01/23/2011 09:29 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Both Sides Now w/ Huffington & Matalin State of the Union (and Obama)

By Mark Green

Today's radio program focused on the political and the personal: is Obama rising and is Chua supplanting Spock? (Listen to show below.)

Half-way through his term and days before his second State of the Union, the women discuss whether Obama will be able to build on his new popularity to propose a real program for jobs and growth. Perhaps an Economic Sputnik in today's linked world? And the women have a beyond-left-and-right view of motherhood that focuses on love and creativity instead of the Tiger Mom of Amy Chua's breakout book.

*On Obama's Tone: Do they agree with David Axelrod's one word conclusion that Obama -- from his 2004 debut emphasizing "the UNITED States of America" to his 2011 Tucson eulogy seeking common ground -- is "consistent"? The women think so, in bad ways -- Mary stressing that he's been consistently "enigmatic" and Arianna noting that he's consistently bipartisan but shorting the middle class. She's waiting to see his policies on Tuesday since "he's not the poet-laureate but the chief executive."

*On Obama's Policies: Dick Cheney says he'll be a one-term president while Rachel Maddow lauds his huge record of legislative wins - so how do the women generally assess Obama's policies and prospects? And specifically, what about his executive order on unreasonable regulations this week -- is it real change or political cosmetics? Arianna thinks that Obama's done a lot but since a) we can't have a functioning capitalist system without strong regulations (on mining, on oil spills, on self-dealing credit agencies) and b) Obama so far has failed to articulate a narrative/theme beyond appeals to civility and bipartisanship -- and without one, Obama allows the Republican story on regulations and deficits to prevail by default. Mary agrees that Obama has not a narrative but a "litany", adding that austerity alone is not enough to spur growth and America does have a income inequality problem.

*On Obama's Call for Civility: After hearing Rep. Michele Bachman say this week on the House floor that Obamacare is the "crown jewel of socialism," Mary wouldn't agree that such poisonous attacks came largely from the Right, citing examples of liberal hyperbole. Arianna thought that such vituperation could abate after the Tucson slaughter if our leaders realized that "only communism is like communism and only Nazism is like Nazism."

*On the Tiger Mom Controversy: The women were completely in sync on Amy Chua's parenting model -- no play dates, no school plays, no grades below A -- in her new best-seller, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom. "I can't imagine worse parental advice -- this really creeps me out," Arianna passionately declared. Instead, her parenting philosophy is based on "the foundation of unconditional love... and being completely engaged," adding that while Asian students abroad and here have high test scores, they also have higher suicide rates and less creativity. Mary just as passionately concurred (they each have two daughters), rejecting the approach of "boot camps for kids. I would tell my kids to quit studying because getting A's was not the same as an A in life."

Both mothers taught their children that if they learned to love to read, they'd never be bored.

*Quick Takes: The Kennedys, Spiderman, Lieberman, Berlusconi. Arianna said that problems of historical inaccuracies justified The History Channel's decision to reject that series, as both agreed that anyone who wanted to see it would be able to do so somewhere else since we're no longer in "the era of appointment television" (AH). Spiderman should fly over Broadway once it's made safer (though Arianna wouldn't herself perform such physical risks).

And they split on two men with very different flaws: while Mary was tolerant of allegations against prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for prostitution with minors ("he's not Polanski"), Arianna said that private misconduct shouldn't usually be disqualifying, but we do have to hope that leaders "at least obey the law" and that sex with minors crossed the line. Mary then lauded Senator Joe Lieberman's career of thoughtfulness and independence -- Arianna in effect said good riddance given his continuing false statements, including one on retirement day (to her on Morning Joe), that Saddam was working on WMD. She concluded, "I hope that he enjoys the next stage of his life."

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

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