By Mark Green
President Obama won by 51 percent-48 percent. But given racial trends, that will, all other things being equal, become 53 percent to 47 percent by the 2016 starting line. Because America is becoming more brown, secular and professional, worried Republican leaders are debating whether to stay the course or adjust to majority opinion on such hot-buttons as tax rates, social issues, climate change, immigration, entitlements and the Tea Party.
GOP consultant/commentator Mike Murphey calls it a battle between "purists and pragmatists." The former says "stay the course" because Democrats won only because of GOTV, Romney and Sandy. Practicing politicians fret that if they stay "the stupid party" (Gov. Jindal), they'll "go the way of the dodo-dodo bird" (Michael Steele).
Both Sides Now will focus on the six issues above over three shows/blogs to see how the Grand Old Party might react to this potential "Rolling Realignment" toward a permanent Democratic majority.
*On GOP 3.0 -- Marginal Tax Rates? We hear Grover Norquist say his "no new taxes" pledge is inviolate... and then Warren Buffett explain why investors basically care essentially about profits not taxes. Can or should the GOP take the issue of returning to Clinton tax rates off the table to avoid being labeled "the party of the rich"?
Ron first wonders "who is Grover Norquist anyway?" and then explains why the GOP should surrender on this one, citing his father. Once, after Governor Reagan had declared his feet were "set in concrete" against a state tax increase, he changed his mind explaining "the sound you hear is concrete cracking..."
Mary is defiant, arguing that again that loophole closing is preferable, tax rate increases don't solve the whole problem, any revenues raised are unlikely to go to deficit reduction and polls show the public is against it. Ron pounces: polls -- and a presidential election -- show its popularity and, as for "tax reform" instead, "why not do both?" Higher rates and fewer deductions for deficit reduction, less inequality, more growth.
Then some news: is Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) a Republican renegade or harbinger by concluding that he supports Obama's tax proposal because "it makes permanent 80 percent of Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of taxpayers"? Mary acknowledges that "is likely to happen" depending on what her party gets for that "concession."
Host: Since marginal tax rates are at their lowest in decades, lowest among major western countries -- and the Congressional Research Service agrees with Warren Buffett that there's no serious correlation between these rates and job creation (see President Clinton) -- why is a "concession" necessary? It's now obvious that job creators" and "small business" were euphemisms for "big donors." It was a successful con game while it lasted. Jonathan Chait of The New Republic got it right: there was a class war in 2012 and one side won.
*On GOP 3.0 -- Social Issues? Can Republicans soften their arguments on "family values" -- being sharply against against choice and marriage equality -- to close the gap among the young, women, and gays? We hear a voice for millennials, Meghan McCain, and a voice for traditional Republicans, John McCain, each argue why their party should calm down on these topics and stop listening to "frickin' nuts on radio like Limbaugh and Hannity." (That would be Ms. McCain.)
Could a GOP candidate now say he/she is pro-life and for tradition marriage but also that Roe is settled law and let's leave gay marriage up to each church and each state, not a constitutional amendment? Ron (again) says, "oh like my father?" Ok, that was then... now? Ron is doubtful because of the very different approaches of the contending sides -- "one insists on telling other people what to do while the other wants people to follow their own conscience."
Mary sticks to religious and party doctrine on choice because of "the sanctity of life" (there ensues a discussion of what "life" means) but notes that she has long embraced the idea that the GOP should be less strident on gay rights to avoid being tarred as homophobic.
*On McCain/Graham vs. Rice. Why aren't critics of Susan Rice satisfied with the intelligence community's explanation that she dutifully followed their talking points and that a prestigious Mullen-Pickering investigation is underway? Mary maintains that "this isn't about Rice," who she thinks too aggressively pushed the administration argument about an anti-Muslim video, but rather "the growing al Qaeda problem." Ron agrees that Rice should be a "sideshow" but isn't because a party "that just lost badly want a scandal to keep Fox folks busy." He adds that the reason the phrase the term "al Qaeda" was replaced by "terrorists" in her Sunday talk shows was the same reason police don't put everything in a public statement about a crime "so as not to alert criminals what they know."
The Host notes that many Democrats think that these incessant, personal attacks on Susan Rice smell like those against Eric Holder over "Fast & Furious," which also was a policy mistake that turned into a partisan witch hunt against an Obama appointee and ally. Mary objects because, while Holder was a credible, experienced person to become AG, Rice the same for Secretary of State because of her supposed "incompetence."
Will the president feel pressure to bypass her as Secretary of State due to these attacks or, as Ron puts it, "feel boxed in to name her so it doesn't look like he's been bullied by McCain and Graham"? Will he think this is or isn't a fight worth having? Mary makes a prediction: Obama will pick Kerry because he's so qualified and because "someone will convince her, like Harriet Miers, to go to the president and withdraw from consideration to spare him any further damage."
*On Time's 'Person of the Year.' Putting aside BSN regular Arianna Huffington, who do Mary and Ron think should be Times' Person of the Year? (The two are informed that Time readers on-line, showing they have a sense of humor, overwhelmingly chose North Korea's Kim Il Un.) Ms Matalin chooses Timothy Cardinal Egan because "he's a visionary and trailblazer who's a fighter for his community." She thinks Time should not make the obvious choice, Barack Obama, because "a Pew poll shows that most Americans think that this year's presidential campaign was the dirtiest ever, on both sides."
Mr. Reagan lists two top contenders: Malala Yousafzai because of her heroic stand for the education of Muslim girls, which got her shot by the Taliban, and the Higgs Boson particle "because without it there'd be no Malala or Obama!"
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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