By Mark Green
Mary Matalin and Wayne Barrett have a no-insults debate which agrees that President Obama was skilled and successful in the attack on bin Laden, but disagree about most everything else. Is torture immoral or the lack of torture in the water-boarding/terrorism context immoral? Does Bush get part credit (Rudy) or part blame (Wayne). And does the Democratic attempt to raise Karl Rove-like big secret money shrewd or hypocritical?
*After-Report on the death of bin Laden. There's a mega-consensus alert since, as Mary says, "everyone applauds Obama's decision-making and execution." Does this mean that al Qaeda is no longer a mortal threat but more like a chronic disease we live with? Wayne thinks that bin Laden "was an indispensable man whose death significantly reduces al Qaeda's impact," while Mary argues that, while "bin Laden-ism has been on the wane for a decade, al Qaeda is no less a threat to Israel and America."
Should the photo of a dead Osama been shown to the world? And what about the weird situation where Leon Panetta, CIA chief and the next Defense Secretary, publicly said Tuesday that his photo would "eventually be shown to the world" though Obama on Thursday told 60 Minutes we wouldn't since "we don't spike footballs." Oops. Mary, however, believes that we should show it since it's a moment of understandable vindication and our enemies need no extra incentive to hate us. Wayne argues that we shouldn't because of the incitement issue... and since this White House made very good judgments on the whole raid, we should probably go with them on this close question.
We listen to Rudy Giuliani and Eric Cantor give Bush 43 much credit for the intelligence-gathering and perseverance that led to the successful Seals attack; Mary agrees that it's "irrefutable" that intelligence gathered from policies that Obama opposed -- like water-boarding, rendition, NSA wiretaps -- was essential. But then we hear the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Diane Feinstein, say they haven't seen any evidence that torture produced actionable information. And Wayne adds, puckishly, "I agree with Mary that there's a big difference here between Democrats and Republicans -- Democrats succeed and Republicans fail." They then debate whether Iraq was an expensive detour in the road to bin Laden and whether water-boarding is immoral torture (Wayne) or the lack of it is immoral (Mary).
As for the political impact on Obama, while his "poll bounce" might well evaporate if economic conditions don't improve, won't this success reduce or eliminate the right-wing argument that he has a "Kenyan anti-colonial" attitude and doesn't believe in American exceptionalism while on his perennial "Apology Tour"? Mary concurs that the case against him as a "weak... dithering leader" was belied by his actions but, as happened to Bush 41, "we were at 91% favorable and later lost."
*Money Shouts. A group of Democrats this week announced they'd create a 501c(4) group like Rove's Crossroads America to raise millions in secret special interest money. Wayne thinks this to be "both hypocritical and necessary" because you can't expect on side to unilaterally disarm in elections. Mary pokes fun at both he Democrats hypocrisy and inability to get to the core problem, which is not corrupt money but rather that "government makes too many decisions over our lives" that induces people to give money.
Well, until government stops regulating auto safety and child labor, how about at least disclosure of who's giving big money, which all 41 Senate Republicans filibustered successfully? Mary's for "transparency" but worries about donors being scared to give because disclosure on FEC forms could anger incumbents. Wayne dissents. As for the Arizona campaign finance law argued before the Supreme Court last week, Mary concludes that giving more public funds to qualified candidates could the speech of candidates like Bloomberg and Whitman, while Wayne basically responds that he can't comprehend how anyone could argue that helping financially underdog candidates against billionaires hurts the ability of the rich to communicate.
*Quick Takes: On Mother's Day weekend, the two agree that Stanley Anne Dunham was an extraordinary single white mother raising her son Barack Obama, perhaps, says Mary, "more interesting and brave than her son." And "how did she find time to write a 1000 page dissertation on blacksmithing in Jakarta?" Also, we discuss whether Southern GOP governors who usually just attack the federal government as overreaching and stupid now are arguing for more federal aid after record tornadoes and fires. Time to alter the anti-Washington and anti-Global Warming narratives? Wayne contends that the governors and weather channels should connect the dots between climate change and record tornadoes, fires, flooding and heat. Mary poo-poohs any such link because "no amount of data or Nobel laureates will convince liberals" that the evidence in favor of global warming is rigged.
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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