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 December series this week. They led with a whimsical look at newsmakers of the past year and possible headlines of the year to come. Other topics this month include the Iraq Study Group, advice to Gov.-elect Bill Ritter, and early betting for the 2008 presidential race. 1. WINNERS & SINNERS OF 2006
John: As the calendar turns, John and Susan say thanks for watching us in 2006. Here's our list of winners and sinners for the past year. Democrats sparkled and Republicans stumbled. US armed forces fought heroically, but politicians and journalists hurt the war effort. Colorado's economy boomed. Colorado sports teams bombed.
Susan: Big winners in 2006: moderates and independent thinkers. Voters repudiated extreme partisanship and voted for moderates. Congressional elections went national with the war in Iraq taking center state. Losers: neo-cons and crooks.
John: Sinners of the year also included the unethical Senator Hanna, the hypocritical Pastor Haggard, the state Supreme Court with its immigration ruling, and whoever convinced Beauprez to leave Congress. Winners included CDOT with TREX, Hank Brown with his turnaround at CU, and Archbishop Chaput with his spiritual backbone.
Susan: The sinner list goes on and on . . . Rummy, Limbaugh, politicos Bill Frist, George Allen and Tom DeLay, political gurus Karl Rove and Dick Wadhams. Biggest winners? Supporters and fans of KBDI public TV – for top-notch community programming and a diversity of public opinion. Season’s Greetings!
2. FEARLESS FORECASTS FOR 2007
Susan: Happy New Year. Here are Susan and John’s fearless predictions for 2007. Nearly extinct: dial tones and steam irons, network news and talking heads. Hot for 2007: You tube, thoughtful bloggers, the rise of the unaffiliated independent – not to mention military families abandoning the Republican base.
John: Seven will be a lucky number for Hickenlooper with an easy reelection as mayor and for Bush with his comeback against inept congressional leadership by Pelosi and Reed. Seven will be unlucky for Mike Shanahan, terminated as coach of the Broncos, and for Prime Minister Maliki, toppled by the turmoil in Iraq.
Susan: Seven will be lucky for Coloradans – a moderate governor, an enlightened state legislature, a smart, new State Treasurer – Carrie Kennedy. Seven may be dicey for ideologically hidebound wingnuts – on both sides of the aisle. Seven will be unlucky for the Bush/Cheney boys and their myopic cheerleaders.
John: Let’s see, what else is in my 2007 crystal ball? Ex-congressman Bob Beauprez stars in a cowboy movie: have twang, will travel. Ex-Gov. Bill Owens runs for the RTD board: love that light rail. Ex-quarterback Jake Plummer starts a plumbing company. Have a great new year, everyone!
3. ADVICE TO GOVERNOR RITTER
Susan: If Bill Ritter governs the way he campaigned, he'll be a successful two-term governor. As a moderate and thoughtful centrist, he cares about Colorado - its history, future, resources and people. He'll do well to surround himself with experienced managers and stewards.
John: Ritter walked into the governorship with remarkable luck and little experience. His learning curve on the job will be steep. His coziness with big business and big money suggests a wheeler-dealer in the mold of Roy Romer. His relationship with a legislature led by the left-wing Joan Fitz-Gerald may be stormy.
Susan: Suggesting Ritter is cozy with big biz is nonsense. The power elite never cozied up to him. Ritter owes the people of Colorado – Front Range, west slope, eastern plains and southern Colorado citizens all. He’ll govern as a centrist and the leg will follow his lead.
John: The rookie Democrat has his work cut out. Neighboring states are keenly competitive on job growth. Public education is unproductive and ever more costly. Health care is bogged down in big government. In each case, taxes and bureaucracy are the problem, not the solution. Let’s hope Ritter recognizes that.
4. IRAQ STUDY GROUP WEIGHS IN
John: Al Qaeda and Bin Laden want us to quit in Iraq. So do Iran and Ahmadinejad. With America beaten and Europe neutralized, radical Islam will own the future. We can't accept that. Defeat in Iraq is not an option, and victory is achievable if America just summons the will to win.
Susan: Even George Bush has stopped using the word 'win.' The Iraq Study group is calling the situation what it is: civil war. Iraqis must solve the problems we created by a thoughtless invasion. America must not sacrifice any more young lives.
John: US, British, and other allied forces are in Iraq as one battlefront in World War III, a conflict ignited decades ago by Islamic fascists seeking to destroy freedom everywhere. Even the Baker commission foresees a long-term American military commitment in Iraq. Your quit-now approach invites disaster.
Susan: The fact-based approach of the Baker – Hamilton study group throws cold water on the utopian vision of the Bush administration. In challenging their claims of progress, the bi-partisan study group correctly focuses on a way forward that emphasizes aggressive training of Iraqi troops and staged withdrawal and heightened diplomacy.
5. RACE FOR THE PRESIDENCY 2008
John: The spreading virus this winter isn't the common cold, it's presidential fever. Can Hillary be stopped? Some combination of Barack Obama, Al Gore, and her own arrogance may stop her. Can McCain or Giuliani win the Republican nomination? I like Romney or Gingrich better. And wouldn't a Tancredo candidacy be fun!
Susan: Hillary's got the money but Barack is sucking up all the oxygen in the tank. Obamania is in full bloom and Hillary may be wise to stay put. Newt and Tommy the Tank are going to make things very interesting for the Republican's. It's going to be an interesting season.
John: The constitution charges the president to protect us from all enemies. Bush’s successor will lead an America endangered by Iran with its nukes, Russia with its oil, China with its wealth, Islam with its fanaticism, and Mexico with its population. I doubt Hillary is strong enough. I know Giuliani is.
Susan: It’s hard to imagine the Republican base supporting a pro-choice, anti-gun, New York City, divorced prosecutor as their candidate. America is looking for a new kind of leader – a 21st Century person who understands and respects the complexity of today’s world. The old dogs are tired.