By Mark Green
Again, two contrasting sides argued with each other, not past each other.
With the economy in effect downgraded and the GOP president race enlarged, August is a busy news month. Sitting in for Arianna Huffington and Mary Matalin, Hilary Rosen and Kellyanne Conway discuss both subjects from sharply different perspectives. Also, free birth control in America and mandated sex ed in middle schools in NYC. No consensus alerts today. (To listen to entire show, click below).
*On the economic roller-coaster. Sen. Kerry calls the S&P downgrade and market turmoil "clearly a Tea Party downgrade" while Rep. Bachmann says this never happened during the Great Depression, WWII or 9/11 but only when Barack Obama is president (and, literally, also only when she was in the House). Hilary argues that the bad week began when the Tea Party engaged in political brinksmanship and the S&P cited that precipitating event. Kellyanne counters that this would have happened anyway because of Obama's record deficits. Hilary notes that Obama's budget saved the economy after Bush "but we paid a deficit for it." Also, didn't Obama push for a "grand" deficit reduction deal including $3 in cuts for every $1 in revenues? Kellyanne argues that not even congressional Democrats supported that plan.
Ok, would Kellyanne then support a plan to reduce loopholes (e.g., oil and gas depletion for the world's most profitable industry) to help close the deficit and spur jobs? No, she says, "it's far more complicated than that," noting that the best policy for that industry is to "encourage more domestic production so we're independent of other countries."
Will the President now at least take the offensive to talk about not only deficits but also programs for job growth. We listen to Rep. Jan Schakowsky push her plan for 2 million public sector jobs. But Hilary doubts this will happen. "The President wants a deal, not a fight. My grandmother told me that people don't change."
*On Whether Perry and Bachmann are more preachers than presidents? As Texas Governor Perry gets in the presidential contest, we hear him tell 30,000 at his "Day of Prayer" event that we should look to "God's help" to fix our problems. Is that inappropriate for a public official to host such a denominational event, not to mention co-hosted by Rev. John Hagee who explained away Hitler and called Catholicism a "hateful" religion. Kellyanne believes that, especially since "God seems to have been ripped out of the public square", the event was a good idea showing Perry to be a leader; and weren't both Carter and W publicly religious as well -- and what about Rev. Wright's ties to Senator Obama? Hilary acknowledges that spirituality in presidents is fine and expected but what's different about Perry "is that he wants to impose his version on the country and tell us what to believe, unlike Carter and Obama."
This week sees a controversy over a Newsweek cover photo of a confused and crazy-looking Bachmann, but what we talked about is the Ryan Lizza New Yorker cover article not about how she looks but what she thinks... and her history of embracing mentors with far-right religious views about the separation of church and state. Kellyanne replies that it's unfair to cherry-pick a few examples, adding that Bachmann's views are in line with America (like not increasing the debt ceiling?), and that she has as much public experience as Obama had in 2008 (on paper, true). Hilary agrees that she has an appealing personal story and happy warrior style, "but her views are so far out of the political mainstream, whether for a GOP nomination or certainly a general election." Also, Bachmann's listing of her "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act" as an accomplishment is not well regarded.
*On Wisconsin. A third of all recall elections in American history happened last week, with Democrats winning two seats from the GOP while four Republican incumbents hold on. Rush Limbaugh and John Nichols are heard say, respectively, that the recall results are a big conservative win that can be replicated around the country and that winning two seats back in red districts is not shabby. Ms. Conway thinks this a net defeat for progressive labor Dems -- "David had only one shot in his slingshot" -- while Ms. Rosen thinks it is progress, with the failure to win one more seat and the majority is due to to a flood of secret "Super PAC" money.
*Quick Takes: Sex Ed & Birth Control. As Both Sides Now morphs into Oprah and The View, the women discuss these two hot topics.
Again, disagreement. They disagree whether requiring sex education in middle school (with a religious opt-out) is important scientific information or mandatory government that raises church-state issues.
Hilary lauds the White House announcement that insurance companies, under Obama health care law, will offer reproductive services and other women's preventive health care for free, while Kellyanne regards this as an unfair mandate that Carter and Clinton never implemented and that violates some people's religious beliefs. That's true, but isn't abortion now a constitutional right in the first trimester under Roe even if some people take religious exception? Yes, she answers, but funding is not constitutionally required. Rep. Steven King is heard protesting that single people and clergy pay taxes to fund only another class of people, pregnant women. Hilary notes that all of us fund things that only benefit others, and that, "yeah, only women have reproductive organs."
*Your Week: Kelly Anne salutes those families among the 31 Americans killed in a helicopter attack for not wanting their family member's names released for their "valor, humility and service." Hilary expresses delight in coming to NYC to be with her close friends, Sally and Robin, who are married in a an inspirational and loving ceremony.
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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