"This Republican is disgusted with my party’s record in Washington. Did GOP congressional leaders learn nothing from their drubbing two years ago?" asks John Andrews in the May round of Head On TV debates. "The Republican so-called brand needs a major makeover," agrees Susan Barnes-Gelt, trying not to gloat. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the legislature's record, term limits, DNC preparations, and the presidential race. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for May: 1. SPECIAL ELECTIONS FOR CONGRESS
John: Republicans need to be plenty concerned about recently election losses for previously safe congressional seats in Illinois, Louisiana, and Mississippi. This isn’t three strikes and out, but it’s fourth down and long. The Democrats under Pelosi and Reid are a bust. My party needs to fire up and get that message out.
Susan: The Republican so-called brand needs a major makeover. There is simply no way to spin the failed war in Iraq, food shortages, $4 gasoline and policies benefiting the wealthy. Pelosi and Reid have been too cautious, but the Republican decline should put starch in their spines.
John: This Republican is disgusted with my party’s record in Washington. Did GOP congressional leaders learn nothing from their drubbing two years ago? A political party is not a brand, it’s an idea in action. The Republican idea used to be individual freedom and limited government. Now who knows?
Susan: Forgive my crocodile tears - and poor - dare I say it? - old John McCain. His party is in shambles; he doesn't know whether to recruit from the right, far right or furthest right - and, his straight talk express is hopeless mired on the doubletalk expressway!
2. LEGISLATIVE REPORT CARD
Susan: It's tough to give this year's legislative session anything higher than a solid B-. There was great progress on sustainability, k-12 curriculum reform and funding for higher ed capital projects. No progress on transportation, healthcare or serious support for higher ed, suggest timid leadership.
John: B minus nothing. The legislature gets a D. Democrats in control from top to bottom, Ritter, Romanoff, and the rest, were reduced to blaming Republicans for their failures. Unable to exert leadership under the dome, the governor and the speaker will now go the ballot for the tax increases they dream of.
Susan: Coloradans consistently vote to tax themselves to improve transportation, higher ed and, K-12. Voters understand that failing public infrastructure means economic disaster. Eight years of Republican leadership has left Colorado in sorry shape. You've heard? - Mississippi's new state slogan? Thank God for Colorado!
John: In the legislature since 2005, Democratic leadership has been zilch. Likewise with Gov. Ritter since 2007. His nutty tax hike on oil and gas isn’t likely to fly with voters with the economy soft and pump prices soaring. Republicans may also gain seats in the state House and Senate.
3. PRESIDENTIAL RACE FOREVER
John: It’s our all-purpose presidential campaign spot. As you watch this in early summer, with Denver feverishly making convention preparations, Hillary will either be in the race or out of it. Obama will either be the second coming or the mystery man. McCain will either be inspirational or insufferable. What a year, Susan.
Susan: This is truly the first presidential campaign of the 21st Century. Younger voters and previously passive interests are having an enormous impact on the shape of the election. The page is turning and it is wonderfully exciting to witness this tectonic shift in the will of the electorate.
John: I don’t know, Susan. The last tectonic shift destroyed a good part of China. An Obama earthquake hitting America in November could leave us in rubble and ruins. Obie’s radical domestic policies and his naivite about deadly enemies abroad are a scary prospect. The safe choice is John McCain.
Susan: If you loved the past eight years, vote McCain. Your anti-Obama rhetoric is soooo last century. This country is ready for change - domestic policies favoring the rich, foreign policy based on unbridled aggression have cost too much. American lives, prosperity and moral authority have been squandered. Turn the page.
4. DENVER GIRDS FOR CONVENTION
Susan: The final $8 million Denver committed to the Democratic Convention is elusive. The Hillary / Obama contest ate a lot of oxygen and the DNC may have to cut back some frills. The threat of protests looms, and safety is the highest priority for Denver's political leaders.
John: “Be careful what you wish for” is the summer theme song for Colorado Democrats. Convention worries include fundraising, security, and internecine food fights. Mayor Hickenlooper quit as a super-delegate, staying in his foxhole rather than face the crossfire. But the big concern for Democrats is the Re-create ’68 hoodlums.
Susan: Let's face it - there is a very fine line between maintaining order and encouraging free speech. I worry that the cops have a tendency to over-react in the face of harmless, but emotionally charged crowds. Recreate '68 doesn't resonate with me - particularly in the current climate.
John: Memo to former councilwoman from former senator: don’t slur our men and women in blue. We both know the Denver Police Department is high in professionalism and self-sacrifice, low in brutality and corruption. No matter what the provocation by convention radicals, I expect them to reflect credit on Colorado.
5. HAVE TERM LIMITS FAILED?
John: The big media with their fondness for activist government are bemoaning the departure of Speaker Andrew Romanoff and other legislators under Colorado’s rule of eight and out. Fact is, term limits on career politicians and tax limits on the spending lobby are a big plus for we the people.
Susan: Term limits are a bust. Local and state government are paralyzed by term limits. Term limits are great for the permanent bureaucracy, special interests and inefficient governing. The public is tired of the politics of polarization. Term limits is an ideas whose time has come . . . and gone!
John: Limited government used to be the essence of America. Then came bloated budgets and bossy bureaucrats. Elected officials lost touch. Voters responded with term limits. Colorado is lucky to have them. Our economy ranked 7th best in a recent national survey. Part of the reason is tax limits and term limits.
Susan: Term limits have nothing to do with Colorado's tepid fiscal performance. Short termers don't build relationships across the aisle and aren't motivated to collaborate. Dedicated career politicians move from the state House to the Senate to city councils - a game of musical chairs where everyone loses.