The Great Divide

Expect a civil debate between Dean and Rove despite monumental differences

On the heels of the epic health-care reform that squeaked through Congress last month, two towering figures of the Democratic and Republican parties are coming to Las Vegas to continue to duke it out over health care, foreign policy and economics.

The Marjorie Barrick Lecture Series at UNLV will host a debate at 7:30 p.m. April 9 between Karl Rove, the political mastermind behind George W. Bush’s ascendancy to the White House, and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a 2004 presidential candidate and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Tickets are free to the event at Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall.

The two have debated each other across the country since fall.

In YouTube excerpts from a September debate at Indiana’s DePauw University, Dean possessed the slick cadences of a born candidate, while Rove milked a whisky-smooth Texas deadpan.

At one point, Dean tries to defend the then-floundering public option: “The public option is not saying you can’t have private insurance, but it says you can have a choice,” he says. “You can choose what you have now or you can choose a voucher and take it to the private insurance system. But you can also use it in a public insurance system, just like Medicare. If it’s good enough for people over 65 and our veterans and for people in Congress, it ought to be good enough for us.”

Medicare is “going bankrupt,” Rove responds. “You think it’s bad today, wait until you start throwing everybody onto Medicare where the prices are set administratively by a bureaucrat in Washington and not by markets. And those bureaucrats sure do a damn fine job when they start pricing things like they do at the post office.”

Says Dean: “And if you don’t like the post office, you get to choose UPS or FedEx. That’s choice. Why can’t we have that kind of choice?”

Says Rove: “You do get to use the post office, Fed Ex or UPS. That’s your choice. But only one of them runs a $7 billion-a-year deficit, and that’s the U.S. Postal Service.”

Given the increasing vitriol between the left and the right, the debates have a flavor of reassuring civility about them, a strangely bipartisan quality—like both are committed to edu-tainment for the masses.

Nevertheless, with health-care legislation now the law of the land, expect plenty of strong feelings in the air. “What we’re hoping to hear is sort of a plan or strategy of how we can move forward on repealing health care or de-funding it,” says Matthew Jarzen, president of the UNLV College Republicans.

Maureen Gregory, president of UNLV Young Democrats, hopes the crowd will get a sobering look at Rove. “I hope the debate is enlightening as to what he is about and what Republicans are really proposing,” she says.

The UNLV Republicans and Democrats will host their own debate at Moyer Student Union from 4 to 6 p.m. April 12. Jarzen says both student organizations want to reach kids “who aren’t politically knowledgeable—that way they can walk out kind of knowing what side they’re on.”

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