Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Undercard - thoughts on the Vice Presidential Debate

You know, the idea of calling winners and losers in debate is a bit silly, especially when you're as partial as I am. That said, Cheney looked far better. No, not to the extent Kerry pummeled Bush, but Cheney came out the winner of the debate.

I should be clear, Edwards came swinging and landed some punches. We were treated to the unintentional comedy of Cheney accusing JE of using off-shore subsidiaries to evade taxes. He went after Cheney's congressional records and Halliburton's association with Lybia and Iran. He pointed out some, if not the most damning, of Bush/Cheney inconsistencies and mistakes. And like Bush on Thursday night, Cheney found himself speechless at times and refused to rebut on several points Edwards made.

But the debate had a nasty streak that favors Cheney, and for that more than anything else, Cheney won the night. Cheney came in needing to rally the GOP base to counter the collective depression the Bush supporters felt following last Thursday night's debate.

It didn't matter that Bush/Cheney pulled funding from No Child Left Behind or that Cheney was splitting hairs when he questioned Edwards' "90% of casualties number." It doesn't even matter that the voting public will (hopefully) call him on the distortions. He took the debate to a dark place where Edwards wasn't completely comfortable.

I imagine the Republican base feels re-energized as I did following Thursday night's debate, and that's exactly what they needed.

On the other hand, Edwards made some key points that Kerry can build on in later debates. Edwards got some neat soundbites in - now, this is an area where Edwards is much better at than Kerry. He is much more adept at boiling concepts into short, simple terms. I suppose that reflects each man's background, Kerry the Senate veteran and Edwards the trial lawyer. Just to name one:
"[Bush] ran in 2000 as a uniter & not a divider. have you ever seen Congress or America more divided?"

It should be noted that, at least to me, Cheney was debating Edwards, while Edwards spoke to the audience. So Cheney won the debate, but Edwards didn't lose because he wasn't playing to win.

    A few things:
  • Cheney urged the audience to log on to at the start of the debate. Now, click on that lick. Hilarious. Of course, the site he wanted you to go to was

  • NBC's Truth Squad went all The Daily Show on us and headed their segment with Cheney's denial that he ever connected Saddam with 9/11, followed by his appearance on Meet The Press where he explicitly named Iraq as the origin of the 9/11 terrorists. Smirk.

  • No mention of "hard work" or "mixed messages".

  • God, I love the Cheney Scowl. I hate the man, but boy is he scary when he breaks out the sneer!

  • When the hell is Kerry going to nail that $87 billion softball that Bush/Cheney keeps lobbing up. Hopefully sometime soon.

  • Is there anything the Bush Administration isn't "making progress" on?

  • Did Cheney make a new euphemism for white people - "the majority population"?

  • JE, is it that hard to avoid mentioning Kerry's name? You are two distinct individuals! You have distinct personalities! You are not one person!

  • "A long resume does not equal good judgement." That could be thrown at both Cheney and Kerry, can't it?

  • Do Democrats have a grooming school for future presidential candidates where they teach hand gestures? Edwards was seriously channeling Clinton with the hand motions and the thumbs. Will Barack Obama be employing hand gestures 4-8 years from now?

  • On the other hand, Cheney could use a few lessons in body language. He covered the mic for extended periods while speaking, and fidgeting. I mentioned in my Thursday night post that Bush had some horrible body language. Do they not practice?

  • After watching Cheney at workm is anyone surprised that his daughter isn't too fond of dudes?

Okay, that's it for tonight. I may have more tomorrow. Bye bye.

EDIT - 10/6/04 1:40 AM
So I thought Edwards wouldn't sway any independents, but I may be wrong. According to a CBS poll of undecided voters, 41% thought Edwards did better, compared to just 28% for Cheney. I'm mildly surprised. Then again, I believe that Cheney's goal was to reinvogorate the base and stop the bleeding, not necessarily to win undecided voters. For him, it was more important to appeal to the right, while Edwards spoke to the undecideds.

EDIT - 10/6/04 2:04 AM
Couple of links from Slate, Fred Kaplan who chides Golden Boy for not calling out Cheney's distortions and Mickey Kaus who similarly points out mistakes and missed opportunities, but for both sides.

Okay, it's getting late. Good night for real.

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