Thursday, October 14, 2004

Presidential Debate #3

Click on the post title for a highly-paid professional's view of the third debate. This review certainly seems to focus on style more than substance--which angers me cause that's what I am here to do.

For my "special" views, then read on.

Can I say that I am weary of the debates now? Can I say that I grow tired of these two men throwing around phrases that we have heard twice before? Can I say that I only remember one instance where something that was called out as factually incorrect during the second debate was therefore adjusted correctly in this debate? Can I say that these debates change NO ONE's mind? Can I apologize for not having this post up on the day after the debate?

Sorry about that, but sometimes other things push blogging out of the way.

DISCLAIMER: While taking notes for this and other debates, I didn't always stare at the TV noting facial expressions, body language, mysterious bulges, smirks, head shakes, or whatever. Unfortunately, that is the substance that typically determines who the "winner" is. I was usually trying to write down the first thing that entered my head after hearing a comment or statement. I didn't usually try to write down what the candidate said, but what I am thinking about what he said. So--as usual--this is more about ME than it is about who will be president. (This may have been self-evident all along, but I am trying to fill space here.)

The Setup: format same as first debate. Yuck. Domestic issues. Our moderator is Bob Shieffer of CBS News. Presumably Rather is undergoing shock therapy right now, so he is unavailable. The place? Arizona State University--home of scramblin Jake Plummer, the Sun Devils, and John McCain. Here we go . . .

9:03 Candidates enter. Kerry doesn't frisk W searching for wires. There is a shot from behind the men looking out at the audience? A visual shout-out to the conspiracy theorists?

9:04 First question to Kerry: "Will our children live in a world as safe as the one [they] grew up in?" Is this a domestic question or a back-door Iraq question? Hmm. Kerry is again taking the opportunity to discuss the mess in Iraq while again referencing the 95% of cargo containers that are uninspected (which NPR statistically explained and basically debunked Thursday morning). How do the candidates continue to say the same thing over and over and over again without going insane? Of course, if no one listens . . .

9:06 Bush says that three-fourths of al-Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice. Good job W! ABC pointed out that last week he mistakenly said that three-fourths of al-Qaeda had been caught--which was incorrect. The statistics properly referenced leadership members only, which he corrected tonight. He CAN learn. Of course, he didn't say that new leaders are constantly being recruited, but that is something else.
What's up with Bush's exaggerated pronunciation of EXAGGERATION?
Tegan is officially ready to kill someone for the continual repetition of phrases, day after day.

9:08 Flu shortage question. Watch it W! Don't blame British vaccine manufacturers or they will pull out of the Iraq coalition. Kerry should jump all over that and say the W doesn't honor the efforts of British scientists, etc. And isn't it funny that Bush wants to work with Canada to get flu vaccines, but he won't allow Canadian Prozac? Kerry should have hit on that as well. But he didn't.

[Here I had to step aside and get Ariel to quiet down and go to sleep. Tegan pinch-hit in my absence.]

9:10 Kerry says that health care is getting worse under President Bush. He is using the same phrases and arguments as the last time. He mentions a bunch of states and many statistics.

9:13 The "no new taxes" pledge that Kerry made during the second debate is brought up. How can a president keep that promise and get rid of a huge deficit? Kerry blitzes along in a very detailed, statistical answer and I give up trying to write it down and watch W stand there blinking, trying to absorb all the accusations and statistics. How to keep up, verify, etc?

9:16 W's answers usually follow this pattern: 1) a sound byte belittlement of Kerry's statement, 2) several short, declarative sentences, and 3) reminding America that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy live in Taxachusetts, I mean Massachusetts . . . and they are liberals!!
Another funny throw away line from Bush here is his reference to "his Budget Man" that he sends to Congress. Is he kept in a small box and released to trudge up to Capitol Hill every fiscal year. Does this "Budget Man" (whomever he may be) feel very belittled right now?

9:19 Does W think that the phrase "trade adjustment assistance money" is going to make an unemployed Ohio voter push his lever in three weeks? How does this phrase, the substance of Bush's answer to how we should fix the deportation of jobs overseas, do anything to swing an angry, unemployed voter to his side?

9: 21 Bob Shieffer's first (and sadly only) time when he ignored the president's attempt to retort.

9:23 Kerry seems strong on attacking the loss jobs to overseas workers. Is he telling the truth? I don't know for sure, but it sounds direct and clear. Right now Bush seems to be reacting to Kerry more. To use a sports analogy, Kerry is making Bush play his game right now. But W comes back strong to Kerry's' "tax cuts for the rich" jab by trying to remind the soccer moms about that smallish check that you got for having kids.

9:25 Ted Kennedy is the devil!! John Kerry has a 20-year Senate record of worshiping Satan!
The question is now on gay marriage and whether homosexuality is a choice. Bush tries to talk about tolerance, but his political goals here don't seem tolerant at all. Kerry says that "We're all God's children" And then he ham-handedly bring up Cheney's daughter again. I didn't hear Edwards handle this during the Veep debate, but Kerry's maneuver here seems exactly like that --a maneuver--and it goes over (to me) like a lead balloon. Badly done.

9:40 Kerry says that W is mislead on his characterization of the health care plan. "I'm not forcing you to do anything," he says. "If you want to die, go ahead! Who's stopping you?"
Whoa! Watch it George! Don't piss off the networks by belittling them. Bush then calls Kerry's plan a "government health" program while Kerry secretly scratches his nose/gives W the "bird." Smoooooth!

9:44 Kerry hits W hard on the private saving plan to fix Social Security. Where will the $2 trillion dollars come from when all the young-Starbucks-drinkers pull their money out. Won't someone think of the grandfathers?! Kerry looks directly at the camera, "I will!"

9:48 Shieffer asks, if we don't adjust benefits (downward) or raise the retirement age (upward) then how can Social Security survive? Kerry accused the Bush tax cut of destroying the 1997 fix that Congress made that would have preserved the system until 2075 . . . and by then we'll either be living on the moon or eating the elderly, so no worries. (I might have made that last bit of Kerry's response up.)

9:57 Shieffer ask, does the minimum wage need to be increase? Kerry says "I'm glad you asked that Bob--you're payoff check is in the mail."
Bush sidesteps and instead talks about No Child Left Behind. Whaaaa? He says that the NCLB is really a job's program, when you think about it? Say what now? Maybe THAT's why it can't fix education.

10:00 The Supreme Court litmus question. Bush does not make a mysterious reference to Dred Scott. Another conspiracy theory blown? (see post on 2nd debate) However, are there more shots of the candidate's backs this time? AND another reference to Kerry as "a liberal senator from Massachusetts"--which is this week's "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time."

10:07 Bush says that "the people I talk to [as they are being deployed] don't see [reliance on national guard troops] as a back door draft." Do ya think they are gonna bitch to the president right in front of his face? Then Bush brings up the Global Test and says that Kerry will hand over decision making to fureigners."
Why doesn't Kerry hit back with "There you go again . . ." Gipper style? That would be THE MOMENT of the entire three weeks!

10:16-end of debate I quit listening and curse Bob Shieffer's name as he tosses out three absolutely useless softball questions to both men that mean absolutely nothing to anyone. Role of religion in political decisions/how to heal a partisan country/the glory of wives--not particularly relevant. The episode of Smallville I'm recording has more substance than this stuff and it is about cheerleaders spiking the football team's water with a love potion! Take THAT America.

Bush's close: Is the reference to the W. Texas sunrise painting an attempt to make people think of Reagan's "morning in America?" Hmmm.

Who won?
Who cares!?
Let's just vote and get it over with.

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