Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Edwards Held His Own

I was very pleased with John Edwards' performance during his vice-presidential debate with the fast-talking Dickenstein's Monster.

On style points, Edwards was the easy winner in my opinion. If Cheney was a doctor and his bedside manner was like his debate performance, he would be charged with murdering his patients. He came across as impatient, authoritarian, overconfident, arrogant, inflexible, rude, and as a know-it-all. He tended to speak in a monotone, and he looked down, or away from the camera during many of his responses. Cheney continued to mislead in the usual areas and in the usual ways. Edwards was more animated, he looked at the camera more, he smiled more, and he gave the audience more of a sense of optimism that Cheney could ever dream of doing... Of course, Cheney seems to only express optimism about things like Iraq, which the administration wants the public to feel good about... so that the public will continue to snooze, and not stage a bloody revolt.

Cheney persisted in pushing the fictitious Al-Qaeda-Iraq link, even though this has repeatedly been proven to be a false assumption. Edwards correctly called him on this topic. Edwards overstated the actual cost of Iraq so far, putting out a $200 billion number... but he was on the right track, because if current trends continue, the cost will hit that level, not too far down the road. Cheney claimed allies have contributed $14 billion to debt relief for Iraq, and he put this out as a positive. Allies have actually PLEDGED $13 billion, and only $1 million of that has been collected.

According to an article on ( "Cheney said Kerry's tax-cut rollback would hit 900,000 small businesses. This is misleading. Under Cheney's definition, a small business is any taxpayer who includes some income from a small business investment, partnership, limited liability corporation or trust. By that definition, every partner at a huge accounting firm or at the largest law firm would represent small businesses. According to IRS data, a tiny fraction of small business "S-corporations" earn enough profits to be in the top two tax brackets. Most are in the bottom two brackets." This is simply another typical example of manipulating data to make a point that fits into your ideology... something the GOP does a great job of (hasn't this been their strategy in "disproving" global warming?)

Regarding the actual number of jobs lost in the U.S., Edwards again exaggerated a bit when he brought up the number 1.6 million. It may actually appear to be about half that once the new numbers come out... but then again, that isn't such a great thing for the GOP to brag on, because the fact is that Bush will be known as the first president in more than 70 years to preside over an overall job loss during his term in office. (Gee, weren't we in a depression the last time that happened?) Plus, numbers are fine to bandy about, but when we don't know what kind of jobs the Bush administration is really "creating" (they don't seem to want to tell us much about it) shouldn't we really wonder a bit when they speak of an "upturn" in the economy?

I don't think Bush or Cheney has ever come out and said "I support outsourcing our jobs overseas" as Edwards charged. On the other hand, administration officials HAVE discussed the ways in which outsourcing jobs can be "good" for the U.S. economy... so, while they haven't come out officially in support of outsourcing, they certainly haven't come out against it.

While the GOP continues to hammer away at Kerry's health care plan as costing as much as (or more than) $1 trillion, what they never seem to bring up is that Bush wants to at least partially privatize Social Security... and that the transition to privatization could cost even more. Wouldn't you rather have better health care for everybody AND keep your Social Security as it is, without outfits like Enron getting ahold of your retirement money?

Cheney was often very specific during the debate, appearing in great command of his "facts", while more than often Edwards was vague and spoke more in generalities. However, Cheney seemed to be assuming that his way of looking at things was the only correct way, and that any other way would simply be wrong. By his speech and mannerisms, he dismissed most of Edwards' comments as irrelevant. Cheney was in full attack mode the whole evening, but he seemed to gradually poop out as the debate went on. At first I thought Cheney was giving Edwards a royal butt-kicking, but Edwards seemed to maintain his composure and adjust his level of intensity accordingly as the debate progressed. In the final analysis, I would call the debate a draw... but I would give Edwards a slight edge because:

1) Except right at first, he didn't let Cheney bully him. He attacked back, and then stayed on the attack for the duration.
2) Edwards raised lots of questions about the administration, while Cheney raised few if any about the Democrats other than about their voting records (some of Kerry's votes took place as much as 35 years ago).
3) Edwards displayed a very human side when he made his nice comments about Cheney's lesbian daughter and the Cheney's understanding parenting... and Cheney had no further comment.
4) Edwards, with his decent performance against a powerful adversary, has put himself back into the public eye as a thoughtful, positive guy who really wants to see America on a better course than it is.
5) Edwards asserted that a long political resume doesn't really amount to much if the holder of that resume isn't doing things beneficial to the United States of America.

I don't believe any knockout punches were delivered, but I think undecided voters will have to consider these two candidates in regard to their attitude, their composure, and their ideals. Edwards stood up to a bully, he maintained his composure, he took his best shots, and he came across as someone who loves our country. That's enough to give him the edge against Dick Cheney, Tuesday night and any old time.


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