Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Evasive and Combative

The VP debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and the Democratic nominee Senator John Edwards just ended and this one is pretty tough to call. I have to admit that Dick Cheney came across as very well informed and extremely confident. Thirty years of politics will do that to a person. However, he avoided certain topics like they were the plague. He avoided talking about job losses in Ohio, he avoided answering the attacks on his own personal voting record in the Congress, and he avoided the accusations against Haliburton by calling them a "smoke screen." Instead of responding to the very specific attacks on his ties to Haliburton, he responded with personal attacks against John Edwards and his attendance record in the Senate. (He doesn't mention the fact that Edwards is on the campaign trail right now and it's common for people to be absent when they're out on the stump. Kind of like George W. Bush was absent when he was campaigning in 2000 and wasn't in Texas very often, even though he was the Governor.)This was by far the most combative debate of the two so far. Each candidate took shots at each other, with some appearing to be rather sophomoric.

I thought it was interesting that Dick Cheney (again) mentioned John Kerry more than he mentioned George Bush. It was reminiscent of his convention speech where he spent almost the entire night talking less about his boss (who are we kidding) and more about his boss' opponent. It was almost as if he's saying, "Sure we've messed things up, but if you vote for John Kerry, he's going to make it worse. So vote for us because it's not as bad as it could be." There's a campaign slogan for you, "Vote for us because we'll screw up less!"

For John Edwards, I think the goal was to hold his own. In my opinion he did just that. His opponent's experience was definitely working against him, but I felt that Edwards did a good job of exposing the Bush/Cheney record as the empty file it is. One of Edwards' better lines of the night was "I don't think we can stand four more years of this administration" (paraphrasing).

Now, to say that this was a clear win for Edwards would be stretching it a bit. Dick Cheney was ready to fight from the first question. He was prepared, confident, and armed with details. Unfortunately, they weren't details about how the Bush administration's policies are actually working. The B/C slogan is exactly what John Edwards said tonight: More of the Same. They don't see where they've gone wrong. Even when confronted with details and numbers to the contrary, they claim victory. It's hard to argue with someone when they refuse to acknowledge the facts at hand. Kind of like a kid holding his breath and kicking his feet.

The most striking thing I heard tonight was the fact that Cheney denied ever trying to link Saddam and 9/11. Not only has he tried to link the two in the past, he's tried to imply a link between the two just in the past month. This is a complete lie on the part of Cheney. In a recent Gallup Poll, 62% of Republicans polled believe that Saddam was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks. Gee, I wonder where they got that idea. Cheney lied and it's going to be pretty easy to prove it. Just run the clips from Meet the Press, Face the Nation, etc.

I guess I would have to call the debate this way: In terms of truth and facts, Edwards stuck it to Cheney on a number of occasions. He repeatedly leveled claims against the Bush administration that Cheney was unable or unwilling to refute. In terms of appearance, Cheney appeared to be more in control. Edwards, at times, appeared to be unable to control his answers and stay within the time frame or the context of the question. Your view of who won depends on what you value most, truth or the appearance of strength. I will choose truth every time.

In my opinion, John Edwards won on substance.

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