02/26/2012 09:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Both Sides Now : Spitzer/Matalin on Santorum as SNL's Church Lady and Murray=OWS?

By Mark Green

Cotton Mather and Anthony Comstock are (in)famous for ignoring Church-State and infusing moral values into the law. Now comes Rick Santorum whose preachy views on conception and sin are music to the ears of many GOP primary voters as we approach another make-or-break primary day, this time in Michigan and Arizona.

*On "The Devil and Rick Santorum" (National Review) We hear a medley of audio from "Sanitorium" (Tony Soprano's moniker for the ex-Senator) that show a very judgmental presidential candidate on morality and Christianity, including warnings about birth control pre-marriage and even Satan. (Omitted for time are observations about Obama leading America to the French Revolution's guillotine, Obama "crushing the Judeo-Christian ethic", and JFK's 1960 church-state speech making him "want to vomit.")

Earnest religious conservative or radical sex cop?

Eliot points out that expressing religious views are fine but "as the father of two girls, I'm terrified thinking of him as the President of the United States since he doesn't believe in science but the theology of the far-right." Mary punches back, dismissing those comments as "beneath you Eliot" and explaining that quotes out of context mischaracterize him as a Pat Robertson. But he's a fuller candidate, "who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and has a good economic plan."

The former governor pushes back that Santorum's quotes are numerous, intolerant and in context... Ms. Matalin replies that "abortion on demand and a contraceptive culture" are a problem ("though I believe in contraception!")... McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt is heard opining that "he's "disqualified himself in a general election"... and the Host concludes that "Santorum has one of the best minds of the 13th Century."


Mary allows that some of Santorum's language could better connect with a larger audience (see too The National Review on his "inopportune remarks") but "he should not give up his core philosophy, though he could express it in more loving language like the Pope's."

There's a mild consensus that Santorum has the best narrative for the GOP base -- earnest blue-collar religious conservative vs. slippery CEO -- but Romney's money in Michigan (and home state status) make him the slight favorite. "But the GOP has a problem," says Eliot. "They're split into libertarians, social conservatives, and fiscal conservatives -- and Romney only has the last third."

One other consensus: Rick did poorly in the last GOP debate, in part because of (you can't escape this) the Jeremy Lin factor -- unheralded guy comes off the bench, unexpectedly scores, opponents now double team the hot shot into turnovers...

*On Obama The-Tax-Cutter. Why did the GOP cave on Friday to Obama's payroll tax extension for the rest of 2012 (though without a "millionaire's tax" to pay for it)? And how could they simply add $100 billion+ to the "unsustainable" deficit?

Eliot bluntly explains that Republicans lost the politics in 2011 by opposing a tax break to 160 million Americans during a weak economy -- or, as Paul Krugman wrote, "Keynes was right." Mary argues for the Ryan emphasis on spending and regulatory reductions, as well as amending the "it's the economy stupid" Carville coda because, as the Tea Party victories of 2010 showed, elections are also about cultural issues.

*On Charles Murray's "Coming Apart". Speaking of cultural issues, Mary lauds the new book by conservative intellectual Charles Murray. It argues that there is a class divide in America but it's more about trends like rising out-of-wedlock births than economics. "We could have a booming economy and regain our global superiority" but still America wouldn't restore its greatness unless "we judge people who we think are hurting the entire culture."

Eliot agrees that it's a powerful, well argued book "but it should come as no surprise," noting that of course America is becoming more stratified "as Occupy Wall Street has argued." The Host balks that OWS's 1%-99% divide is a very different kind of stratification, based on how a rigged economy and democracy are dividing/hurting America; Mary counters that "rising infidelity, illegitimacy and less industriousness happened at a time of rising prosperity"...Eliot responds that there's a convergence of the two approaches, Murray's and Occupy's.

*Quick Takes: Oscars. "Truth Vigilantes". Stolen Valor Act. Mary likes Mara for best actress because she's the daughter of the Giants owner. Eliot likes the New York Times ombudsman proposal that reporters try to tell the truth (as they see it) and not just be a conveyor belt of lies... and our two justices split on the Supreme Court case over the Stolen Valor Act -- she thinks lying about medals is something of a security issue while he thinks it runs the risk of unconstitutionally suppressing (non-commercial) speech.

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

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