SOTU's Optimism, Populism, Patriotism



By Mark Green

After Obama's popular SOTU agenda to "I won twice," Matalin and Corn debate if he will shape the next two years or 10 with his framework of An Economy for All. Sure looks like he has already now that McConnell and Romney agree the rich have gotten richer at the expense of the poor! Is Boehner-Bibi payback for Speaker forced to sit glumly for an hour?

On SOTU, Domestically. What do you both think of Obama's confident, almost cocky tone? David thinks it's about time since the GOP predicted economic disaster yet the economy is strong and since the president proposed concrete ways to fight the twin problems of inequality and immobility. And he in effect said to Republicans 'whaddaya got?'"

Mary agrees that his ad lib was effective but "yeah he won twice though Democrats, got slaughtered in Congress and the States -- so again it's about me, me, me, me."

As for his proposals: Boehner and Matalin say same 'ol stuff while Corn lauds 70-30 ideas that concretely help a shrinking middle class -- child care, paid leave, minimum wage, free community college. Mary responds that a minimum wage will kill jobs and nothing's free. Well, high school is free so how about a two-year extension if it links to jobs and, adds David, "half of those at the minimum are not teens flipping burgers but heads of households."

The two clash on THE big proposal to tax the top .1 percent to fund programs and lower taxes on middle class. Mary regards it as "redistribution"... David as shrinking inequality and boosting consumer spending.

Host: Obama's high-dive was a 10 since with a) with his favorables up from 40 percent to 50 percent in the past three months; b) Five percent growth, and unemployment and gas prices plummeting; and c) record inequality and immobility, therefore d) a specific plan to tax extraordinary gains made under Obama economy is a political and economic winner. Does the GOP nominee really want to run on austerity while the Democrat emphasizes "An Economy for All"?

Mary stresses that the GOP will have positive ideas to run on that emerge from the states and that we need a more holistic approach to economy that includes education for jobs. David jumps at the word "states." Ok, then look at California where Jerry Brown has turned the state around by raising taxes and spending it smartly.

Host: it seems like Republicans are screening "Waiting for Godot meets The Music Man". Lots of talk about getting solutions soon rather than having them. A party obligated to the Koch Brothers and Tea Party simply can't come up with modern solutions to modern problems of climate, immigration, growth, terrorism, and health care.

On SOTU, Internationally. Did Obama stress the domestic economy at the expense of ignoring international problems, as columnist Michael Gerson and NBC reporter Richard Engel argue?

Mary agrees that Obama's bragging doesn't jibe with spreading terrorism, no-show in Paris, fall of the Yemeni government. David likes that Obama is finally leading with his strength rather than just being hostage to foreign events. And since "wars don't work out well in the Middle East," he supports the different paradigm of smart diplomacy, military, coalition-building. Mary violates BSN's rule against "Talking Points" but at least comes up with a good one, chiding that "leading from behind gets us kicked in the behind."

Mary argues that Iran's insincere about nuclear negotiations and that Boehner made "a big bold move" inviting Netnayahu to address this issue before a Joint Session as a way of answering Obama's unilateral actions. David thinks Boehner straining to be a kind of co-Sec. of State or co-President is ridiculous. He adds that the Bushes would have rightly gone crazy if Pelosi or Reid did the equivalent -- not to mention that Obama has international successes such as reducing troops in two wars, ending the embargo on Cuba and potentially achieving historic agreements with Iran and with China-India on climate.

Quick Takes:
*While David believes that Obama showed cajones in his SOTU, there was also agreement that Belichicks's and Brady's balls were still a problem given the Patriots' cheating in 2011 and a case of apparent "Immaculate Deflation." (copyright, @markjgreen).

*Both love the Pope's "street pastor" candor on most things, including urging Catholic families not to just "breed like rabbits" but show more, er, planned parenting.

*When the Supreme Court this spring rules in favor of marriage equality, according to the Host's official crystal ball, will it help the GOP by taking it off the political table... or provoke fire-breathing/mouth-breathing culture warriors to emphasize it in presidential primaries? Consensus: it'll make it more of an issue though Mary doubts it will have the emotional intensity of abortion after Roe v. Wade.

*Fox asserted and then recanted saying that certain areas in London and Paris were under Sharia law where non-Muslims can't go. Will or should the Mayor of Paris sue under French law in a kind of gotcha payback for the gotcha network? Probably not now that Fox, after 41 airings of this falsehood, has said oops.

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

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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