09/23/2012 07:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

BOTH SIDES NOW : Will Tape-Gate be Romney's 'Lonesome Rhodes' Moment*?

By Mark Green

He's endured criticism previously about who was the "real Romney" because of his chameleon-like ease at adapting to audiences and election cycles. The unflattering leaked tape, however, at first seemed to be an Occupy Wall Street parody of "Billionaires for Bush" without the actors. Is it a gaffe that'll evaporate or something that voters remember in November because it rings true? (*Playing Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes in the 1957 classic A Face in the Crowd, performer Andy Griffin's public brand is demolished when he's secretly recorded condemning his "idiotic and moronic fans.")


On the 47% Tape. First, is what he said about 47% of Americans being takers not producers accurate? Ron dismisses it as nonsense since that number excludes people, like Romney, who pay capital gains taxes rather than income taxes and "it's not a good way to run for president to insult half of America", like the working poor who pay payroll taxes, the elderly on Social Security and Medicare, students getting loans. Do they think they're dependent victims?

Torie argues that "context is everything - he was focused on how he'll win since so many people would vote for Obama no matter and he raised the important question of the appropriate role and scope of the federal government." She adds that Romney's remarks were being over-hyped by the media and were no worse than Obama's private comments in 2008 about people in declining areas "clinging to their guns and religion" and in 1998 about the role of government "redistribution."

But haven't leading conservatives like Krauthammer, O'Reilly, Noonan criticized Romney for these self-destructive remarks? Torie says she admires them BUT agrees with Ann Romney's pushback - it's hard being in the arena and these folks shouldn't jump on every word.

Ron interrupts to ask whether she favors "a progressive income tax or a flat tax"? After much cross talk Ron concludes that progressive taxes of course redistribute wealth to those in need and it's crazy to argue against routine "redistribution," not to mention that this issue was litigated without much affect by "Joe the Plumber" in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Both President Reagan and Governor Romney are conservative, but, asks the Host of Ron, "while your father able to connect to workers because of his middle class upbringing, lifeguard job, being president of a union,can Romney do that due to his more privileged life?" Ron thinks Romney doesn't and can't "understand working people who live in an America without car elevators and private planes."

As the Romney campaign announces that it now intends to heavily advertise the governor's appeal to middle class voters, the Host observes that'll be now be hard or impossible given "ad equivalencies" -- the hundreds of millions of in-kind dollars of news coverage, like on the front pages of some 40 newspapers in a handful of swing states, exposing Romney as a country club Republican disdainful of middle class voters who benefit from essential social programs.

On Riots and Death in Middle East. We listen to U. N Ambassador Susan Rice tell Jake Tapper of ABC's This Week that the U. S. isn't "impotent and unpopular" in the Middle East despite the recent riots triggered by an anti-Muslim film. But five days later the State Department confirmed that the attack on the Libyan consulate that killed Ambassador Stevens had been a planned terrorist attack.

Ron thinks that Rice got it about right, that resentments go beyond the triggering hateful film "Innocence of Muslims," and that it's naïve to imply that the U.S. can now control events in Middle Eastern democracies as it might have when a call to a dictator worked well enough. "And we have to extricate ourselves from spending half our defense budget protecting our oil sources there."

Torie faults the media for ignoring foreign policy issues in the campaign and chides Democrats who in the Bush Administration (where she was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs at the Pentagon) for simplistically blaming Bush's policies whenever anyone asked "why do they hate us." She adds that Obama's hopes for an Arab Spring have fallen short because of the philosophy of "leading from behind." Ron dismisses that as "sloganeering" and that it's near impossible to call the president weak on terrorism "since he's killed Bin Ladin and so many more al Qaeda than anyone else."

The Host asks about Romney's comments in the Boca tape that he thinks Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations -- despite U. S. policy for a two-state solution -- are now futile. Ron criticizes the nominee for implying that all Palestinians are against peace when many Israeli leaders are as well. Torie sympathizes with Romney's candor about the prospects of peace but, since she advocates for a "more forward leaning engagement in the Middle East," disagrees with his suggested approach of non-engagement.

On Quick Takes: Gender Selection. Golfer-in-Chief. Stewart v. O'Reilly.

Do they have moral or ethical qualms about families choosing to end pregnancies for the purpose of gender selection? Torie and Ron agree that it's legal under Roe v Wade but makes them uncomfortable.

They also concur that Republicans who taunt Obama for playing too much golf should probably give it a rest, especially after a trade group We Are Golf complained to GOP leaders.

As for the announced Stewart/O'Reilly debate "Rumble it the Air-Conditioned Auditorium" - the TV equivalent of Both Sides Now -- Ron picks Steward "who's both smarter and funnier" while Torie just predicts a "shout-fest," which the Daily Show-addicted Host observes never happened when they appeared together previously on their respective programs.

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

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