David Gregory decided to have a very fair and balanced roundtable discussion at the conclusion of Sunday's "Meet the Press" exclusively with the perilously liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and the equally left-leaning Chuck Todd of NBC News.
With the subject being Newsweek's new cover story about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Todd mysteriously made the case for how slim her chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination were by claiming, "Rush Limbaugh is an incredibly influential figure in the Republican Party, and he could never win the Republican nomination" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Let me do one other political note because Sarah Palin is being heard from again--cover story in Newsweek. And I want to pullout the portion where she talks about her prospects, which is quite interesting. We'll get that together and put that up on the screen. Again, granting an interview to Newsweek. "I can win." She says, "The people of America are desperate for positive change, and deserving of positive change ... I'm not so egotistical as to believe that it has to be me, or it can only be me, to turn things around. But I to believe that I can win."
What is she up to here, Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, NBC: I'm not going to pretend--we never--to try to crawl inside and see if she's going to do things predictably the way other presidential candidates do is a mistake. It feels like she is simply trying to go out on her own terms. You know, she didn't want the Tucson response that she made when she called blood libel and all those things after the Gabby Giffords shooting to be the most--the lasting impression of Sarah Palin 2011. She wanted to get out--she wanted--if she's not going to run, she wants to be able to have that be the message. "I could win, but I don't need it."
GREGORY: But she has this quality of wanting to very much stay on the margins, be a spoiler if that's, if that's the role. But it, it's just completely unconventional.
EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: It is completely unconventional. I'm not exactly sure, beyond the influence she has now as a, as a kind of gadfly, as a, as a political presence, I'm not sure how this path that she seems to be on gets her any more influence. I'm not sure where it gets her. She hasn't done any of the stuff that you'd--that you would need to do, traditional or nontraditional, to run for president. I don't think she's running.
TODD: Look, Rush Limbaugh is an incredibly influential figure in the Republican Party, and he could never win the Republican nomination.
TODD: I think that's where Sarah Palin's coming. She's going to be an incredibly influential figure on a conservative movement in the Republican Party. That's what she wants. And I don't know if she'd get nominated. Look at her numbers among Republicans. She doesn't have the support among Republicans to win this nomination.
To begin with, one has to wonder whether "Meet the Press" has decided to go MSNBC on its viewers.
David Gregory, Eugene Robinson, and Chuck Todd a roundtable doth not make. This is the kind of "roundtable" one would expect on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."
That said, it's quite a statement for Todd to claim Limbaugh could never win the Republican nomination for president.
As one of the most popular and highly recognizable conservatives on the face of the planet, Limbaugh could be a powerful force in politics if he ever chose to run for office.
If a totally unqualified junior senator from Illinois with absolutely no accomplishments in public or private life outside of academia can get elected president, Rush Limbaugh conceivably could win the Republican nomination.
But whether or not that's the case, exactly what has Limbaugh to do with Palin who has successfully run for office achieving a governorship which is no small feat.
Bringing Limbaugh into the equation seemed more of an opportunity to bash conservatives, which again was what one would expect from MSNBC.
Sadly, this was in keeping with the entire tenor of Sunday's installment which began with a rather softball interview with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who was largely allowed to echo White House talking points with little challenge.
Particularly disturbing was the section about the debt ceiling when Gregory chose to not ask specific numbers despite being given a big opening to do so.
The Secretary told his host that following August 2nd, the treasury will only have existing cash on hand and incoming revenues to pay the obligations of the federal government:
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, SECRETARY OF TREASURY: And every week starting the week of August 2, we have to go out and finance roughly $100 billion in maturing obligations of the government. We make 80 million checks a month to Americans, 55 million people on Social Security benefits, millions more Americans on veterans benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, people who supply our troops in combat. Eighty million checks a month. So on August 2, we're left with the cash on hand and the cash we take in. And we have to convince people to come and refinance $500 billion in maturing principal payments that come due in August.
With such an opening, a good interviewer would have asked exactly how much cash is on hand, what are the projected revenues for August as well as the debt obligations so that they can be met.
As NewsBusters has been reporting for days, treasury is projecting $172 billion worth of revenues for the month along with likely no higher than $35 billion in interest payments.
Since this is a key issue concerning the debt ceiling, why wouldn't Gregory have asked the man with the most information about these figures?
Might that have let the cat out of the bag that this really isn't the crisis the White House has ginned up, and that there is indeed no chance America is going to default on its debt in the coming months?
Having let Geithner nicely off the hook for having to answer any indelicate questions, Gregory instead chose to grill Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty like a suspect in a capital crime.
If he would have been this aggressive with his previous guest, maybe America would have actually learned something about the looming debt ceiling beyond what the White House wishes.
I guess that's not as important to Gregory as bashing conservatives.