The President has failed on national security and can't credibly campaign as a tough guy, says John Andrews in the May round of Head On TV debates. Just the opposite, replies Susan Barnes-Gelt: in eliminating bin Laden and removing Qadhafi, Obama has proved the strongest commander-in-chief since FDR. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Romney's chances, Denver's budget woes, and how to help the homeless. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997 and presentation of Centennial Institute since 2009. Here are all Four scripts for May:
1. SHERIFF OBAMA? NOT SO MUCH
John: Obama was deservedly condemned by left and right after he crudely politicized the anniversary of Bin Laden’s death. This president has failed on national security. His swagger is unconvincing as well as tasteless. He has dangerously slashed our defenses. He has been weak against Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Susan: President Obama has consistently performed on National Security. In four years, Obama has foiled several attacks on the US, killed the 9/11 master-mind – Bin Laden - and dozens of key operatives, eliminated Quadafi and begun an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan. He’s the toughest commander-in-chief since FDR.
John: I got the talking points. Now let’s be real. FDR knew who the main enemy was, mobilized massively and gained victory over the Axis. Reagan knew his main enemy, rearmed, and won the Cold War. Obama seeks to disarm. He doesn’t want victory. He’s clueless about our enemy in Iran.
Susan: I sincerely hope Willard and the Wing-nuts make the President’s foreign policy the centerpiece of their campaign. Doing so serves a dual purpose: reengages lefty libs who worry Obama’s caved to the generals and proves beyond reasonable doubt that Romney desperate and hopelessly out of touch.
2. ROMNEY GAINING BY THE DAY
John: Challenger Mitt Romney has the White House worried, and with reason. The former governor has economic savvy and leadership that the former professor can’t match. GOP rivals are closing ranks with Romney, while key Democratic voting blocs are underwhelmed with Obama. November will be close, but the incumbent’s in trouble.
Susan: Which Romney? Anti-auto bailout Romney, now taking credit for US auto rebound? Innovative Gov. Romney author of the first public healthcare program? Entrepreneur Romney who made a fortune in the US, but has untold investments abroad? Conservative Romney? Moderate Mitt? Liberal Willard? Who is that masked man?
John: Cute, Susan. Sort of Jon Stewart in a skirt. But the problem for you Democrats is that it’s very hard to win an election like this one, where the incumbent seeks a second term amid economic distress and looming war clouds. It’s a referendum on Obama, and Romney is gaining by the day.
Susan: It’s a long, long while from May to November – which is good for Romney who’d better figure out who he is, what he stands for and why. Obama continues to face challenging times: a lackluster recovery, uncertainty abroad and the public’s disgust with politics. But . . .you can’t beat something with nothing.
3. SHOULD DENVER RAISE TAXES?
Susan: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock must address structural problems in Denver’s operating budget. Fixed expenses – largely personnel driven – are increasing faster than revenues. He should standardize employee health care and pension formulas before raising taxes. He must chose between pleasing and making long-term decisions.
John: Susan, we’re meeting minds again. It worries me. Running leaner on public employee pay and benefits is the right answer, even though unions will push back. Raising taxes will only make Denver a less desirable place to live and do business. It’s the wrong answer. Can I hold you to that?
Susan: Absolutely NOT! Denver’s taxes are among the lowest in the region. Efficient government and capital investments are necessary to maintain and enhance the City Denverites have built through generations. But before raising taxes and fees, the mayor must focus on more than re-election, and set measurable outcomes and priorities.
John: America is drowning in taxes, spending, regulation, entitlements, debt, unfunded pension obligations, yada yada yada, next stop Greece. Denver’s on that train. If Hancock and the council are smart, they’ll get off the train and make the city a magnet for economic growth. Step one: No new taxes.
4. TOUGH LOVE FOR STREET PEOPLE
Susan: Denver’s Mayor approved a tough anti-loitering ordinance - aimed at controlling the explosion of homeless, occupiers and summertime drifters overtaking downtown, Civic Center and the river. Though well-intended, it should have been thoroughly analyzed prior to being jammed through the City Council.
John: Sometimes common sense overtakes political correctness, even with a bunch of liberals like this mayor and council, and you just want to cheer. I’m still pinching myself that Hancock would lead the way and do this. Denver has shelters and compassionate programs aplenty. Enough with the street camping.
Susan: That’s the problem. Good for Hancock for making a tough call. However Denver doesn’t have the shelters, outreach workers, police resources or partnerships to mitigate this growing dilemma. Time will tell if the city is able to meet the expectations of compassion and control this bold ordinance promises.
John: Step one is to think about it differently. Street people used to be called vagrants, emphasizing their chosen behavior. Political correctness now calls them homeless, emphasizing victimhood. Some are victims, but many chose the streets. Denver now offers one less incentive for that dead end. The camping ban is tough love.