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.
Clearly Mitt Romney is the Rodney Dangerfield of American politics. He "gets no respect"- anywhere. A strange consensus has emerged among the Punditocracy of both Left and Right. They even seem to be using the same phrase book.Romney hasn't "made the sale", can't "close the deal", doesn't "excite the base", fails to "connect with orsdinary people", is "dull, gaffe prone", and lacks eloquence or humor.Even when he wins, it’s never good enough. States he wins are discounted because he once lived there or has a summer home there (Michigan, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire). Other winning jurisdictions are dismissed because a lot of Mormons live there (Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, American Samoa).When he wins key swing states like Ohio, or Michigan his margin is "too small", but when he comes very close in states where he wasn't even supposed to be competitive (Alabama, Mississippi) he gets little credit.In times past a highly organized, well- funded national campaign was viewed as a sign of impressive strength (e.g. Bush 2004, Obama 2008) but with Romney these same attributes are merely reasons to devalue any success he enjoys.As the multi-candidate GOP road show rolled across the country in every contest the mainstream media (and many conservatives) were inclined to add up all the votes of Romney's competitors and declare them not votes for, say Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul, but votes "against Romney".The companion narrative to all this is that the Republican Party with its divisive, negative, unending Primary campaign, second rate candidates, and woeful front-runner is in the act of committing electoral suicide with Obama as joyful spectator, and beneficiary. The sum of all these fears is that continuing Republican follies combined with a reviving economy mean that once bright GOP prospects in this historically critical election are rapidly turning dark.What's wrong with this picture? A lot. An awful lot.Let's start by asking why the Democratic National Committee and the labor unions are spending millions of dollars running ads against only one GOP candidate: Romney. Why did the Democratic Party in Michigan and other states allowing cross-overs quietly urge their followers to "Go vote for Santorum"?The answer to these questions is that the Democrats have known all along that Romney will be a very formidable opponent for Obama in the fall.They know that he will compete very well for those independent voters who decide every Presidential election. They know that Romney's negatives among independents which went up in the wake of blistering attacks by his GOP rivals can go down just as quickly, as the volatile polls of this political season have repeatedly demonstrated.The Democrats are not buying the conventional wisdom that the bitter GOP primaries have fatally damaged Republican prospects because they remember very well how quickly their own party came together in the wake of the monumental slugging match between Hillary and Obama.While the Republicans are wringing hands over Romney's relative weak performance with the "very conservative" or "Evangelical" demographic, Democrats know that those "clingers to guns and religion" will rise from their death beds to vote for absolutely anyone who might save them from Obama. What Democrats are very alert to is that Romney does very well with precisely that segment of the electorate that was vital to Obama in 2008: suburban white women, the affluent, the college graduates, and professionals. They also know that the youth vote so critical for Obama in 2008 is much less enthusiastic this time around, and will be buried numerically by Romney's best voting bloc- Senior citizens.All things considered the outlook for Romney and the Republican Party is far from bleak.Ignoring the fact that I - like most political sages in this strange year- have been flat out wrong again and again, herewith my fearless forecast for the twisting electoral road immediately ahead-March 24 Louisiana (46 delegates): A wounded Newt's last chance at any electoral credibility. Santorum needs it, but the active support of highly popular Gov. Bobby Jindal gives Romney a good chance to make a very competitive race.April 3 Washington D.C. (19 delegates), Maryland (37 delegates), and Wisconsin (42 delegates): A Romney sweep (Santorum didn't even make the ballot in "winner take all" D.C.).Beyond this point, polling shows Romney to be favored in fourteen of the nineteen remaining Primary states. Even a Gingrich withdrawal can't save Santorum as recent polls show 40% of Newt's supporters going to Romney.Around this time billionaire Foster Friess- the financial backbone of Santorum's painfully unorganized and amateurish national campaign- begins to have second thoughts. Simultaneously the numerous unpledged delegates begin their inevitable migration to Romney.Prediction: Romney will have the magic 1,144 delegates well before Mormon Utah's "winner take all" primary on June 26th.
William Moloney's columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, Denver Post, and Human Events.
(Centennial Fellow) Nice guys don't always finish last. Sometimes they win three states in a single day.
Rick Santorum's improbable hat trick - sweeping Republican presidential contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado - provided yet another surprise in a wildly unpredictable nominating process. It also ensures that the primary season will last longer, that we will learn more about candidates' strengths and weaknesses, and that voters in more states will have a say in selecting Barack Obama's opponent.
As much as we may grow tired of the campaign antics and the infighting, a longer nominating trail isn't necessarily a bad thing. It didn't seem to hamper Obama after his lengthy slugfest with Hillary Clinton four years ago.
Pundits gave Santorum a fighting chance to beat Romney in Missouri without Gingrich on the ballot. But wins in Minnesota and Colorado were particularly noteworthy because Romney had decisively won both states in 2008. This time, Romney slipped from first to third place in Minnesota, and in Colorado, where he garnered 60% in 2008, finished second with 35%.
Despite his best efforts to persuade Republicans that he is conservative, "electable" and inevitable, Romney is unable to spark rank-and-file enthusiasm. The intellectual case for Romney, as presented by National Review, is reassuring but not inspiring.
Romney exudes competency and tries to say all the right things, but it's so obvious that he's trying too hard - that it doesn't come naturally.
As was the case with his "I don't care about the very poor" gaffe (words that should never pass through a candidate's lips in any context), he over-corrected by advocating that the minimum wage be indexed for inflation - a progressive liberal's dream.
Worse still, as Marc Thiessen explained in the Washington Post, Romney seemed unaware that the conservative response to poverty isn't a government safety net but a growing economy that produces good jobs to make people self-sufficient.
Contrast Gingrich, who can turn a phrase and inspire an audience and who packs intellectual depth to back it up. But Newt was much more likable as a second-tier candidate who played the father-figure in the early debates, reminding others to save their sharpest arrows for Obama's destructive policies. That's Good Newt.
Once Gingrich surged toward the front, we saw Bad Newt: self-important, overly-defensive, sometimes-unprincipled. He attacked Romney's business credentials from the anti-capitalist left, as if he had forgotten that economic growth usually means shedding older inefficient jobs in favor of new more productive ones.
Little Newt also emerged: the petulant politician who wouldn't extend to Romney the courtesy of a congratulatory phone call and whose astronomical "unfavorables" make reaching swing voters a daunting task.
Enter Santorum. Nobody, except perhaps Ron Paul, seems as genuine. It's that sincerity that helps conservatives forgive his few political transgressions and instead focus on his strengths:
Because he never supported mandatory individual health insurance, he contrasts Obama better than either Romney or Gingrich.
On tax cuts, his record is flawless.
He's been a courageous leader in reforming entitlements, including welfare and farm subsidies.
He clearly understands that America is a beacon of freedom and that we have real enemies who will strike if America appears weak.
He's consistently supported parental choice in education, measures to curb abusive lawsuits, and protections for the unborn.
Some social moderates profess alarm that his faith informs his philosophy. Yet, that's further evidence of Santorum's sincerity. Faith isn't something he does on weekends; it's so important that he lives his life accordingly. To do otherwise would be hypocrisy. It's hard to understand why even those who disagree with his philosophy wouldn't respect his integrity.
Americans cheer the underdog, and Santorum's tenacious campaign engenders admiration. Now that he's a true contender, his task is to demonstrate that he represents the best chance to send Obama packing.
Conflicts of interest may discredit Colorado's newly formed health insurance exchange, worries Susan Barnes-Gelt in the July round of Head On TV debates. Look closer and you'll see the exchange concept itself is pure corporate statism, replies John Andrews, adding this is one more reason Obamacare must go. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the 2012 presidential outlook, the Stock Show's move to Aurora, Mayor Hancock's early moves, and the Denver Police Department. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for July:
1. HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE QUESTIONED
John: Obamacare requires every state to create a new bureaucratic monster called the health insurance exchange. Colorado House Republicans went along when they should have told the Feds to get lost. Now we learn the board of the exchange is big business in bed with big government, pure corporate statism. That helps no one.
Susan: Seems like policymakers all ‘round – the elected’s who appoint and the industry and business people appointed – need a tutorial on conflict of interest. Hickenlooper’s appointments to the Health Insurance Exchange Board are awful. The fox isn’t just guarding the hen house - he’s living in the master suite.
John: Susan, it’s worse than that. The health insurance exchange is a conflict of interest by definition. The board appointments by legislative leaders and the governor were all quite legal. But the exchange law itself rigs the marketplace and harms consumers. Massachusetts could warn us. Obamacare is fatally flawed. Out with it!
Susan: Massachusetts’s residents love their health care system – Mitt Romney got something right as governor. The current, unregulated system benefits health insurance companies – currently enjoying record profits. The current system works for insurance execs and shareholders. Hick needs to revisit his appointments.
2. PRESIDENTIAL RACE HEATS UP
Susan: The 2012 Presidential race is on. The R’s have a fundamental problem – finding a candidate who appeals to the drown-government-in-a-bathtub contingent, dominating the primary process and nominating someone who can appeal to moderates and independents in November. Despite the tough economy, I’m betting on Obama.
John: Your take on 2012 is backwards. The only drowning to we face is a rising tide of unemployment and foreclosures, with Uncle Sam awash in red ink and Barack Obama in over his head. Good luck on that reelection. Republican challengers Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty could all beat this president.
Susan: The majority of voters want solutions – not partisan bickering and negative attacks. Ronald Reagan beat incumbent Jimmy Carter because he had a positive message and uplifting vision. The current R frontrunners are negative, small minded dividers. Huntsman is the only viable option and he can’t win the nomination.
John: Obama has made the economy worse. He has made the deficit worse. His policies will worsen health care and worsen national security. He just can’t lead. Maybe one of his fellow Democrats will take him down next year. One of the strong Republicans, Gov. Romney, Gov. Perry, Gov. Pawlenty, Congressman Bachmann, definitely will.
3. STOCK SHOW MAY LEAVE DENVER
John: My first time at the National Western was 50 years ago, but I remember it like yesterday. For a lot of us, the Stock Show is Denver. But money talks, and now Aurora is talking loudest. It’s a tough test for in a down economy for Michael Hancock as Denver’s new mayor.
Susan: The National Western is the only urban stock show in the country. It needs 3 times the acreage it has. The issue is not will they move, but who pays? Denver should not pay for the stock show to Aurora unless we retain the revenue.
John: The larger issue is how the people’s hard-earned tax dollars should be used and where the coercive power of government should be allowed to reach. Massive subsidies to private businesses are on the table here, driven by the Gaylord fat cats. Aurora’s election for mayor may become a referendum on the deal.
Susan: There are no winners when politics trumps policy. The issue ought to be what’s best for the region and the stock show. Balkanized local government pits city against city – to neither’s benefit. There’s a win-win is this challenge. But I’m not sure rational thinking will prevail.
4. HANCOCK’S EARLY MOVES
Susan: Denver’s new mayor – Michael Hancock - has his hands full. A tough budget, belligerent police leadership and the threatened stock show exit. The weak economy and bloated transition process has made identifying the right appointees challenging. Janice Sinden, his first-rate chief of staff is a good start.
John: I like it that Mayor Hancock is not a showboat. The guy seems sensible, steady, and real. I like it that he appointed Sinden, a business-minded Republican. I liked his gutsy, decent campaign style. He didn’t pander to unions or hide his religious faith. Now we’ll see how he governs.
Susan: The quality of his appointments will reveal a lot. He needs to bring in smart people with fresh perspectives, not the usual retreads and campaign payoffs. He’s got to replace tired leadership at the urban renewal authority and other policy commissions if he wants to be effective.
John: Lots of people watching this don’t live in Denver. But wherever you live in Colorado, you’d like to hope that Denver is a city on the rise, not on the decline. The keys to that are dynamic free enterprise, excellent schools, and a proud civic spirit. That should be the Hancock agenda.
5. POLICE DISCIPLINE QUESTIONED
Susan: The majority of Denver cops are great. But one out of 17 have discipline problems serious enough to question their veracity in court. Combined with the costly rash of excessive force cases – the DPD needs systemic overhaul. A chief – new to the department is a start.
John: The whole reason for government is to see that streets are safe, neighborhoods are peaceful, citizens are secure in their persons and property. Law enforcement is tough, thankless work. The men and women who do it deserve our gratitude and the benefit of the doubt. I hope the new mayor knows that.
Susan: Public safety is the centerpiece of government. The police department’s mission is to protect and serve – not abuse and lie. Lack of transparency and accountability destroys public trust and that’s where Denver is now. The department and the city will be better off if the bad seeds are removed.
John: Perfection never happens in this world. Policing is no exception. The outgoing chief, Gerry Whitman, is a man of honor and deserves our salute. The former chief, Jim Collier, was right when he warned against demoralizing the force. Don’t do it. The manager of safety, Charles Garcia, doesn’t understand policing. He should go.