Saturday, October 09, 2004

Presidential Debate #2

Tonight!! (Imagine that I am writing this while the debate is going on, okay?) From St. Louis!! Washington University!! The 2nd Presidential Debate. A "town hall format" with 140 undeclared voters (according to the Gallup organization that chose the participants) from the area. They each wrote a question for each candidate and moderator Charlie Gibson has secretly chosen the questions to be asked from that pool of 280 questions. The citizens will deliver their questions to the candidates. Same time limits as in the first debate.

Let's get ready to rumblllllllllleeeeeeee!!

9:03 Candiates enter from either side. No stage music, dry ice, or anything. They shake and chat for a few seconds. What can they possibly say to each other right now? Maybe this:
W: I had a cheeseburger today . . . with Hunt's ketchup! Booyah!
K: Oh yeah? Well I didn't destroy America's credibility today . . . how 'bout you?

(Hey! Just kiddin' out there! I respect each man for something. What that something is will remain my special secret.)

9:04 First question for Kerry. "Why are you so wishy-washy?" His answer. I'm not. I'm consistent. And he proves it by consistently repeating what we all heard him say during last week's debate. Bravo. Plus he let's loose the first zinger, calling W a "weapon of mass deception." Some Kerry staffer wrote that, patted himself on the back, and was pleased for the rest of the day. Meanwhile voters want information and Afghans wonder "THIS is how you conduct an election?"

9:07 W seems a bit choppy here in the early going. Of course, his dad wasn't too great at this style of debate. You do get to hear candidates think on their feet a bit plus you get to see regular voters stumbling around trying to pronounce things on national TV.

9:10 W still has strange pauses before the simplest of words. This will stop later, but right now he doesn't seem comfortable. At this point Kerry is coming off much smoother and is talking to the people very calmly.

9:12 Is Charlie Gibson a moderator or a Bush lackey? Don't give Bush free reign to respond to everything? If responses are allowed the voters might get the hint of in-depth answers. Come on Charlie . . . keep the sound bites flowing? Bush brings up the "global test." Kerry strongly points out that the goal of sanctions was to remove WMDs , but NOT to remove Saddam Hussein. I give Kerry a point for that retort.

9:14 W shown drinking water while listening to Kerry. Wouldn't it be cool if W did a spit-take in response to some accusation made by Kerry? That would be hilarious.

9:16 YES! "Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" makes its first appearance of these debates. Followed by Bush reassuring us that "I know how these people [terrorists] think." Bush seems to be yelling his answers out into the audience. Won't that turn people off?

9:19 Bush deflects a question about how Americans are disliked overseas by saying "We have a great country. I love our values." Great, but how does that answer . . ? Oh wait, here it comes: "I'll stand on morals and values and everyone will see that I am right. . . . And we'll continue to reach out."

9:24 What would Kerry do to deal with Iran if its nuclear program continued to grow and UN actions failed to do anything good? Well, apparently he would spend several minutes blaming the Bush administration as he is currently doing. But then later he would get Europe to help . . . would they have to take Kerry's global test? With #2 pencils?
During Bush's rebuttal, he says "Of course I know the threat." Let me talk about NORTH KOREA!!!! (Dude . . . stop yelling at us!)

9:28 The angry yelling continues--"We're not going to have a draft!!"

9:30 Kerry spends about a minute and an half doing more name-dropping. Everyone loves him! (Except for half of the electorate.)

9:31 Come on Charlie! Stand up to Bush! And get him to calm down. But the people will just see him as resolute and firm--determined.

9:36 "Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" second time.

9:42 Medicare questions signals a shift into domestic issues now. Will Kerry take advantage at this point?

9:43 To Kerry, "How do you reconcile with the voters the fact that your running mate is a trial lawyer?" I expect Kerry to say: "Well look at him! He's so beautiful!" Kerry goes on to talk about how he has a PLAN for this and a PLAN for that. Would that we had more than 2 minutes and blinking lights to further explore this PLAN.

9:46 Twice tonight, Bush has tried a joke and both times they have fallen flatter than a pancake. Sorry W, but the audience is not "necessarily" filled with friendlies and they are allowed to react anyway. Bush has calmed down a bit also, but he still talks very deliberately, as if he is trying to explain his position to six-year-olds (which I guess you have to do in a minute and a half of time).

9:53 Finally Charlie stands up to these guys!

9:55 Oh my god. Kerry actually stands there, looks at the cameras and (essentially) says "Read my lips . . . no new taxes." Somewhere "41" is either grimacing or smiling.

9:57 Kerry brings up "fuzzy math." (!) Will Bush talk about the secret lockbox that Cheney carries with him?

10:02 Kerry gets onto Bush for using labels and how labels don't mean anything. THEN he calls the Bush administration "one of the worst [presidential administrations] in modern history." Lordy, lordy! Looks who's throwing around labels now? And then Kerry kiss away ANY chance of ever winning the redneck Southern vote by saying that he would be a president that believes in science.
Bush talks about the Kyoto Accords, saying that signing such a flawed document would be done if you "wanted to be popular with the Europeans." Kerry says that the Accords are flawed, but all the Bush administration does is say no and walk away. There is no effort to make it better.

10:07 Bush is handling himself with the domestic questions (supposedly his biggest weakness).

10:13 Stem cell question. Would Kerry use embryonic stem cells over umbilical cells? Kerry answers by referencing Nancy Reagan and Michael J. Fox, then name-drops Christopher Reeve. Great, you're friends with Superman . . . but what would you DO? Finally he says his administration would conduct "ethically-guided stem cell research."

[You know, it is refreshing to hear some discussion on issues other than Iraq for a change.]

10:18 Bush's first joke that works (about Supreme Court justices). Good job, George! Supreme Court jokes ALWAYS kill! But then he totally deflates the room by stumbling along and trying to explain how a perfect justice wouldn't be like someone who wrote the Dred Scott decision? Dred Scott? Is it just because you're in Missouri? That was just weird!

10:23 Regarding abortion, Kerry takes great pains to be respectful, discusses his Catholicism, and then says that "I can't take what is an article of faith for me [anti-abortions?] and legislate it." I find that to be a very truthful answer.

10:25 Bush begins his rebuttal by snorting "I don't know where to begin." Then he really hits home and builds his base by saying "I won't spend taxpayers money on abortions."

10:28 Can Bush identify three mistakes he has made while president? He doesn't really think of anything, refusing to say that he has made a significantly wrong choice. He does say he made some wrong appointments, but won't name names, as that would be embarrassing on national TV. (At first I thought this was a back-handed stab at Powell, but now I think that is probably not who he is talking about. . . . Or is it?)

And that's it!

Who won? Dare I venture an opinion? I would say they both handled themselves well and it was mostly a draw. Again, I doubt anyone is switching sides and those crazy undecideds are probably holding out for a cash bribe. I think Kerry missed his first opportunity to really nail Bush with domestic issues, which haven't been discussed very much at all leading up to this debate. However, the 3rd debate will be all domestic--but I don't really think we will hear anything different than what they said tonight. In fact, I expect more of the same phrases and the same statistical accusations. They simply can't change their story in the course of one week's time and even if they did change, the other side would accuse them of flip-flopping.

The last debate will be next Wednesday, I think. If so it will preempt Lost (boo!) but not Smallville (yea!).


Anonymous said...

i believe it was a draw IF ---
you aren't offended by Bush's behavior
(such as, forcing the moderator to give him 30 seconds EVERY time he wants, which is EVERY time he's questioned or disputed, how DARE they question him,...oh wait, this was a list, wasn't it; to continue: interrupting the moderator, not sitting his ass down when Kerry is speaking, yelling and otherwise acting rather angry, disputing the basis of more than one question [ie. to the questioner: "I hope you don't believe that. . . "], winking at people in the audience (hoping, praying, that his handlers have snuck in some friendlies...), trying to ridicule Kerry on the small business question by outright lying about . . . )
...and, well, did we mention the lying? not the normal, everyday lying; but the blatant, let's-be-sure-everyone-has-the-opposite-impression-of-what-actually-happened lying. or how'bout not answering the last question about 3 mistakes he's made. what, he made mistakes in appointments but, well, this mistake he's just gonna have to keep a secret, since, teehee, he doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. someone check his MyLittlePony diary! (pg 37, March 22, 2004 -- as soon as no one's lookin', i'm gonna tie up Richard Clark and drag him behind my trucks...) [and of course, as Josh Marshall says, that non-answer also indicated that he still blames EVERYONE ELSE for anything that has been ...bumpy.] [but mostly..]that answer was just another indication that he thinks NOTHING IS WRONG. Halliburton is getting paid, right? hey, they created 50 jobs in Iraq last week. those contractors are always creatin' jobs over there, since so many get killed. you wanted job creation, right?
but that's mostly behavioral, the testosteronic physical activity and the compulsive lying.
one might also call the debate a draw if one agreed that our forests are unhealthy because they haven't been harvested. but i suppose these are issues over which reasonable people and dead Iraqi civilians can disagree. well, reasonable people, anyway.

==Jack Thunder


Anonymous said...

I hope you are not considering voting for Nadar. Stop being so fucking balanced--another four years of Bush would be catastrophic. You should use your good words to tip the balance in that swing state of yours.