Strange Brouhaha

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Debate Thoughts

Didn't Bush sound like a whiny little bitch, you should pardon the expression? One thing I noticed listening to the debate (and I did listen, to a feed off the Internet--I didn't watch it) is that Bush spent an awful lot of time talking about Kerry, and how what Kerry wants is wrong. It seemed to me like Kerry made at least a few concrete statements about what exactly he would do as President, while all Bush could do was say "That's wrong, that's wrong."

How did it come across on TV? On the radio stream, it sounded like Bush was doing a lot of strident yelling and trying simultaneously to mush-mouth his way through some kind of faux-folksy thing, while Kerry's voice was modulated and reasonable.

I really, really, really wish that they had answered the questions. Both of them. I'm tired of politicians getting questions--and I will grant you, some of these were not that great, not that I would have done any better--and then talking about whatever they want, whether it has anything at all to do with the question. I really liked the final question, which was put to the President, and which was something like "Name three decisions you've made which you think were incorrect." What a great question. What a great opportunity it would have been for either candidate to show some humility. Instead, Bush told the lady that she was really asking him if he thought Iraq was a mistake. Come on. Just answer the question. (I forget what Kerry said in his response.)

People who watched it on TV--did anyone laugh at any of Bush's lame attempts at humor?

Favorite funny moment of the whole debate: Bush saying "I'm a steward of the environment." I half-expected the entire audience to burst out laughing, even the Republicans. Did he say it with a straight face? Granted, I don't really give a damn about it either way, but even I know that that statement was a bald-faced lie.


  • (Dan): No one laughed. The best thing, visually, was that there was a woman sitting in the top corner of the risers, directly over Bush's shoulder during 90% of his screen time and often the only audience face shown, who was clearly disgusted with everything he said (if not the entire debate, but we never saw her behind Kerry).

    I think Kerry was eloquent, but missed too many opportunities to end it all. A clear debate victory would have made the third debate irrelevant and decided the election - even if it didn't put Kerry ahead in electoral votes, it would have ensured him whatever "undecided" votes he'd ever get.

    The final question is a great example - Bush had no answer. He couldn't name a single mistake in four years (the way the questioner put it was so pointed - "In all of the fours years, with the thousands of decisions you made..."). Why didn't Kerry just respond with, "Isn't that all you need to know? Do you want a President who is incapable of learning from mistakes, who is so arrogant that he can't even name one?" Slam-dunk. But instead, Kerry took Bush's bait and allowed the debate to end on the subject that Bush chose and repeated lines that have become tired even to those of us who have watched and listened to nothing else in the campaign except these debates.

    If Kerry loses in November, you need look no further than this missed opportunity he had to change that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:16 AM  

  • (Josh) Watched the first half hour and then switched to my tape of "Lost." Largely because (a) I already know who I'm voting for, and (b) I got tired, as you pointed out, of dudes not answering the questions. Did tune back in at the end for the judge question and the abortion question. Hilarious that W talked about strict construction (as if there were such a thing), but then conveniently ignores the "strict constructionist"/States' rights judges on the Supreme Court who did a nice 180 to end Florida's recount. No surprise, of course, that almost any politician's position on a principle shifts with whose ox is being gored. See also: Republican pundits who were arguing in the fall of 2000 that W should be president if he won the popular vote but lost the electoral college.

    The one thing Kerry really needs to do, or at least that I haven't heard from him, is hammer on this issue of him voting against the 87 bajillion for the troops. It seems like there's an easy answer to this question but he hasn't hit it on the head. Just do it, man.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:00 AM  

  • (Savannah) Josh, I like your "ox" point. Josh and Dan, it's interesting that you both bemoan a lack of ultimate Kerry decisiveness. This would have been what Howard Dean would have provided. He would have gone right for the jugular. *But,* you can bet that if he had, then everyone would be nervous that he looked like a bully or like he was "angry."

    In a way, Kerry is in an impossible position. You can't forget that there's a double standard in our culture. Clinton "lied," remember--that word was used freely--while Bush "made a mistake" or at worse "misled." Clinton was publicly called upon to resign by, I believe, a congressman, who actually stood up, pointed at him, and made that demand. No one in Congress or the Senate has done that to Bush. Clinton was actually impeached; nobody has even brought a motion forward to do that against Bush. Clinton got a blow job, and Bush launched an aggressive pre-emptive war on false pretenses. It would be a joke if it weren't so serious! One side, in other words, gets away with waaaaaay more than the other one. It's almost like Republicans are typed "white" and Democrats are typed "black." Republicans are innocent until proven guilty, the standard of proof apparently being that they have to murder a baby on camera, while Democrats are guilty whatever they do. Kerry was probably afraid to clean up on Bush, afraid that, because he is a Democrat, he would be called exactly what Bush is: a dominating bully. And afraid that, given something to latch onto, the media would immediately Howard Dean him. Which, considering what did in fact happen to Howard Dean, is a very real fear.

    We can't blame Kerry for holding back. He had no choice.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:08 AM  

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