By Mark Green
Matalin and Shrum debate different situations in which radicalized terrorists kill with assault weapons -- Muslim, Christian, home-grown, foreign-born. Debate now "frozen," but would a 2016 Democrat running and winning on overhaul of gun laws be able to shift culture and then Congress?
On San Bernardino. We hear: A) Obama say gun-related deaths in U.S. unparalleled around world; B) Clinton stresses "no fly-no buy;" C) Ryan says we shouldn't rush to judgment, but focus on mental health.
Mary says some other countries do have comparable mass killings; Calif. had strong anti-gun laws, problem is lunatics, not guns, since some shootings due to movies or video games... and Ted Kennedy was once on a terror watch list!
Bob disagrees. States with weak laws undermine those with strong ones, and mental health initiatives sound fine "but what are we going to do, involuntarily commit people because we've read their Facebook post?" Aside from some bureaucratic snafus easily fixed, barring people on "No-fly" terror lists can keep some guns out of some hands. Until the U.S. engages in a complete overhaul of our gun laws -- as Australia successfully did under a conservative government with public approval -- things won't change.
Could things change if mass shootings increase in frequency? Plus, a Clinton runs on a strong gun-safety platform and then tries to enact legislation on assault weapons, universal background checks, straw-man purchases, longer wait times, "safer" guns? Shrum says that it's hard to be optimistic even in the long-run after JFK and RFK killings, Reagan's shooting, Sandy Hook, especially when response to San Bernardino shooting was a run on guns on Black Friday.
Host: Post-show, Obama addressed the nation, explaining an approach that refuses to again invade a Middle East country inviting more terrorism, and that terrorism is a cancer that can't be cured overnight.
Given the GOP's shrill attacks without offering alternatives, should the GOP be made to pay a political price on issues where the public by 4-1 wants no-fly, no-buy and an assault weapons ban? As when Democrat Joe Tydings in the '70s lost a Maryland Senate seat, apparently because he was for gun control, which spooked Democrats for decades -- if the reverse starts happening in 2016 things could un-freeze. Also, Republicans look ridiculous when they maintain that many young and elderly shouldn't vote until they produce an ID yet it's ok for suspected terrorists to buy guns without proving who they are. Is the non-existent threat of impersonated voters greater than the threat of real terrorists?
On Colorado-Planned Parenthood. Robert Dean, too, was a "home-grown radicalized terrorist" who clearly had an anti-planned Parenthood motive. Bob says that we shouldn't call him a "Christian terrorist," although his religion apparently guided him just as we shouldn't label those in California Muslim terrorists.
Of course, "pro-life" advocates won't lose their first amendment rights. But Mary is asked: You agree that Erick Erickson and Bill O'Reilly shouldn't say, respectively, that Cecile Richards is "today's Joseph Mengele" and "Tiller's-a-Killer"... since abortion is a safe, constitutionally protected right and Dr. George Tiller was indeed shot to death in Church after O'Reilly repeatedly said that? Mary answers that, even if such comments weren't made, they'd have no real-world effect and that "both sides" should cool their rhetoric. And she implies that most of these shootings are simply mentally deranged people like John Hinkley and Jodi Foster.
Bob: No, we won't shut down movie industry or abrogate the first amendment "but It certainly doesn't cost us anything to avoid such inflammatory language."
Host: Although the show is called "both sides" as in both sides making their arguments, that's different than implying that left and right are always comparably correct or demagogic. Who are leading Democratic voices akin to Erickson and O'Reilly implying those who disagree are all murderers, perhaps therefore coaxing some to murder in self-defense?
On ISIS Abroad. Paris-ISIS didn't even occur on U.S. soil, but yet it caused a huge outcry in the U.S, then was followed by the San Bernardino attack. Other than constantly questioning whether Obama should use phrase "Islamic terrorism," which, like Bush 43, he doesn't want to use and imply that all Muslims are terrorists, how do Republicans disagree with his policies? Not much, she implies. Mary, too, thinks doubling the special ops there can help train troops, provide intel, free hostages etc... since there's now a consensus that the heavy use of combat troops can't be sustained and eventually local forces must root out terrorists.
"But how can 200 special ops people, who could fit into my living room," asks the Host, "change the civil war which requires a political settlement?" Mary and Bob agree that it must be tried since there's an "intervention fatigue" (Mary's phrase) that will not support the kind of 100,000 troops there that Wisconsin Senator Rob Johnson proposes.
Can or will this growing fear of ISIS be a possibly decisive issue in 2016, as the far worse 9/11 was in 2001, 2002 and 2004? Mary: "That depends on whether security or the economy are looming largest next October."
Host: Since 2001, gun-related deaths in America has exceeded the number of deaths in our Civil War. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be concerned about the rise of either home-grown or foreign terrorism here, but it should raise doubts when GOP contenders like Christie and Cruz say that Ft. Hood and San Bernardino mean we are in a World War III, but also insist that we need do nothing about gun-related deaths.
Argued -- we've argued before, there will be not an October Surprise, but rather an October Scare in 2016 to try to Ebola-ize the election so people vote for "strong and wrong over smart and weak" (Bill Clinton's phrase).
On Positive Economic Numbers. The morning of the show, economic numbers came out showing that the unemployment rate held steady at five percent and the economy had grown for 69 straight months. "What would the GOP now be saying if President Romney had reported these numbers?" May doesn't bite, concluding that "unemployment" doesn't include all those opting out of even trying and that wages aren't growing. True it's been a slow recovery which happens after a huge financial recession, says Bob. But he pooh-poohs her Romney response since of course the Republicans would be cheering, especially since there has been a slight reported uptick in wages.
And yeah, five percent is less than ten percent, and 200,000 new jobs monthly is better than Bush 43's minus 700,000 jobs a month.