The “Head On” debate between former state Sen. John Andrews (R) and former Denver councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt (D), seen daily on Colorado Public Television since 1997, began its November series this week. Topics include the Libby indictment, state and national election analysis, the Alito Supreme Court nomination. 1. SCOOTER SCANDAL IS A DUD
John: White House aide Scooter Libby cooperated fully with prosecutors, but he still faces trial for perjury. Opponents of the war on terror hope to weaken our Commander-in-Chief through the criminal courts, since they’ve been able to do so through the democratic process. It won’t work. Bush, Cheney, and Rove are all clean.
Susan: John, you must be smoking something I can’t buy (though now it’s legal in Denver). Libby is protecting Cheney as sure as the sun rises in the east. And Rove – the role Bush’s “boy genius” played in the sordid mess, will be revealed.
John: Who really let it out that Valerie Plame was a spy? Her own husband, Joe Wilson. The same partisan publicity hound who lied about Saddam Hussein’s nuclear shopping ambitions in Africa. The same Joe and Valerie who wanted John Kerry in the White House. As scandals go, Susan, this one’s a dud.
Susan: The dud is the Bush administration litany of failures: Brownie during the hurricanes; the CIA leaks in the Oval Office; the Harriet Miers misjudgement; Libby’s indictment implicates the Veep – Bush has a horror story on this hands – tough for a guy who brags about reading people not books!
2. "C" WIN REPRIEVES LEGISLATORS & BUREAUCRATS
John: Congratulations to the voters who defeated Referendum D. All that borrowing was a bad idea. Congratulations to the bipartisan coalition that passed Referendum C. Their big tax increase came from behind to win. The extra billions rescue legislators from reforming state government for the 21st century. So it’s business as usual for bureaucrats.
Susan: Dismantling Colorado for the 21st Century is more like it. Luddites – Caldara, Dick Armey, Mark Holtzman ought to move to Thoreau’s Walden Woods – if they truly wish to live in a different reality. No schools, roads, public safety, parks, medical care – perhaps a remote Pacific Island would fit.
John: Lighten up. The election’s over. Your side won, mine lost. The voters decided, as they should. Coloradans are fortunate that our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights allows all the people, not just a few politicians, to make those decisions about taxes and spending and debt. Other states should be so lucky.
Susan: The no-taxes-no-how posse’s defeat in Colorado sends a powerful message to other states being seduced by the Grover Norquist – Dick Armey gang. Voters should have the power to determine the State’s direction and priorities – that’s what elections are about and that’s why moderate Dems are running the Legislature.
3. WILL THEY DEMONIZE ALITO?
Susan: Bush saw the light and withdrew poor Harriet Miers’ nomination to the Supreme Court. Jury is still out but Alito’s record suggests he possessed of a strong judicial temperament and mind. This may be sacrilegious but I hope Democratic Senators don’t paint him as something he is not.
John: Sacrilege is the right word. Abortion on demand is so sacred to most Democrats that they are terrified of any potential Supreme Court Justice who might question it. Liberals are trying to paint Judge Alito falsely, much to their own discredit. He has all the credentials that Miers lacked. He deserves unanimous confirmation.
Susan: Alito has decades of experience in the federal justice system. He’s not a Bush crony. He doesn’t share the extremist views of Scalia and Thomas and his former legal colleagues –including Democrats – vouch for his fairness. He could be just the moderate the court needs as O’Connor’s replacement.
John: Samuel Alito is a judge’s judge. He understands the Supreme Court’s job is to say what the law is, not what it should be. He is principled, unlike the pragmatic O’Connor. Alito is like Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas in that way. Senators should ignore the left-wing attacks and confirm him.
4. BEAUPREZ A BENEFICIARY OF OWENS GAMBLE?
Susan: Winners and losers from Colorado’s November election: Losers: Caldara and the Independence Institute; Dick Armey and the Luddites; Republican guv wannabe’s Beauprez and Mark Holtzman. Winners: Colorado Democratic legislators, Bill Owens, Andrew Romanoff and John Hickenlooper – the Draft Hick for guv initiative gains steam!
John: Bill Ritter’s hope of being governor also took a hit. Democrats may prefer someone who campaigned all out for the tax increase and who does not share Ritter’s distaste for abortion on demand. Hickenlooper and Romanoff fit that profile. But Republican Beauprez is better prepared than either of them.
Susan: If Ritter is lucky enough to avoid a primary against a more liberal Democrat, he’ll be a tough opponent for Beauprez. His moderate profile and integrity and will appeal to Coloradans. Both ways Beauprez will have a tough time convincing folks he cares about the state and its resources.
John: Bill Owens won his gamble. Referendum C means Democrats won’t have the budget bogeyman to scare voters with, in next year’s election. The issue instead becomes who can spend the money like responsible grownups – and that favors Republicans. The next governor will be Beauprez or Holtzman – or maybe Hank Brown.
5. OFF-YEAR RESULTS STOKE DEMS' WISHFUL THINKING
Susan: How bad is it? The president went to Virginia to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Kilgore – and it cost him the election. Ahrnold lost every measure he tried to advance. Bush’s negative coattails are sooo long even St Paul Minnesota’s democratic Mayor lost because he supported Bush in the '04 election.
John: Nice try with the talking points, Susan, but this year as usual, all politics were local. In Virginia and New Jersey, one Democrat simply replaced another. In California the unions outgunned the Terminator. None of this was Bush’s doing. He was too busy causing hurricanes and being mean to captured Al Qaeda members.
Susan: Things couldn’t be worse for the GOP – the mid-term elections should be mighty interesting. Bush’s numbers are plummeting and the fissure in his party between the wingers and the center is becoming a chasm. The garage door of opportunity is wide open – for the Democrats.
John: Ooga, ooga, wishful thinking alert. Your Democrats, the party of obstruction, have no plan to defeat global terrorism or to keep America competitive in the world economy. Whining is not a strategy. A resilient President Bush and a resourceful Republican Congress are still in the driver’s seat, thank goodness.