Both Sides Now : Weiner Dem Headache -- Medicare GOP Migraine? Who Is Jon... Huntsman?

By Mark Green

In the media and political frenzy over Anthony Weiner, Ron Reagan and Kellyanne debate this proposition -- since a congressperson is hired by voters, ideally shouldn't only they fire or rehire him? Then there are two consensus alerts left-to-right: Ryan's Medicare Plan will cost the GOP seats in 2012 and Huntsman may be too cool for school... and for the Republican right. (To listen to entire hour program, click below.)

*Will Weiner Survive? The Clash's "should I stay or should I go?" had special resonance this weekend as calls for his resignation grew. Ron quips that while Weiner is smart, "every penis has the same IQ" ...but since 56% of Weiner's district in a Marist poll "thinks they can let this go because he's been a good congressman," there's an argument that he should stay in office and submit himself to the jury of voters. Kellyanne, to the contrary, concludes that he should resign because he's "unfit to serve" and a misogynist.

But since there was apparently no actual sex or illegality involved -- and a zero-tolerance policy for adultery, sexting, pornography and lying might denude the Congress -- should we distinguish between essentially private peccadillos (JFK, Weiner) and public or criminal misconduct (Nixon, Duke Cunningham)? And what about Republican leaders (Eric Cantor, Reince Priebus) who insist that the liberal Weiner quit yet never demanded the same of conservatives Vitter, Ensign or Sanford? Kellyanne hangs tough, arguing that while there should not be two standards, Weiner confessed to behavior that "bothers people more because it was not behind closed doors and more in the open." Ron jabs Andrew Breitbart for "dining out" on an x-rated picture on his cellphone.

*Will the GOP House Majority Survive? Despite today's lurid double-entendres, it's hard to think that Weiner will hurt the D's more in 2012 than Ryan's "Vouchercare" Plan will hurt the R's. We hear Donna Brazile argue that it's "the kiss of death" for Republicans, while Rep. Allen West counters that D's "shouldn't dance in the end zone."

Should Kathy Hochul's victory in the very red New York's 26th make marginal Republicans nervous in 2012? "Yes," agrees Kellyanne, noting with dismay that some GOP insiders think that "Medicare made [only] an iota of difference" in that special election. She expresses relief that this happened now so there's a year and a half to politically answer those who demagogically call Ryan's a voucher plan and run ads "throwing grandma over a cliff." The host asks whether a party that attacked Obama's "death panels" can now really complain about "vouchers" replacing federally guaranteed Medicare payments.

Ron believes that the GOP has made "an historic political mistake," one consistent with its tradition of arguing that Medicare is some kind of socialized medicine, as he acknowledges the 40th president often did. "Of 34 OECD countries," he adds, "33 provide cradle to grave universal health care -- guess which one doesn't?" The host wonders why Ron doesn't believe in American exceptionalism.

How many House seats will Democrats pick up in 2012 because of the unpopularity of the GOP Medicare plan? Ron guessed 19, Kellyanne about 12 -- with 25 needed to shift control.

*Can Huntsman Survive? Why have we not read a critical word about the ex-governor, ex-envoy, ex-rocker with 7 children? Is he a "Republican Obama" (Andrew Sullivan) given his "Cool Hand Luke" manner (George Will)? We listen to clips of Huntsman saying that "the yelling, screaming and finger-pointing have gone on too long in this country" and that he agreed to be Obama's ambassador to China because "the president asked me to serve during a time of war."

Kellyanne asks what war he's referring to and since when did finger-pointing "became a crime? ...It's called politics." She also thinks that Huntsman sounds more like an Independent than someone seeking the Republican party nomination. Ron concurs that Huntsman's "reasonable moderation" means he can't prevail since "any nominee has to satisfy the Tea Party and he won't." Is the fact that he's a billionaire relevant since he can stay in the race after the early caucuses and primaries? "Deep pockets aren't enough" answers Kellyanne; "the way to beat vanilla is not with french vanilla but with Rocky Road" (a delicious reference to market differentiation); also, this cycle "it's better to be a self-made man than a self-funding one."
How about the potential Rick Perry and Rudy Giuliani candidacies? There's agreement that hints at secession and a bellyflop in 2008, respectively, are pretty disqualifying. And is America ready for another Texas governor in cowboy boots?

*Quick Takes & Takeways. Kevorkian. E-Books. Obama-Osama. Rush-Romney. On the death from natural causes of Jack Kevorkian, Ron concludes that it's hard to argue with the libertarian principle that a person can decide when his own life should end; Kellyanne, however, regards him a murderer who did and should have spent eight years in prison for assisting suicides. As for Amazon's announcement last month that e-book sales for the first time exceeded printed book sales, our two techo-dinosaurs acknowledge that they read more hard cover books than ebooks; Ron adds that ebooks are a great boon to text-toting students as Kellyanne frets about book stores turning into Starbucks in every town.

What about the spat on the radio left over whether the killing of bin Laden was unlawful (David Sirota suggests so; Ed Schultz adamantly disagrees)? Our panelists agree that it was both a lawful killing in wartime combat and, now, an irrelevant issue to nearly all Americans. Is Rush right for concluding that Romney can't win the nomination because he doesn't believe global warming to be a hoax? After explaining the context of Romney's other ideological heresies (health care, abortion), Ms. Conway says "no" since the big test next year will be the economy, not the environment. Mr. Reagan -- with two presidential nominations to his name -- thinks Limbaugh is wacky on climate change but right about the politics since "you can't today be the Republican nominee if you believe in sound science."

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

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