John: Hi there, fitness fans. It’s the sensibly slender Susan and John, here in the nation’s most slender state. To keep Colorado No. 1, follow these tips for avoiding political obesity. Walk door-to-door with a candidate. Watch C-SPAN on the treadmill. Fast at ice cream socials. And stop swallowing those sugary, fatty campaign promises. So begins the September series of “Head On” debates between former state Sen. John Andrews (R) and former Denver councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt (D), seen daily on Colorado Public Television since 1997. In addition to bantering about the state's "least obese" ranking and warning about Big Labor's agenda, they sparred over the 9/11 anniversary, the upcoming presidential primaries, and turnover on the Bush team. Here are all five scripts:
1. AVOIDING POLITICAL OBESITY
John: Hi there, fitness fans. It’s the sensibly slender Susan and John, here in the nation’s most slender state. To keep Colorado No. 1, follow these tips for avoiding political obesity. Walk door-to-door with a candidate. Watch C-SPAN on the treadmill. Fast at ice cream socials. And stop swallowing those sugary, fatty campaign promises.
Susan: Here are some other high-cal snacks to eliminate: 1) Cotton candy spin from the White House regarding conditions in Iraq. 2) gummy pander bears racist hyperbole regarding fencing our country’s southern border and ignoring the more porous boundary to the North. 3) Too many mixed nuts making policy!
John: Staying slim is good. If talking back to us on TV helps you burn calories, terrific. It’s odd, though -- most of the skinny states are blue ones and most of the chubby states are red. What’s that about? To avoid overweight, eat right. To avoid over-government, vote right. Republican, that is.
Susan: You may have insight but you are colorblind – wonder if that’s a food borne condition? The country has turned purple. It’s the solid red South where diets are on overdrive - and Republican front-runners Rudi and Mitt? Too lean and mean!
2. IRAQ & 9/11 ANNIVERSARY
John: Radical Islam plunged the United States into war with deadly attacks on September 11 six years ago. That war continues in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza, and on the battlefield of ideas here at home. One idea tempting Americans is surrender and appeasement. The other is determination and victory. It’s time to choose.
Susan: The Government Accountability Office report says conditions in Iraq will only meet 3 of the 18 benchmarks for success established prior to the administration’s surge. This fresh dose of realism regarding conditions in Iraq is sobering and demands serious changes in policy. Bring the troops home.
John: America and the free world face an enemy who seeks not just our defeat but our destruction. If we surrender Iraq, it becomes one more enemy base from which to attack neighboring countries, Israel, Europe, and yes, the US homeland. The surge is working, even Democrats admit. Quitting now is insane.
Susan: Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over, hoping the outcome will be different. Insanity is Al Maliki’s leadership, the administration’s stubbornness and the complete lack of dialogue or diplomacy with stakeholders in the region. Denial is not just de river in Egypt!
3. PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES APPROACHING
John: It’s down to about a hundred days in the presidential nominating races. January will probably tell the story. It’s likely no Democrat will overtake Hillary Clinton. But some Republican will likely erase Rudy Giuliani’s lead. It could be Romney or Thompson or even Gingrich. But Rudy may hold on. And Hillary may stumble.
Susan: The Republican field resembles a circular firing squad. Rudy’s not wearing well – Mitt continues to struggle on a quest for an identity and Fred Thompson barely has his foot in the water. The Dems are looking better and better – regardless of who emerges the winner.
John: Wishful thinking doesn’t win elections, Susan. Senator Clinton’s negatives are sky high. Almost half the American people say they would never vote for her, period. She trails Giuliani even in California. The anti-war left is furious with Hillary, and the war itself may actually hurt Democrats. This is far from over.
Susan: The war is hurting Americans – in Iraq, at home and across the globe. The war, the economy, health care and behavior will be the central themes of the 08 presidential election, It’s never over until it’s over – but the Dems are looking strong.
4. UNIONS FLEXING MUSCLE IN COLORADO
Susan: Public employees feast at the bargaining table! Denver Cops negotiated a 3-year, 14% wage increase, plus additional health care coverage. Denver School teachers continue to believe the District is awash in money. And the proposal to grant collective bargaining to all public employees? Hold on to your wallets!
John: Aggressive unions with collective bargaining and strikes are one thing in private industry. At least you have competition to keep prices down and stockholders to hold management accountable. Public employee unions don’t have those restraints. Bureaucrats can hand out unearned raises like play money, leaving taxpayers on the hook. Bad news, Susan.
Susan: Public employees enjoy solid pensions, health care coverage and job security. Collective bargaining is important when workers don’t have that kind of safety net. The right to strike is very limited for public safety workers and – in my opinion – should be off the table for teachers.
John: Be careful, they’ll throw you out of the Democratic Party and both of us out of the TV talent union. Just kidding – we’re NOT unionized and neither should government workers be. Unfortunately, Bill Ritter may give away state government to union bosses, especially with the DNC coming to town.
5. GONZALES EXIT A SIGN OF BUSH MELTDOWN?
Susan: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales quit just ahead of a perjury investigation. Lying to Congress is stupid. Lying about something that wasn’t even illegal – the selective firing of US Attorneys – was even dumber. Lying about illegal wiretapping – now that’s both criminal and stupid. Good Riddance.
John: Any attorney general for this wartime Republican President, facing a slash-and-burn Democratic opposition, was going to be savagely attacked. That’s a given. They demonized Ashcroft and drove him out. Then they demonized Gonzales and drove him out. Both men defended impartial justice and national security. Both served honorably.
Susan: The question is not whether but when Alberto Gonzales will be tried for lying and misleading Congress. Bush’s inner-circle is decimated by scandal and even those with integrity are scrambling off the sinking ship. Most 2-term presidents lose the A-team but Bush is losing the whole team!
John: A watching world had to be impressed as Commander in Chief George W. Bush flew into the war zone recently on a mission of personal diplomacy. With him were Secretary of State Rice, Defense Secretary Gates, and General Peter Pace. I’m proud of America’s leaders, Susan. You should be too.