Wednesday morning quarterback

Man, there are very few things as disappointing as a slugfest (Dan Rather’s term) that results in a 15 round draw with no KO’s.  For anyone with downtime, you can read my slightly amusing play-by-play notes from last night’s debate.

21:04

The JE/DC debate just started.  The first question, regarding Bremer’s statement today that we never had enough ground support in Iraq and Rumsfeld’s claim that Al-Qaida and Iraq have never been linked, has been directed to DC.  DC started by blowing 15 seconds thanking the debate’s hosts, then rambled about how rosy everything is.  JE blew 10 seconds thanking everyone and rebutted by saying DC still isn’t being straight.  Now JE is claiming a lot of the stuff Kerry said last week, but he’s pointing to specifics about all of the people who are contradicting DC’s claim and we need a new start.  DC’s claim: everything’s on track.  JE rebut: there is no connection between Sept. 11 and Iraq – Powell has said so and so has the 9/11 commission.

JE just pointed out another Kerry point – that Afghanistan, which was the right direction, was thwarted when Bush allocated the job of hunting down bin Laden to the local warlords who weeks before were fighting with bin Laden.

DC’s going after Kerry’s past voting record; if that record is true, I’m having a hard time seeing why it’s a bad thing.  Prior to that, he just claimed that JE is wrong in suggesting that DC thinks there’s a connection between 9/11 and Iraq.  This isn’t backtracking – just blatant, blind denial.  This is why the debaters should have access to televisions with DVD remotes, because I’d love nothing more for JE to say, “Oh, really?” and then show a 4-hour montage of DC in different places over 3 years saying Iraq is related to 9/11.

NBC’s running the split screen.  JE was smiling while DC was backing up his claim on the wonderful dandyland that is Afghanistan.

JE is defending Kerry’s “Global Test”, which the Republicans have been running up the idiot’s flagpole and misconstruing as some bullshit that doesn’t even make sense when it comes out of their mouths, much less if it really came out of Kerry’s.  JE just cited that Afghanistan, insecure and run by warlords, currently exports 75% of the world’s opium.

The Global Test question is rising again.  This could be a turning point for the election.  JE just said that Kerry said we will never give another country a veto on our powers, nailing the Global Test as synonymous with Global Veto.  Not exactly a turning point, but it’s deflating the retarded spin the neocons are putting on it.

21:20
JE just compared Gulf War I vs. II as $5billion vs. $200 billion.  JE claimed 90% of the cost of Iraq on U.S. shoulders.  DC’s response: your facts are dead wrong.  DC spoke about the cost voted in Congress, and then said, “You weren’t probably there to vote for that.”

DC doesn’t believe Kerry has the qualities to be a commander-in-chief based on his record.  Evidently, the record needed is a running an oil company into the ground and owning a major league baseball team.  And Osama bin Laden is… where?

DC is playing it smart by playing Kerry’s voting record as someone who doesn’t have the likeliness to vote for standing strong and progress.  Now he’s claiming Kerry changed his vote based on Dean’s lead during the primaries.  JE’s response: a long resume does not equal good judgment.  Good nail: Kerry voted down the same weapons systems that DC voted down when he was Secretary of Defense.  JE just brought up no-bid contracts and Halliburton (didn’t attach DC to Halliburton.)  DC’s response – the record speaks for itself.  Now he’s just repeating shit he already said.  Kerry doesn’t have the track record.  Now JE is repeating himself, defending Kerry’s consistent record, Hussein had no WMD or connection with Al-Qaida.

Something weird just happened to the sound.  JE is now in a kung fu movie. 

JE said there are more people needed for an election in Cleveland than are currently in place by the U.N. for all of elections of Iraq.  Nice.

21:30
DC: “It’s hard to know where to start; there are so many inaccuracies there.”

DC’s doing a nice job of striking little personal slights at JE.  JE’s doing a nice job of brushing them off.

DC’s saying that JE is demeaning the Iraqi sacrifice.  He’s misconstruing JE’s response to something else, and JE didn’t have a chance to response.  DC’s getting cheap shots in, jab by jab.

Wait – JE is averting a question to… respond to the last accusation?  To… repeat shit he’s already said.

I need a cigarette and another Bass.

Gwen just got to DC when he was CEO at Halliburton, when he said that alliances should lift sanctions against Iran.  Now he didn’t say that, exactly – just unilateral sanctions, because they don’t work anyway.  I think I just heard a very large truck backing up. 

JE just nailed the loophole that allows US companies to operate offshore subsidiaries to move around sanctions.  Now, he’s going after Halliburton during DC’s reign.
DC: I can respond, but it’s going to take more than 30 seconds.
Gwen: well, that’s all you got.
DC: paraphrase – this is a smokescreen to detract and all of the allegations against Halliburton aren’t true anyway.
JE: paraphrase – Halliburton is under investigation, rule is that they shouldn’t be receiving their contracted money (no one else would during an investigation), yet they’re still getting all their money.

DC’s babbling about that we need to create more jobs.  JE does not shoot off the campaign shot that Bush promised 6 million more jobs, and we’re 7 million short.  I’m surprised.

21:45
DC somehow got off the subject and nailed an uppercut to JE’s lack of attendance in Congress.  JE got a counter uppercut by nailing DC’s record in Congress, which included votes against Headstart, Meals on Wheels, a holiday for MLK, and a resolution calling for Nelson Mandela being freed from jail.

JE just got a personal jab and confirmed that the question was about jobs and poverty and not about education, which is what DC talked about.  JE shot off a list of numbers about the Admin’s failing job record and got off some hard Kerry/JE plan points.

JE: “Mr. Vice-President, I don’t think this country can take four more years of this kind of ‘experience’.”

JE: roll back tax cuts – he almost said raise taxes – for people who make over $200K/year.  Make tax relief for the people who need it and cut back bureaucratic spending, and close corporate loopholes.

Here comes Gay marriage, DC’s personal relations, and the Admin’s decision against the government’s sanction.  According to DC, people should have freedom, but the Federal government should not sanction freedom: it should be a state issue.

JE has a bad habit of pointing to his right with both thumbs at an angle.  It looks like shit.  JE also has a bad habit of picking up the last ball on the next question.

JE’s really skirting the gay marriage thing – not a good idea.  What he has done well is that Bush’s call for a federal Constitutional amendment is unnecessary because states aren’t required to recognize other state’s marriages, so it’s just a political tool.  He didn’t answer poorly, but he really skirted the issue.  When asked for a rebuttal, DC said he thanked JE for his comments regarding his family.  That’s it.  He refused to rebut JE.  Really weird.

Went outside and heard something on the radio about tort reform and tax loopholes.  Got lost in verbage.  Neither side really gained a point.  Now they’re talking about AIDS.  DC and JE said it’s a terrible disease.  JE brought up the Admin meeting low on their promise for AIDS research, and got in a side shot on the moral implications of not just AIDS in Africa, but genocide.  Now JE’s nailing the lack of medical coverage in the country.

Gwen just asked what makes JE qualified since he’s the least qualified of the past 10 VP candidates.  JE: “we’ll tell the truth”.  A long resume does not equal good judgment.  Talked about strengthening military with equipment, men, and training, hunting down terrorists, and nuclear proliferation.

JE’s losing a point: he can’t talk about himself, only Kerry.  DC can say good things about himself.

22:29
They’re on to their last question.  I don’t know.  Unfortunately, I’m seeing a draw.  Hopefully post-debate commentary will shed some light on something I haven’t seen.

I don’t even know what DC was talking about. 
JE’s response: Bush said he was a uniter.  “Have you ever seen a country more divided?”  Nice shot. 
Now JE’s turning it back to his health care plan, smart, because the 1st presidential debate was internationally focused, and the national issues debate is coming up next.  He nailed the Admin on what they’ve blocked. 
DC – big pause, “it’s hard to know where to start.”  DC claims that the Admin’s Medicare bill is the farthest reaching in 40 years. 
JE pointed the Admin to choosing between the people and the drug/insurance companies.

JE’s closing speech.  Here it comes.  This is supposed to be good.  He’s playing the low income roots card.  Now the light is “fading – Bush and DC don’t see it, and Kerry, JE and the people do.”  He’s pushing a strong middle class.  Not a bad speech.

DC’s closing speech.  He cited a bunch of promises, that just sound like bullshit campaign regurgitations.  Bad.  He cited his work for four presidents.  Good.  He’s playing the terrorist card.  The only viable option is the one the president’s chosen.  I think he insinuated prevention against deadly weapons.  Uh-huh.  He’s “confident we can do it.”  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Iran and North Korea!

Post-debate commentary (flipping channels)
JE good points (according to PBS): he never looked Quayle-like, he never looked unfit, he never was unprepared to counter shots against his attendance and voting record, and there were moments when (if people were permitted) he would have received cheered for his one-liners.  I missed the PBS DC points (if there were any).

Another good point, every time DC tried to make the issue about terrorism, JE said the terrorism is not about Iraq.  DC kept going back to his record, and JE said that everyone knows the war is not as rosy as DC is saying.

JE came out very strong, DC started very slow, but rebounded like a slow battleship, (or as Brokaw said, like George Foreman: older, slower with a wicket right hand.)

A former Clinton staff member just nailed it, sort of.  DC said more of the same is better, JE said a change is needed.  The people’s decision is which is needed.

1960 debate – Nixon said we faced the worst, most ruthless threats the world has ever known, and the country needs experience to handle it.  Sound familiar? 

Overall, I call it a draw.  On one hand, Edwards proved that he can stand toe to toe with an old school vetter.  On the down side, that ain’t enough.  I suppose the greater risk was him losing points for Kerry, and I think (or at least hope) that more Kerry voters feel better now with Edwards.  I don’t feel any worse that he’s on the ticket.  That’s nice.  The Republicans weren’t going anywhere on their votes, so the debate was even more pointless for them. 

I don’t know.  Maybe I was secretly hoping that Cheney would start foaming at the mouth or his head would explode.  I can see why the Republicans like him.  I like his political savvy better than Bush’s.  At least he doesn’t seem like a stuttering retard.  On the other hand, Bush can claim his idiocy (and what could now be presenile dementia) in defense of his actions.  Cheney knows exactly what he’s doing, which makes him a sucker of Satan’s purple-veined cock, to paraphrase Bill Hicks.

So, call this one even.  One thing I’m not doing is getting hopeful for any more debates.  I understand that this “town hall” thing is allegedly Bush’s weakest debate style.  (I also think this “town hall” thing is not a debate but really two disjointed stump speeches disguised in classic American campaign bullshit, but that’s for another column.)  Still, I think Kerry is going to play a safe offense and a strong defense.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m still going to be glued to the set, but I’m not hoping for anything more than a tie. Kerry isn’t allowed to go for the jugular. He’s a Democrat.

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