Whenever my senator, Pat Toomey-- creature of the ironically-named Club for Growth--opens his mouth, I get to take a little mental vacation. Because you can rely on that this wing-nuttiest guy spouts one right-wing talking point after another. His true gift? Taking a grain of truth and wrapping it in layers of extremist thought. His staffers are even worse: Call with a question or comment about pending legislation, and you will get a snide lecture from the true believers he's hired. So when Christiane Amanpour tried to ask him a semi-serious question on This Week, I already knew his approximate answer:
AMANPOUR: Thanks, Jon. And of course, Jon will join us on the roundtable in a bit.
Of course, the week's big story was the total collapse of the super committee. Washington is now once again in crisis mode, facing yet another ticking clock. It's enough to leave even the most upbeat Americans thoroughly vexed. And joining me to discuss the way forward, former super committee member, Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania.
Senator, thank you very much for joining us.
TOOMEY: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: I just wanted to ask you, you know, the ranking Republican on the super committee, Jeb Hensarling, said he really worries for the country, and wonders how long this country has to actually put itself back on a sustainable place? Do you think anything is going to happen before the 2012 elections in this regard?
TOOMEY: I certainly hope so. I'm, look, I am terribly disappointed. I think our country would have benefited enormously from a constructive agreement by this committee. Of course, the silver lining is the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, which was the goal of the legislation that created our committee, will still go into effect. I think it's important that some configuration of those cuts in fact happen. The full amount, just configured differently.
And I do think that we Republicans put a very, very reasonable plan on the table, a proposal that I think would broader support. So I hope that we'll be able to advance at least parts of it, if not as a package, then sub-components. And I'm hopeful that we'll make some progress there.
AMANPOUR: You said you -- those automatic cuts will go into effect. But the president has said that he doesn't want -- he'll veto any attempt to tinker with those. Do you think that any tinkering will go on? Do you think he'll be able to veto that and it will be able to be stopped?
TOOMEY: I thought that his comments were a little bit more ambiguous than that. I thought he was suggesting that he would veto any attempt to eliminate portions of it. I don't recall him having a categorical veto threat on any change in the configuration. His own defense secretary, Leon Panetta, said that if the defense cuts go through as contemplated under existing law, it would hollow out our nation's defense. I think there's a broad consensus that too much of the cuts are weighted on our defense's capabilities and would really, really cut in deeply into our ability to defend this nation. And so, I think it's important that we change the configuration. I would be surprised if the president would simply veto every effort to make any changes.
I think he's right. I think Obama will veto any attempt to stop the automatic cuts, but not the makeup -- which means the whole thing was a political game all along.