Obama's class warfare theme, learned from Alinsky and abetted by the Occupy Wall Street movement, won't save him in 2012, says John Andrews in the October round of Head On TV debates. Don't underestimate its Main Street appeal, replies Susan Barnes-Gelt. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over No Child Left Behind, the GOP presidential contenders, the PERA pension fund, and Aurora's lavish land development subsidies. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997, with sponsorship by Centennial Institute since 2009. Here are all five scripts for October:
1. DESPERATE OBAMA TURNS TO CLASS WARFARE
John: Barack Obama learned his lesson well from radical agitator Saul Alinsky. If you’re losing an argument, change the subject, target a convenient enemy, and go on the attack. His economic mess and failed flirtation with socialism spell certain defeat in 2012. The solution? You guessed it – vicious class warfare.
Susan: “Occupy Wall Street’ is catching fire across the country. People of all ages, political persuasions and backgrounds are demonstrating against myopic greed and corruption. Obama’s populist rhetoric is a lot more resonant with the concerns of Main Street than the vapid rhetoric of the status quo.
John: Envy, resentment, divisiveness, scapegoating, and victim politics, all used as a smokescreen for the failures of Obama and his Democrats, won’t work, Susan. This poisonous stuff isn’t the American way. It demeans the Presidency. Obama should be ashamed. The Tea Party patriots, not the Occupier socialists, will win in 2012.
Susan: Oh please – you sound like a plutocrat. The tea partiers and the occupiers have more in common than you acknowledge: utter frustration with a corrupt system controlled by special interests and lobbyists. No transparency, no commitment to the future –education, vital infrastructure. Chaos reigns while the establishment dozes.
2. LATEST ON PRESIDENTIAL RACE
John: I love our American system of self-government. Incompetence can’t hide, and the people can’t be denied. Voters get a chance to clean house. Obama’s utter failure gives Republicans an opening. Palin and Christie stood aside. Cain and Perry are interesting but not dominant. The next president could be Mitt Romney.
Susan: You assume that Mitt – for universal health care; against universal health care; for Roe v. Wade; against choice; ant-school voucher; pro voucher Romney. Will the real Mitt please stand up? The value voters control the primaries and once they find him, maybe they’ll buy his multiple choice approach.
John: Forecasting the presidential race 7 days ahead, let alone 7 months when the Republican nominee emerges, is like forecasting Colorado weather. Good luck. But the awful economy, along with Obama’s weak leadership, makes any Republican formidable. Romney, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Bachmann – I’ll take any of them over Obama.
Susan: And don’t forget Pallin, Paul and Huntsman. Oops – not Huntsman, the sole Republican contender who is reasonable, experienced and moderate – just like most of the country. No wonder the guy who might be electable is in single digits with the Republican base. Obama – 4 more years!
3. TREASURER SUES PERA
John: It seems like shaky pension plans are everywhere you look. The exception is pensions that aren’t. Unwise decisions and the recession are to blame. It’s not purposeful. But Colorado pension officials should cooperate with State Treasurer Walker Stapleton for a solution. I hope he wins his lawsuit for key information.
Susan: Amazing – you and I agree on this one. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has every right to ask for all the information he needs to assess the health of the state pension fund. PERA’s forecasts are hopelessly optimistic. Colorado public employees and taxpayers will pay the bill for insolvency.
John: State employees not only get a sweet deal on their retirement, they also have ironclad job security and a much less competitive work environment than Joe and Jane Lunchpail out in the real economy. No wonder the PERA board is obsessed with secrecy. Government workers are soaking the taxpayers.
Susan: Don’t try to lump the PERA board and their secrecy in with hard working public employees. Unfortunately, more than a decade ago when fools believed a hot economy would never cool, reckless decisions inflated benefits and softened restrictions. Treasurer Stapleton must continue his scrutiny.
4. GAYLORD PUBLIC SUBSIDY
Susan: The $300+ million public subsidy to Tennessee-based Gaylord Entertainment from Aurora, to build a private convention center in is the richest in the history of Colorado. What’s the public purpose in a 1500-room private hotel/conference center? Tennessee-based Gaylord’s private facility should be built on their dime – not mine!
John: Amen, Susan. The massive giveaway to Gaylord is not responsible government, it’s crony capitalism – as bad as anything Obama did for GE or Solyndra. Thank goodness for elections. Aurora voters can cancel this obscenity by electing Jude Sandvall as mayor. The other candidates, unfortunately including Republicans, all support it.
Susan: Not one resident showed up at the public hearing September 26, when the city council unanimously approved this fat giveaway. Whoever Jude Sandvall is, he’s completely MIA in the debate. Shame on the citizens of Aurora for allowing Ed Tauer and his colleagues to make a deal behind closed doors.
John: You can call the Gaylord subsidy crony capitalism or corporate statism. It smells bad either way. Hard-working Aurora taxpayers don’t belong in the hotel business. Government at every level, federal, state, and local, is way out of bounds. I wrote the book “Responsibility Reborn” to rally Americans against this madness.
5. NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
Susan: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, attempted to standardize public K-12 curriculum and force accountability. A decade later, this well-intentioned effort hasn’t demonstrated results – annual improvement in reading and critical thinking. The law needs reform. More and more states try to opt out of the program.
John: No Child Left Behind was one of the worst things that Bush and the Republican Congress ever did. Their first mistake was forgetting that schools are a state responsibility, none of Washington’s business. Their next mistake was letting Ted Kennedy write the bill. Waivers aren’t enough. Let’s repeal the whole thing.
Susan: Well John, you’re half right. NCLB must be repealed and recrafted. And yes, public education is a state mandate. On the other hand – every student from Maine to Mississippi from Oregon to Iowa, to must meet basic standards if America is going to compete in the ever-shrinking global economy.
John: Those basic standards in No Child Left Behind aren’t being met, which is why educators in Colorado are now trying to move the goalposts to legitimize mediocrity. The next president should abolish the Department of Education, take on the teacher unions, and push for educational excellence through the free market.