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October 09, 2004

Comments

I understand that some people are going to vote for President Bush because (a) they believe in his overarching philosophical stances/policies; and/or (2) they are voting against Kerry. What I really don't understand (how do I convey sincerity and lack of malice in this font?) is how people can look at at tonight (not to mention last week) and seriously argue that this man is as competent to be President as John Kerry. Consistency does not equal intelligent decision making. Never admitting a mistake is not a strong point.

Even the learning disability/cognitive impairment that causes him to make error after error in names, pronunciations, and facts...I feel for him, but just as I don't think a blind person should be able to get a hunting license, there are some things that I want my President to be able to do -- like being able to pronounce the name of the prison around which a horrible scandal is unfolding, or being reduced to saying, "it's so because it is, and I say so" in debates like this one.

And saying Bush won because he didn't do as badly as last week (referring to the tv talking heads) is such a sad commentary on our system and our collective intelligence.

I felt lukewarm after the first debate, but I thought this one was as close to a Kerry slam dunk as I could imagine. Kerry was relaxed, in full command of the facts (though he did space on "spinal cord injuries" for a moment, it only made him look appealingly human), and only hedged on a couple of questions.

Bush, on the other hand, was repeating himself incoherently, rambling to fill up time, frequently failing to answer the questions posed, reduced to pulling out the "Liberal" tag a couple of times in lieu of countering Kerry's points, and while he managed to avoid looking petulant for most of the debate, he replaced that with a blank switched-off-android look, suggesting that the only way he can actually engage his opponents is by getting pissy.

And the Dred Scott bit had me rolling on the floor. Rest assured, Bush will not appoint judges who look favorably on the Dred Scott decision!

I think the funniest moment may have been when Kerry was asked to look straight into the camera and say his "pledge to no tax increases." I found it amusing on three levels:

(1) It made me think I was looking at a face in one of those lenses that makes your nose or forehead look all swelled up. I kinda pushed back in my chair in case he may have had halitosis.

(2) Then the thought struck me that W was probably having a flashback to his Daddy's pledge about "no new taxes", and Junior was perhaps thinking, "when you get this rotten job and have to undo that pledge, or 'nuance' it somehow, then you will know what it is like to be in the middle of the freeway on foot with no stop lights. It's not all tinsel and glitter in the oval office."

(3) Then I had the image of a RNC guy, thinking ahead to the NEXT election if Kerry wins this one --- already putting that image and quote into the anti-Kerry flip flop ad, redux.

The fact that he answered the way he did actually turned me off (and I don't support either of these guys, by the way). I want a guy who will say, "Plans are essential, and my plans call for no tax increases. You can check my logic out on the website, etc., and you can also see who advised me on this issue. But, one thing we must remember about the world today is things change at a rapid pace. The changes we will experience in the 4 years I am president will seem like what 20 years used to be, in terms of change. So, if my plans have to change they will, in the interest of doing the right things for America, and with a very open communication with people about why. Besides, let's not forget that Congress has a lot to do with spending money --- they have to approve budgets. So, no, I won't give you the answer you are daring me to give. I am giving you the HONEST answer, and hope you appreciate it." I punch that guy's chad.

As it was, he seemed like he was pandering for votes (which of course they both are).

Opus: I am so completely not the person to answer your question that I'll just leave it for others. Tom: I would have preferred that answer, though in fairness I think it was largely in response to Bush running around claiming that Kerry will raise taxes on the middle class, since 'rich people have accountants' and thus will wriggle out of it. And he did say that he'd postpone his programs if need be, which was something.

Atrios posted a link to Oliver Willis, where you can download a clip of Bush basically running roughshod over the moderator. I had remembered being put off by it the first time; it's considerably more bizarre on second viewing. I mean: his people negotiated the rules, and as far as I know they do not say "The President gets to talk whenever he feels like it." The link is here.

And how about Bush's "I want them all to vote for me"?

I know, he was talking about potential nominees to the court, not sitting justices, but it was imprudent nonetheless.

I've been thinking about it some more, and I am more convinced than I was when I posted this that there are some real landmines in this debate, if anyone picks them up. The no mistakes one is obvious: can he really believe that he has made no mistakes, except for 'appointments'? If not, can he really not bring himself to admit any out loud? I mean, not any? And the second is the anger in the first third or so, and especially in the clip I linked to. That's not a clip of a person who can control his temper. I played it a third time, and it was worse than the second. Bizarre.

And I reread the transcript: under the heading 'totally irrelevant little snarks', I had forgotten about Bush's reference to 'hydrogen generated automobiles', and his claim that imported medicines might come from 'a third world'.

And any guesses as to which appointments Bush considers mistakes? It was very thoughtful of him not to hurt their feelings by naming names.

Maybe I just think Kerry won this one because I got so much raw entertainment out of Bush's responses.

The guessing online is Paul O'Neill, which seems right.

I was guessing O'Neill, Clarke, maybe DiIulio?

The GOP may have hurt themselves with their relentless portrayal Kerry as wishy-washy, unfit for command, and unable to give clear answers.

Now that I've finally seen Kerry in action, he far exceeded my expectations (and this is coming from a Kerry supporter).

I wasn't bothered by Bush anwer to the "3 mistakes" question -- the question was such an obvious trap.

Kerry did the right thing on the "no new taxes" pledge. He won't have the opportunity to break it, unless the Republicans in Congress start voting for tax increases.

Best line: the military wins the war, the President wins the peace.

"And the Dred Scott bit had me rolling on the floor. Rest assured, Bush will not appoint judges who look favorably on the Dred Scott decision!"

Posted by: Gromit | October 9, 2004 12:35 AM

This sort of thing is becoming the modern American politcal version of the Blood Libel. Republicans ended slavery. Democrats brought us Jim Crow. Granting that the Democrats have tried in the last forty years to make of for lost time wrt to fairness for blacks, it was Democrats, primarily, who kept blacks oppressed for a 100 years after the civil war.

Dems continue to demagauge racial issues to this day "a million disenfranchised AA voters" says Kerry. Compare that to Bush's comment when he and Condi snuck out of Crawford on their way over to Iraq to serve turkey "We looked like a normal couple." Yeah, W is the one who is racially divisive.

The idealogical Republican position is for color blindness in government affiars. You may disagree with that position's wisdom or achievability, but it's one hell of a stretch to say that postition equals a desire to appoint judges that would legalize slavery.

I realize as far as your concerned Gromit, I may as well be shouting at the moon. Next time could you at least put that sort crap in the beginning of your post, so I know to disregard what follows?

The best debate in sometime. Both of these men wear there emotions on their sleaves. Neither are slick and polished like the great communicators of the past. From the blogs this morning their base supporters are proud of their candidates performances. What may sway the undecideds is the news media. If MSM is steadfast in it's pursuit to affect the outcome, they will do so successfully. If they're starting to feel the sting regarding their own credibility in the eyes of their viewing audience, then it could become more interesting. The stars of the show last night were the questioners, and the fact that Charlie Gibson got dragged along a little, but held on to the leash. His stock has risen.

1. how on EARTH is that polling as a tie?

2. who here really believes that the President opposes importing drugs from Canada because they're unsafe?

3. I find the language on weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists being the greatest threat so....if his speechwriters understand it, why the HELL don't the policy people? Why is he going to take three to four times as long as Kerry to secure loose nukes? Why is he not doing anything about Khan for years when all the experts had some idea of what he was up to--and why has he now traded away the right to question him?

I find it inexplicable. And the only answer I can come up with is that non-proliferation involves: 1) a primarily non-state threat, as far as who might actually USE the weapons, and they're just not interested and 2) negotiations more than military force, and they're just not interested. (not that war over these issues wouldn't conceivably be necessary, but the wars that you need to contemplate don't even allow these idiots to imagine that they would be quick in, quick out, hearts and flowers kind of operations.)

4. anyone notice how neither even came close to answering the Iran question? I guess "I will let Israel bomb their reactors" doesn't sound too good....

by the way, why will a limited strike work to keep Iran from getting the bomb, with its more advanced nuclear program, while a full scale invasion of Iraq was needed in March of 2003 to prevent the smoking gun from being a mushroom cloud? I mean, I KNOW why, but I also know that you guys won't admit that they were shamelessly hyping the nuclear threat before the war.

5. The only mistake President Bush named was that "Now you ask what mistakes. I've made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV."

Well, let's see. Clearly the people whom it was a mistake to appoint would have been fired or left already. I'm thinking O'Neill, Clarke and Tenet? Though only one of those was appointed by President Bush, strictly speaking.

So. In the course of a press conference and two debates, the mistakes he can come up with are underestimating the speed at which our military could deliver a, quoting the Daily Show, "hellacious as*whomping", hiring Paul O'Neill, and keeping on Richard Clarke and George Tenet.

I don't know how anyone could vote for this man. I really don't.

I thought Kerry missed some good opportunities. He totally dropped the ball on the environment question, which should have been a slam dunk. He was surprisingly inarticulate in the stem cell segment. And he should have made more of the fact that frivolous lawsuits only add less than a percent to health care costs, rather than throwing it in but then surrendering to the conventional wisdom that something needs to be done about trial lawyers.

I just read over that post, and while I honestly believe every single one of those things, I should have expressed them with more grace and fewer capital letters.

I thought Kerry missed some good opportunities. He totally dropped the ball on the environment question, which should have been a slam dunk.

I agree...the crowd I was with, overwhemlingly pro-Kerry, were hissing at Kerry as he seemed to dodge the question. He finally got around to it, but clearly he was expected to draw blood on this one and the faithful felt let down.


I thought Kerry's weakest response came on the environment, where he could have had a very strong response. Instead he started on something about labels. When Bush claimed things had improved while he was in office, Kerry should simply have pointed out that that was because Bush's rules have not had time to have an effect.

And Kerry should have hit him much harder on jobs. It's a real vulnerability.

I guess it's too easy to sound wonky on some of things, and heaven know we can't have a president who actually knows something.

I agree with Katherine that nobody had a good answer on Iran, and with her last sentence also.

BTW, am I the only one who found Bush's style even more annoying than usual. It struck me as some sort of weird mixture of exasperation, hectoring, and failed attempts to be charismatic, or something. I found it unbearable.

Forgot DiUllio.

Was disappointed in Kerry on the environment question, and the Iran question, but very pleased overall. He looked like a President. Whereas his opponent....You know how Washington is the city of "Northern charm and Southern efficiency?" Last night Bush showed Howard Dean's charm and Bill Clinton's sense of personal moral responsibility. Everything is someone else's fault, his only mistake was hiring people who now criticize him, and he'll leap off his stool and get in your face to prove it.

(I saw another blog that said Bush has shown "all of the seventies in one man: the grace of Gerald Ford, the competence of Jimmy Carter, and the ethics of Richard Nixon." This is also true.)

I assume y'all already read the Fafblog religiously, but be sure not to miss the debate recap. Highlights:

The two candidates' styles in the innovative town hall format are very different. John Kerry handles himself by amblin around stage in a folksy manner to win the confidence of his audience. At one point he builds a barn, which prompts the audience's lone Amish member to comment "Good work, English." George Bush tends to assert his strength in the debate by jumpin up behind John Kerry, clubbing audience members over the head with a wrench, an by launching himself out of a cannon wearin a unitard emblazoned with the logo "The Mighty Thor."....

Respondin to a question on abortion John Kerry tells a young audience member of his deep Catholic faith an his great respect for religion an his wonderful reverence for life an closes by sayin "and then back in the hot sweaty chaos of the 'Nam I found out God is dead, ya stupid little bint." George Bush, in a missed opportunity, claps.


George Bush points out that we should not import Canadian drugs because of its third-world status. "Our FDA must evaluate their witch doctor medicine," he says. "They got Eskimos up there." John Kerry says he has a plan to give health care to all Americans but it will require the stationing of elite government health stormtroopers in every doctor's office in America. George Bush, in a missed opportunity, says "I'm good with that."George Bush points out that we should not import Canadian drugs because of its third-world status. "Our FDA must evaluate their witch doctor medicine," he says. "They got Eskimos up there." John Kerry says he has a plan to give health care to all Americans but it will require the stationing of elite government health stormtroopers in every doctor's office in America. George Bush, in a missed opportunity, says "I'm good with that."


George Bush says he has protected the environment with such policies as his Healthy Smog Initiative an his Delicious Mercury Act. John Kerry says that mercury is not really as delicious as the president says it is an says he has a plan to protect the environment by holdin a summit with it. George Bush follows up by sayin he has a plan to preserve all creatures by leadin them two by two onto a real big boat.


BTW, am I the only one who found Bush's style even more annoying than usual.

I thought overall he came off quite likeable. He was able to get the crowd to laugh, which was impressive.

He had that "swagger" that they call "walking" in Texas, and it grates on my nerves, like nails across a blackboard, but that's apparently fine with some people.

The thing that creeped me out a bit though was the way he'd wink at someone in the audience when he finished answering a question. Who was he winking at? It looked unsavory in some way I can't quite put my finger on...it also looked arrogant, my number one personality problem with the President.

This was a nice moment by Bush on the environment:

We proposed and passed a Healthy Forest Bill, which was essential to working with, particularly in Western states, to make sure that our forests were protected. What happens in those forests because of lousy federal policy, is they grow to be, they, they are, they're not harvested.

Yes Mr. President, our National Forests are dangerously full of trees that are allowed to grow too tall instead of being properly harvested.

He caught himself though, bringing it back to the false claim* that his bill was needed to prevent forest fires:
"They're not taken care of. And as a result, they're like tinderboxes."

*see NRDC analysis

OK, this, from Body and Soul is priceless:

"My nine-year-old daughter described the frozen expression he had on his face while Kerry spoke, which had me picturing him standing in front of a mirror for hours, practicing his lobotomized look: He's not listening. He looks like he's thinking about recess.

Edward, don't you know? He was winking at that same person Hillary and John point to and laugh knowingly when then address a crowd. Absolutely knowbody! Or maybe it was you.

mike p: I don't want to put words in gromit's mouth, but I think that when most of us giggle at Bush's Dred Scott decision moment, it's not because we're trying to make coded references to Republican stands on race. It's two quite different things: first, the idea that knowing Bush's opinion on Dred Scott is in any way relevant to the current campaign, and second, the fact that he was just wrong about the constitution in his answer. The first of these, at least, would have produced exactly the same effect had Bush used a completely different, non-racial example of only historical relevance -- e.g., his views on the legality of the Louisiana Purchase.

Sorry; grammar got all screwed up. Must have more coffee.

Well, let's see. Clearly the people whom it was a mistake to appoint would have been fired or left already. I'm thinking O'Neill, Clarke and Tenet? Though only one of those was appointed by President Bush, strictly speaking.

After the GOP and the White House have spent two years on these guys telling us they're alternately crazy/begrudged/out of the loop/lying/moonbats/etc., now the President doesn't want to hurt their feelings. Classic.

Hilzoy, feel free to put words in my mouth at any point, since it will invariably sound more articulate and thoughtful than what I might actually say.

Though the reason I laughed so hard was even more simplistic than that. Bush's response was a bit like proudly proclaiming he would only nominate judges who were not convicted serial rapists. And then contrast it with Kerry's response, which was thoughtful, eloquent, and demonstrated that his knowledge of the history of the court far surpassed the high-school civics level. Bush came off as ham-handed, thoughtless, and unprepared; Kerry came off as Presidential. I thought this one answer defined the stark contrast between the two candidates quite elegantly.

So, sorry you feel so aggrieved on the racial issue, mike p., but that has nothing to do with why this answer makes Bush look incompetent to be President.

Gromit, since Bush is obviously not familiar with the the 14th amendment maybe we SHOULD be glad he knows about the 13th.

The scene over at RedState is not pretty. So far, a handful of crestfallen folks are acknowledging that Bush lost, but they seem to be drowning in a sea of frenetic spinsters (also see comments on trevino's characteristically sober post to really get a sense of the scope of collective denial overtaking many of these poor souls). Folks are rationalizing how "internets" really isn't a malopropism, and "Dred Scott" really demonstrated Bush's impressive grasp of constitutional law. It is really that bad.

My favorite quote, from the first fantasyland post, "In the end, Bush won because Kerry's commanding debate style did not work out." See, Kerry was outdone by his own overwhelming competence.

And apparently it is a bad thing to make plans. Perhaps this explains why Bush partisans are so forgiving about the aftermath of the Iraq war?

So what did you think? Personally, I didn't think it was a slam dunk like last time

What I think doesn't matter, my mind is made up. What matters is what the independents think. And, when asked "who do you think did the better job in the debate", independents favored Kerry 53% to 37%. And since this is according to Gallup, it is likely to be biased in Bush's favor. Good news for Kerry.

I just wanted to add that I'm vastly relieved that Bush will not support a return to slavery based on property rights. Whew!

So we're not returning to 1859. Perhaps 1895 or 1931, but things are looking up.

By the way, I voted for Abraham Lincoln twice in the last century, when I was a Republican and I wanted to absolutely screw the Dixie Democrats. I became a Democrat 130 years later, though I voted for both Roosevelts, when I noticed the Republican Party had recruited Stephen Douglas to their side, even inviting him to speak at their conventions.

I'm not saying Douglas was all bad. He at least wanted to exempt the territories from throwing over all vestiges of affirmative action. That accounts for the boos at the back of the room at the convention, and the fact that he didn't get invited into the Presidential box.

I've been bipartisan for hundreds of years.

Any word yet from the President on the personal opinions implicit in Plessy vs Ferguson? Brown vs Board of Education?

How'bout civil rights laws enacted during the Sixties?

Right, that was legislation, wherein personal opinion is permitted. Of course, the personal opinions of many Dixie Democrats were such that they were ripe for Nixon's southern strategy. LBJ's personal opinion.

Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond (just the recognizable names) didn't care for the personal opinions of jud1cial activists. They said, come to the legislature if you want to desegregate. O. K. Over we go. May we desegregate? No you may not? Why? It's our personal opinion.


I wouldn't criticize Bush on his inability to identify whom he'd appoint to the Supreme Court, though I think his answer was bizarre. When it comes time, if it does, then someone will bring him a one-page summary of the potential choices, along with a recommendation. And then back to the brushcutting. Isn't that the way a leader is supposed to operate?

I'm being half facetious here, but only half. With other things on his mind, and his style of "delegating", why should we expect him to have thought much about this? I'm kind of like that myself. Ask me today what car I might buy when it's time. I'll tell you I have no earthly idea. I know there are plenty to choose from (as there are plenty of judges out there), and at the right time I will go on the internet and decide which seems best.

I WAS impressed with Kerry's answer on an intellectual level. But when you come right down to it, I would have been OK if Bush had said, "I'll look for someone who has a distinguished record and cares as much as I do about upholding the Constitution." It Is the right answer, so why go on about Dred Scott or whatever? Say what you mean, sit down.

Terry Ott:

I agree.

On the other hand, tell me what kind of car William Rehnquist buys, and I'll tell you what kind of car he drives to the polling places in his state to demand identification from funny-looking voters.

and at the right time I will go on the internet

Singular?

The scene over at RedState is not pretty.

Only if you're me....

"Further, Bush has to describe Dred Scott as about wrongheaded personal beliefs, rather than a fairly constricted constitutional interpretation because
he needs to paint Roe v. Wade the same way, and he wants "strict constructionists"* in the Supreme Court, so he can't really talk about the actual rationale used in Dred Scott."

"Bush promised, on national television, to all of the anti-choice people in the country, in no uncertain terms, that he would nominate justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. He did so in code that everyone in the anti-choice movement would understand, but that people unfamiliar with the internal language of that movement would not."

'paperwight' in comments at BOPNEWS

paperwight

So, Tacitus, how pretty a picture does Redstate really present? Last I looked, most of the posts and comments were gleefully celebrating Sen. Kerry's impending "demise", mainly over his answers to the abortion question (which they assume are THE overriding issue for the nation); and dumping on poor trevino for his heretical assertions that maybe Furious George's performance on Friday night just might not have played as well as they would have liked with the masses (who of course, don't realize the True State of Affairs).
Heh.
Setting: Graveyard
Sound FX: whistling.

Actually, I'm the one who promoted Augustine's abortion post to the front page -- because he's right that Kerry did manage to set himself down on the wrong side of that issue. Now, will it affect the election? Will the Bush campaign seize the opportunity? That remains to be seen.

As for the "dumping on poor trevino," one of the sides will shortly be vindicated with some polling numbers. I'm content to wait for that. It's not the first time I've set myself against the true believers, and it won't be the last.

How pretty a picture is this? Inasmuch as the masses disagree with me, it's perfectly awful. ;-)

I don't really feel like piling on -- there're enough liberals posting in this thread as is -- but Kevin Drum's post highlights one of my biggest problems with Bush's speech.

Terry Ott: I wouldn't criticize Bush on his inability to identify whom he'd appoint to the Supreme Court...

For the record, neither would I.

Actually, abortion is about the only reason left I can see to vote for Bush. If you really believe it's legal murder, you vote for the guy who will stop it.

I don't believe that; no one who favors the rape exception really believes that. But some do.

....no one who favors the rape exception really believes that.

That's not true at all. There are perfectly good arguments for favoring that exception on the grounds of political expediency while maintaining that belief.

true, but I assume most people in public opinion polls aren't answering out of political expediency. "The majority of the American people that support the rape exception in polls" would have been more precise.

Isn't there a difference between allowing the rape exception on grounds of political expediency - viewing it as a necessary concession to achieve a broader goal - and favoring it on moral grounds - that it is wrong to force a woman to bear a child conceived as a result of rape?

It does seem hard to reconcile the moral justification of the rape exception with a belief that abortion is murder.

Quoth Oberon: "I wasn't bothered by Bush anwer to the '3 mistakes' question -- the question was such an obvious trap."

Not so. What it was, was a chance. The American people love to forgive - look at how public opinion on Clinton rebounded in a positive way when he stood there and apologised to us for the Monica thing. We the people eat that stuff up with a spoon, and ask for second helpings even more eagerly than Oliver in the gruel line. And if Bush had copped to specific things he'd done wrong, and done so little as to say "And through the rest of this term, and my next one, I will make sure that I don't do anything like that again," his numbers would have taken a massive hit for the better.

Instead, we got the same tapdance as when he was asked for one mistake in his last press conference, and that hurt him unlike anything else in the debate could have.

Quoth Mike P: "it was Democrats, primarily, who kept blacks oppressed for a 100 years after the civil war."

And it was those same Democrats who have since almost entirely defected to the GOP. So your point is?

Quoth Edward: "He had that 'swagger' that they call 'walking' in Texas, and it grates on my nerves, like nails across a blackboard, but that's apparently fine with some people."

Not all parts of Texas.

Quoth Phil:

"After the GOP and the White House have spent two years on these guys telling us they're alternately crazy/begrudged/out of the loop/lying/moonbats/etc., now the President doesn't want to hurt their feelings."

That's because it would require him to act directly, rather than through surrogates.

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