agribusiness?

Good thing she didn't pick childhood literacy as her cause. Just think of the costs associated with teaching poor kids to read! Of course, here I thought that only "patrician" kids learned to read anymore, but then I took a look at the comments for your column today, and it appears that conspiracy theorists and spittle-emitting racists read, too.

I work downtown, and I think I'm going to check out this nice new farmers' market. While I'm there, I just might just take the First Lady's advice and buy you some nice veggies, since she's probably right - if you ate better, you might feel better, and not write nasty things about supporting farmers markets.

washingtonpost.com: Michelle Obama Gets Her Farmers Market

Dana Milbank:

Well, thank you for usually being a fan.

Now go back and look in that piece: I defy you to find any evidence that I don't like farm markets. I love farm markets! In fact I left that one with a bag of bison, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, flowers and organic arugula.

Neither do I begrudge the first lady her security detail.

However, I don't think they should be shutting downtown arteries and a metro station during rush hour to set up a farmer's market. Why not have it in Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House, which has already been closed for security reasons? Then thousands of commuters wouldn't be inconvenienced -- and the first lady could walk!

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Chicago, Illinois: Did your editors nix Etch-E-Sketch too or are you just being lazy? Remember, Etch-E-Sketch is supposed to enable your sloth.

Dana Milbank:

Blow me down! I forgot all about Etch-a-Sketch. The problem is not my editors (well, they are a problem, but not this problem) but may attention deficit disorder. I was a blogger for a week, I tweeted for a week, I did Etch-a-Sketch. But with the pressure to pump out the column four days a week it's difficult to keep anything else going.

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D.C.eased: Most of the venerable institutions of D.C. are named after the dead. The Hoover Building. The Smithsonian. Why should Sen. Vitter be any different?

Dana Milbank: You are correct. In fact, I think I'll just call him "Madam."

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Eugene, Ore.: Maybe it's me, but I feel uncomfortable when SNL mocks David Paterson's blindness. It's just wrong (at least for me).

I don't really know David Paterson or New York State politics, but I agree with David Paterson when he says it goes too far and he seems to have a sense of humor about himself and not upset they mocked his extramarital affairs, his past drug abuse, his incompetence as Governor... just the blindness, which I agree with.

Dana Milbank: I, uh, see what you mean.

Generally, physical imperfections are not something we should joke about, with the exceptions of Barney Frank's belly, Pelosi's smile, and Boehner's complexion. On the other hand I probably violate this rule on the order of once a day.

Speaking of physical imperfection, I just had my annual physical this morning. I remain solidly in the "overweight" category of BMI despite the loss of 10 lbs.

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New York : What if we all started a "DeFUND Party?" Finally, true bipartisanship. I'll pick one,(Haliburton) and you'll pick one, (Acorn) and down a drink each time. Want to come to the convention?

Dana Milbank: Only if we can dress as pimps, prostitutes and Dick Cheney. Halloween is nearly upon us. . .

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Washington, D.C. : Reading today's column makes me wonder, do people ever start cracking up in those hearing rooms?

washingtonpost.com: ACORN Season in Congress

Dana Milbank:

Yes. My belief is they are all cracked up or they wouldn't be participating in the hearing. And, yes, the giggling in the press section at the Finance markup has become more and more open and less and less respectful.

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Traffic problems: And while you're at it, you could move the UN out to the airport, with a moat around it. No matter what Mrs. Obama put you through this week, its peanuts compared to New York traffic, all for the right to hear wingbats like Gaddafi theorize about the Kennedy killer(s).

Dana Milbank: I would tolerate a bit of a traffic tie-up if they brought Gadaffi to our organic farm market. He might calm down if he sampled some of that tender baby arugula.

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Belfast, Maine: Being the perspicacious observer that you are, how about trying a bit of prognostication and taking a guess at the exact date a Republican congressman will first bring a pitchfork to the floor.

Dana Milbank: I lack the perspicacity (perspicaciousness) to predict, but I noticed that the RNC this morning sent out a national fundraising appeal by email under the name "Joe Wilson." He's now a national icon. The next time the president comes before a joint session they will have to make it by video link.

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New York : I don't get it. What idiot thought that it was in any way helpful to wake Bunning up? Shouldn't they have passed out pillows and invited others to join him?

Dana Milbank: The phrase "let sleeping dogs lie" comes to mind.

I am already mourning Bunning's departure. He definitely will be inducted into my political Hall of Fame.

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Amherst, Mass.: What's up with Muammar al-Gaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez being so obsessed with the John F. Kennedy assassination?

Dana Milbank: They also have a few questions about Obama's birth certificate that they have submitted to the security council.

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Atlanta, GA: Why weren't Democrats described as "lashing out any way they can" when they were the minority party? The hyper-partisan liberal media seems to be unified in its attempt to keep this "Republicans are angry" theme at the forefront. Have you ever considered treating the two parties fairly and in the same way?

Dana Milbank: My first instinct was to point out the fact that you sent an angry question about the "Republicans are angry" theme. But then I reconsidered. At the risk of re-awakening the angry left, I refer you to this rather famous story about the Democratic minority that I wrote:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/16/AR2005061601570.html

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BMI: Is something the skinny people thought up just to destroy the self-esteem of those of us who carry a bit more suet...

Dana Milbank: I'm with you on that, Barney. In fact I'm going to order another scone hear at Quartermaine's in Bethesda, host site of this week's chat.

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Twitter : Who is doing your twitter? Some intern? http://twitter.com/Milbank

Dana Milbank:

I have hired a telemarketing firm in India to do this (actually it's just an automatic "tweet" of my columns). The same Indian firm is also hired to click on my column thousands of times a day to give the appearance that people are reading it.

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Dallas, TX: Dana, buy some sequins, sew them on your sweats and cha-cha with Tom DeLay. You might drop that unwanted baggage.....

Dana Milbank: You obviously don't know me well or you would not suggest that I would need to "buy" sequins. I missed the DeLay show, but my wife reports that the hammer really could "shake his booty."

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Helena MT: Your column on the farmers market mentioned that Iowa doesn't have a Whole Foods, but neglected to mention that Iowa does have farmers growing arugula and it was to those farmers (the ones growing arugula) that Obama made that famous comment about the price of arugula in Whole Foods. I know, I know, your way (he was talking about Whole Foods to people who don't have a Whole Foods to go to!) makes it sound inane and that's the purpose. Talking about commodity prices to farmers who know those commodity prices - awww, that would be too hard and wouldn't be snarky enough.

Dana Milbank: Helena, I fear you are way too involved in this story. Please step back from the arugula.

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Athens, Ohio: Won't the electorate of Louisiana decide if the David Vitter's D.C. Madam scandal is over or not. If they re-elect him, it's over. If they don't, it's not. Well, that too simplistic (D.C. Madam being the one and only issue of a Louisiana voter's mind), but his winning or losing re-election will end it, right?

Dana Milbank:

Well, it's "over" anyway in the sense that nobody is chasing Vitter down a hallway demanding his comment on the little black book anymore. For that matter even Ensign seems to have returned to a normal life in the Capitol, lobbing grenades at Democrats on the Finance committee.

But none of this should stop us from applying the (R-Madam) label, just for old time's sake.

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Midwest: I LOVED the farmers' market column! I like most of your stuff, but that was just fantastic. I especially loved the part about the carbon emissions.

Dana Milbank:

I should clarify that my reference to something having a several-ton carbon footprint was about the tomatoes, not the first lady.

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Dallas: Are Republicans against what ACORN does or how they operate? If they are against how ACORN operates why don't they push for states to automatically register people to vote and figure ways to assist with housing, thereby eliminating the need for ACORN? If they are against the poor voting and having housing well then shouldn't that be pointed out?

Dana Milbank: They are not against the poor voting. They are against the poor voting Democratic. If the poor would only learn to vote Republican, we would be calling him Sen. David Vitter (R-Acorn).

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Salinas, CA: "Why not have it in Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House, which has already been closed for security reasons?"

Does Secret Service have profiles on the cauliflower?

Dana Milbank: The vegetables have agreed to submit to a background check, plus putting them through the x-ray machine will extend their shelf life.

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Chantilly VA: I prefer to refer to Sen. Vitter as David "Diapers" Vitter.

Dana Milbank:

I cannot countenance such incontinence on this chat. (You'll have to go to the Internets to research the Vitter-Diaper rumors, as I am busy with more important issues such as arugula.)

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Illinois: pimps, prostitutes and Dick Cheney

Redundent?

Dana Milbank:

No. Dick Cheney looks better in sequins.

Thanks for chatting. Speak again next week.

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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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