11/06/2011 11:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Both Sides Now : On Abortion, Labor and Frontrunner Fumbles

By Mark Green

With Arianna debating Kellyanne Conway, the show previews Mississippi's "Personhood Amendment" and Ohio's pro-labor referendum, then reviews the stumbles of the two GOP frontrunners: does Romney lack a "core," and does Cain lack credibility? Do any or all of these significantly affect 2012? (To listen to the entire show, click below.)

*On Abortion in Mississippi. With a limping economy, abortion hasn't been a leading political topic, though not for lack of trying by conservatives. In the House and in State Houses, Republicans have been pushing for a variety of restrictions, with one of the most extreme being a "Personhood Amendment" in Mississippi, which would declare that life begins at conception.

Kellyanne predicts that it will pass and is personally in favor, but as a libertarian she is wary of constitutional amendments on such personal matters. If Amendment 26 is enacted, would prosecutors charge women and their doctors with murder? "No," she concludes, "since there would be carve-outs." Arianna strongly opposes a proposal that would outlaw nearly all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, and some birth control and in-vitro fertilization, as well -- and would likely be unconstitutional, given that Roe allows most abortions. She questions why states with poor populations worry about such a "massive distraction" when they should be more focused on children's education and hunger. (In this context, recall Barney Frank's quip that to pro-lifers, "life begins at conception and ends at birth.")

Kellyanne adds that there's generally been a pro-life shift in America, probably because of the vividness of sonograms (liberals should admit that -- her words -- "the fetus beat us"). Because only "2 to 3 percent of all abortions are the result of rape or incest" (that's 50,000-plus), she's been urging GOP presidential candidates to "talk about all the rest using abortion for convenience."

*On Labor in Ohio. Unlike a social conservative referendum in Ol' Miss, on Tuesday there's also a progressive economic referendum in the blue-collar battleground state of Ohio. Given that recent polls show majority support (before late spending by business groups), did Walker-Kasich conservatives miscalculate when they pushed anti-collective-bargaining state laws? We listen to Richard Trumka in effect thanking Scott Walker for "giving us the opportunity to debate the right of collective bargaining, which the AFL had been trying to do for 20 years."

Kellyanne substantively lauds laws that help explain the costs of unfunded pension liabilities while acknowledging strategic problems in combining popular elements into one vulnerable referendum. Arianna favors repealing SB5 because it undermines the "fundamental right" of collective bargaining by public employees. Do the huge rallies in Wisconsin and Occupy protests vindicate her repeated complaints about the declining middle class? She demurs, referring instead to a Columbia colloquium with Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, where both agreed that rising inequality and lower mobility were together "very destabilizing and ... could lead to oligarchy."

*On Femme TV: Women Are the "Men." Unlike The Honeymooners and All in the Family, a slew of TV shows this fall season -- The New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, Up All Night, Whitney, Homeland, even Pan Am -- highlights in-charge, savvy, attractive women dominating weak boy-men. Something in the zeitgeist? Arianna thinks the shows reflect both how parenthood has replaced motherhood in an economy where both spouses work and how men have been in power so long and making "stupid decisions" that people were ready to try something different.

Kellyanne adds that this trend reflects a) the "mancession" where more men lost jobs due to the especially steep declines in manufacturing and construction, and b) how audiences were eager for alternatives to "autopsy and biopsy shows." We discuss the evolution from the haute coutre of Sex and the City to blue-collar women living paycheck to paycheck in 2 Broke Girls. Then Kellyanne worries that shows with men appearing to be putzes would provide poor role models for her son.

*On Arianna on Greece. With a Greek on hand, Both Sides takes advantage by asking about the tumultuous 48 hours when PM Papandreou promised a referendum on the new European Union deal for banks and Greece, then reversed himself and finally resigned, calling for new elections. Arianna believes that this deal came six months too late because of German proscrastination and the fact that Greeks would have likely voted it down. By this point, withdrawl from the Euro and default would not be a worse outcome, given the onerous austerity imposed on the country.

*On Romney's and Cain's Fumbles. Abortion, labor law and Greece may affect the 2012 presidential election... but what of the performances of GOP frontrunners Romney and Cain?

George Will and David Plouffe agree that Mitt Romney seems to be prone to "serial changes of mind" (Will) and "corelssness" (Plouffe)? The women concur. Kellyanne laments that "voters want to know less about your electability than your ideology... what you believe in." Arianna thinks his 180s raise a "character issue" that could do him damage in a general election.

As for Herman Cain's spotty memory and inconsistent answers, they also agree that sexual harassment charges against a presidential candidate are serious. You can't abuse power in the workplace and then seek the most powerful job in the world.

But, Ms. Conway politically understands Cain's attempt to change the subject to alleged racial, liberal media bias (citing when Hillary Clinton changed the subject from her husband's infidelity to the "vast right-wing conspiracy"), and Arianna chastises the media for over-covering this week's "balloon boy." Well, did The Huffington Post cover it, the host impertinently asks? She dismisses any comparison. "It would be like spending most of this show on Cain rather than just at the end, since he has zero chance of being president." Hard to argue with that.

Kellyanne concludes that Cain made a "big mistake by playing the race card" when Politico wrote about the complaints from two women at the National Restaurant Association. "Liberals own that tactic." Cain allegedly misbehaves in the workplace and stumbles in the campaign and it's the fault of... liberals?

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

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