10/02/2011 09:05 pm ET Updated Oct 02, 2011

Both Sides Now : Ralph Kramden for President?

By Mark Green

Last week Mary Matalin and Hilary Rosen sized up President Obama, who seems to have found his voice -- will he now find his voters from 2008? This week, they debate the GOP electorate's fickleness. Can Perry up his game in the next debate Is this Christie's 15 minutes? Is the end near for Palin?

*On Perry's rise and fall -- and...? It's hard out there for a politician. Ask Rick Perry, who went from a flattering Time cover to questions on whether he could come-back. Mary says she jumped off her couch when Perry "used the language of the left" to chide those who "don't have a heart" on scholarships for immigrants.

But why the unanimous condemnation generally from the Right ("he threw up on himself" says Brit Hume)? Mary thinks that conservatives (amorous metaphors alert) "want to fall in love before they fall in line" and Perry seems like the first date who gropes you in the front seat. Is the GOP then just "speed dating"? Hilary argues the Republicans are "like a lot of ambivalent guys I know" since Perry appeals to their heart and Romney to their head... and they want someone who has both.

His performance raises anew the earlier issue of whether he's smart and deep enough to be president. Hilary thinks he's had it easy in Texas and is unfamiliar with being challenged; "he can dish it out but can he take it?" Mary argues that this question is "garden variety liberal ridicule of conservatives" (though not asked of Gingrich, Huntsman, Romney) and that Perry should admit his deficiencies and retake the offense, as in "I have the worst debate record but the best jobs record."

Every successful campaign has a near-death experience -- Clinton and Flowers, W and DUI, Obama and Rev. Wright -- so can Perry bounce back? The assumption is 'of course', though he better exceed expectations in the October 11 debate.

*On Christie's boomlet. Why the current excitement over the New Jersey governor? Is he too blunt and moderate?

Mary: "everyone comes to this dance with spinach in their teeth" (is this woman still in high school?); she adds that Christie's strength is his urban brand of conservatism in a blue state which can appeal to Reagan Democrats, especially after his talk this past week at the Reagan Library. Hilary agrees that his bluntness ("Gail, that's none of your business" he said to a caller about where his kids were educated) can sound refreshing but to many will seem "dismissive, obnoxious, polarizing."

Given conservative litmus tests, what about his comment that people who attacked his appointment of a Muslim judge and fretted Sharia Law in the U. S. were the "crazies"? Mary concurs that such language, again, sounds like liberal catechism and should be toned down. But it does help him appeal to Independents were he to become the GOP nominee.

The women agree on one thing: although Christie is so obese that he and Obama look like two different species, his candor about it helps connect him to so many people with weight problems. Or as enthusiast William Kristol has explained, "he's a big man for a big job." They don't it should be or will be an issue.

*On the Palin Tease. How did she fall so far based on her early appeal compared to her huge unfavorable ratings now?

We listen to Palin explain that it was her duty to quit as governor so Alaska could avoid an "unproductive, politics-as-usual lame-duck session" and that the "title" of President might be too "shackley" for such a "mavericky" person.

Question: aren't these comments unbearably foolish? Hilary believes them to be "theatrics and megalomania... more self-serving than self-sacrificing." Mary counters that her reasoning was smart but, still, it's now time to decide on a candidacy before she officially becomes a tease. There is one point of consensus on Palin: she has encouraged and empowered conservative women who hadn't seen others like them in the arena.

*Quick Takes. Ms. Matalin and Rosen both oppose Ralph Nader's effort to run a slate of progressives against Obama in different states not to defeat him but "to appeal to his conscience and spine" and to raise issues that would otherwise be ignored. Mary concludes that liberals should try to muzzle him if they want to win while Hilary says he's a phony who helped Gore lose in 2000. The Host comments that "it's as likely to muzzle Nader as Cheney and that whatever you think of [his tactics], I've never met someone who's less a phoney" than this life-long progressive advocate.

Then, two quick takes on baby-care. Given studies showing that new dads who share child-rearing see a loss of testosterone, "what is Mother Nature telling us?" Being a parent in a same-sex household, Hilary demurs but discusses co-parenting generally; Mary's science tells her that all parents experience chemical changes because of the unconditional love they feel toward newborns and that "less testosterone is not the same as less libido."

As for vegan diets for toddlers, they agree that it could be healthful, though Mary cautions against the sanctimony that some vegans display as they spread the faith.

*Your Week and On the Radar:
In parallel descriptions, Hilary talks up Obama's anticipated "victory lap" over Don't-Ask at this weekend's Human Rights Fund dinner while Mary, reflecting "the theory of this beautiful show," both hosts a successful fund-raiser for Speaker Boehner at her home and then attends the 20th reunion of Clinton's presidential candidacy with her husband James Carville. Then they agree that readers should be on the lookout for Walter Isaacson's new biography of Steve Jobs in November since the founder and recent head of Apple is a 21st century genius.

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

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