09/22/2013 10:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Both Sides Now : 'Pickett's Charge' as GOP Votes 42 Times Against Obamacare But Zero on Guns

By Mark Green

Shrum & Erickson debate why the GOP House votes repeatedly to defund Obamacare but not once to defend people from nuts with guns. While Erick scoffs at diplomacy deterring Iranian nukes, Bob thinks that bipartisan sanctions and Obama's Syrian saber-rattling are working.


October 1 marks both the end of the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government and the start of the Obamacare Health Care Exchanges. It's Groundhog Week as Erickson and Shrum collide over Obamacare, Guns and Iran -- all old issues flaring anew.

But there's consensus that the racist twitter rants against a Miss America of Indian descent show how a rising majority-minority America is sweeping aside standard bigotry.

On Defunding Obamacare & Government. On the merits of the Affordable Care Act, Bob reminds us that the drive toward universal health insurance began with Teddy Roosevelt a century ago and that so far the ACA, contrary to con claims, is not raising premiums or killing jobs. Erick, however, a social media leader for the Ted Cruz Defund movement, cites examples when it has already cost jobs and boosted rates. Each accuses the other of using selective sets of facts.

The Host wonders whether, like Pickett's Charge at Gettsburg or the British at Gallipoli, the Defund strategy of holding all government hostage is also "glorious but not war"? Is Erick worried about losing stalwarts like the WSJ editorial board, Krauthammer, Rove, Governors Walker and Brewer etc.? Erickson vigorously cites those who have stayed with the Cruz Brigade (McConnell, Cantor...) and argues that "since Democrats were willing to lose their majority to pass Obamacare," Republicans should take a similar risk out of principle "or else why do we have parties?" He adds that conservative R's who shout "right-on!" on the hustings and then compromise in DC are just infuriating the Tea Party grass-roots further.

Bob admires that kind of spunk but concludes that a) it hurts the GOP because they look like anarchists -- "Democrats didn't threaten to shut the government down over the Iraq War when they got the House majority in 2007" and b) when the law ends up working, like in Massachusetts, Canada and universal coverage in Great Britain, the GOP nominee in 2020 will be saying, "your Obamacare is safe with us" (see Thatcher w/ National Health in GB).

Host: once red states have their red meat -- and since the Senate and President will not go along with decimating this historic progressive law -- the DC GOP will blink and accept a deal. What's going on is not war but political theater. Erick candidly guesses that a final deal will include construction of the Keystone Pipeline, the end of congressional exceptions in the law and a delay in the tax on medical devices. Win-win-win - government doesn't shut, 30 million get insurance, the tanning salon vote stays Republican...though 350.Org is not happy.

On Guns after Navy Yard. For the 20th time since Obama became president, there's a mass shooting (defined as four or more gun-related deaths in an incident). If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, trying to defund Obamacare and enact gun control, implies Shrum, is insane.

But beyond legislative pessimism, there's a principled difference: Erick is asked what would a Republican president do to reduce the 30,000 gun deaths annually (homicide and suicide) and to reduce a rate of gun death 30-fold larger than our industrial allies. He would urge that President "to start a national conversation to change the culture" that so corrupts 20-something young men. Shrum, however, argues that laws can work, like the Virginia one that kept an automatic gun out of the hands of out-of-state purchaser Aaron Alexis; indeed a law limiting bullets in magazine clips could help slow down mass killers, as Jared Loughner was tackled when he stopped to reload during the Giffords' massacre.

Host: Mark Kelly told the Host how he visited a GOP senator who said he agreed with Kelly and wife Gabby Giffords that universal background checks and smaller gun clips would save the lives of many children but he wouldn't vote for it because it could cost him his seat. So we have here a tyranny of the minority and failure of democratic theory - viz., though 80 percent want something, a vocal few who want only the other thing will prevail as intensity trumps majority.

On Iranian Nukes after Syrian saber-rattling. Bob acknowledges that Obama's process to get to the Putin-UN proposal to rid Syria of chemicals was erratic if not embarrassing..."but it got to the right result and was better than "just invading Iraq to get rid of WMD!" He marvels at the spreading anti-war sentiment in both parties though it began for Democrats long before when "Howard Dean almost took the nomination in 2004 because of his opposition to Iraq."

Erick is very skeptical that Iran will not weaponize its nuclear capacity since North Korea has won concessions by doing so. Bob, however, thinks that the two aren't comparable (a vulnerable Seoul is on the 38th parallel; the Middle East is unique). He adds that Syrian diplomacy + threat of force should persuade President Rouhani to try to make a deal, perhaps starting this week at the UN. The two panelists believe that in a month we'll see if the UN-blessed Syrian agreement is working or if "we're getting played."

On Quick Takes: Larry Summers & Miss America.What happened to Summers on his way to the FED chairmanship? Like Susan Rice, Erick warns, Summers shows that if this president puts your name out there for a big appointment but then doesn't defend you, you have a problem. Bob agrees, saying Obama would have been better off in retrospect just naming Summers and then forcing the nascent Democratic opposition to go along; and he thinks it ridiculous to blame Summers for the financial deregulation of 1999 that President Clinton, however reluctantly, went along with.

Last, there's a non-ideological consensus over the racist backlash to Miss America. Erick emphasizes how it brings out the cowardly bigotry of anonymous tweeters, as both marvel at the rise of the New America, with a black president and two Republicans of Indian descent being governors of South Carolina and Louisiana. "This is traumatic for some people," Bob concludes, effectively telling this shrinking minority to get over it since, "like California, America will soon be a majority-minority country."

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

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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