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Some Thoughts About The Debate II
"Join me, and together we will rule the republic as father and son."
Two disclaimers. One: Despite two longish political posts in week, I assure you this isn't becoming a political blog. Well, maybe a little bit. But only for the next 60 30 days (my how time flies). After the election, regardless of who wins, I promise to go back to not caring, Honest Native American. Two: I realize I'm a little late to the vp-debate analysis party, but I didn't get back from DC until late last night and only now have had the opportunity to weigh in.

Overall I thought things were kind of boring, but I did like the ending, when Cheney cut off Edward's hand and then revealed himself to be his father.

Heh. Okay, just kidding. Here's my real thoughts:

  • I'd call it a tie. I know that "tie" is what people say about debates when they think their side lost, but, seriously, I thought the whole thing was a wash. The only time I ever predicted a winner during the course of the event was about halfway through, when I announced that Edwards was "cleaning up." But somehow, by the end, I decided that it was just sound and fury, signifying nothing. It was like matter and anti-matter: Mr. Positive and Mr. Negative collided in a flash that left nothing in its wake except a mysterious, 100-minute void in time.
  • Early in the proceedings, Edwards repeated, verbatim, a few lines Kerry had used in the first debate. I dunno if that was planned as an effort to drive home a few key points or if Edwards was nervous and could only cough out some recycled one-liners, but it was a poor opening gambit either way. Wasn't one of the major criticism of Bush's performance that he kept repeating the same thing over and over?
  • After the debate the commentators on MSNBC were remarking how surprising Cheney's performance was, because he didn't come across as a "go fuck yourself" barking ogre and instead seemed staid and respectable. Do these people have no short-term memory whatsoever? That's exactly how Cheney presented himself in the 2000 vice-presidential debate, to the point where many people (myself included) found themselves thinking that a Bush presidency wouldn't be that bad, what with such a reasonable, cautious second-in-command. Since then Cheney has unmasked himself as the nephew of Satan, sure, but why people thought he was going to present himself as anything except dignified is beyond me.
  • Edwards: "I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing." That might be the most wince-worthy thing I've ever heard in a debate. I don't know what's worse, Edward's implication that Cheney might not love his daughter, or that it takes such a Herculean effort to love gay offspring that parents who do deserve respect.
  • You got to admire the way that Cheney can repeat known falsehoods ("I've never suggested there's a connection between Saddam and 9/11") without a trace of visible shame. No, seriously: you've got to admire it, by law. It's written into the Patriot Act.
  • What's the point of having a "backup buzzer system" if you're not going to use it whenever Edwards breaks the "no mentioning your running mate's name" rule?
  • Edwards says that America is taking "90 percent of the coalition casualties." Cheney replied, "Classic example. He won't count the sacrifice and the contribution of Iraqi allies" and that, by saying "they shouldn't count, because you want to be able to say that the Americans are taking 90 percent of the sacrifice," Edwards is demeaning them. In response, Edwards blusters "I'm not demeaning!" Great comeback, there, tiger. And this guy was a trial lawyer? How about pointing out that you were talking about the coalition and Cheney isn't, so it's apples and oranges. How about saying "This administration is so desperate to disguise the true cost of the operation that they want to count the Iraqis as part of the coalition to invade Iraq. Now there's your classic example."
  • Laugh out Loud moment: Cheney talking about his disappointment over how divided America is, as if it was just some unlucky break. Yeah, I'll be sure to use that same tact in my next performance review with my boss: "One of my great disappointments with my job is how much time I spend surfing the Internet instead of doing actual work."
  • Vice-presidental debate transcripts here: part 1, part 2. Comments are open.

    Posted on October 07, 2004 to Politics


    you know why they had the vice prez debate sitting down?
    so you wouldn't see cheney's cloven feet.

    Posted by: Kalendra on October 7, 2004 5:09 PM

    Oh, C'mon. Edwards did better than that.

    Posted by: Max on October 7, 2004 5:19 PM

    Interesting tidbit I heard on NPR: At one point during the debate, Cheney tried to down-play Edwards' mention of the Cheney-Halliburton connection by referring the public to www.factcheck.com to see what the Annenberg Public Policy Center had to say about his involvement with Halliburton. Cheney claimed that Annenberg's Political Fact Check defended his actions as CEO of the company.

    Turns out, the actual URL is www.factcheck.ORG - www.factcheck.com is owned by some other person/organization who decided to redirect hits to the site to http://www.georgesoros.com/. George Soros is an very wealthy man whose website's front page has an open letter titled: "Why we must not re-elect President Bush"
    so, Cheney ended up referring people to an anti-Bush site.

    But Wait! It gets better! -- If you do actually go to the correct site - www.factcheck.org, you'll find that not only did Cheney get the URL wrong but he also, according to the site, "wrongly implied that FactCheck had defended his tenure as CEO of Halliburton Co."

    Gotta love it.

    Posted by: Narineh on October 7, 2004 5:44 PM

    My favorite Cheney lie was his pontificating about what a crappy senator Edwards was, because he never showed up at the senate when Cheney was presiding, and that the first time they ever met was there at the debate. At tompaine.com, William Rivers Pitt has a nice piece detailing Cheney's lies. The best part is the picture of Cheney and Edwards meeting at the 2001 National Prayer Breakfast. They sat next to each other. ABC showed CSPAN footage of the two of them chatting at the breakfast. Cheney got up and made some remarks and introduced Edwards to the crowd.

    I too was saddened that Gwen Ifill mentioned the buzzer but never used it. It would have been interesting if she hit it each time Cheney lied. Or if they went to a split-screen and showed Cheney and Edwards together from 2001 during the debate. That would have been fun.

    Posted by: clete on October 7, 2004 6:53 PM

    It was a draw. I was surprised that Cheney used the "voted against weapon systems blah, blah, blah" line in the debate as it opened himself up to having Edwards (rightfully) point out that Cheney himself told Congress that the systems needed to be scrapped.

    MSNBC wasn't watching the same debate as everyone else...they declared that Cheney "obliterated" Edwards. Suuure. I'm looking forward to tonight's debates.

    Some of you might find this site interesting: http://www.electoral-vote.com (changes daily)

    Also: "Salon.com reports that Bush had a radio receiver taped to his back during the first debate so he could receive messages via a tiny hearing-aid-like device in his ear. They back this up with a photo. I have no way of verifying the story, but the Commission on Presidential Debates has verified that one of the rules of engagement the Bush campaign insisted on was no camera shots of the candidates from behind (which one of the pool cameras did anyway). This story is either investigative journalism at its best or wishful thinking. If you are not a Salon.com subscriber, you have to sign up for a free day pass to read the full story." http://salon.com/news/feature/2004/10/08/bulge/index_np.html

    Posted by: misty on October 8, 2004 6:09 AM

    Do you mind if I use that last bit at my next performance review?

    Posted by: eli on October 8, 2004 6:12 AM

    One man's satan is another man's, um, whatever the opposite of satan would be. Cheney won the debate (what else did you expect me to say) but it won't matter much in the long run.

    Cheney fired up the base, which needed a little hug after Bush lost the first debate (you didn't expect me to say that did you). Edwards managed to fire up teenage girls with his good looks and promises of free health care, free college tuition and back stage passes to a Hillary Duff concert.

    Posted by: Duane on October 8, 2004 7:43 AM

    I was annoyed by the fact that Edwards didn't do a very good job of defending his personal records from Cheney's attacks. When Cheney attacked, for instance, his senatorial record, instead of calling the bluff, Edwards just attacked Cheney's record in return. I thought it made him look weak, as if Cheney's attacks were valid and he couldn't say anything to dispute them.

    Posted by: AERF on October 8, 2004 7:51 AM

    The only thing the debate between Chipmunk Boy and The Evil Dick did was possibly push me from a Anybody But Kerry Or Bush to Maybe For Kerry. Dr. Evil's smug, condescending Man of the Boardroom tone made this Corporate Cube Monkey want to write a blank check to the DNC.

    Posted by: Beerzie Boy on October 8, 2004 8:34 AM

    I think that if Edwards had done a better job of defending himself, he would have won the debate. I mean, you have a trump card whenever Cheney makes an accusation--Cheney lies, and everyone knows it. But Edwards was suprisingly unwilling to say something along the lines of, "Cheney's misleading us right now, just like he has for the past four years."

    Of course, if he had done that, Cheney might have killed and eaten the young senator. So you gotta be careful.

    Posted by: Matt on October 8, 2004 8:39 AM

    I was annoyed by the fact that Edwards didn't do a very good job of defending his personal records from Cheney's attacks.

    I felt the same way too, but I've begun to reconsider. Imagine, for example, that Edwards had said "Actually, we have met." That would have given Cheney the opportunity to say, "I meant we haven't met in the Senate, where you're supposed to have your day job," which of course is what he was trying to imply. Instead what happened was that what I consider -impartially- to have been the best zinger ("We've never met") becomes, in the aftermath, Cheney's fatal mistake: the post-debate stories ALL contain some mention of this obvious misstatement.

    Some blog or another (can't be bothered to look it up) suggested this was a trial lawyer tactic -- don't let the witness explain their lies. Personally, it looked to me that Edwards forgot they'd met also and in fact the only one who remembered at the time of the statement was Elizabeth Edwards in the audience who, I've read, told Cheney this the moment they shook hands onstage afterwards. (Cheney's response: "Oh yeah")

    So I'd say, accident or not, Edwards did the right thing: hit Cheney's record (which lord knows could bear some repeating -- the guy voted AGAINST banning metal-detector-fooling weapons in airports!) and let the press call him a liar.

    One final note: Don't go back to not caring after the election, Matt. It doesn't have to be about politics all the time, but I for one can use a good laugh about these things on a regular basis.

    Posted by: Dug Steen on October 8, 2004 8:45 AM

    As for the microphone in Bush's ear for the first debate, I remember a certain someone (me) saying that all along. My wife (who has her hearing aid license) Said he blinked too much and looked like someone who had their hearing aid turned on too loud. Makes me wonder how much of an idiot he would have looked like if he had to come up with a debate all by himself. I was so hoping for a bit of the "New English" he loves to make up on the spot.

    Posted by: boomratt on October 8, 2004 9:28 AM

    Actually, Cheney HAS always said that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. Classic strawman from the Dems side.

    I'm sure Edwards would also complain that the Nazis had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor, and D-Day was a "diversion from the real war."


    Posted by: The Lemon Guy on October 8, 2004 9:50 AM

    In the second contest of a planned four, Democrats hoped that John Edwards, with his trial-lawyer background, would put up a better performance than partner John Kerry's 2-point defeat last week. From the start though he was overmatched by Dick Cheney's practice, creativity, and dogged determination to obscure whatever facts he needed in order to take this match.
    Within seconds of the opening bell, Cheney had already notched two scores on overstatements of Iraq and Saddam Hussein's involvement with Al Qaeda. The second one was assisted rather nicely by former CIA director George Tenet's overblown congressional testimony on the subject. Edwards tied the contest at two, but there was some discussion between officials on both scores. The first was a verbatim repeat of John Kerry's twisting of Iraq casualty figures, and the second a carbon copy of Kerry's speculation about Osama Bin Laden's being at the battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan. In the end, both tallies were allowed to stand.
    Cheney answered back with three quick scores, the first an outright lie about whether he suggested a connection between 9/11 and Iraq and the second a mis-statement of Senator Kerry's "global test" remark from last week's debate. His next goal also required an official review, as it was a duplicate of Bush's debate-opening propaganda regarding Afghan voter registration. Both contestants stuck to that pattern throughout the bout, repeating not just last week's tall tales, but also repeating lies and fabrications from earlier points in last night's match. Like Edward's earlier scores, this one was allowed to count, and the score stood at 5-2.
    Edwards repeated the tired shot about Tora Bora and followed that with an inflation of the cost of the Iraq war. Again, they were lines the crowd had heard before, but were enough to bring the Democratic challenger within a point at 5-4. Cheney's aggressive response was an imaginative goal that involved exaggerating both casualties and financial aid from other countries in the Iraq conflict. He extended his lead by omitting details of Kerry and Edwards' votes on the Iraq war, not just once, but on two consecutive questions.
    With Cheney opening a 4-point lead for the Republicans, the match started to get ugly at the next faceoff. Edwards showed his first signs of inspiration when he falsely accused the Bush administration of attempting to cut combat pay for soldiers in Iraq. Cheney followed up by misrepresenting international participation in the current Iraq coalition, which left an opening for Edwards to work in a second embellishment of cost figures on the Iraq war. That led to a brief scuffle, which boiled down to "Oh, I'm not/You are indeed/no I'm not." Clearly well outside the rules of the contest, though the competitors separated before the referees needed to step in.
    Cheney finished out the first half with a pair of goals, one an unsupportable assertion about a close relationship between Abu Musab Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein and the other a half-truth involving his never meeting John Edwards on Capitol Hill. Between these tallies, Edward sandwiched a solid score, alluding falsely to a comparison between Halliburton and Enron. The first half was a high-scoring and chaotic affair that ended with the Republican side holding onto a 4-point lead at 11 to 7.
    The second half opened with several domestic policy falsehoods, and it looked as if Edwards might climb back into the match. He closed the gap first by amplifying job-loss figures for the past four years, and then again several minutes later with an promise about the federal deficit that he can't possibly hope to keep. However, any hopes for a Democratic comeback were squashed when Cheney scored successive goals with an overstatement of Kerry's tax-raising votes in the Senate and an exaggeration of the impact of tax increases on small business owners. All the wind went out of the Democrats sails after that. Edwards snuck in one more half-truth comparing the tax rates on investment dividends and on a typical soldier's income, but that was all he could muster. Both competitors coasted from there, and the match ended with a convincing Republican victory, 13-10.
    After the sometimes wild but mostly-disappointing match, Kerry expressed disappointment with his junior-partner's lackluster showing. "You'd think a lawyer would be ready to fight for those crucial points when it counts," he said as he rushed from the field. "I've got a lot of work do do now, we're down 5 points on aggregate and that's going to be tough to make up in the next two debates."
    For his part, Edwards was also very frustrated by the match. "I know Cheney's got years of experience, but I've got a freakin' law degree from UNC! You'd think I could compete with some Wyoming hillbilly!" It was clear throughout the match that he couldn't, however, as the younger Democrat was outplayed consistently. For every falsehood and shaky promise Edwards made, Cheney had an answering lie or insincerity.

    Posted by: Chad W on October 8, 2004 9:52 AM

    I wonder if there are enough soccer/football fans reading that know what "I've got a lot of work do do now, we're down 5 points on aggregate and that's going to be tough to make up in the next two debates." actually means without having to stop and think about it.

    Posted by: Caleb on October 8, 2004 11:00 AM

    One was all I need... I'm happy now.

    Posted by: Chad W. on October 8, 2004 11:06 AM

    Oh, and by the way... it's total BULLSH!T that the US quallie this weekend is only on PPV!

    Posted by: Chad W. on October 8, 2004 11:08 AM

    That's what good soccer pubs are for. Even the British and Irish pubs will get the US games if it brings in the drinkers. :)

    Posted by: Caleb on October 8, 2004 11:12 AM

    I think their was a different angle to Edwards' "You're great for loving your gay daughter" comment. Edwards, in the guise of praise, took the opportunity to underline that the Cheneys do indeed have a gay daughter and accept her lifestyle, on national television. It was the lowest blow of the night, and Cheney's gracious reply added a touch of dignity to his vulture-like persona.

    Posted by: Scott on October 8, 2004 12:28 PM

    Wow, sixty more days until the election?! We have more time to get out the vote than I'd feared.

    Posted by: Russell on October 8, 2004 2:46 PM

    The comebacks you had for Edwards were so great--I wish the campaign would hire you. I actually fell asleep I was so bored. I too was surprised that Cheney's head did not burst open and a vulture didn't come flying out or his laser eyes did not melt John Edwards nose.

    I wonder if you are biased towards Cheney though, as you once said your squirrely looks like him.

    Oh, don't apologize for politics. I've pretty much stopped blogging for now just so I don't go on and on and on and on and on about it--but I'm not entertaining as you. And please care. Someone CARE! It's so hard for funny people to admit they care because caring is just never funny. Funny sincerity. Doesn't exist. This means the most entertaining bloggers are not allowed to care. When I read my own I CARE SO MUCH entries even I wince with embarassment. But I do care so much and I'm too busy to think of ways to make that funny.

    But someone has got to care. Considering. The war, right? The melting ice caps, lack of civil liberties, etc.

    Posted by: Miel on October 8, 2004 11:51 PM

    Edward's comment about Cheney's daughter were on target. It was not a low blow. It is reality.Cheney's opinion on gays and gay marriage is a matter of public record. The saddest part of Kerry and Edwards is that I think, for the most part, their intelligent comments and insights are missed by the 'average' American. It scares me that Bush gets a laugh from the crowd. Does the average American RELATE to Bush? And if so, then you deserve what you elect into office. ( Excuse me while I go watch the value of the dollar drop, the price of oil skyrocket, the employment rate soar, and the environment turn to crap.)

    Posted by: C. on October 9, 2004 8:20 PM

    What impressed me most about Cheney was that he lies so cooly, without breaking a sweat. When compared to Bush you realize that they finally got this right: Pick the guy who believes what he says as your front man. Someone dumb enough to be sincere as he commits atrocious deeds. (This is why W gets so angry.) Then, pick a skillful and strategic liar as the point man, the man who figures out what sincerity-guy is going to say. The last thing you want is a liar in office and a bunch of lackeys who break down under stress.

    But what do I know, I'm only a baby.

    Posted by: Super Turtle Girl on October 10, 2004 2:37 PM

    Edwards let some wind fall plums rot in the dirt. He is too smart for that. Or is he? Kerry has done the same. Come on Dems, strap on the balls. Don't pull another Gore-like retreat from the fight.

    I ustabe a Dem, now leaning to Lib.

    Posted by: Mike on October 11, 2004 10:54 AM