Is the October Surprise That Democrats Could Ace November Midterms?



By Mark Green

Ron Christie and Gara Lamarche focus on Congress -- why it voted 3:1 for Obama's Syria-ISIS plan and who'll make the grade in the upcoming midterm exam? And they split on the greater 'existential threat' to U.S.: Ron says ISIS, Gara says climate. Three beheadings vs. millions under water?

On Congress and ISIS. After Alibaba and NFL child abuse, the big news was on Capitol Hill, first on the bi-partisan vote for Obama's thread-the-needle/our-planes-their-boots policy.

Christie and Lamarche both would have voted in the minority against Obama's plan either because, respectively, it under-relied on the U.S. military or over-relied on it. Take your pick. Ron worries that they pooh-poohed the Free Syrian Army two months ago but now sees it as the bulwark of his "Vietnamization" policy (JFK: "In the end, it's their war.") "We have to destroy, kill, annihilate ISIS," he declares, as the Host protests that saying those verbs doesn't mean we can... especially since thousands of U.S. troops are likely to fuel the fire of Muslim hatred toward America.

Lamarche, however, worries that we're letting ISIS and hawks bait us into over-reacting as we listen to Sen. Graham apocalyptically warn Obama "to rise to the occasion before we all die here at home!" To which Gara replies, "We've gone down this road before..." He believes the president when he says that he won't send brigade-sized U.S. troops to take the lead in the fighting (a couple thousand special forces/advisors may wear "boots" but are something else), "but the situation there is not in his control."

Also, two beheadings are awful but not equivalent of 3000 dead on 9/11 and not sufficient "to declare war"... not to mention that when suddenly Assad and al Qaeda are considered the moderates in this context, you know the U.S. is in a bad place.

On Congress and Midterm Elections. We read three headlines the same week: NYT, "Latest Polls Suggest Rise in Democrats' Chances of Holding on to Senate"; WSJ, "Democrats' Hopes for Senate Control Dim"; WashPo, "We ran 10,000 simulations through our Senate model. They came back dead even."

So Ron, what happened to your prediction last month that the GOP had a lock on the Senate? He mans up to admit that several of the Democratic candidates -- mentioning Hagen and Landrieu -- "are proving more resilient than I thought." And concerning Senator Roberts (R - KS), "if you're gonna run for the Senate, you should probably live in the state." He adds that Republicans have to do a better job of recruiting a broader array of candidates including minorities and women.

Gara, to the contrary, focuses not on the who but the what -- e.g., how GOP programs -- deport Dreamers? shut government in order to cut taxes on the rich? -- have re-tilted the playing field to Dems. This prospect of Democrats retaining the Senate majority is remarkable given the GOP advantage of the six-year jinx and contests mostly in red states.

Then Ron is asked whether he's concerned that his party may be flunking out of the Electoral College due to the trend-lines of the a) browning of America; b) rise of younger liberal millennials; and c) growth of secular, single working women? He says no.

On Hillary "baack". So how'd she do in her Iowa semi-official roll-out? "Terrible" says Ron channeling Andrew Marvel: "If I had world enough and time, this coyness lady were no crime." "I like her personally" though by showing-some-leg but not being more candid, "she displayed what a lot of Americans don't like about her -- a lack of authenticity." Turns out that the steak was cooked before she got there so, complains RC, it was just a photo op. (A Reagan devotee gets upset at a photo op?)

Gara brushes off this complaint since "she's acting no different than all other pols who are in such a strong position they can play coy."

Three questions on HRC:

Q: Is there any space for a Martin O'Malley challenge in the primaries?
A: Consensus there's a bit, especially if there's another war-peace divide.

Q: Is there a current GOP-er who now can seriously challenge her?
A: Gara doubts it while Ron touts Gov. Kasich after he wins a big re-election in Ohio this November.

Q: Is WJC a net plus or minus in 2016?
A. Gara thinks a big plus because of his huge popularity and skills. But Ron thinks a minus as people say "Another Clinton? Really? Can't we find someone else?" (How about Jeb 45!)

Quick Takes: Ebola, NFL and whuppin' kids; Pedestrian lanes for smart-phoners?

Ron thinks Obama sending 3000 soldiers to Africa to help construct health care facilities is "stupid" because that's not what they're trained to do -- but Gara thinks it is something they can and should do. Each is careful discussing the private morality of spanking little children in generally (apparently a Southern custom) or especially when it involves a 220-pound professional football player. And there's chortling about whether oblivious walkers who stare at their smartphones rather than pedestrian traffic flow are a) a bit of a danger and/or b) this month's equivalent of fights over reclining airplane seats. But should we have special lanes for these folks, as some cities in China are doing? Consensus – definitively maybe.

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

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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