THE BLOG
01/13/2013 09:58 pm ET Updated Jan 13, 2013

BOTH SIDES NOW : Hagel and NRA on Defense -- Who Will Prevail?

By Mark Green

Ted Cruz, senator-for-one-week who's never served in the military, three times in 30 seconds on Fox attacks a Republican ex-Senator with shrapnel in his body because of "weakness" abroad. Can the NRA again outlast public disgust after a massacre? Also, how did Chris Christie so quickly go from a self-reverential bully to a political Springsteen? Then Oscars, Kimmel, RG III, Superbowl 2014.

LISTEN HERE:

*On Hagel at Defense. Since Obama's choice for DOD is a veteran soldier and Republican whose views on war parallels POTUS, what's not to like? Mary doubts his conservative bona fides, thinks he's more an opportunist than a pragmatist and questions his views on Israel, Iran and DADT. (If DADT is disqualifying, will any Republican now over the age 30 ever serve in any future administration?)

Ron, however, concludes that it's simply "scurrilous" for former Republican official Elliott Abrams to accuse Chuck Hagel of being an "anti-semite." Lauding Hagel's independence, he wonders whether GOP opposition stems from payback for such betrayals as turning against Iraq and endorsing Democrat Bob Kerrey for Senate in their home state of Nebraska. Lacking any John Tower-like problems, he predicts likely confirmation as Democrats rally around their President, especially after the Republicans hounded Susan Rice out of contention. Obama can't allow that to happen a second time, Ron notes.

Then Mary candidly acknowledges that conservatives object to Hagel, unlike another veteran with similar views like Kerry, because the Republican would give Obama's policies the veneer of bi-partisanship (which Bob Gates did do in Obama's first term).

*On Growing Debate over Gun Regulation. Since Sandy Hook, 450 more people have been killed with firearms and 100,000 more have signed up with the NRA and support for a ban on assault weapons has risen from the 40 percent's to the 60 percent's.

With Gabby Giffords, General Stanley McChrystal and Joe Scarborough coming out for serious gun regulation, is the ice finally cracking under the NRA? On the other hand, we listen to a maniacal rant from Alex Jones on Piers Morgan talking up a new 1776 if anyone takes his guns (like "Hitler, Stalin, Castro did!"). While Giffords is surely a more sympathetic advocate than Jones, the two exemplify how an intense minority threatening incumbents in red counties can stymie majority sentiment to save kids' lives. (On ABC News with Diane Sawyer, Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly deplore that "85 percent of all the children in the world shot to death die in the United States.")

Mary notes that she has a lawful 357 and is submitting to a background check for a "Ladies Gun." As a Mom she's ok with the likely Biden agenda of universal background checks and a reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons, this time also with big magazine clips. With 40,000 gun-related deaths annually (3/4 homIcides, ¼ suicides), Ron wants to regulate guns like cars, with training, registration, a VIN # -- the works.

But as a libertarian, Mary also deplores how liberals "want government to keep their hands in our showers [re: water temperature] and regulate our light bulbs." To which Ron adds "and in women's wombs." But when she also attacks "the liberal shibboleth that these measures would end gun violence," Ron shouts "consensus alert!" since these two measures alone would not be enough "since we live in a violent culture generally.

After GOP losses in 2012 in part because of shifting sentiments on cultural, immigration and tax issues, is Mary worried that here again her party is on the unpopular side of an issue? She waives off the question. "The problem with mass shootings is crazy people!"

Last, what are their thoughts on that Westchester newspaper publishing the names and addresses of gun owners? Ron concludes that they had a right to publish such public information and were right to do so since we ought to know where these dangerous weapons are. Mary counters that "people care about their privacy... what good does that map do?"

Host: Notwithstanding that she has a 357 at home, the Host risks answering her rhetorical question: since Megan's Law requires ex-sex offenders to say where they live though no longer in custody, lawfully registered guns like those owned by Mrs. Lanza can threaten neighbors too, actually even more since ex-sex offenders don't lead to 40,000 deaths a year.

(For this heresy, the Host was pilloried by both Hannity and O'Reilly last week and attracted a fair amount of hate email from "Second Amendment Patriots!" Both Sean and Mary explained how careful they were with their weapons... but laws aren't about people who wouldn't do something violent but about trying to keep high capacity guns out of the hands of those who would. We still have laws against murder although your Host wouldn't do that even without a law. It was written in the 1700s that laws punish the stealing of horses not to punish thieves per se but make sure that horses aren't stolen.)

*On Christie -- nasty or authentic... or both? After his walk with Obama on the Jersey shore and his attacks on House Republicans for slow-walking post-Sandy aid, Chris Christie was ready for his close-up -- five morning shows last Thursday and a Time cover comparing him to Bruce Springsteen and 70+ percent approval ratings in his reelection year. What's the appeal?

The two agree that his "bluff, gruff straight-talking style" (Ron) as winningly bi-partisan. But is his big mouth and waist a liability if Christie runs for President? He thinks yes but she thinks not, although appearing not to listen and yelling at constituents could be a negative.

The even bigger issue -- how can his relatively moderate Republican views survive the gauntlet of far-right evangelical voters in Iowa and the South? "Depends how he explains himself" concludes Mary matter-of-factly, citing how Ronald Reagan did it despite some moderate views. How can Ron disagree with that? Stay tuned if Christie is Reagan or Huntsman.

*Quick Takes: Oscars, Kimmel, RG III, Superbowl 2014. Ms. Matalin loves, loves Silver Linings Playbook and Anne Hathaway... and Jay Leno and RG III's "courage and manliness." Mr. Reagan, on the other hand, condemns the Redskin's coach for risking his phenom quarterback's career and thinks Jimmy will win out eventually in the late night competition. As for best film, the son of the President of the Screens Actors Guild notes that frontrunners can fade as Oscar night approaches (think Avatar and Hurt Locker). Could a $1.8m indie like Beasts of the Southern Wild overtake the waaay more credentialed film about the first Republican president? Here Mary opts for location over party since the magical and heart-tugging Beasts was shot in and about New Orleans and the title in no way refers to her party's primary fights of 2012.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

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