"Republicans will come back" sooner rather than later, says John Andrews in the May round of Head On TV debates, and "2010 will be no fun for Democrats." Susan Barnes-Gelt taunts that the GOP may face permanent marginal status as "a minority, Southern party." John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the RTD follies and the US war in Central Asia. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for May: 1. NO NEED FOR REPUBLICANS TO REBRAND
Susan: It's painful to watch the Republican food fight as they engage - locally and nationally in a massive rebranding exercise. Currently R's are at risk of becoming a minority, southern party. The food fight is on with progressive realists battling the Limbaugh wing-nuts. We'll see if pragmatism trumps.
John: Susan, you’ll spoil your makeup with those crocodile tears. Keep your sympathy. Your so-called “progressive realists” are liberals who care little for the Republican freedom agenda. Their rebranding advice is unneeded. Republican appeal will increase as big-government Democrats overreach. The pendulum always swings.
Susan: Do you mean overreach defined by 8 years of the free-spending, war-mongering, Bill-of-Rights violating Bush/Cheney government? An agenda that's over-reaching on behalf of human rights, a solid economy, affordable healthcare, quality education, and a sustainable environment ain't bad!
John: Wow, first crocodile tears, now streets paved with gold. The Democratic dream machine is in high gear. But eventually dreams meet reality. Obama, not Bush, now owns the recession. And two wars. And Guantanamo. And the crippling deficit. Republicans will come back. 2010 will be no fun for Democrats.
2. POWELL ALL WET ON LIMBAUGH
John: What a joke for all these Obama cheerleaders to be telling the opposition party how to do a better job. Who can take that seriously? Colin Powell was AWOL on supporting McCain or running for President himself. He has zero credibility in recommending a comeback strategy. Gimme a break.
Susan: Dick Cheney misfired again when he endorsed Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell as the future of the Republican party. Powell says Republicans needs to move toward the center, reaching out to growing black, Hispanic and Asian communities. Limbaugh articulates the opposite. Cheney has spent too much time in the bunker.
John: The future of the Republican Party isn’t any of those three guys, colorful and combative as they are. My side will start winning again when Obama’s European-style collectivism bogs down and people turn back to the GOP’s authentically American vision of freedom and opportunity. That day will come.
Susan: Ah the Grover Norquist approach - shrink government so small that it can be drowned in a bathtub. Fortunately a substantial number of Americans don't agree with you. Until the R's develop a positive agenda for the country - one that works for the haves and have-not's - Dems will dominate.
3. RITTER’S IFFY OUTLOOK FOR 2010
John: In 40 years of watching Colorado politics, Bill Ritter is the saddest puppy I’ve ever seen in the Governor’s office. Where’s the leadership? Where’s the accomplishment? He crashed the budget in spite of warnings. No wonder the polls show him with a disapproval rating of 49% to 41%.
Susan: Ritter is having a tough time getting his sea-legs in the Capitol's political swamp. He is naïve about how the game's played and poorly served by his senior staff. Term limits have dumbed down both sides of the aisle in the leg - making it even tougher for this governor.
John: Let the record show: Susan made no defense of her fellow Democrat when the Republicans opened fire. Ritter was an okay prosecutor. He should have stayed with that. Republicans have strong challengers in Sen. Josh Penry and Congressman Scott McInnis. This governor may be gone in one term, Jimmy Carter style.
Susan: Ritter will win a second term. McInnis lacks the fire, the finesse and the support of the conservative Republican base. At 32, Penry is too young, inexperienced and virtually unknown. Voters will stick with the devil they know, rather than gamble on the angel they don't.
4. HIGH STAKES IN AFGHANISTAN & PAKISTAN
Susan: Among the most challenging foreign policy dilemmas facing Obama's administration is the Afghani-Pakistan conflict. Leaders of both countries are weak, lacking the full confidence of their citizens. In recent meetings with US officials and Congress, neither demonstrated strong commitment to battle extremists threatening their countries - and ours.
John: Our inexperienced leftist president is learning that wishful thinking doesn’t win wars. It’s a good thing he went to his right in picking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and in retaining Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Obama is pushing hard in Afghanistan with more troops and a new general. Go get’em, Mr. President.
Susan: The man you dismiss as leftist and inexperienced has made better, tougher calls during his first months in office than Bush-Cheney made in 8 years. Replacing General McKiernan with Lieutenant General McChrystal further signals Obama's new policies, more focused mission and enhanced strategic agility.
John: America still faces a war on terror. Barack’s inauguration didn’t change that. Yet this inexperienced leftist president, this apologizer, plays word games with “overseas contingency” and “man caused disaster” as if that makes it all better. At least he’s willing to fight the jihadists over there in Asia.
5. DENVER’S RTD ON WRONG TRACK?
Susan: With Cal Marsella bailing out as RTD's general manager (with a bloated diamond encrusted parachute), agency directors must get back on track. The new leader must be an experienced builder with vision, backbone and political skills. Otherwise they are on a train to nowhere.
John: RTD spending plans are bloated as well, yet absurdly they want yet another tax increase to build their ill-conceived trolley system. Why did the empire-building Marsella suddenly exit? Why have a parade of Democrat legislators quit? What do they know that we don’t? Has Colorado progressivism stopped progressing?
Susan: Unless the state's and the region's political leaders develop a vision and an agenda to keep this region moving - transit, highways, bike-lanes, buses and bikes - Colorado will choke on bad air and congestion. At every level - city, region and state - leaders had better step up.
John: Highways, yes. Bike lanes, come on. Buses, yes. Choo choo trains, enough already. RTD is Colorado’s fourth largest government, but one of its least accountable and poorest run. We don’t need more taxes for light rail. We do need competitive partisan elections for the RTC board. Marsella left in defeat.