“Head On,” John Andrews’ daily debate feature with Susan Barnes-Gelt on Colorado Public Television, this month dives into topics from Iraq and the Supreme Court to flag-burning and the campaign against TABOR. Democrats’ defeatism on the war draws John’s strong condemnation. 1. HOW ARE WE DOING IN IRAQ?
John: For the security of our country and the security of free people everywhere, it would be disastrous if the United States gave up the fight in Iraq, just because the insurgents are proving tougher than expected. The defeatism of such Democrats as Ted Kennedy is as shameful as his father siding with Hitler. Our enemy in Iraq is the same one that attacked us on 9/11. To let them win would be suicidal.
Susan: The Iraqi’s are NOT the enemy that attacked American on 9/11 - It was the Afghani’s – abetted in no small part by the Saudi’s - who attacked us. That’s why we went to war in Afghanistan. Iraq is the enemy Bush decided to go to war against - before he was inaugurated in 2000. Call it what you like – quagmire or long slog – Americans are tired of losing their sons and daughters.
John: Don’t underestimate the courage, resolve, and good sense of the American people, Susan. This country, tired? Maybe John Kerry and his people are, but they lost the election. America’s silent majority clearly understands that Bin Laden, Zarqawi, and the rest of the Islamic fascists seek to destroy us unless we destroy them. Defeat or retreat is not in our vocabulary. We’re going to see this thing through and win.
Susan: Win what? What are the criteria that define winning? Truth is, we could plant a flag and declare victory – today. We toppled Saddam, have him in custody and oversaw the first democratic elections. The longer we stay, the tougher it will be to leave. Our soldiers deserve a better fate. Why are we still there?
John: Your blithe declaration of victory would not disguise a humiliating defeat for America, Britain, and the dozens of nations working with us to build an Iraq where freedom is secure and the Islamo-fascist insurgency is beaten. Those goals are being achieved, but the job is not done yet. Would you have us quit and slink away as we did in Somalia? That surrender led straight to 9/11. I say never again.
Susan: C’mon John – we went to war in Iraq based on faulty intelligence. Read the 3-year old Downing Street Memo. Even the Brits say the facts and information were being manipulated to advance the idea of going to war with Iraq. Even conservative North Carolina Republican Walter “freedom fries” Jones says it’s time to bring the troops home. “What else is there for America to do?” he asks.
2. BIG YEAR FOR US SUPREME COURT
John: By setting out to rewrite, rather than merely interpret, our constitution, the US Supreme Court has increasingly undermined democratic self-government and the American way of life. Recent court decisions infringed property rights, religious expression, and state sovereignty. Earlier ones trampled free speech and moral standards. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor symbolized this abuse of judicial power, so her departure is good news. Her replacement must respect the constitution. Republican senators hold the key.
Susan: The departure of Justice O’Connor is a loss for the right, the left and the center. O’Connor understood that economic development is too vague a notion to justify taking someone’s property, and voted with the conservatives. On the other hand, she joined court moderates in banning the display of the Ten Commandments for religious purpose in a public place. Her resignation is perilous for the country.
John: No single judge is that indispensable, Susan. As for the Supreme Court itself, their only job is to apply the law to the facts. For too long we’ve allowed the court to make law out of thin air. That’s not democracy, it’s tyranny. Faithfulness to the written constitution, not a conservative or liberal label, is the proper test for a new justice. Thomas and Scalia are the models here. O’Connor is the anti-model.
Susan: John – there’s a reason court findings are referred to as “opinions.” Fact is O’Connor has been the high court’s strongest voice for the west, for states rights and for a limited interpretation of the law. She was the deciding vote on this nation’s most highly charged issues – deciding with a narrow majority most of the time sometimes with the conservatives and sometimes with the liberals. She leaves big footsteps.
John: Court decisions inventing a nonexistent right to abortion on demand, decisions forbidding the people from legislating through the democratic process to protect the unborn child, are the opposite of limited interpretation or states’ rights. Muzzling political speech through the campaign finance law is not a limited interpretation. Allowing universities to play favorites by skin color is not a limited interpretation. Such rulings mock our constitution. The court needs to change.
Susan: Conservatives talk about judicial activists until it comes to interfering with private family matters – like Terry Schiavo and her rights. It wasn’t the moderates who took that ridiculous fight to the Supremes – it was the religious right hoping to use the courts to interfere in a private matter. Fortunately – the court declined to hear the case Exactly what do you mean by judicial activist – a decision you don’t agree with?
3. REFERENDUM C & D CAMPAIGN HEATS UP
John: Shot down by a 44. Like a tombstone in the Old West, that sad summary may be all she wrote for Referendum C, the tax increase proposed to voters by legislative Democrats. 44 percent approval in the polls is deadly when you are asking taxpayers to sign a blank check for bigger government.
Susan: Come on John – which would you rather have? An $81 refund check or additional bill for $1,000 for your kid’s in-state tuition? An $81 refund or higher healthcare costs? Which would you rather do – get an $81 refund or carry a bucket of asphalt in your car so you can fix your own potholes?
John: Referendum C stands for confiscation, $3300 in higher taxes for a family of four. Referendum D stands for massive debt, much of it not for roads. Not surprisingly this ill-conceived plan is lagging in the polls. Democrats and big business will spend heavily to pass it. Voters should say no.
Susan: Which would you prefer? An $81 refund or immunization for all kids that might prevent an outbreak of some rare disease? An $81 refund or watching Colorado fall to the 51st lowest funded state for highways, higher education, public libraries and parks? $81 might pay for a daily cup of coffee – in 1950!
4. NEW LEADER FOR DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Susan: Newly anointed Denver Public School’s Superintendent Michael Bennet has his work cut out for him. Successful urban public school district is an American oxymoron. The 40-year-old wunderkind is going to have to alter the culture, eviscerate the bureaucracy and bring middle class families back to the district. It’s a big job.
John: DPS is broken. Two of every three freshmen never graduate. Outrageous! The board wisely ignored race and gender to choose a tough new CEO. Bennet understands market competition from working for Anschutz. He knows how to confront unions from working for Hickenlooper. Let’s hope he shakes up the system.
Susan: Bennet will need to add both a housing policy and economic development to his academic agenda if he’s going to build a strong system. Across the board academic improvement depends as much on economic integration as any other factor. Middle income families need housing they can afford and quality schools.
John: Slow down there, Susan. The guy isn’t MacArthur rebuilding Japan, he’s a school superintendent. He can improve the 3 R’s without waiting for urban renewal. Kids will learn when adults start trying harder, never mind income or color. DPS needs four things – charters, vouchers, high expectations, and no excuses.
5. SALAZAR & BEAUPREZ RAISE EYEBROWS
Susan: Beauprez and Ken Salazar are drinking too much beltway beer. Beauprez should realize that he needs some of the Hispanic vote to get elected Colorado governor. And Salazar? He ought to know that the flag is a symbol of democracy? Some idiot’s right to burn it – is what Democracy is all about?
John: I don’t believe in hate crime laws, but if we’re going to have them, flag-burning certainly qualifies. Yet this is really a non-problem, not worth amending the constitution to prohibit. So I differ with opportunistic liberals like Salazar and fellow conservatives like Beauprez. But I applaud Beauprez’s tough line on Mexican extradition.
Susan: Mexican extradition is not the point. Mexico is a sovereign nation with its own laws and codes. If we don’t respect Mexico’s laws, how can we expect them to respect ours? Punishing Mexico by withholding $65 million in aid that’s primarily used for law enforcement, is self-defeating. Beauprez is a bully.
John: There’s not a lot of evidence that Mexico does respect our laws. They export their problems to us in an illegal human wave. They snub us in the war on terror. No Garcia-Gomez, no 65 million. Sounds fair to me. Gov. Bob Beauprez sounds good too – much better than Gov. Ken Salazar.