BOTH SIDES : Huffington/Clarke Debate Obama's "Foreign" Policy & a Right to Bear AR-15s

By Mark Green

We listen to Mitt Romney's VFW broadside against President Obama's "foreign" policy (the word he frequently uses to describe the president generally) and debate whether it's a convincing critique or "bloviating bluster" (David Axelrod). Is the clue the dog that didn't bark in Romney's speech -- such as the bin Laden raid, Iraq withdrawal, post-Gaddafi Libya?

On Romney's Case Against Obama Abroad. Arianna and Torie discuss Romney's bill of particulars -- "contemptible" leaks, the Pentagon's $600 billion Sequester, hostility to Israel. Is the GOP nominee changing the subject to unauthorized leaks since the underlying policies were successful... not to mention that talking about leaks is risky after Scooter Libby/Dick Cheney/Valerie Plame? Wasn't the Sequester and Super Committee a GOP-inspired resolution to end the debt ceiling standoff? How does Obama's policy toward Israel differ from Bush's?

Torie, who was an Assistant Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld, agrees that Obama's successes abroad give him some political immunity "but not a lot." She maintains that leaks about the bin Laden raid and the cyber war against Iran show a "consistent, persistent pattern to put Obama in a a good light... but it puts lives at risk." Yes the Sequester was bi-partisan but that includes the president. And though both PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak have lauded Obama as a great friend of Israel -- see the U. S. veto of a Palestinian State -- the president's "weakness" toward Iran makes Israeli leaders "uncertain" that we'll stand with them should Iran start building nuclear weapons.

But she acknowledges that Romney "does have to come up with more specifics" about his own foreign policy program in the next four months beyond being the not-Obama.

Arianna says that Romney looks like a good presidential candidate "if you turn the sound off."

In her withering view, he just projects indignation and bluster and has no coherent approach or critique. On Israel, "he says things that make no sense at all." All-in-all, he just spouts "bromides" and does not convey any capacity to be commander-in-chief.

On Guns after Aurora. While most haven't yet gone to The Dark Knight Returns, we've all seen this movie before -- horror, outrage, congressional silence.

We listen to a) Obama tell the National Urban League that, because there's an Aurora every few days in terms of numbers of gun killings, we need to pursue "common sense... violence reduction" (Host: at the level of framing, Luntz-Lakoff would approve) and b) Romney refuse to repeat his statement against assault weapons signing a ban as the Massachusetts governor.


Arianna lauds Mayor Bloomberg for insisting that the presidential nominees say something concrete about gun policy since gun-related deaths in America are greater than the next 22 western nations combined." She wants assault weapons banned at least and the NRA called out. While Torie does not agree with Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) that there's a constitutional right to such rapid firing weapons, she adds that it should be "the president who shows leadership by calling for a summit" of relevant groups to come up with effective policy.

On Women and Careers vs. Kids. Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School and head of Policy Planning at State under Hillary Clinton, wrote a much-discussed Atlantic cover last month on the conflict between career and family. Marissa Mayer is the new 37-year-old CEO of Yahoo, who's six months pregnant and blithely vows to come back to work shortly after giving birth.

Can they and other women "have it all"? BSN's panel come at this very differently.

Arianna explains her luck two decades ago at being both a workaholic and a new mother with her own mother and "yia yia" (Greek for grandmother) at home to help. This past weekend, she and Slaughter spoke to young women about "a larger conversation about what we value in life -- not how children can hinder a career but how women should determine success. The male version creates stress, heart attacks and diabetes. Our culture has to reevaluate what gives each of us -- men and women -- fulfillment."

Torie, however, disparages the article and subject by noting that every 18 months someone who's wealthy, well-educated and with a nanny and spousal support writes and "whines about these tough choices... when it's the single mom in Anacostia who has to choose between new shoes and the dentist. That's a tough choice."

The Y Chromosome Host acknowledges that it never occurred to him 30 years ago to put his career on hold when he and his working wife had young children; he's also seen how working women have to juggle in a way men don't -- namely, how BSN producer and new mom Vicki Vergolina could breast pump and edit tape at the same time.

But the women do agree that a) family-friendly policies can help -- in-office child care, flex-time, parental leave with pay, b) Marissa Mayer may have to reconsider her prediction about when she'll return to work post-delivery, and c) at some point most professional women will have a moment of truth and decide what matters to them most when they have young children.

Conclusion: BSN regular Mary Matalin, traveling this week, perhaps put it best in Slaughter's article: She said that her aha moment came when she left the Bush 43 White House because "while she was was indispensable to her young daughters, she was not indispensable to her president."

Quick Tales: Quote Permissions; Rape Jokes.

Should public figures be allowed to condition interviews on the ability to later say either what's in their quotes or which quotes to use? There's a consensus that allowing subjects the power to edit quotes violates good journalistic practice but no clear conclusion on the ethics of post-interview permitting inclusion or exclusion of the entire quote.

Then there's Tosh.2.0 who got into trouble on Comedy Central for replying to a heckler with a rape joke, which Louis C. K. later defended. Do they agree with feminists that "no rape joke is funny" ? Yes they do. OK, what about rappers who use the B-word or holocaust humor in Hogan's Heroes (and Mel Brooks's Springtime for Hitler) or The Book of Mormon eliciting peels of laughter at jokes about infant molestation?

Arianna notes that this question has entered a new era now that very ribald humor in small private clubs can go very public via iPhones and the Internet. Torie concludes that ideally the court of public opinion will determine what's funny and permissible or not. Solution: free speech and free markets.

*On the Radar. Torie warns about Mali, where al Qaeda is getting a foothold. Arianna worries that next Friday's jobs numbers will not be pretty in light of last week's announced GDP growth rate of only 1.5 percent.

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

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