Obama: Healer or Bully?

"What's up with this guy Barack the Good," asks John Andrews in the November round of Head On TV debates. "Is he a healer or a bully?" But Susan Barnes-Gelt says criticism of the president's vendetta against "Fox Snooze" is a tempest in a teapot, recurring in every White House. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over congressional races, health care, Afghanistan, and what John calls "the Seinfeld Peace Prize." Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for November: 1. WHITE HOUSE TAKES ON FOX NEWS

John: For someone who ran as a healer, Barack Obama governs like a bully. Cross him, and he’ll take you down. Ask the insurance companies or the Cambridge police or the tea-party movement. Now he demeans his office with a thuggish campaign against Fox News. Ever hear of the First Amendment, Mr. President?

Susan: Every president in modern history took on the media. JFK cancelled White House subscriptions to the New York Herald - Bush jr. pilloried the NY Times - it comes with the territory - politicians are notoriously thin skinned. Both your guys and mine!

John: I still need you to explain this president, Barack the Good. Is he a healer or a bully? His foolish vendetta against Fox News doesn’t hurt my side. Fox only looks bigger while he looks smaller. The damage is done on stories like Acorn and Van Jones. Shooting the messenger is stupid.

Susan: Tempest in a teapot, though it's fun to watch the same folks who refused - for 8 years - to let the N Y Times interview Bush the younger - feign outrage. The country has more important issues to address than the politics of Fox Snooze.


John: With Obama so unpopular, Democrats may lose dozens of congressional seats next year. Two of those could be here in Colorado. Betsy Markey of Fort Collins is vulnerable to several Republicans, led by Cory Gardner. Ed Perlmutter of Golden has to face the charismatic Ryan Frazier or tea-party leader Brian Campbell.

Susan: Only 20-percent of voters identify with the Republican Party and more than half support aggressive health care reform. Of course congressional D's may be vulnerable - the only entity with lower poll numbers than Congress, are Republican ideologues.

John: Your vague generalities won’t decide the congressional races, Susan. It boils down to the pocketbook issues, peace and prosperity. Democrats in Congress like Markey and Perlmutter aren’t getting the job done. The recession drags on. The wars drag on. Republicans like Gardner and Frazier look better and better.

Susan: Perlmutter is safe as the Rock of Gibraltar and Markey will have a tougher time against Gardner but will prevail - especially if Marilyn (black helicopter) Musgrave throws her weight behind him. Voters are smart. And I like the tune you're whistling in the dark!


John: Five of every six Americans like their health insurance. Forty million rely on Medicare. Why on earth would Obama and the Democrats push a plan that diverts half a trillion dollars from Medicare and makes health insurance less attractive for everyone? Because this isn’t about health care. This is about government power.

Susan: Medicare's administrative costs are under 10-percent. Private insurers pull down 25-30 percent for admin, big salaries and profit. What is it about Wall Street the Republicans are so enamored with that they're willing to sacrifice health care on the altar of free enterprise?

John: I repeat. This is really not about health care. This is about government power. If liberals cared about seniors, they wouldn’t squeeze Medicare. If they cared about the 15% with poor coverage, they wouldn’t socialize the other 85%. But no. Liberals dogmatically prefer bureaucratic regimentation to personal freedom.

Susan: Government power my ……foot! This is Wall Street v Main Street - Big Pharm, insurance giants and K Street campaign dollars and special interests versus the health of Americans. A vigorous public option is the only way to hold greedy insurance companies at bay. Obama must step up.


Susan: Dick Cheney accuses the President of 'dithering' while he and his advisors consider the ramifications of sending more troops to Afghanistan. Too bad Bush and the boys didn't dither before launching a full-scale invasion in Iraq, rather than considering the real source of terrorism - Al Quida - then in Afghanistan.

John: Bush and Cheney no longer in power. Obama is President now, but so far this commander-in-chief is not very commanding. This leader of the free world has led zilch. He ran on a promise to keep us safe from jihad by cleaning up Afghanistan. Stand and deliver, Mr. Big Talk.

Susan: October witnessed the highest American casualties in Afghanistan - ever. The Afghans and our so-called friends in Pakistan must 'stand and deliver.' Until there is a credible government in Afghanistan and Pakistani control of a rogue tribal state, we've no business sending our troops to slaughter.

John: New York, Massachusetts, Texas, two in Illinois, and one right here in Aurora, Colorado – six Muslim terrorist plots broken up in just the past six weeks. Most of them with training and support from the very Afghan-Pakistan region you shrug off. It is tough there, but we have to persist.


Susan: It's perfectly logical to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama. His intelligence, thoughtfulness and global sensitivities represent a sea-change from the myopic, narcissistic and belligerent anti-cooperative tenor of Bush Jr's foreign policy. Obama has brought the U.S. into the 21th Century - that is worth recognition.

John: I’m just tickled the Great Messiah is finally taking his lumps from the comedians. Laughter greeted his beer summit -- and his wimpy reaction to feminist whining about men’s basketball. Left and right both laughed at the Seinfeld Peace Prize, his award for doing nothing. Way to go, Nobel Committee.

Susan: The Nobel Committee got more publicity about their award to Obama than they've received in the 100 plus years the Peace Prize has been around. Maybe they hired a new marketing firm with instructions to up the profile. Obama's careful analysis of Afghanistan suggests the Committee got it right.

John: The President was embarrassed by this, and he should be. It was a putdown by jealous Europeans who resent the idea of a strong and confident America. Obama’s foreign policy has three planks: Undermine our allies. Embolden our enemies. Weaken our country. Many of us vehemently disagree, Nobel Prize or not.