By Mark Green
Two big markers -- political and fiscal -- were laid down this week for 2012. Obama announced that he'd be running again, which was as consequential as it was unsurprising. And the near-miss budget agreement displayed two clashing visions that'll also be put to the jury of voters next year -- Austerity vs. Growth... debt on our grandchildren vs. nutritional programs for our children today. And this week a Florida preacher burned a Koran as KSM will be tried not downtown but down in Guantanamo. (Listen to entire show below, with Kellyanne Conway sitting in for Mary Matalin.)
*On Obama's Candidacy. Yes, the women agree, he's favored for reelection now since, says Arianna, "you can't beat something with nothing" but... a still weak economy will be the big variable. Kellyanne questions his competence but acknowledges that he's smart, calm, well-spoken, good family man -- though these personal attributes won't be pivotal.
The two discuss what's the case against him (Fox repeats that he's over-his-head, plays golf too much, is a lefty-socialist) and what to make of his two slogans to date -- "win the future" and "it begins with us." Also, will he -- should he -- ever abandon his above-the-fray, post-partisan tone that he brings to nearly everything?
*On Money Matters. The cliches were flying on American media -- "countdown to shutdown" coming in # 1 -- but in fact this skirmish is a precursor to a fair fight over two huge, clashing principles: austerity vs. growth, deficits vs. women's health.
Kellyanne concludes that Boehner played a middling hand "masterfully" but that even $39 billion was puny compared to the deficit and debt (though a significant percentage of discretionary non-military spending for six months) -- and she passionately argues that Congress shouldn't finance Planned Parenthood's non-abortion spending since monies to it are "fungible." "Why help it when half the country opposes abortion? Just raise the money from their friends in Hollywood."
Arianna just as energetically believes that you don't slash the budget by denying funds to help low-income women have access to cancer screenings and birth control options since the Hyde Amendment forbids it go to abortion. Also, she notes that Patch, an AOL web site that links together 800 local communities, will be reporting on the local pain that would follow such a cut-off.
As for the Ryan 10 year plan, Kellyanne applauds it for starting a big debate and chides the White House for having no plan of its own. [Alert: perhaps they were listening because after the show, advisor David Plouffe said on CNN that the President would propose his own debt reduction plan this coming week that will "do it in a balanced way -- [it won't] be all on the backs of seniors and the middle class.") Arianna regards the Ryan Plan as "grandstanding and incredibly dangerous." Also, she's incredulous that both sides in Washington "aren't focussing more on creating jobs, which is the real issue."
*On Muslims -- Korans and Courts. The women agree that Pastor Jones burning the Koran was disgusting but lawful and that those rioting religious fanatics in Afghanistan are the ones culpable for the two dozens deaths there. Still, do politicians who denounce the "spread" of Sharia law in the U.S. and Rep. Peter King's hearings contribute to rising anti-Muslim sentiment here and justify those abroad who already argue that America hates Muslims? Arianna worries that those who lump all Muslims together as terrorists "is the worst thing for our national security." Kellyanne instead says there are always some bigots and crazies.
On the related subject of trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a military tribunal in Guantanamo rather than in a federal civilian court, Kellyanne argues that it is the right conclusion but shows a feckless Obama reversing course.
*Quick Takes: Snooki vs. Toni, Republicans and Recalls, Wal-mart Women, Beck. Two agreements and two disagreements.
As for Snooki of Jersey Shore fame earning $2,000 more for a speech at Rutgers than Toni Morrison of Pulitizer-prize fame, the women agree that you can't fight the free market though they lament the "celebritization of our culture" (Kellyanne). And they concur that Wisconsin Republicans should be nervous about imminent recall elections after they voted last month to abolish public employee collective bargaining rights.
But while Arianna thinks that the class action of one-million plus women against Wal-Mart should go forward -- "are they too big to be sued?" -- lawyer Conway thinks this class doesn't have enough in common though individual cases were "egregious." As for Glenn Beck's departure from his 5PM slot at Fox Cable, Kellyanne thinks it largely because Beck has other big-return opportunities -- Arianna, however, discounts Roger Ailes chummy joint communique with Beck because the Soros-hating, conspiracy-obsessed performer "was increasingly bizzare and advertisers were leaving him."
*Your Week. Ms. Conway told us about being involved with arranging a meeting with Donald Trump and leading evangelicals, predicting that Trump was likely to run for president. Ms. Huffington enjoyed a symposium at the Bob Scheiffer School of Journalism with Brzezinski, Scarborough, Hume and her lauding the long-time CBS anchor.
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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