02/09/2014 10:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

BOTH SIDES NOW : Matalin-Reagan Debate if Christie and O'Reilly Should Be Flagged for Unnecessary Roughness?

By: Mark Green

Has Christie crossed a line that's presidentially disqualifying and O'Reilly misused a sporting event to peddle crackpot conspiracies? And if conservatives like choice for markets & schools, why not for balancing health care, work & family?


On the CBO re Obamacare & Deficits. Who's right about the CBO--ACA report on work & jobs -- Podhoretz saying it signals a "deathblow" to Obamacare or Krugman saying it's just another faux attack on a program that's slowly succeeding?

Mary doesn't repeat the "job killer" attack line but argues that the law does create a "disincentive" for some to work that second job now that health insurance is no longer tied to employment. "What happened to the dignity of labor?"

Ron agrees that at the margin some people may choose family, retirement or a start-up to their existing job but that the end of such "job-lock" is a good thing. Indeed, the CBO goes on to conclude that the demand for doctors, hospitals will obviously grow as 30 million more will get coverage, which in turn will reduce unemployment and generate tax revenues to reduce the deficit.

Host: Is Social Security bad because it allows some seniors to retire rather than work? And as the WashPo's fact-checker was screaming all week, there's a world of difference between employers firing 2.5 million workers and employees choosing to work less hours that add up to that number of jobs.

As each argument against Obamacare gets debunked -- no death panels, no job loss from firms cutting full-time for part-time work, web site fixed -- the latest "job killer" apocalypse becomes another example of the gypsy aphorism: "dogs bark but the caravan moves on."

Speaking of the deficit, what about the other CBO study this week saying that it fell by nearly two-thirds from Obama's first year budget to this year's because of higher tax revenues, reduced spending, health care cost reductions?

Mary acknowledges that deficits have fallen to a normal three percent of GDP but that the debt will soon be "an unsustainable" 70-79 percent of GDP. Ron wonders whether the GOP would be so grumpy about such progress if they happened under a Republican president. The fact is that the deficits grew under Reagan and Bush43 but fell significantly under Clinton and Obama.

On Christie & Huckabee. There's a widespread belief that the GOP should field someone from its gubernatorial stable to run against Washington/Obama/Hillary in 2016. So did two such top tier prospects -- Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie -- get into self-immolating territory as when Romney Sr. said 1968 that he'd been "brainwashed" in Vietnam?

There is a consensus that Huckabee politically stepped in it with his comment about women's "libido" and "Uncle Sugar." Mary is more understanding because sometimes "Republican men of faith" get off-track on this topic. She adds that while there's a Mars-Venus gap between genders in her party, what's truly insulting is when male candidates assume that simple phrases are necessary because women can't understand complex issues.

Ron, however, thinks that such comments from a 1950s Life of Reilly show make women voters cringe...which is not good for a party that already lost that cohort by 11 points in 2012.

Christie's another story. Mary makes two points: "he's too good a politician and prosecutor to be so Shermanesque in his denials if they weren't true" -- so she assumes that former pal David Wildstein won't disprove Christie's contention about being unaware of the lane closings; and, if he can weather the storm, the governor may be a stronger candidate for it. Ron thinks he's already toast, irrespective of what comes out in court, because in the court of public opinion his obvious bully-boy MO is not POTUS-friendly. They both marvel that such a hands-on, shrewd operator would allow his office'sMean Boys attack on Wildstein in high school.

Mary gets candid: She previously doubted that he could be the nominee of such a conservative, evangelical party and that, in that gubernatorial/moderate vacuum, while Jeb Bush could be credible, she'd bet on Scott Walker. (Wow. HOLD THE PRESSES! Who will tell John Nichols?)

Host: the line of the week goes to both-sider Bob Shrum who said on Face the Nation, "Christie's more likely to go to the Big House than the White House." But IMHO, if he steers clear of any legal culpability, Christie will still run IF his big money jury -- Langone etc. -- sticks with him. But his chance of being the nominee has shrunk and he's already lost, say, two to three percentage points in a General against a HRC when he had none to spare.

Chutzpah Moment: Karl Rove said that MSNBC was overhyping Bridgegate in order to hurt the other party -- and he said this on FOX News! I believe this is why @LOLGOP is such a popular site.

On O'Reilly's Super Bowl. The best match-up last Superbowl Sunday, given the actual score, were those two Irish guys O'Reilly and O'Bama. Was the former simply being a good journalist by taking up 40 percent of his time with questions/accusations or was a blitzing linebacker who should be flagged for roughing up the quarterback? Was Obama adeptly dismissive ("Of course you're being unfair Bill but I like you anyway") or just whiny?

Mary thought O'Reilly was fine and that the IRS and Benghazi events were "scandals" that should dog Dems. Ron agrees with the President that no matter how many times Fox & BillO repeat there are "ongoing investigations into those scandals," there's no there there. Or were 271 deaths at the barracks in Lebanon under his father also more a "scandal" than a "tragedy in a dangerous world"?

There's one consensus: They'd far prefer that such Super Bowl Sunday interviews should be of the First Fan rather than have a partisan Meet the Press tone. "But then," says Ron, "Obama wasn't asking the questions."

On Woody-Mia. While it's enormously sad such ugly intra-family charges are being publicly aired in this fraught fight, the panel agrees that it's probably best to reserve judgment and hold off any boycotts until and if there's a legal judgment (decades ago a prosecutor chose not to pursue charges.) Also, with exceptions, it's usually best to separate the artist from the art. "Mona Lisa's smile would be as impressive if Woody Allen had painted it," says Ron.

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

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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