Eager to reset the political discussion away from scandal and in a manner that promotes Barack Obama as an almost apolitical statesman, MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning turned to a liberal Washington Post columnist who praised the president as a “middle-of-the-road liberal" dominated by Republican who have “gone way to the right” of their own party historically.

E.J. Dionne was brought on the Tuesday edition of MSNBC's morning show to defend his argument in Sunday's Washington Post op-ed that the president “wants to invite the nation to reason together with him.” Defending the president's scandal-ridden administration, Dionne absurdly pouted that:

On Friday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton lambasted House Republicans for repeatedly voting to repeal ObamaCare, calling it a "scandal" and an "outrage," as he seemed to cite a questionable study from a left-wing source from 2009 claiming that 45,000 people a year die because they lack health insurance. Sharpton began the segment:

Have any of the liberal journalists who have bellyached over the sequester's supposedly draconian cuts -- which amount to a mere $44 billion -- considered that it pales in comparison to the amount of money that Medicare fraud costs the taxpayer every year?

Last Friday’s All Things Considered segment on NPR was a real treat because David Brooks was absent, and therefore, couldn’t be his squishy self alongside liberal columnist E.J. Dionne.  National Review’s Mona Charen, a real conservative, filled in for the New York Times pseudo-Republican, and effectively countered Dionne’s Obama cheerleading.

The two were asked by host Robert Siegel to analyze the president’s State of the Union address last week, and to no one’s surprise – that Dionne was fawning over the speech, while Charen took a more pragmatic approach.

Early this morning, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he’d abdicate the papal throne at the end of the month, which is the first time a pontiff will have stepped down in seven centuries.  Such breaking news was bound to set off rampant media speculation about next month's meeting of the College of Cardinals --which will decide Benedict's successor -- and talk in the media about the outgoing bishop of Rome's legacy.

All that is well and good, but on MSNBC, it was the perfect excuse for the liberal network to feature liberal Catholics Chris Matthews and E.J. Dionne scolding the Church as out of touch with modernity on issues of sexuality and women as priests. And that was on top of laughingly treating the election of a new pope as though it were some presidential primary where candidates work feverishly to line up enough delegates to win nomination. Read the relevant transcript below the page break:

During Friday’s broadcasts of the PBS's NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered, liberals continued with their narrative about the fiscal cliff, and how it’s not all that bad.  Previously, Mark Shields and E.J. Dionne agreed with New York Times-style Republican David Brooks that they would go off the cliff.   The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne equated it with the “will of the people.”

But now, the Post’s Ruth Marcus and E.J. Dionne insist that the cliff isn’t a cliff.  It’s actually a well-defined “slope." But in the words of Joe Biden, “this is a big f***ing deal.”

Last Friday, in his first post-election remarks on PBS and NPR, New York Times columnist David Brooks downplayed his usual bash- conservatives  narrative, and actually castigated liberals for wanting to go over the looming fiscal cliff.  He said that liberals are more organized, they’ve won the election, and will get most of what they yearn for if we do go over the waterfall: increased revenue, tax hikes, and cuts to defense spending.   

Strangely, his liberal colleagues, Mark Shields on PBS and E.J. Dionne on NPR, seemed to agree with this claim – undercutting the notion that this "cliff" is dangerous to both parties.

Meet the Press viewers got to see a classic Left-Right debate Sunday.

In a discussion about which presidential candidate is the most trustworthy, New York Times columnist David Brooks surprisingly teamed up with former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina to school the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (video follows with NBCNews.com transcript and commentary):

Ted Cruz, Texas's Tea Party candidate for Senate, gave a rather embarrassing education to the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday regarding President Obama's budget proposal.

When Dionne had the audacity to call it "a serious plan," Cruz marvelously replied, "It got zero votes. Not a Democrat in the Senate voted for it. Not a one" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

Perhaps the most common justification for government intrusion into people's lives and into the economy at large is the notion that "doing something" is better than preserving limited government. 

The usual rejoinder from the right is that capitalism has done more to alleviate poverty and is therefore a more efficient way of helping raise living standards than socialism or its related ideologies. While that answer has the advantage of being true, it is often unpersuasive for those looking for an answer to a moral question. That is the task at hand for Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest and center-right thinker in his excellent new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.

MRC president L. Brent Bozell III had his Letter to the Editor published in Saturday's Washington Post. He objected to liberal Post columnist E.J. Dionne trying to make a mountain out of the molehill of one liberal bishop granting an interview to one liberal Catholic magazine. Dionne did not note that this same bishop, so nervous about the bishops being used by political partisans "far to the right," delighted liberals by attacking the Paul Ryan budget.

Dionne wrote the conservative bishops who are "eagerly picking fights with President Obama....have angered more progressive Catholics and led to talk among the disgruntled faithful of the need for a 'Catholic spring' to challenge the hierarchy’s shift to the right." So now the Catholic hierarchy is like Arab dictators? Brent wrote in reply:

Something shocking happened on Friday night on NPR's All Things Considered. "Conservative" pundit David Brooks took the anti-Washington Post position on the Mitt Romney high-school "scoop." Obviously, Post columnist E.J. Dionne stuck with his paper and his liberal guns, insisting more and more stories just like this are going to come out, whether that's a threat or a promise.

Anchor Melissa Block would not use the word "alleged" to describe the Post story which "details incidents of bullying by Romney when he was a senior at the tony Cranbrook boys prep school in Michigan. Five former classmates spoke about an incident when Romney led a posse that targeted a student with long bleached-blond hair, tackled him, pinned him to the ground and hacked off his hair as he cried and screamed for help." Brooks cried it was illegitimate "gotcha" journalism: