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The '16 GOP Field Is 'Off' as Kochs Make Tender Offer for U.S. Gov't

02/01/2015 09:17 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2015

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By Mark Green

Conason and Clarke debate "Iowa Freedom Summit" and Mitt's failure to launch. Will Walker be the JimmyWho or Bachmann of 2016? With 20 contenders, this contest can't be clown car -- at worst a clown bus. Then: will the Kochs inspire a backlash that helps overturn Citizens United?

On Romney's Retreat. Joe is surprised by Romney's declination since "he always seemed called to run by a higher power to be president and polls were good enough to try... but he encountered a huge backlash within his own party." Torie wonders about the testosterone of guys who are so accomplished, like Romney, yet who can't seem to cope with the prospect of not being president, which Torie and the Host claim to be now free of.

Somewhere David (47 percent) Corn and Gail (Seamus-on-the-roof) Collins are weeping but, truth be told, the Host tweeted pre-withdrawal that it was unlikely Mitt would run. For there was a far greater chance he'd be the Bryan-Stassen of 21th century than the 45th POTUS. And he never would be able to escape the twin albatrosses of being seen as a) a Richie Rich in a popularity contest; and b) inauthentically creating a new persona each cycle, though it sure would have been interesting to watch him run as a Mother Teresa against poverty. And then there would have been Hillary Clinton in the General... when he could have morphed into Elizabeth Warren. You laugh?

On Iowa GOP 'Beauty Contest'. As for the dogs that did bark at Rep. Steve ("deportables") King's Freedom Summit, it appears that Gov. Scott Walker was ready for his closeup. Breitbart.com and Limbaugh enthusiastically conclude that he over-performed and is now among the top-tier of candidates if not nearly a frontrunner with Jeb Bush. Conason demurs, arguing that he's largely a 1950s Republican with zero appeal to minorities based on his record in Wisconsin. Then we all get a grip and concur that this pre-straw poll punditry is beyond premature. (Host: remember how every candidate was front-runner for a week in 2012 given that fractured, underwhelming field?)

But if presidential speculation is premature, how about some VP speculation! Are Carley Fiorina and Ben Carson credible contenders for number two? Joe doubts it since together they have zero government experience. But the Host wonders whether Fiorina's communications skills and gender don't qualify her as a potential running mate/attack dog against HRC.

Speaking of a 'beauty contest,' the winner of a real one in her twenties came to try to rekindle the romance from 2008. While Torie is skeptical about Sarah Palin as a candidate for anything, she adds that "there are some still in the party who like her and resent attacks on her as unfair." Joe, however, instead wonders why those who first helped launcher in 2008 -- McCain, Kristol -- aren't apologizing now. Because of a political Mercy Rule, we agree not to even discuss The Donald until and if it's discovered that he was born in Kenya.

On Kochs Money. Question: Isn't it a problem for Democracy when one family spends more than either political party to try to buy local or national office? Torie defends Koch brothers spending since historically there are plenty of examples of outsiders influencing elections and Dems have folks like Tom Steyer spending millions -- nor does the public really care.

Joe is more in the he-who-pays-the-piper-calls-the-tune camp and "their interests are clear -- they spend not millions but a billion dollars to destroy the planet on behalf of their oil and gas interests." Host: it's of course perverse that we have a system religiously devoted to one person-one vote yet then allow, in effect, one family-10 million votes. But the silver lining is this: if they keep it up, at some point public opinion will turn and a future president will appoint a justice to reverse the pernicious 5-4 Citizens United ruling.

At the least, Torie and Joe agree that there should be full public disclosure of who's donating what and their interests -- that is, no "dark money" under IRS provisions. So Torie agrees with the DISCLOSE bill that failed in the Senate with 58 votes in favor when the GOP filibustered it to death in the last Congress.

On Sniping at American Sniper. It's a commercial and critical success, but does the movie glorify war by whitewashing the context that turned Chris Kyle into a martyred hero? Joe thinks so but Torie passionately responds, "then make your own anti-war movie!"

On Boehner-Bibi -- blunder or brilliant? We listen to even Charles Krauthammer question the advisability of inviting the Prime Minister to address a Joint Session during the Iran negotiations and two weeks before his reelection contest. Joe regards it as "incredibly irresponsible" for Boehner to have made the offer and Netanyahu to have accepted. "If the Congress sabotages the current negotiations, let's be clear that the alternative is war. That's a great danger to both the U.S. and Israel and Iran because, unlike Saddam's Iraq, Iran has a real army and air force.

Torie strongly disagrees. "We shouldn't worry about political niceties when Iran poses an existential threat to Israel and Obama is making it easier for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons." (Host: does she know how the negotiations will turn out?)

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

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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