11/13/2011 06:59 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Both Sides Now : GOP Week To Forget: Ohio, 'Personhood,' Perry

Looks like no Bain-Cain ticket next year. Eliot Spitzer debates Mary Matalin on GOP prospects after Tuesday's electoral losses in Ohio, Mississippi, Maine and Arizona. And then they take on two conservative villains: Occupy Wall Street and "Obamacare." Also, Perry's and Paterno's bad week.

*On Occupy Wall Street. Matalin and Spitzer clash over Occupy Wall Street, which is both popular in polls and vilified as vandals/radicals by the Fox crowd. She understands the "deep anger and free-floating anxiety" of the 99 percenters at elites screwing them but worries that "their face is now more reminiscent of the antiwar late '60s." The Sheriff of Wall Street both defends their critique against inequality and blasts "tabloids like the New York Post" for trying to tar the whole movement with journalistic hyperbole. "The vast majority protesting are law-abiding and principled."

As one who had law enforcement and executive authority, Spitzer also agrees with Mayor Bloomberg's refusal (to date) to send in police to clear out Zuccotti Park. Are they too vague and list-less? Let "policy geniuses like the Krugmans, Stiglitzs and Reichs propose the 10-point plans," adds Spitzer; the protestors "are no less substantive than current GOP presidential contenders, though that's a low bar."

*On Mandates after Silberman. Speaking of the Republican contenders, all want to repeal ("and replace") what they call "Obamacare" if they win. But what do our two panelists think about the D.C. Appeals Court decision by Reagan appointee Lawrence Silberman upholding the constitutionality of the law? About the political effect of a Supreme Court decision next summer coming to the same result?

Mary argues that the law wrongly overrelies on caps and rationing, enlisting Bill Clinton as one who also looks to "premium support" as the best option. Eliot argues that the Act not only expands coverage but will also lower costs... and that the opinion of the conservative Silberman (and Sutton of the 6th Circuit) based on the Commerce Clause and Necessary & Proper provision will box in Justice Kennedy and lead to Supreme Court approval in mid-2012.

There's implied consensus on two fronts: constitutionally, it'd be extreme judicial activism for Court conservatives to overrule Congress on regulating a sixth of the economy; politically, if upheld, it would probably help Republicans excite their base to come out to vote as the only way to repeal the hated Obamacare. Good law; poor politics.

*On GOP Prospects after Tuesday. Was that the sound of a backlash last Tuesday? A "teachable moment" for the GOP, according to Laura Ingraham?

Wisconsin's Scott Walker started the attack on public sector collective bargaining, but it hit a voter wall in John Kasich's Ohio. Life-at-conception also failed big in culturally conservative Mississippi, as did a voter suppression law in Maine.

Mary doesn't see this as a trend and doesn't think these losses will be as predictive for 2012 as GOP 2009 wins in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts proved to be for 2010: Ohio wasn't anti-labor -- "hey, I'm pro-labor!" -- but a good-faith effort to reduce budget deficits; also, the fetal life amendment was poorly crafted, as Gov. Barber argued. And she highlights Republican pickups in Virginia and the (admittedly symbolic, uncontested) vote against mandates in Ohio.

Should Romney be worried, since he supported the losing side in Ohio -- and won't win the presidency if he doesn't do well with Reagan/Hillary Democrats in Ohio? Eliot agrees that it was a bad but not ominous day for the conservative agenda, since only the jobs issue will matter in 2012. OK, but what if unemployment and per capita GDP is neither improving nor worsening but middling (say 2 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively)? Won't Romney have a problem with blue-collar Democrats and suburban pro-choice Republicans?

There is a consensus: maybe!

*Quick Takes on Perry & Paterno. Were Perry's 53 seconds of forgetfulness on his core rationale of big government disqualifying? Matalin and Spitzer split here. She argues that it could happen to anyone and that folks come back from mistakes, even epic stumbles, and that Republican primary voters will largely "look at his record in Texas, which is a good one."

Eliot though notes that context counts, the context being that his "Quayle-potatoe" event came after his intellectual capacity to be president was already in question. On that score, it will be seen as a campaign-ending event. (Intrade has him at a 4-percent chance of being the nominee, and falling.)

As for the tragedy at Penn State, the two agree that that school allowed football to become more important than children. The problem of "shut-eyed sentries," in Kipling's phrase, happens when leaders have motives to look the other way.

*Your Week and On the Radar: Eliot explains why his CCNY class inspires him, and Mary explains why her family is excited to watch their father do a cameo and attend the premiere of the new Muppets movie next week.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.

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