In which Obama gets a 2nd chance but blows it

Might the recent inauguration herald some real hope and change at last, wonders a tongue-in-cheek John Andrews in the February round of Head On TV debates. He even momentarily dons an Obama button before Susan Barnes-Gelt reaffirms the hardball playbook and reminds us it”s all the Republicans” fault. John on the right (button quickly discarded) and Susan on the left also go at it this month Hillary Clinton”s past, the GOP”s future, immigration reform, and gun control. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997 and a presentation of Centennial Institute since 2009. Here are all five scripts for February:

1. PREVIEWING OBAMA’S SECOND TERM

Susan: Obama has four years of on-the-job-training – and he doesn’t have to pander to special interests for re-election. Washington is a swamp and he can apply his will and intelligence to cut entitlements, reform the tax code and protect the vulnerable. Elections have consequences. He must play hardball.

John: Mr. President, sir: Like my [Obama campaign] button? I voted for Mitt, but since I follow a God of second chances, I appeal for you to devote yourself to hope and change. Change your confrontational ways. Stop trying to transform us into France. Give Americans reason to hope for constructive cooperation between Democrats and Republicans.

Susan: Washington’s dysfunction is driven by the politics of partisan primaries. Incumbents who are moderate problem solvers are threatened by right wing ideologues – not Democratic challengers. Majority Speaker Boehner is trying to manage a freak show that has noting to do with Obama’s leadership style.

John: Barack, my friend, this saddens me, but it’s over between us. [Removes button, tosses it away.] You had your chance. Your spokeswoman here, Susan, won’t get off the Alinsky talking points. Second-term hardball, Obama unfettered. Veer to the left, no comprise, consensus be damned. In 2010 that approach cost you dearly. It will again in 2014.

2. ARE REPUBLICANS EVEN RELEVANT ANY MORE?

Susan: After decades of posturing and hyperbole, immigration reform will happen. And human issues – human rights, women’s health, LGBT issues and religion – are no longer the third rail of partisan politics. The reason: young people see the world in chiaroscuro– shades of grey. If Republicans don’t embrace change, they’re doomed.

John: The party of the left keeps helpfully advising the party of the right to come over there with them. Then we’d have both parties proclaiming government is the only answer and relativism is the only truth. Ain’t happening, Susan. The answer is freedom and responsibility. Republicans will stand on that, thank you.

Susan: How’s that workin’ for ya so far? Let see, R’s lost seats in the Senate, the House and – ummm – the White House? Senate Minority leader McConnell and House Majority leader Boehner serve at the will of a fractured herd of nattering nabobs of negativism. They make Spiro Agnew look respectable.

John: In America, freedom and responsibility have always worked better than bureaucracy and dependency. Always will. Democrats can go on being the party of government, Republicans the party of liberty, and we’ll see who has the best winning percentage over time. My money is on liberty.

3. HILLARY’S PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

John: As Obama builds a new cabinet, America is better off with Hillary Clinton stepping down as Secretary of State. She is dishonest, unscrupulous, and manipulative even by the low standards of Washington. Her evasive Senate testimony about the Benghazi massacre was shameful. America does not need a Clinton third term in 2016.

Susan: Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State was great for the President, our global partners and the nation’s safety and respect. An unparalleled advocate for the rights of women, children the underserved across the globe – she is a remarkable leader who happens to be female. Kerry has big shoes to fill!

John: John Kerry as incoming Secretary of State is no prize either. The Vietnam peacenik who threw away his war medals will have US enemies laughing at us around the world. Mrs. Clinton leaves him a legacy of weakness and appeasement. She failed as foreign minister and would fail worse as president.

Susan: This country and the world would benefit from Hillary Clinton’s leadership – whether as president of the United States or head of a multi-national organization. She is smart and articulate with impeccable values. She knows who she is and what she stands for and is respected throughout the world.

4. IMMIGRATION REFORM, AGAIN

John: I like Marco Rubio as a rising conservative star, and I like the savory seasoning that Latinos add to the American melting pot. But Rubio is wrong in teaming up with Obama for a so-called path to citizenship, which really means amnesty for lawbreakers. Ten million new Democratic voters? No thanks.

Susan: Republicans will continue to be irrelevant if the old white boys don’t recognize the inevitable. The realities of the 21st Century – from demographics of economic sustainability depend on sane immigration policy. A majority of Americans agree. Marco Rubio is the face of America’s future. Get used to it.

John: The social and economic dysfunction of Mexico has sent opportunity-seekers flooding into the USA for decades. Can we make room for them? Absolutely, on the right terms. But full political participation is not the way. Amnesty failed when Reagan tried it, and will fail again. Secure the border first!

Susan: John F. Kennedy said it best in his 1958 book, A Nation of Immigrants. The United States is and always has been a nation of people who value both tradition and the exploration of new frontiers, people who deserve the freedom to build better lives for themselves in their adopted homeland.

5. GUN CONTROL, AGAIN

John: The gun control proposals by Feinstein in Congress, and by Hickenlooper here in Colorado, take away too much self-protection and self-responsibility and offer too little assurance of greater public safety in return. A government big enough to give us everything we want is big enough to take away everything we have.

Susan: Thirteen. Sixty-four. One hundred and forty two. One hundred and thirteen. Two-hundred and fifty. Four Hundred and fifteen. Thirteen years. 64 mass shootings. One hundred and forty-two guns. One hundred thirteen illegal guns. Two hundred and fifty dead. Four hundred and fifteen injured. Do the math.

John: Firearms are dangerous, no question. But power-hungry big government is far more dangerous. Citizens and politicians alike, including Colorado’s own Democratic senators, need assurances that proposed gun laws will truly deter criminals and lunatics, not just disarm the law-abiding. Then we can deal.

Susan: Thirteen. Sixty-four. One hundred and forty two. One hundred and thirteen. Two-hundred and fifty. Four Hundred and fifteen. Thirteen years. 64 mass shootings. One hundred and forty-two guns. One hundred thirteen illegal guns. Two hundred and fifty dead. Four hundred and fifteen injured. Do the math.

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