Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Vice Presidential Debate

This was a truly compelling debate. They may want to say that VP Cheney is grumpy, but he's intelligently grumpy. He was very good at making a strong consistent case for the President and doing in a way that was informed and coherent. Hugh Hewitt has a score card up again and I know it provides a great overview of the debate in its entirety, even though I haven't read it all yet.

Here are the notes I made (in an actual notebook this time :) - in no particular order...

1. Who are we fighting?
By continuing to stress the battle against Osama bin Laden, John Edwards continues to misunderstand the War on Terror. It is a Global war.

However, John Edwards kept saying that he and Senator Kerry would "find terrorists and fight them where they are." but I would add "unless they're in Iraq." Edwards says "We need to be offensive in going after terrorists" and I would add "unless they're in Iraq."

What is it about Iraq that makes Kerry and Edwards not want to look for terrorists there?

Good Cheney quote in this area John Kerry has been on the "wrong side of defense issues."

2. 90% 90% 200 billion
Edwards stated the same bad stats that Kerry cited last Thursday. I said out loud "Doesn't anyone in their campaign read the newspaper?"
As soon as I was done writing, Cheney called him on it and so I wrote "Yay Cheney"
Quote from Cheney here, to Edwards, about the money going to the global war on terror and not just Iraq: "You probably weren't there to vote on that."

3. Thursday Night
Edwards kept bringing up Thursday's debate. I felt like I was being hypnotized, and apparently Mort Kondracke felt that way too saying afterward, "As if to remind people that they liked Kerry for that brief moment."
Referring to Thursday night isn't going to take away the rest of Kerry's record. Edwards said that Kerry laid out a plan on Thursday night for success in Iraq. Really? What plan? Now I cede the point that the President should have pushed Kerry to explain this "plan" that he kept talking about. But just because the President didn't challenge Kerry's repeated mentioning of the "plan" doesn't mean said plan existed.
But hey, maybe the plan is secret.

Either way, Kerry's position needs to be taken in the aggregate, not simply judged one day at a time. However, if Edwards is only looking at one Kerry speech at a time, that would explain his ability to say that Kerry has a "consistent" position on terror.

4. Edwards mentioned Vietnam.
"[Kerry] defended this country as a young man."

5. The 87 Billion and The Fear of Howard DeanCheney's explanation of the 87 billion dollar vote was on the money, saying that Senators Kerry and Edwards changed their position on the 87 billion dollars in Iraq because of primary polling numbers. Seeing that anti-war Howard Dean was pulling ahead, they changed their mind:
"If they couldn't stand up to the pressures Howard Dean represented, how can they stand up to Al Qaeda."
Kerry and Edwards are political opportunists willing to not only take inconsistent positions in speeches, but change their votes in the senate to help their political standings.

6. The Allies
Cheney refuted Edwards claim about the lack of allies with some important statistics:
In the 1991 gulf war we had 34 countries in the coalition. In Iraq now there are 30 countries standing with us in the coalition. Is all of this concern over allies over 4 countries?

Edwards also charged the President with "rejecting the Allies in reconstruction."
In that he's basically saying that the parts of reconstruction being handled by Halliburton could have been handled by French and German companies. So he wants to outsource them??? After all this talk about President Bush outsourcing jobs in America, Edwards wants to take jobs away from Americans working in Iraq (and the Americans working in those companies here at home.)

7. Israel
An awesome point made by Vice President Cheney here about how he suspects that the reason there have been less suicide attacks in Israel because Saddam Hussein is no longer around to pay 25,000 to the families for the bombings. Iraq was a state sponsor of terror, in Israel and elsewhere. That is what made this war necessary.

8. The Question of Experience
John Edwards repeatedly said that a "long resume does not equal good judgment" when challenged on his own lack of political experience. I would have liked to see Cheney say something like "you're right. And Kerry's long resume, including the parts of the resume involving Vietnam, does not equal good judgment either."

9. Rolling back the tax cuts
John Edwards assured America that he and John Kerry would roll back the tax cuts for those making more than $200,000. Cheney fought back with exactly the note I wrote down - this will hurt small business. He provided the facts:
About 900,000 small business file income tax instead of corporate tax, therefore, rolling back this tax cut will hurt these businesses. Further, he said that 7/10 new jobs in America are created by these small business.
Kerry/Edwards wants to grow the economy...but how can they do it by hampering 70% of the job creation possibilities?

10. Unemployment
Edwards continued the rhetoric tonight about the greatest number of jobs lost, etc etc etc. Now I find it quite possible that Edwards was using old data and all the stuff that Cheney said. However, I wish Cheney had mentioned the current unemployment rate of 5.4%. This number is lower than the average unemployment in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It is the same or smaller than the unemployment level in the mid-nineties during the Clinton administrations "economic boom."

All in all a great debate that many people may not have seen for whatever reason. Perhaps they missed this smackdown because they were watching the smackdown of the Twins over the Yankees (woo-hoo).

Lastly, one more great line from Cheney: "The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."Additionally I liked this because of Bill Kristol's response. Bill Kristol said he felt "bad" because he knew both Cheney and Edwards and he could have introduced them. I don't think that's the emotion that John Edwards hoped would be generated tonight.