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BOTH SIDES NOW: Lowry/Shrum on Christie -- From Toast of Town to Toast? Plus deBlaz and Gates

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By: Mark Green

Yes Christie's presser was a "tour de force performance" but was it based on implausible deniability? Clinton (Flowers) and Obama (Wright) adeptly skated by their prez campaign woes -- will Christie? Rich and Bob also debate if the Gates book helps/hurts Obama, Clinton, Biden.

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On Mayor deBlasio. Our two New Yorkers have divergent views. Bob recalls the mayor as a young, hardworking idealist "who ran an extraordinary campaign" on the winning theme of reducing inequality by pre-K, more affordable housing. "That's not us-them."

Rich, however, agrees with the Peggy Noonan critique that Inaugural Day reflected graceless, smug liberalism. He's withering on pre-K because "a study shows it doesn't work"... to which Bob responds, "so why do all rich people want their kids in them?"

Will the GOP nationally now mock "NYC" as emblem of failed liberalism like updated "Welfare Queen"? Probably notes Rich. And unlike the start of Giuliani's term, he wonders "where are all the new ideas of deBlasio since we're just hearing the same old chestnuts?"

Bob notes that NY governors and mayors, especially of the same party, often clashed because the mayor needs an ok from Albany to get much done. There's agreement that, notwithstanding their personal relationship, Cuomo and deblasio may end up clashing over taxes and other testosterone-fueled differences.

Last, is deBlasio something unusual -- a liberal boss who's more tactical and transactional than ideological? Bob says so was FDR.

On Bridgegate. Rich thinks that this scandal could stick since "everyone understands traffic and the petty vindictiveness of going after a small town mayor. We've all been charmed by his YouTube confrontations but how will they now play in Iowa? Even if he didn't know [about the traffic incident], this tells something about the way he governed."

Bob agrees. "While his press conference was a tour-de-force, it doesn't explain what was his climate of retaliation in New Jersey."

Host: Could this scandal be good news for Christie? That's possible since he'll end up with a 95% name recognition for the presidential primary contests and he may convince folks that he was "out of the loop" (GHWBush).

But back to reality -- it's Christie Time!

^his menacing MO is straight from Giuliani... but also House Administration chairman Wayne Hays, who terrorized members until he own affair (Elizabeth Ray "couldn't type") allowed his enemies-in-waiting to turn on and devour him.

^two of his top aides quit under pressure from the GWBridge incident at the end of 2012 and he called Gov. Cuomo complaining that his appointees at Port Authority were digging too deep into the Ft. Lee mess; so how can he now plausibly claim he didn't know nuthin?

^speaking of Rudyard Kipling, Christie's defense is straight out of RK's famous poem: "I'd shut my eyes in the sentry-box, so I didn't see nothin' wrong."

^when his defenders keep trying to draw attention away by such standard defenses as blaming the "liberal media" (Barbour)[like the NYPost and NYDaily News?] or saying the IRS was worse (Podhoretz) [surely you remember when that well-known bully Obama put his high school friend Lois Lerner at the IRS to jam the GOP?]... then it's likely that this scandal will grow to either consume Christie or merely stain his bi-partisan, can-do brand. Didn't he sign a law against bullying in New Jersey?

^a lot's come out but only now is the local US Attorney beginning his probe, which will put everyone under oath. This seems more like Watergate than the IRS.

On Secretary Gates's Book. Though he's uneasy with a Beltway tell-all while the President he served is still in office and troops are fighting in Afghanistan, Lowry goes on to highlight those sections critical of Obama. Clinton, Biden. He thinks it awful that 44 didn't much believe in his "own war", that Hillary was political during a presidential primary contest, that Biden is a dunce.

Bob pushes back: it's a good thing that a candidate who runs againt two wars ends up questioning his generals and, according to Gates, got all the big decisions right. And while Rich chides Biden on his support of invading Iraq but not 'surging' there, Bob focuses on how right he was on Reagan's Contra War, SALT2 and how Iraq would split up.

(The Host chides their content bias of selecting the evidence that supports the views they brought to the book. So they both accurately cite examples supporting their POVs but don't touch contrary evidence.)

On Secretary John Kerry. Is Shrum surprised at the praise Kerry has garnered because of travels that exceed Hillary ad Walter Mitty combined and his courage in trying to cut the Gordian knows of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Israel-PA? Nope. "He loves his job and is doing a very good job, though it's too early to know whether his efforts will work." He recalls the presidential candidate he advised as a person of passion and talent.

Lowry though condemns his attempts to reduce sanctions to woo Iran to a nuclear deal. Shrum demurs: "As Churchill said, jaw-jaw is better than war war."

Quick Takes: 1. Unemployment Insurance, 2. drug testing the poor. This week the Senate voted for cloture to end a filibuster against extending Unemployment Insurance to the long-term unemployed. Should or will it pass? Bob says he thinks so and hopes so; "what are these people supposed to do?" Rich says Rand Paul not all wrong to conclude that at some point this becomes a disincentive" to work and ideal if "paid for"... but he also concludes that Obama politically has the whip hand in this dire situation.

"Paid-for?" Sounds good. But extension of UI passed several times under Bush without this requirement, which in effect turns every single policy issue into a budget-cutting issue... which appeals to Tea-Partiers with a one track mind but not Democrats who think it wrong to pose every safety net need against another one.

When Florida Governor Rick Scott got a law enacted to drug test welfare recipients, a) the Daily Show's John Oliver showed up at a press conference to ask Scott if he thought politicians too should pee in a bottle before getting paid... and a state court has enjoined its implementation as overly intrusive.

Bob thinks this an old and "just stupid" idea" (to mention that when enforced only some 1-two percent are detected... and then what -- starve a poor person with this medical condition?). Rich supports making welfare payments contingent on meeting certain work conditions (as the 1996 federal law does) but this requirement may be a test too far.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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