By Mark Green
Katrina and Lowry debate whether a) beheadings and media war whoops forced Obama's hand; b) he gets a boost or blame in November; c) he'll escalate if Bombs-without-Boots fails. What now happens to his desired pivot to Asia, climate, inequality? Ray Rice too is tackled by tape. Is a video worth a million words?
*On Obama & ISIS. We listen to Bill Maher say that he's more worried about "ice-melting than ISIS" since they're not going to behead him and that Republicans keep objecting to Obama not because of his policy but his tone that's not enough John Wayne or Ronald Reagan - "we win/you lose!". Then we hear a hair-on-fire/pants-on-fire Ted Cruz sound very much like Wayne-Reagan as he disparages Obama as a wuss.
Wouldn't any of our 44 presidents or a President Romney have taken the same approach that Obama proposed this past week, Vanden Heuvel and Lowry are asked? Rich thinks there's a "mismatch between the ends [of destroying ISIS] and the means to do it," since local troops the president is depending on are "are a very motley group." Katrina, however, citing Phyllis Bennis in The Nation, worries that the president's militaristic tone and approach risks worsening the situation given our history in the Middle East and given his own earlier statements that "there's no military solution there."
The Host agrees with a policy to push back ISIS to provide time and space for moderate Sunnis eventually to repel jihadist Sunnis. But if the short-term policy fails, does Obama then stick to no-boots or reverse himself or roll it over to the next president contest or POTUS? Lowry "wouldn't be shocked" if Obama escalates to avoid defeat. Katrina hopes and expects that he won't.
They agree that Congress constitutionally needs both to man-up and vote on this war and also how it's unlikely the president's party will get a boost this November by sounding hawkish on ISIS. Katrina emphasizes that jobs and the economy are still the key voting variables, "though it may play a big role in 2016" since presumably Hillary has to stick with Obama's approach and a more liberal primary opponent could become her Howard Dean.
It's very odd-bedfellows time to see that about the only two groups wanting more U.S. combat troops in Iraq-Syria are ISIS and McCain-Graham. Also, it’s very glib of many conservatives and some commentators, like the estimable Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, to say that Bush’s and Obama’s policies “are strikingly similar.” Sure… except for the differences of sending in armies to invade and occupy the wrong country and using torture.
And while debating slippery-slope and mission-leap is necessary now, there's a long-term problem of how this "war" can ever end since any couple of aggrieved extremists can kidnap someone and then upload video of their execution... and we not only can't kill all ISIS but we certainly can't kill the idea of a Caliphate anymore than you could do that to Hertzl's idea of a Jewish homeland. Hence Tom Friedman's argument that all this winds down only when there's a war not against Sunnis but within Sunnis when moderates marginalize the extremists.
*On the NFL & Women. In another instance of a video driving debate, opinion and policy, the release of the elevator video showing Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée (now wife) has led to his ouster from the Ravens and the NFL. Katrina and Rich agree both that a) the NFL looked the other way in its mild suspension pre-video when all knew he had knocked her out; and b) the league owners won't oust Commissioner Goodell because they a self-protective big business... unless he's shown to be lying about when he knew about the incriminating tape; and c) Janay Rice is being re-victimized by the constant re-airing of the video.
Would they have aired it if they were the head of a TV network rather than a print magazine? Probably yes initially because it made public what had been too long a shameful secret... but now such airings are unfairly undermining invading the Rices' obligations to themselves as they presumably try to save their marriage.
*On a Constitutional Amendment & Citizens United. Remember when the president chastised court members listening to his 2011 SOTU that their Citizens United decision would "open the floodgates of special interest money" -- and then it did? What do Rich and Katrina think about the U.S. Senate, for the first time, voting on sending a constitutional amendment to the states that would overturn the 2010 decision? It won a party-line majority -- 54-45 -- but needed a 2/3 super-majority to be sent to the states for ratification.
Rich agrees with George Will who defends the court's 5-4 ruling that, because it costs money to run, money is tantamount to speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. Katrina thinks it undermines one-person-one vote to allow the Koch brothers alone to finance 44,000 TV ads this fall.
What next? Vanden Heuvel thinks that it's likely this or a next president will replace one of the five conservative justices in the current majority to reconsider the ruling. Until that happens, she maintains that a less money/more voting grass-roots movement will grow and keep the pressure on Congress.
More McCain: ever since his heroics and imprisonment in North Vietnam, John McCain has been the biggest militarist in America, now always mocking the president he lost to regardless of the military action taken by our Commander-in-Chief. With a metabolism not giving to half-hearted approaches, McCain now is also vying to be the biggest hypocrite in America by enacting McCain-Feingold and calling Citizen's United "the worst Supreme Court decision in our history," and yet voting against a constitutional amendment to overturn it.
*Cuomo's 62 percent - 38 percent reelection win. The two agree that Governor Cuomo's relatively narrow reelection win by 62 percent to 38 percent owed to a feeling among core voters that he was, in Rich's words, "an arrogant bully" who, according to Katrina, failed to clean out political corruption in Albany if not was a part of it. She adds that in the contrast between "transactional and transformative politics," Cuomo is an avatar of the former.
*Scotland. Neither is especially passionate about the upcoming referendum that might make Scotland an independent country. As a traditionalist, Rich would urge Scotland to stay within the United Kingdom ("I agree with Paul Krugman" says the smiling National Review editor). Katrina could go either way, she says, while emphasizing the Wilsonian value of self-determination.
*Would either buy an Apple wrist iPhone? Our keyboard-centric luddites say no, each declaring their lasting fidelity to Blackberry.
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.
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