In a freewheeling conversation that imitated late-night comedy more than a staid mortgage bankers meeting, liberal political analyst Paul Begala and conservative pundit Tucker Carlson dissected the political landscape.
The two spoke together during the Mortgage Bankers Association conference that concludes Wednesday in New York.
They didn't always stay on topic, of course. At one point, hairstyles briefly entered into the conversation. Carlson told everyone to look to his home state of California for the trends while Begala wondered aloud if the mullet was still in style in his home state of Texas.
"Business in the front. Party in the back," quipped Carlson. (The haircut is indeed out of style, even in Texas.)
But I digress.
The two political commentators talked mostly about President Barack Obama, Republican contender Mit Romney and the presidential campaign.
Both agreed it was an important election for the mortgage banking industry.
Carlson recommended the audience stay tuned to performance and direction of the country polls. He also suggested keeping tabs on what the major media outlets were covering concerning the race. He predicted Obama will lose if they begin focusing heavily on Obama's first term.
"If Obama were running unopposed he would lose," Carlson said, a line that brought many chuckles.
But he noted the deep divisions in the Republican Party and the lack of party enthusiasm for Romney. Unfortunately Romney cannot challenge Obama on the biggest piece of legislation during the president's first term — health care reform — due to Romney's own history of supporting an individual health care mandate in Massachusetts when he served as governor.
Begala said if the economy continues to sputter, it could negatively impact Obama's chances.
May marked the 100th consecutive month in which Americans said they felt like the country was moving in the wrong direction, he said. "The economy is driving the wrong-direction poll. If economy doesn't turn around, it will be really hard for Obama."
But perhaps not all is lost for Obama?
"Every time I look at the economy, I think he can't win," Begala said. "Every time I look at Republicans, I think he can't lose."
But should anyone really want the job?
As soon as election is over, one of the nation's biggest fiscal disasters of all time could hit as the Bush tax cuts expire, the Obama payroll taxes expire, and the debt ceiling issue all come to a head.
The country will need to raise taxes and cut spending, but must do so judiciously so as to not damage the delicate recovery.
"If I won the election, the day after the election I'd demand a recount," Begala said. "I don't want to deal with that mess."