Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Tuesday, October 05, 2004
VP Debate LiveBlog Immediate thoughts from the world's most boring debate. Overall, by 10 p.m., I'm pretty confident in saying that the debate is a draw. Edwards was tough where he had to be, Cheney didn't lose his cool too much. Style points seem about even, although Edwards' smile was a little overeager at the beginnng.

Bottom Line: People who chose to watch Game 1 of the ALDS won't regret that call. (Go Twins!)

If people continue to care about this debate, the war over ultimate perceptions will be fought in the fact-checking over the specifics both sides fired out -- but frankly, I'm not sure anyone will really bother to keep up with it. Here are some of the lines I found interesting (admittedly, mostly snide comments about Cheney, and bemoaning some of Edwards' missed opportunities -- I think he could have been briefed better: There were a lot more concrete examples he could have cited that would have demonstrated more depth):

Taking Talking Points from David Brooks Cheney's comparison of Afghanistan and El Salvador was originally aired, almost word-for-word by the NY Times' designated "conservative" columnist.

I think it's probably a flawed comparison, and Edwards could have cited this poll. to make that point quickly: Only 67% of eligible Iraqis say they are likely to vote. Not bad, but down from 89% in June: That's a disastrous collapse, although not as troubling as the 55% of Iraqis who say they refuse to recognize the authority of the Iraqi police. (Spencer Ackerman pointed out the poll first).

Either way, that's not the spirit that the Vice President and David Brooks claim to have observed in El Salvador.

When's Cheney's Namath Moment? I keep expecting him to "guarantee" a terrorist attack if Kerry is elected.

"Voting Against the Troops" I was surprised Edwards didn't make more use of the Paul Bremer comments about the troop shortage in Iraq. Cheney's line contending that the vote against the $87 billion was voting against the troops would have been a good moment. Whether you agree with the vote or not, the bill passed -- the Kerry-Edwards opposition was a political statement. This administration's decision to go to war without enough troops has real, serious consequences.

A Bald Cheney Lie In response to a question about whether John Edwards, as a trial lawyer, is part of the problem when it comes to rising medical costs, the Vice President said: "I'm not familiar with his cases." Oh, come on -- the Bush Cheney campaign has prided itself on unearthing every vote ever taken by Kerry, going back to his term as Lt. Governor of Massachusetts. He knows Edwards' cases, and he knows that his record is admirable.

Where is Zarqawi? Cheney says he was in Baghdad and is again in Baghdad. As far as I've read, he wasn't (he was in a terrorist camp near the Iranian border that we failed to bomb in the early days of the war), and isn't (we think he's in Falluja). (Note: Kevin Drum has been all over this story for a long time).

"We'll chase the terrorists as long as necessary" How sweet would it have been if Edwards had replied to this with: "Chasing them is one thing, but if we're elected, we'll catch them!"

A Good Rallying Cry Edwards delivered a line that seemed off the cuff, but could do well to find its way into the Kerry-Edwards standard stump speech: "Look at where we are now."

  • When this administration took office, we were enjoying the greatest economic expansion in history and the first budget surplus in several generations. Look at where we are now.

  • When this administration led us into war, they promised our soldiers would be met in Baghdad with roses. Look at where we are now.