"Bob Schaffer on the campaign trail is sounding more and more like our next US Senator; what a contrast to Mark Udall, the Boulder liberal turned Washington insider," says John Andrews in the March round of Head On TV debates. "Hardly," scoffs Susan Barnes-Gelt, who contends Schaffer is far from the mainstream. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Spitzer, McCain, CU, and Cuba. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for March: 1. SCHAFFER vs. UDALL
John: Bob Schaffer on the campaign trail is sounding more and more like our next US Senator. The businessman and former congressman has clear answers for the economic worries and political staleness of this election year. What a contrast to Mark Udall, the Boulder liberal turned Washington insider, who’s still flirting with earmarks.
Susan: Schaffer is the 14th most conservative out of 3400 lawmakers to go to Congress since 1937. Hardly a mainstream candidate for Colorado - a state that's elected a Democratic governor, senator and majority of Congressional reps in the past 4 years. He is out of step - marching backwards.
John: The Democrat from Boulder should be called U-Turn Udall. He’s been on both sides of the Iraq war. He now wants to accept defeat and leave immediately. He won’t swear off the earmarks that Americans are disgusted at. As a senator, Bob Schaffer would be in the mainstream. Mark Udall would not.
Susan: Bob Schaffer panders to every wing-nut idea the right imagines. His record is more consistently conservative than Goldwater's, Helms & Cheney's combined. Bob Schaffer wouldn't know the Main Stream if it hit him over the head with a diving board!
2. SPITZER SCANDAL
John: The sensational downfall of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was not about sex, it was about dishonesty. Many people have bedroom secrets, but those who hold a public trust must be trustworthy. Spitzer built his career as a crusader of righteousness. When that was unmasked as a fraud, he had to go.
Susan: Eliot Spitzer is the epitome of ambition gone awry. The arrogance of his violation of the public trust - not to mention that of his wife and daughters is stunning. His wife should have kicked him under a bus instead of standing next to him at press conferences.
John: Those liberals who idolize political power as a force for good should take the Spitzer case as a reminder that power can also corrupt. Neighboring governors in New Jersey and Connecticut, one from each party, also fell in recent scandals. Thank goodness in America no one is above the law.
Susan: The power of politics for positive change is very different than idolizing political power. No party has a lock on its abuse for personal or political gain. Spitzer's problem was far more troubling - the fool believed he was Untouchable - Now - he is one.
3. PRESIDENTIAL RACE INTENSIFIES
John: Susan, the presidential race keeps changing faster than we can tape new debates. This thing has more plot twists than a soap opera. War hero John McCain will be the Republican nominee after all. Hard-boiled Hillary Clinton looks stronger on the Democratic side as Barack Obama’s halo begins to tarnish.
Susan: The dynamic of the presidential race is remarkable. The Obama-Hillary struggle is good for the Democrats, allowing voters to observe the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates. McCain is being pulled to the far right in the meantime and he'll have a tough time come November.
John: If you think the growing anger of many Democrats at Clinton’s harsh tactics is good for your party -- if you think the time bomb of Obama’s screaming racist pastor and shady Chicago connections is good for your party – more power to you. Straight-talking John McCain looks awfully good by contrast.
Susan: John, look at history. The incumbent president's party, has never held on to the White House in the face of economic turbulence - that and McCain's commitment to stay in Iraq for the next 100 years, suggests - pass the marmalade - he's toast!
4. BENSON AS CU PRESIDENT
Susan: Bruce Benson is exactly the right person to lead Colorado's flagship university right now. His political savvy, fundraising skills and passion for Colorado are what's needed to shore-up our faltering higher ed infrastructure. He's not serving as chief academic officer - his role as president is very different.
John: Benson as CU president will in fact help to set the academic tone, tilting it away from multicultural leftism and back to the common-sense recognition that America is good and Western civilization is a treasure. That’s why Democrats like Regent Cindy Carlisle and Majority Leader Alice Madden didn’t want him.
Susan: Benson and his wife Marcie did the right thing by letting the Republican party and the individuals they've supported over the years know that they will no longer contribute to nor work on behalf of campaigns or causes. They understand that true leadership knows no political party.
John: Benson brings good tools to the CU presidency, but he better watch his back politically. Republican Regents Pat Hayes and Paul Schauer are in the faculty’s pocket and often vote with the Democrats. They’re the reason Hank Brown left. Schauer faces a primary from Dr. Jim Geddes, a highly qualified conservative.
5. CUBA AFTER FIDEL
Susan: Our country's bizarre relationship with Cuba stemming from the 1963 missile crisis needs to change. The economic embargo is unjustifiable at a time when the U.S. is trading with China. Our policy, based on the myopia of immigrants from a half-century old revolution, must adjust to the 21st Century.
John: Communist Cuba under Raul Castro not only remains a brutal prison camp as it is was under Fidel Castro. It also remains a dangerous pawn of America’s enemies. Venezuela, Iran, and yes, China, have evil designs on us through Havana just as the Soviets once did. The embargo should stand.
Susan: C'mon John - an embargo against a teeny island with no military and few resources hardly makes sense. We must allow Americans to travel to Cuba - just as they travel to Iran and North Korea. The most potent weapon against totalitarianism is the influence of ordinary Americans.
John: Thank you for admitting that Cuba is totalitarian. I’ve been there. I've seen it, and it's appalling. Yet you take the threat from America’s sworn enemies less seriously than I do. An axis of evil seeks our destruction. Venezuela and Cuba seek to help them. The embargo should stand.