By Mark Green
Finally, Obama thrilled most liberals by passionately talking values in a budget debate so far argued only within the "conservative vocabulary", (George Will). Who now has the high ground politically and morally? Why is Romney running so well in a General Election but not in the primaries? And the women try to figure out when a misstatement veers into "Gaffegate' -- and how to respond to avoid career collapse. Then, Fey and Twitter. (To hear program, click below.)
*On Obama's Budget Speech. Arianna likes the content though not the timing of the President's fiscal speech at GW, i.e., it was "surrealistic" that he went from post-partisan referee to progressive brawler after his "surrender" in the 2011 budget talks. Mary disparages his talk as just an "insulting diatribe and partisan campaign speech" (he apparently can't get it just right, criticized either as aloof or nasty, never Goldilocks). Then there's very sharp disagreement on who is economically and politically right in the battle of debt proposals. Mary likes Rep. Ryan's focus on a tax overhaul and, doing a full Ayn Rand, thinks it "immoral to tax job-creators" and shift money between classes...while Arianna thinks it "immoral" to slash poverty and middle class programs now.
While wryly noting that we were "shouting in a civil way", Mary denies that a) polls show that it's popular to tax the rich and protect Medicare and b) Reagan's and Bush's tax cuts had anything to do with the current $14 trillion debt. Arianna, however, counters that their tax cuts and "two wars on the credit" got us into today's bind.
*On Romney's Candidacy. Can Mitt win his future? There's a consensus that he's a pretty strong general election candidate -- a "proven manager and turnaround artist" (Mary) but there's head-scratching why he's not getting more traction in primary polls. (Neither here discuss the Tea Party or birther ardor.) They believe that the "it's-your-turn" primogeniture of the GOP will probably boost Romney, though, according to Mary, "I wouldn't want the 'front-runner' target on my back." The two women concur that evangelical domination in the Iowa Caucuses might prove problematic for those "demonized" in Broadway's Book of Morman (says theater-goer Huffington).
*On Gaffegate. We listen to a fun montage of prominent people saying things that came back to bite them -- from George Romney on being "brainwashed" in 1968 to Gerald Ford freeing Poland in 1976 to Dean's "Scream" in 2004 to Gingrich explaining away serial adultery. But when does a gaffe go from a brain burp (Obama once saying there were "57 states") to a betraying campaign-ender (former Senator George Allen and "macaca").
The two agree that a lot depends on preexisting impressions and how quickly one owns up to the mistake and moves on. For example, Ford, fairly or not regarded as dim, took incoming for two damaging days before spinning out of it. But when Rep. Michelle Bachmann lauded Concord, New Hampshire for the revolutionary "shot heard round the world", she smartly and quickly apologized.
But they differ on Sen. Kyl and his instant classic that 90% of Planned Parenthood was about abortion (actually, 3%) but also that, explained his aide, this was "not intended as a factual statement." Arianna's discusses how foolish and illuminating Kyl's blunder was as Mary wonders why Democrats aren't held to similar standards.
*Quick Takes: Veils, Fey, William-Kate & Twitter. Complete consensus alert here. Both think that a) France's new law banning veils violates fundamental religious rights -- as Mary adds that it's also a proxy for France's failure to handle multiculturalism), b) Tina Fey is enormously popular because she's relentlessly funny and self-deprecating, c) the royal wedding is wonderful since everyone, especially girls and women, loves princess stories, and d) Twitter's cool. On this, Mary notes that sometimes teen brains (like her daughters') can't always prioritize so much "incoming information" while Arianna gets excited talking about how Twitter reflects "the triumph of not technology but humanity" and how it will change the future.
*Your Week and On the Radar: Still on technology, the "Queen of Digital", according to Radio Ink, shares her thoughts about this week's AdTech conference and how technology can "paradoxically" help people disconnect from our hyperkinetic world with, among other things, Apps to relax. Mary looks eagerly forward to the run-up to Easter while Arianna looks wistfully ahead to Oprah's last talk show on May 25 -- "it's been such a big part of the American culture."
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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