Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Almost Live Blogging the VP Debate

Well, I didn't think I'd watch this debate so I certainly didn't think I'd be blogging about it. TV was on, I was folding laundry, it was 8 o'clock central time so I figured I'd see the first question and then probably read a book. Instead I got sucked in and before I knew it, I was reaching for a pen and paper to make notes, below is roughly the thoughts I wrote down during the debate, please excuse their lack of polish... I didn't proof read and I don't intend to for 10-24 hours.

(NOTE: quotes like this 'quote' are not exact, just paraphrases by me.... ready? Here we go....)

Edwards, in talking of the "global test" said something like: 'we are going to be honest with the world.'

But how does that relate to the war with Iraq? The countries that opposed the removal of Hussein accepted that he had WMD but didn't care. France and Germany never disputed this fact, they only acted the way they did because of their economic interests, i.e. being massive creditors to Saddam Hussein and of course the oil for palaces for scandal.

The moderator (I wish I remembered her name) was head and shoulders above Jim Lehrer, two things she challenged Edwards on that I liked: She read Kerry's quote and asked Edwards to explain what exactly was meant by the "global test" for going to war, and also asked what Kerry would do to bring our allies back given France and Germany's recent pronouncements that it didn't matter who won the Presidential Election in the U.S. they wouldn't help out either way.

Cheney kills the Edwards/Kerry ticket on flip flopping on the war. He mentions that they voted for the war but not to fund it. That Kerry says that knowing what we know now about Husseins WMD programs that he still would have voted for the war, but that he now calls it the "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time." That he'll bring our allies back but that our current allies are really the "coerced and the bribed" and that, when the prime minister of Iraq, Allawi came to the United States to thank us for our sacrifices, Kerry said he lived in a fantasy land. No way to reach out to your allies.

Edwards says that the U.S. is taking '90% of the casualties' and the majority of the cost. Cheney responds by praising the Iraqi citizens contribution and asserts that they are taking on a lot of the cost and Edwards is belittling that.

(I like this format, but there is a loophole that you probably can't close. Either candidate when it is there turn to speak can go back and talk about a previous question. Edwards did this a lot. Reminds of when a lawyer or a witness says something in court that they are not supposed to. It is stricken from the record, but everyone still heard it. Not surprising that Edwards used this.)

Cheney talks of Zarqawi, glad to hear it, but he reminds us who he is by saying something like 'he's the guy on the evening news beheading hostages.' True. Who would have thought a few years ago we would hear a line like that in the VP debates?

Talk about Iran (so far all about foreign policy - favors Cheney) Both talked tough on Iran, good to hear.

(I have never been a Cheney fan, I thought he was a political liability, I was hoping he would be replaced by Giuliani or Condi Rice, I've thought that way for close to a year. Now I think I was wrong.)

Cheney hammers Edwards on his Senate record, says he presides over the Senate but tonight is the first time he met Edwards. Good line.

Cheney talks about Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq. Edwards says Al-Qaeda is in 60 countries, how many of those are we going to invade. Then Edwards talks about Halliburton (and mentions Enron 'offhandedly'). Seems like the Michael Moore strategy. Probably plays well to his base, but not the swing voters.

Israel v Palestine
I mostly agreed with both. Edwards talks about how horrible it is that pizza places and cafes full of children are ruthlessly murdered by suicide bombers in Israel. Cheney agrees, and points out that much of that has abated over the last year because Sadaam's financial support is no longer. Yep.

Talk about the economy and jobs. Nothing new, general philosophical differences between Dems and Republicans are highlighted.

Edwards talks of Bush/Cheney leaving trillion dollar deficits to our children. Well, if the alternative is leaving a nuclear Saddam Hussein to our children I'll take the credit card bill.

A few good point Cheney made wrt Iraq: 'We are training the Iraqi people to take responsibility for securing their own country and building democracy and do the job rather than send more American troops. Sending more American troops would only postpone the date that we can bring our boys home.'

'A terrorist organization could not carry out a chemical attack without state sponsorship, Saddam Hussein's Iraq was the most likely nexus of that taking place.'

'This is the task of our generation.'

'A little tough talk in a 90 minute presidential debate does not erase the inconsistencies'

And in the closing remarks, Cheney takes a subtle jab at Edwards saying that, 'I don't talk about myself too much but in hearing some of the things that Edwards has said about his life, I think we are more similar than different' (growing up from modest means etc.) Edwards responds by doing just that and playing the populist angle of rising from modest means and achieving all he has.

Wow. I never thought I would say this but Dick Cheney is refreshing. He doesn't try and charm he doesn't try and spin, he just spoke with confidence, not relying on the superficial devices that every other politician does. And he does this all without one eye on the next election he could win. At least for tonight he is the only politician I like.

Look, I am really trying to be as objective as I can be. Kerry did win the debate last week, but tonight Cheney cleaned Edwards clock. Edwards was stuck resorting to populist class warfare (tax cuts for the rich, we are fighting for you against the big conglomerates, etc.), repeating every chance he could that he wanted to talk about healthcare, healthcare, and healthcare. What I noticed most though, was that whenever Cheney spoke first, Edwards resorted to defending himself against Cheney's subtle jabs, rather than answering the question. Rather than "here's what I would do...." we heard something like, "well he's flip flopper too, he's rich too!!" I could be wrong but I don't think that will play well with the swing voters.

John Edwards is an incredibly successful trial attorney and it didn't take him long to become one of the rising stars in American politics. He's got charm, looks, he;s warm and engaging and he has a Clinton-esque 'I feel your pain' disposition (and I mean that as a compliment, at least in terms of political savvy). I was pretty shocked at how uncomfortable, defensive, and pessimistic he looked by the end of this debate. This was a big win by Cheney in my calculations, I never expected that he would out-Edwards John Edwards in such a casual but serious manner. Given that this is only a vice presidential debate though, it will be interesting to see how, if at all, it effects the polls and what kind of spin and relevance each side and the press put on it.

Blog Reactions that I'm reading:

Stephen Green has it right on these points:

7:10. Know who Edwards reminds me of? Bush on a good debate night. Repeat your points, stay unruffled, sound folksy.

7:44. I like what Edwards has to say about Israel's right to self-defense. And his support for the Gaza pullout is refreshing. And his admission that there is no "partner for peace" on the PA side is shockingly honest. Which ties into "Saudi Arabia" how?

Hmmm, Jeff Jarvis, who I respect immensley thinks Edwards won.

Now I am tired.

LATER: Okay, one more thought. Big Media reaction will mostly be to downplay the signifigance of a VP debate rather than talk about who won. We'll see tomorrow.


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