Head On TV: War Drums, Hick Punts, Obama Stumbles

The president rightly rebuked the GOP presidential contenders for “casualness” in regard to a potential war with Iran, says Susan Barnes-Gelt in the March round of Head On TV debates. No, replies John Andrews, Obama merely hopes to distract from his own failed policy on Tehran’s nuclear aspirations. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Hickenlooper’s leadership style, liberal antipathy to the automobile, a tourism tax giveaway, and the presidential race. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997, with Centennial Institute sponsorship since 2009. Here are all five scripts for March:

1. NEARING WAR WITH IRAN?

Susan: “When I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war. This is not a game. And there’s nothing casual about it.” That’s the President’s response to the recklessness of the GOP presidential wannabe’s urging war with Iran.

John: Steadily, steadily, the fanatical regime in Tehran moves closer to possessing the nuclear weapons with which it hopes to exterminate Israel and devastate America. Obama would rather scold the opposition party for sounding the alarm than forge an effective policy himself. He missed a chance to remove the regime years ago.

Susan: A nuclear holocaust is a zero sum game for Israel, Iran, the U.S. and the planet. Consider recent events in Afghanistan – a mentally deranged soldier killed kids, women, fathers – terminating any prospects of earning the trust of the people. The human cost of war is far too great.

John: I understand your feelings. But we don’t just need emotions, we need solutions. This weak, naïve, self-absorbed man who happens to be president is day by day increasing the risk of a big conflict by failing to confront and squeeze Iran in smaller ways. Israel must be protected. Obama must go.

2. HICK LEADS FROM BEHIND

John: Much like Barack Obama, John Hickenlooper is long on style and short on substance. Obama’s famous copout of “leading from behind” now has its Colorado counterpart in Hick’s statewide tour of townhall meetings, the TBD Project. He claims that stands for “To Be Determined.” I suspect it means “Taxed by Democrats.”

Susan: The person who thought up TBD as the brand for the Guv’s priority setting initiative, ought to be fired. Am I naïve to believe it’s the Governor’s role to set the state’s direction? Aren’t campaigns about taking the public’s temperature? TBD is a

Totally Bad Decision.

John: Hickenlooper’s townhall tour aims to manufacture a consensus for raising taxes, but people won’t buy it. Neither the governor nor the legislature is getting any traction at present. The alpha dogs in Colorado right now are activist judges – blowing up school finance, slapping down vouchers, and snarling at TABOR.

Susan: No the problem is the lack of leadership and stewardship of this great but fragile western state. Shame on the legislature for funding wealthy developers instead of education, transportation and infrastructure. Shame on us for electing people we like instead of leaders who might make a difference.

3. OBAMA IN TROUBLE

Susan: Can it get any worse for the GOP? Mitt Romney’s failure to condemn Rush Limbaugh calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a slut was beyond the pale. Romney’s response, “It’s not the language I would have used” later saying it wasn’t his business? Shame on you, Willard Mitt.

John: Coarse language from left and right is as old as politics. It’s deplorable, but totally irrelevant to who should be the next president. Obama’s numbers are falling. His energy policy has doubled gas prices. His health care takeover is hugely unpopular. Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul could all beat him.

Susan: John, no one’s approval ratings are lower than Willard Mitt’s. Even moderate Republicans – that endangered species – are looking for the not-Mitt option. It’s a long way to Tampa and this slugfest among wacked pundits and eager-to-please, candidates spells trouble for the R’s in November.

John: The one in trouble is Barack Obama. Presidents who don’t get the job done are shown the door. It’s the American way. Ask Jimmy Carter. They want a leader who is proud of America and believes in Americans as a free people. People have had it with Obama’s excuses and arrogance.

4. STOP THE TOURISM TAX GIVEAWAY

Susan: In 2009 Colorado Concern, a private business group, sponsored legislation creating a state sales tax subsidy, benefitting their members’ interest in building a NASCAR tract east of DIA—a victory of influence over intelligence. When the racetrack died, the giveaway should have been buried.

John: Aurora, Estes Park, Glendale, Pueblo, Douglas County, and Montrose County are pleading with a state board to subsidize tourism for two of them and not the other four. $50 million a year is the prize. Government playing favorites among competing localities and businesses this way is an awful idea.

Susan: Under any circumstance, the state has no business using tax increment financing to pay for assets that benefit a private developer and only a private developer.

Urban renewal tools are just that – mechanisms to revitalize obsolete, dilapidated urban property. Not a way to reduce risk for influentials and campaign contributors.

John: I hate to agree, Susan, but amen. For me as a Republican and you as a Democrat to unite against this tourism tax giveaway, both believing in integrity in government, illustrates how the two-party system can sometimes let the people down when powerful inside players rig the game. It’s a shame.

5. LESS RAIL, MORE BUSES

John: Liberals will tell you they don’t like the automobile. They object to the personal freedom it confers. Yet they also object to high gas prices. What a delicious contradiction. A related contradiction is the money liberals continue throwing at light rail despite its negligible ridership. Bus rapid transit is far superior.

Susan: Wow! John, after 8 years of jousting with me, you’re beginning to sound like a progressive! Of course, bus-rapid-transit is the most efficient way to build mass transit. Dedicated lanes, mixed-use transit stops and cool-looking buses are the logical answer for regions as spread out as ours.

John: Progressive? No, I’m a regressive. I’d like to run the movie back to 2004 and let people vote again on the tax hike we know is far too small to build out the Fastracks fantasy train that few commuters use. Going forward, though, let’s agree – less rail, more buses.

Susan: The real problem is the lack of civic and political direction guiding RTD staff and directors. Mass transit needs to be part of a regional land use transportation network, connecting people with places, jobs and one another. Absent a comprehensive approach, we’ve all missed the bus.

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