01/05/2014 09:35 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

BOTH SIDES NOW : Lowry/Reagan on Benghazi and Colorado Going Up in Smoke

By: Mark Green

Progeny of Reagan and Buckley (Ron Reagan and Rich Lowry of National Review) agree it's now best to legalize/regulate/tax pot. As Colorado goes... Also, the Right is sticking to its story: Benghazi's a coverup about al Qaeda. What NYTimes expose?


The two most influential conservatives of the past half century were surely Reagan and Buckley. Their descendants debate Benghazi after the Times, Colorado after legalization, Snowden after vindication -- and do the looking back and predictions thing at the hinge of new year.

On Benghazi post-Times. Ron thinks that the Times investigation -- i.e., the attack was led by local terrorists partly fueled by the anti-muslim video -- clobbers the conservative myth that Barack/Hillary conspired to ignore al Qaeda's role. He adds that Susan Rice is owed an apology by cons who kept calling her a liar when it now seems likely that the fog of war right after the Cairo protests produced confusion, not a coverup. Concluding that a tragedy is not a conspiracy, he asks, "Should we now go back and impeach my father because the Marine Barracks were blown up in Lebanon?"

But Republicans Darryl Issa, Mike Rogers and Rich Lowry will have none of that. They're sticking to their story that an election-year White House coverup in effect "contributed" [Rogers] to the four American deaths. They give no credence to the Times independent investigation. Lowry repeats that the White House was lying. "It's naïve to think they were innocent mistakes."

Host: If the Times is right, Hillary then was right to conclude at her hearings under oath that "at this point what does it matter" whether the attackers were under al Qaeda control or just linked to them or merely inspired by them -- or none of those What we know is bad enough -- that there was a gross security lapse before and a tragedy after -- and evidence-free speculation doesn't help.

Who's politicizing what? Could it possibly be Republicans out to tarnish Clinton45?

After the Marine Barracks and 9/11 attacks, the out party did not treat those sitting presidents as conniving, callous pols. Why now... especially since all the evidence indicates that it was the CIA and General Petraeus who drafted the so-called talking points for Susan Rice? And talk about conspiracy theorists. The GOP in effect says that Hillary Macbeth was behind both a coverup and now this NYTimes exoneration. Imagine how it went down: Jill Abramson calls David Kirkpatrick: JA "We gotta protect Hillary so let's play with our reputation as paper-of-record to boost her politically." DK: "Gotcha boss." Sure, that's Journalism 101.

On Colorado going to pot. Rich recalls how mentor Bill Buckley ran an issue of The National Review with the cover tag: "The War on Drugs has Failed." While he doesn't like people smoking pot, "there's a lot of things I don't like that shouldn't then be illegal." (Note Nation cover last November with tag, "Dope and Change," taking the same position as National Review.)

Consensus: Rich and Ron support the Colorado approach, coming to RR's native Washington State soon. "Should we really continue to ban a plant that grows in the ground?" To which Rich says, "so then my plan to prohibit kale won't fly?"

On Clemency for Snowden. This week the NYTimes certainly appears to be the straw stirring the drink. What about its call for clemency for Snowden since, while he did break the law, his leaks also disclosed an NSA too willing to snoop on Americans.

Reagan agrees that he should be allowed to come home as part of a deal that allows him to plead guilty without going to jail. Lowry is willing to leave it up to a judge but is unwilling to go so far as to urge a particular result. Both claim not to be lawyers, which the Host, who is one, claims is a sly way to ingratiate themselves with listeners.

Ringing out the old... where they make predictions and exchange party roles:

*Rising stars in the other's party? Rich says Elizabeth Warren, Ron responds withTed Nugent "because he represents what the Republican party is about."

*Most effective liberal? Rich says Sen. Schumer. Most effective conservative in the media? Ron says Fox generally and Erick Erickson in particular.

*2013 Story with biggest positive impact? Rich cites how fracking is working and spreading -- Ron on how Obamacare is now working and spreading. (Which is good if, indeed, fracking proves unhealthy.)

*Predictions for 2014? Rich says that "Obama won't be impeached and immigration reform won't pass." Ron says, after reading Five Billion Years of Solitude by Lee Billings, we may spot a solar system with a planet like earth that an sustain life. (Rich salutes him for such a bold, if tenuous, prediction.)

*Best film of 2013? Rich says Wolf of Wall Street ("vile but highly entertaining") -- over American Hustle ("a fizzle"). (Host dissents!)

*Who in your party makes you cringe as soon as they open their mouths? Ron says Obama "because while he's obviously well-spoken, he too often says that he and Republicans can work together. No you can't! They don't like you!" Rich goes for candor by admitting that leaders like Bush and McCain were not always the most eloquent or precise, not to mention "the Republican field at the debates last year." He does cite one current, cringe-worthy person in particular: "Rep. Steven Stockman, now on a quixotic race against Senator John Cornyn of Texas."

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

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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