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Both Sides Now: Obama vs. GOP/Perry vs. Social Security/Reagan vs. Cheney

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While Arianna returns next week, this weekend we talk with Ron Reagan, who has home court advantage on the Reagan Library GOP debate, and with Mary Matalin, who has an edge on the topic of all-things Cheney since she published his new best-seller, In My Time. And hear how the three of us had very first-hand experiences on 9/11. (Entire audio below.)

*On President Obama's Jobs Address: Did Obama's passionate, urgent jobs address to "jolt" the economy jolt Ron or Mary? Ron likes the fighting spirit and attempt to force GOP obstructionists to be pro- or anti-jobs. An underwhelmed Mary, however, calls it a "solid B+ campaign speech" that failed to note the real economic problem -- deficits.

Then: your humble host groans that Washington just had a half-year debate on that and didn't the non-partisan CBO conclude that the first Stimulus saved or created 3 million jobs? Ron argues that Republicans won't help the economy if it also helps Obama ("are Republicans therefore unpatriotic?", both are asked); Mary believes that "the only way to revive the economy is to get rid of Obama." The two then clash why House Republicans are so unpopular, as the names "Fox" and "MSNBC" are tossed around.

Also, did Obama make Drew Westen happy with his new framing about Lincoln and positive government? Spin Alert: Ron notes that President Reagan in his Inaugural Address prefaced his famous sentence about government being not the solution but he problem with "In this context..."

*On Govs. Perry/Romney on Social Security: In their first of probably 20 debates, Perry, Romney (and others) didn't exactly violate the 11th Commandment but did go at it in ways riveting to junkies (political). Mary thinks that Perry got the better of their exchanges on Social Security and jobs, did pass the "did-he-seem-presidential?" test and excited the hard-core base of a conservative party. Ron, who knows something about horse-back-riding iconic nominees who connect to The Base, concludes that the Texas governor is more of a "gunslinger...with a yahoo sensibility" -- "what's wrong with that?" asks Mary -- and that he and Romney were both "servants of the corpotacracy." Also, they both want to privatize Social Security which is bad in theory and in politics.

*On 9/11 at the White House & Downtown NYC: Panelists and host all describe their powerful experiences on 9/11: Mary found out while in the West Wing and was with Vice President Cheney when the Secret Service burst into his room and physically pulled him out, telling the rest of the staff to "run for your lives." Ron was in a NYC West Side Hotel and saw a plane "screen right" flying weirdly low and then smash into the South Tower at 9:03am. Your host at 8:46 finished his last handshake of that day's NYC Democratic mayoral primary and looked up to see the First Tower billowing fire and smoke 40 blocks south.

Ron and Mary then debate whether it's been a "lost decade" or a safer one in the intervening 3650 days because of Bush Administration policies against terror and in Iraq. The responses are, respectively, "No!" and "Yes!", with explanations.


*On Cheney as Hero or Torturer:
Mary energetically explains that "heads are exploding" at the NYTimes and elsewhere because the Cheney book is debuting at #1. The book is about his 40 years of service and his history as a "spear carrier" for hard decisions in the Bush White House. "I'm a life-long friend and supporter and wear this book as a badge of honor."

Ron, as energetically, observes that he won't be reading a book by a "delusional self-justifying war criminal." In Article 1 of The Geneva Convention Against Torture, "signed by my father", explicitly forbids the kind of "inhumane and aberrant infliction of physical and mental pain" that Cheney's policies allowed. "The Convention requires that we prosecute that kind of torture. You can't stand with both Dick Cheney and Ronald Reagan on this. You have to choose one or the other. I know where I stand."

*On Eric Cantor's View of Disasters & Debt: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor caused a controversy earlier week when he implied that Washington would continue to provide disaster aid to states battered by floods, fires and tornadoes but only after finding "offsets' in the budget. Tea Partier Nan Hayworth, who normally denounces federal assistance, told her upstate New York constituents that of course they should get federal aid due to record flooding after Hurricane Irene because this was a crisis. Whose ox is gored?

Mary does not favor such a linkage and thinks the Cantor story to be "overwritten and overwrought." Ron regards any such offsets as ridiculous. We should have an adequate annual appropriation "so we don't have to cut Medicare" each year, he says, adding that these major disasters will happen "more frequently as the climate warms." Mary assures us that the "earth is not melting."

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.

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