"It’s a beautiful thing when the voice of the people gets Washington’s attention," says John Andrews in the September round of Head On TV debates, referring to the collapse of support for ObamaCare. But Susan Barnes-Gelt insists his single-payer approach is needed, though "we won't get there this time." John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Afgahnistan, the Senate race, the Joe Wilson outburst, and nonpartisan local government. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for September: 1. HEALTH CARE DEBATE INTENSIFIES
John: It’s a beautiful thing when the voice of the people gets Washington’s attention. Democrats have joined Republicans to put the brakes on Obama’s planned takeover of the medical industry after a summer of public outcry. Could health insurance be improved? Sure, but massive increases in spending and bureaucracy are not the way.
Susan: The US is the only country in the world where health care is controlled by for profit corporations. The bottom line for private health insurance companies is return to shareholders, not quality health outcomes. Single payer is the way to go but we won't get there - this time.
John: It’s also a beautiful thing when my Democratic friends with total control of Washington DC, including the media, are reduced to singing that sad old song, “Maybe next time.” As for health care, Susan, the US is the place that people from other countries flock to for life-saving treatment.
Susan: Like NASCAR racers, every DC elected should wear a coat with sponsor labels plastered on it: Big Pharm, Insurance giants, trial lawyers, Hospital corporations, medical device makers - Then we'd know who is bought and paid for. Won't be room on one jacket. It would take an overcoat, hat & galoshes.
2. SENATE RACE: THE PLOT THICKENS
John: Colorado needs strong representation in the Senate. We don’t have that now, with both senators of the same party and one of them an unknown appointee. A Democrat primary with Andrew Romanoff against interim Senator Michael Bennet will be good. So would a challenge by the experienced Republican Jane Norton.
Susan: Regardless of who gets elected Colorado won't have strong representation in the Senate for decades - the seniority rules guarantee that. However, the party of NO - that would be the R's - have a weak field. Romanoff would be great. Bennet will grow in office.
John: On your side, Romanoff can’t avoid the impression that his candidacy is about wounded ambition – while Bennet must soon alienate either labor or business on the card check bill. On my side, Buck is solid, Frazier is exciting, Wiens is experienced, and Norton could be the next Sarah Palin. Advantage Republicans.
Susan: Frazier - eloquent but empty. Buck can't raise the Bucks - Tom who?? Jane Norton is the horse to beat. I hope she is the next Sarah Palin. We deserve a top notch, gun totin' - moose shootin - stillettto heel wearin comedy act! Can Tina Fey be far behind?
3. EPIDEMIC OF BAD BEHAVIOR?
Susan: Tennis is an elegant sport. Competitors train hard. When they aren't up to snuff - they lose. When they violate clear rules of decorum - the referee eliminates them. Serena Williams lost the US Open semi-finals for bad behavior. South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson should lose his seat for the same reason.
John: As the cracker-barrel philosopher said, politics ain’t beanbag, or tennis. Congressman Wilson spoke for millions of Americans, including some erstwhile Obama supporters, who no long trust the President to tell the truth. Health care doubletalk from the Democrats has a lot of us disgusted. Wilson’s bad manners are minor by comparison.
Susan: Boorishness at town hall meetings, public rallies and tea parties is one thing. Lack of civility amidst a sacred ritual of American democracy -- the nation watching while Cabinet members, lawmakers from both chambers and the diplomatic corps watch the President address a joint session of Congress -- insults us all.
John: Sorry, a ritual is not sacred unless God is involved. Government is not God. The President is not king. He has no divine right to command silence from congressmen, anyone. The disrespect shown by Democrats to this summer's peaceful protesters was far worse than Wilson's rudeness to Obama.
4. AFGHANISTAN: WHAT NEXT?
Susan: George Santayana was right: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Afghanistan has been torn by tribal warfare for centuries. The Brits failed 100 years ago. The Russians left in defeat 30 years ago. Obama risks another Vietnam. He must exit - now.
John: Susan, that’s September 10 thinking in a September 11 world. President Obama was elected on a promise to crush Al Qaeda and the Taliban and win in Afghanistan. I praise him for hanging tough. For America to surrender over there would endanger our world leadership and our homeland.
Susan: John - pundits on your side of the aisle are calling for an exit strategy. George Will, Richard Haass and others join a majority of Americans who believe it's time to pull our troops out. Nation building is not a winning strategy. Did we learn nothing from the losses in lives, treasure and credibility in Iraq?
John: Radical Islam wants to destroy America and dominate the world. The mastermind is Iran. The battle cry is jihad. We took a step toward victory by defeating jihad in Iraq. Now we must defeat jihad in Afghanistan. Radical Islam is poisonous to human freedom. It must be stopped. It’s up to us.
5. PARTISAN POLITICS & LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Susan: I love local government because it's non-partisan. D's don't do a better job of paving streets, maintaining parks or regulating land use than R's. Local challenges and opportunities are just that - local. Inserting partisan labels on trash, roads, parks or schools is a terrible idea.
John: Coloradans voting for local officials and school boards this fall are forced to guess in the dark about which nonpartisan candidate supports their values on fiscal responsibility, role of government, and educational excellence. Many candidates are unopposed, with some elections cancelled as a result. Party competition replaces apathy with accountability.
Susan: In Denver local elections have high turnout. Besides, local and school board elections aren't about partisan issues. If voters don't take the time to learn about the candidates, they get what they deserve. The D /R cheat sheet sheds more heat than light.
John: Nonpartisan government is mediocre and ripe for abuse. The nonpartisan RTD keeps raising taxes for a rail system it can’t build. Nonpartisan school boards are run by teacher unions. Colorado should let Republicans and Democrats compete at the local level. Party competition is the American way.