Evening and weekends reporter Neal gets the talking points straight from Sunday's chat shows. Continues after the jump.
Sunday morning snark from both sides is reaches toxic proportions. Democratic talking point: "Bush is using scare tactics! It's the economy, stupid! Bush is insane!" Republican talking point: "Nevermind the economy! You're at war! Kerry's snobby!" Well, at least they agree on something. Elephant in the living room of the day: 50 Iraqi soldiers and an American diplomat killed in separate ambushes not mentioned.
THIS WEEK (ABC)
Head vs. Head: Sens. John McCain and Joseph Biden debate national security. McCain is stiff, lifeless and sort of robotic... Repeated the standard RNC line without much enthusiasm and showed for all the world that he didn't have his morning coffee. Biden gives a good performance that will only add more fuel to the rumors he is on Kerry's short list for a Secretary of State.
Head vs. Head: Campaign managers Ken Mehlman and Bob Shrum have a shouting match after Mehlman accuses Shrum of "pulling a Kerry" by changing his mind. Shrum goes into attack mode by attacking the attack mode: Focuses on scare tactics of Bush campaign. Not able to switch modes fast enough, Mehlman continues with the same old same old, repeating variations of "Kerry thinks terrorism is a nuisance, not a threat" for about five minutes.
Lots of talk about Bill Clinton stumping for John Kerry in Philadelphia on Monday & Democrat efforts to get African-American voters to the Florida polls.
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW (NBC)
Chris Matthews, after airing the interview where Teresa Heinz Kerry says Laura Bush never had a real job, compares the camera angles to a scene from "The Sorrow and the Pity", marking both the morning's first film geek reference and the morning's first World War II reference.
Panelist Andrew Sullivan: Many people voting for Bush will be voting against Kerry, not for Bush. More Teresa bashing, "Teresa Heinz Kerry is a disaster."
Panelist Andrea Mitchell: People who can't spell Iraq will determine the election's winner - Voters who are only interested in local issues first are the most important factor in capturing Florida and Pennsylvania.
MEET THE PRESS (NBC)
Head vs. Head: DNC and RNC chairmen Terry McAuliffe and Ed Gillespie reiterate their appearances on CNBC's Capital Gang earlier this week. They l-u-v NBC. Talking points of the day focus around pure, unbridled fear. Gillespie: "It is not over the top to suggest that had John Kerry been in charge, the Soviet Union would still be around and Saddam would still be in Kuwait." McAuliffe: Kerry is justified in accusing Bush of wanting to reinstate the draft.
FACE THE NATION (CBS)
Guest and non-lesbian Cheney sister Liz Cheney looks alarmingly like her father in drag, even down to similar body language. Cheney goes into attack mode on host Bob Schieffer and Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart, scowls: "George Bush means what he says and says what he means... We are not running a scare campaign." Lockhart, meanwhile, sticks to the DNC's weekend talking points - Bush mishandling the economy, Kerry would restore American prestige and do a better job in Iraq.
Democrats win this one by standing back and letting the Republicans hurt themselves. Message of the day: If you can't decide whether the most important issue of the election is Iraq or the economy, just scream at each other until you turn hoarse.
FRIDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
Hardball - Chris Matthews shriller than ever, swing states, swing states, swing states, Republican ads hurting the party.
Countdown - O'gloating over O'Reilly, campaign ad reviews, snark factor runs through the roof with at least two pop culture references per minute.
O'Reilly Factor - Guests Ed Meese and Richard Holbrooke still can't get enough of Reagan. Dick Morris and Lynn Sweet of Chicago Sun-Times on the Middle Eastand the election, respectively.