Wednesday, October 13, 2004

2004 Presidential Debates - Round 3

So the countdown has begun... some time ago, I'm sure.

- NPR Coverage

- What Poll and Registration Numbers Don't Reveal (WaPo)
A longish, but good piece about how it's hard to quantify how the new registrants will vote in key states.

- Election Scorecard (Slate)
Bush winning 270 (169 solid, 101 close) to Kerry's 268 (167 solid, 101 close)
Analysis Oct. 13: Could it get any closer? Wisconsin shifts to Kerry;Iowa shifts to Bush. Kerry continues to hold Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Bottom line: Kerry wins if 1) he takes New Hampshire (tied in the latest poll, Bush led in the previous one) or 2) Colorado passes the ballot measure to split its EVs by percentage of the statewide vote. Maine splits only two of its four EVs by congressional district, so if Bush loses there, he can salvage one EV at best, putting him at 271. That means that Kerry, with just a third of the statewide vote in Colorado, would take back 3 EVs and the presidency--but only if the ballot measure holds up in court. Summary: If current polls hold, it's Florida all over again.
I'm not impartial by any means of course, but I'm really digging the math game.

- How To Watch Tonight's Debate (Slate)
You're feeling guilty. Tonight's the last presidential debate, and it's all about domestic policy, and you still haven't mastered the details of John Kerry's health care plan or President Bush's Social Security privatization plan. Well, I have a little secret for you. It doesn't matter!

- Millionaires for Bush, Billionaires for Kerry (Slate)
On Wall Street, veterans speak of "f***-you money": the nice round figure a guy needs to set himself up for life, buy (and decorate) multiple residences, create trust funds for kids, and still have enough cash to buy expensive toys and pursue new business ventures. At a certain point—somewhere north of $10 million—wealth may become "f*** you and f*** you, Republicans" money. This is the kind of cash that George Soros, Warren Buffett, Peter Lewis, and the 200 business leaders who endorsed Kerry possess. People with such sums don't need to worry about how income or capital gains taxes affect their daily lives. Raise 'em, lower 'em, who cares? They're still going to be disgustingly rich. And so they are free to devote their attention—and resources—to other areas: the environment, education, foreign policy, the Supreme Court, social issues, stem-cell research, the war on drugs, whatever. And it seems that for many of the truly wealthy, focusing on those other issues leads them to favor Kerry over Bush.

- We've Got Hard Questions - Let's pretend that we can get some real answers, especially from Bush (the Village Voice)

- - A relative oldie, but a goodie: Why Did James Baker Turn Bush Into Nixon (NY Times)
It was Mr. Baker's job to negotiate the 32-page debate agreement with Vernon Jordan, representing the Kerry camp, and by all accounts, the Bush campaign got almost everything it wanted. Yet as we now know, every Bush stipulation backfired, from the identically sized podiums that made the 5-foot-11 president look as if he needed a booster stool, to the flashing "Time's up!" lights that emphasized Mr. Kerry's uncharacteristic brevity and Mr. Bush's need to run out the clock by repeating stock phrases ad infinitum and ad absurdum.

The most revealing Baker error, though, was to insist that the first debate be about the president's purported strong suit, foreign affairs, instead of domestic policy. Did no one anticipate the likelihood that Iraq might once again explode that day, as it has on so many recent others? Insurgent attacks have gone from a daily average of 6 in May 2003 to as high as 87 in August. And so, as Adam Nagourney of The Times reported, "In the hours leading up to the debate, television images of aides to Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry were mixed with images of corpses and bloody children from Baghdad," on a day when some 35 Iraqi children were slaughtered by car bombs. With this montage grinding away in the media mix, Mr. Kerry probably could have gotten away with even more inconsistent positions about the war than he did that night.

Mr. Baker isn't responsible for the other split-screen visuals that undid Mr. Bush on Sept. 30: the reaction shots during the debate itself. They were forbidden by the 32-page agreement. But earlier that week, the networks, including Fox News, publicly announced they would violate that rule. The Bush campaign has since said that the president knew this was coming, but if so, that makes his lack of self-discipline seem all the more self-destructive, or perhaps out of touch. He couldn't have provided a better out-take promo for the DVD release of "Fahrenheit 9/11" had Michael Moore been directing it himself.

- Strikeout - Kerry blows the second debate (Slate)

- Me on Round 1 and the Undercard.

- Finally, no time to edit the drinking game, but you can still play it. Just ignore the foreign policy stuff.

<< Home