The Airing of Grievances
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Toe 2 Toe - Cozmo's Debate Ramblings

In General, I Think...
I Think...last night's debate was a scorcher, and a real toe to toe fight for the majority of the 95 minutes that they debated. Edwards came out throwing bombs in the first three questions, but Cheney held his own in Iraq, and I think successfully turned the attention to the Kerry/Edwards records on defense. When the debate shifted focus to domestic policy, Edwards regained the offensive and really stuck it to Cheney on jobs and medical costs, while Cheney tried to talk about No Child Left Behind at every turn.

I Think... That Cheney took some of the sting out of Kerry's foreign policy creaming of the President by appearing strong and in control of the facts on the ground in Iraq. This time is was Edwards who was reduced to throwing out sound-bite ready quotes rather than Bush.

I Think... I liked that Cheney didn't feel the need to fill every free second with his voice. If he felt that he had made a winning argument on a point, he moved on and would not belabor it. Strong tactic. Made him seem sharp and to the point.

I Think... that my favorite Edwards tactic was the constant intoning of Colin Powell's name. Cheney and Rumsfeld have treated Powell like the Gimp for the past two years. It must have killed Cheney to hear his opponent tout his nemisis in the administration as a voice of reason.

I Think... that Edwards was really well prepped for this debate, I loved how he brought up Cheney's voting record in the House. Strong move.

I Think... that Edwards came out of this debate with more respect from most voters than when he started.

I Think... That Edwards' daughter is kinda hot (The older one, you pervs).

I Think... that both candidates used the debate format and weak moderating to return to their stump speeches. For example, when asked about poverty in Cleveland, Cheney started talking about No Child Left Behind. Edwards used the last question to talk about medical costs again instead of addressing Iffil's question.

I Think... that both candidates had very strong closing statements.

I Think... if I hear "Flip Flop" one more time in this campaign, I am gonna kick in my TV set.

Missed Opportunities: There were many, on both sides. One that jumped out at me was Iffil's terribly worded question on the "Global Test" statement that Kerry made. Edwards talked about how. But that wasn't Kerry's point. His point was using the world "global" like "Universal", meaning passing all the tests necessary for putting troops in harm's way. Edwards had the opporunity to hammer that home and totally wiffed on it.

Another that jumped out at me Cheney had the opportunity to talk about how the tax cut has helped small businesses, but he chose to attack Edwards on using a Subchapter S - Corp. tax clearance - which opened the door for Edwards to attach Cheney on Halliburton's international business record. Silly move.

Strongest Move of the Night: Goes to Cheney for his handling of an Edwards lowest blow, brining Cheney's lesbian daughter and Cheney's support for her into the debate. You could see Cheney visibly shaken by Edwards' gall to go there, yet when given the opportunity to respond, he simply took the gentlemanly high road, saying "I want to thank Senator Edwards for his kind comments about my family, and that is all I am going to say about that." Smooth move, and the right one.

Weakest Move of the Night: Again belonged to Cheney, when he said to go to "Factcheck.com [sic]". Of course, he meant factcheck.org, but they ruined his biggest "gotcha!" of the night, the one where he said he had never met Senator Edwards before. That is a total lie, as evidenced on the factcheck website this morning. A classic turning of the tables.

Cozmo Screaming at the TV Moment: When Cheney attempted to claim that his administration represented the old Republican mantra of lower taxes lower spending when he said "There’s a fundamental philosophical difference here between the president and myself, who believe that we ought to let the American people keep more of what they earn, and we ought to empower them to have more control over their own lives." My head almost exploded. This administration has sold traditional fiscal conservative guidelines up the river for a forced tax cut and bigger spending increases than any president in history. Jesus this makes me angry.

The Final Verdict: If I am scoring this debate like a heavyweight boxing match, I'd day its a split decision, but I would have to give the edge to Cheney on style points. Although Edwards got more jabs in, Cheney in now way seemed like he was out of control of this debate at any time. He seemed more in control of the facts and he seemed like a rational guy, which is what he wanted from this debate. On the downside, he seems more than ever the marionette behind The Boy King, and the President behind the President. That could spell trouble for TBK on Friday.

Then again, Edwards' goal was primarily to prove to the country that he could hold his own with a grizzled political veteran (I just shuddered when I wrote that Cheney is a veteran) like Cheney. I think he did just fine in that respect. There were no Dan Quayle vs Lloyd Bentsen style gaffes, but then again, he didn't make Cheney seem like the warmongering sociopath that Edwards wanted to portray him as, so there were no Kennedy/Nixon in 1960 moments either.

One Final Note - The News Hour's Gail Iffil was just brutal in moderating this debate (as Jackie noted below). Her questions were ill-formed, and at times, down-right asinine. The role of a moderator in these debates is to keep the flow going, ask 1-2 hard questions, and melt into the background. She made a spectacle of herself with the candidates on several occasions with some bad questions and snippy comments, and really handled herself poorly.

Full Disclosure Alert 1: I am writing this without having read any analysis of the debate other than Factcheck.com [sic] and I referred to the NYT's debate transcript here.

Full Disclosure Alert 2: I really don't like either of these guys all that much - especially Cheney. I hate Cheney with the passion of a convert, and he just makes me irrationally angry. This was I guy I trusted to keep the Boy King in line, and he turned out the be the most voracious of all. Maybe it's because it is reported that he will not even speak with Colin Powell. He just seams like a mean, miserable old dude. On the other hand, Edwards always struck me as the kind of guy who plays his hokeyism up and bangs the populist drum a little too hard - I find him saccharine-sweet.
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