Hillary and Jeb... Alike Except in the Important Ways



By Mark Green

They're catnip for commentators -- two dynasts announcing within two days. Except the differences far exceed the parallels -- one's a yellow-pad wonk related to a popular ex-POTUS who leads with 60 percent in Democratic polls. The other is a "Jar of Mayo" with 100 percent recognition yet only 10 percent in GOP polls. Lowry and Katrina debate why.

Here Comes Hillary Roosevelt: +s and -s? (The show is taped before both Hillary's and Jeb's public launches.) In a bit of counter-programming, the Host asks Rich about her strengths and Katrina about her weaknesses.

Rich thinks she's "resilient, disciplined and has a better electoral map" than Jeb. He doesn't disagree with the Host that she's a "Yellow Pad Wonk" who'd be a serious policy president if she got there.

Katrina worries about "her trust plunge because of legitimate media coverage of the Clinton Global Initiative and her speaking fees... and questions about whether they play by same rules as everyone else."

Is she, according to a much-discussed Haberman-Martin front page New York Times article, moving left and appealing to only blue-Obama states... much as Rove urged W to simply work his base? Consensus: both say yes.

Katrina emphasizes that the center has become more liberal since Bill won in '92 and Hillary ran in '08. "Now social and economic issues will unite her base." Rich agrees that her positions taken in isolation may poll well but altogether "risk making her look like a left-wing ideologue. Obama was able to energize his voters in 2008 yet look like he was talking to both sides. I doubt that she can pull that off." Perhaps... but, adds Katrina, she can add some younger, white, especially female voters to the "Obama Coalition".

Rich wonders why so many of the ethics charges aren't sticking to Clinton', speculating that perhaps it's because "there are so many of them" that voters can't focus on any one or two. "The real issue," he adds, "is the question of 'who understands people like me.' Here's where Obama crushed Romney and a Democrat should be easily beating Republicans." Katrina thinks that the gap on issues will help Democrats again connect on "people like me." The Host wonders whether, on the tests of ethics and compassion, "the GOP can really Nixon-ize or Romeny-ize Hillary." Nah -- she's no crook or CEO.

What should she do in her big speech? Given Citizens United, Katrina concludes, "she should attack secret money as not part of freedom of speech and, in the spirit of the Four Freedoms, should talk about the great vision of what America can be."

Here comes Jeb Herbert Walker Bush: +s and -s? Katrina is asked about his strengths. She sneaks in an attack by congratulating him for "his Houdini-like ability to stretch the campaign finance law by delaying his announcement until he could raise unaccountable millions for his super-pacs" -- but then lauds his willingness to go against GOP PC "on immigration and education." She adds that he'd be smart to emphasize that he's the son of Bush41 (The Quiet America in the title of John Sununu's book) rather than the brother of Bush43 (or President Fredo to some Godfather devotees).

Rich is asked about his weaknesses since, based on the numbers, Hillary is at 50-60 percent in her multi-candidate field while Jeb is only at 10 percent in a more crowded one. He robustly criticizes Jeb as "a boardroom candidate who's been all about fund-raising. So there's a stark disparity between the passion of donors who are used to the Bushs and the lack of passion among GOP voters. I can't recall meeting anyone who's for him other than professional consultants." He goes on: "He's smart and people can see him walking into the Oval Office but he's a terrible performer behind a podium and has zero policy specifics."

Katrina chimes in that he's reaping the whirlwind by retaining many of W's advisors "who lied us into Iraq." There's a consensus that Jeb both mis-overestimates the asset of being a Bush and mis-understimates, as Laura Ingraham has said, the anger of the Republican base toward him.

POTUS vs. SCOTUS: Is Obama working refs or the voters? At the least, it's unusual if not unprecedented for a President to publicly rebuke Supreme Court decisions. But now comes a law professor President who's done just that after the Citizens United decision and this week in anticipation of the Court ruling on those "four confusing words" about subsidies to ACA exchanges.

Lowry isn't particularly offended by Obama's remarks and assumes he's laying the groundwork for the inevitable blame-game should the Court deny subsidies to 6 million-plus in federal exchanges. Katrina thinks it'd be crazy for the court to do so. But if it did, we'd be back to the late 1930s when it came to FDR's "court packing plan" (in my family it was called "court reform") when a reactionary court threw out much of the New Deal until 'a switch in time saved nine.' "Obama's just telling the truth that the Court is politicized."

Host: when I ask for their predictions, they balk. So I dive in: "It'll be 6-3 upholding the law" because Roberts and Kennedy don't want millions of people blaming their party for loss of their insurance based on a ridiculous interpretation of law, not to mention how they can possibly explain that Congress intended only to subsidize those on state exchanges when ZERO Members say that was the case. Should that happen, it should be a federal crime for any Republican to ever again say they oppose "judicial activism."


*RNC-FOX. Katrina thinks it funny that the RNC seems to be admittedly treating FOX as its communications arm by allowing it to determine debate rules that could affect who nominee is. Which does at least have the virtue of candor. Rich warns us that he's a FOX contributor and admirer of Ailes -- that said, he recommends all R contestant names be put in a bowl and then a draw determines lineups for two 90 minute debates. "There's a big appetite among FOX viewers for even three hours of debates."

*Lindsay Graham ("one wise crack at a time" says WaPo headline). Host wonders if, putting aside his policies for a moment, Lindsay Graham is one billionaire away from contention because he's the anti-Jeb being single, poor, fluent and funny. Claiming his predictions never pan out, Rich modestly demurs. Katrina says she worries about the Host if he thinks Graham funny. ("Rotating first ladies"? "Not go down road again of tall, handsome GOP nominees"? Not Dole-Udall level still but pretty good.)

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

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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