Tuesday, October 5, 2004

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Open veep debate thread

Feel free to discuss the before-and-after of the vice-presidential debate here. Discuss the following amongst yourselves: Historically, do VP debates matter at all?

My answer to this question is "no," which is why I won't be liveblogging this one.

UPDATE: OK, my take on this debate is constrained by the fact that, a) I spent the first 25 minutes of it reading Dr. Seuss to my son; b) I spent the rest of the time flipping between the VP debate and the Twins-Yankees game, and I found the latter far more riveting. That said, five thoughts:

1) Is it my imagination, or did Gwen Ifill sound like she'd either had some recent dental work done or stuffed about five cotton balls into her mouth?

2) I suspect Cheney will be perceived in the instant polling to have won the debate. Just as the right has tried to demonize Kerry, the left has tried to demonize Cheney. The fact that Cheney comes across as sober and plain-spoken clashes with the stereotype.

3) Frankly, both of them whiffed a lot on the questions I heard. On nuclear proliferation, for example, Cheney again claimed that the A.Q. Khan network had been satisfactorily dealt with -- a big fat slow curve over the plate. Edwards didn't even swing at that.

4) The most entertaining answer was Edwards' attempt to follow Ifill's directions and manage to answer one question without saying the words "John Kerry"

5) Stylistically, I suspect Cheney will also be crowned the winner -- he didn't seem to hestitate in his answers. Edwards seemed more hesitant in his responses.

That said, post your own thoughts!!

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan says I'm copping out on my own view -- the most devastating charge to be made in the blogosphere!! OK, bearing in mind I didn't watch the whole debate (which is why I was reluctant to proffer my own opinion), I'd give it to Cheney. His astringent style and well-versed talking points held up pretty well, and I picked up the same weak points in Edwards' performance as Mickey Kaus ("at times looked like a yapping ankle-biter, albeit a well-briefed one"). So Cheney won -- but not by any significant margin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: ABC's poll gives it to Cheney; CBS gives it to Edwards.

Here's a link to the full transcript.

My original conclusion stands, however -- the VP debate is irrelevant.

posted by Dan on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM


I think they matter to the participants' future image, if not so much to the election. Quayle certainly suffered from "You're no Jack Kennedy," and I think Lieberman's subsequent image was hurt when he failed to challenge Cheney's claim that the government had nothing to do with his - Cheney's- financial success.

This is particularly crucial to Edwards, of course.

posted by: Bernard Yomtov on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Normally I'd agree. However it seems like Cheney is such a divisive figure that this debate may actually either help or seriously hurt Bush. (i.e. if Cheney makes a bunch of absurd claims regarding Al Queda and Iraq)

I'm surprised Bush kept Cheney, all things considered. Not as surprised as I am that he didn't fire Rumsfeld, of course. But my wife, who loves Bush hates Cheney. Me, I'm much more lukewarm to Bush but have more or less decided to vote for him because I think Kerry is worse. But I truly do wish there were better choices. (Well 2000 wasn't exactly a roaring great set of choices either)

posted by: Clark on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I can think of at least one exception when a VP debate did matter. Perot's VP Admiral Stockdale came across as so nutty and out-of-touch that some voters decided not to take Perot's candidacy seriously.

But short of a screwball VP, I probably agree that VP debates don't matter much.

posted by: Patrick on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

You're right, Dan, and this year's won't be an exception. Partly by coincidence, though, some themes we may hear between now and Election Day may be sounded first tonight.

First, obviously, there is yesterday's speech by Paul Bremer on the question of troop levels after the invasion. Edwards is bound to whack Cheney about this, and Cheney's response will be interesting. Edwards may come prepared as well with data on Bush administration spending; the deficit and what it might mean for the future hasn't been an issue so far, but it was in the past and helped sink the last President Bush.

Cheney for his part may see if he can get any mileage at all our of attacking trial lawyers; I doubt he can, and think he may focus instead on what the Bush campaign has since spring, attacking Kerry for being a weathervane, but if he doesn't raise this issue with Edwards sitting right in front of him he never will.

posted by: Zathras on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

It will be Ladies Night for the Democrats, they will be trying to swing maybe 5% of the moderate woman's vote their way with this debate. Edwards will attack hard on Cheney's flip-flops on Iraqi and Iranian sanctions while he was a businessman in the nineties, and hit him hard for Enron and the California energy crisis.

The Republicans will be looking to just stem the tide flowing steadily leftward at the moment and will be happy to ground out a draw from this one. Cheney has a tough task ahead of him because if he is too eloquent he will make Bush look bad in comparison. He will keep it low-key and stick close to the typical GOP playbook.

posted by: Kevin on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Im really curious how Edwards presents himself. Tradionally, the VP challenger is put out as the attack dog to hit the administration with nasty stuff the presidentially candidate wants to stay above. In this case im not sure whats left unsaid short of Michael Moore conspiracies. So the question is will Edwards come out to give voice to the fever swamps dellusions of Halliburton takeovers and digital brownshirts, or will he play the young optimist to Cheneys crusty old man? The latter would probably be the more effective, but I dont know if the campaign can resist the lure of the former. Cheney is such a boogeyman to the lefties he may be irresistable, and that is the trap. If Edwards looks anything less than poised and rational, Cheney will eat him for lunch. Edwards can only hurt his cause at this point, his best case is to flip the convention and appear as the sunny optimist about what Kerry _will_ do instead of concentrating on what Bush has done. Somebodies got to.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

They may not have mattered as much in the past, this year they do. Cheney is perceived as the chief strategist of the entire Bush agenda (as opposed to Bush himself) and Edwards as the man to give the Kerry ticket some credibility and traction among conservatives.

Coming on the heels of a debate that brought Bush-Kerry closer in terms of likely support I venture that this will be one of the most watched Veep debates ever.

posted by: Pieter Dorsman on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I think this will be the most important VP debate in my lifetime. Cheney will be able to hammer all Kerry's slips from the last debate, while clearly outclassing Edwards on substance. Haven't you noticed that anytime Edwards is forced to respond rather than just repeating the day's mantra or talking points, he stumbles badly. Edwards has no depth of knowledge.

posted by: MaDr on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

One wonders: did Bremer and Rumsfeld set Cheney up?

posted by: goethean on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

It's about 5pm EST, time for the DNC to start sending out the chain emails saying Edwards won...

posted by: Mike Lech on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

'you noticed that anytime Edwards is forced to respond rather than just repeating the day's mantra or talking points, he stumbles badly'

Actually, no. He is an experienced trial lawyer. That requires the ability to absorb large quantities of data, respond quikcly and think on your feet.

He might also ask Cheney why Bush thinks we can't afford homeland security. Maybe also why Cheney didn'r realize that Haliburton had changed accounting methods when Cheney was the CEO, without disclosing it (Under Sarbanes Oxley, that would have been grounds for a vacation in Club Fed).

posted by: fisk on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

"That requires the ability to absorb large quantities of data, respond quikcly and think on your feet. "

The last thing a trial lawyer wants to have to do is think on his feet. If you dont know the answer to your questions before you ask them you're dead.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Hell I don't know whether they make much difference to everyone else but they are important to me, just as the VP choice itself is important to me. Cheney's incredibly important to this particular administration. He has a really different style, cool and low-key, ideally suited to TV. I can actually listen to him without wincing or cringing with embarrassment. (And I hope he does bring out the many success stories fighting terrorism that have been played down, ignored or misrepresented by the MSM.)

So it's obvious how I feel about Edwards' style isn't it. I hate that "daddy worked in a mill" and "two Americas" schtick though I suppose it's meant to appeal to me. Edwards is a cipher.

As for substance, we'll see tonight won't we.

posted by: carol on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

'The last thing a trial lawyer wants to have to do is think on his feet. If you dont know the answer to your questions before you ask them you're dead'

What about your opponent's questions to witnessess ? Ditto for the opponents objections. Of course a litigator has to think fast on his feet.

posted by: fisk on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Statements about candidates on NPR said Cheney would continue war on terrorism, but Edwards would haul out economic issues. Not sure of the forum for debate. For the undecided, Bush/Cheney may have some explaining to do for non-republican approach to costs of war, government, and healthcare. Cheney could attempt to get some ground back by avoiding the "hard work" approach to foreign policy.

posted by: RMS on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Count me among those who think Cheney will mop the floor with Edwards on substance, particularly if Edwards is foolish enough to bait Cheney on foreign policy issues. Whatever the precedents, I think Edwards and his handlers secretly share this view and will try to avoid antagonizing Cheney w.r.t. foreign policy. There's no money in it. On the other hand, I dare anyone to drink a shot of vodka every time Edwards says "Halliburton."

That said, a clear victory by Cheney in this debate might actually be detrimental to the GOP campaign. It would simultaneously (a) underline how simple-minded the inarticulate Bush looked next to Kerry at the first debate, and (b) put another coat of lacquer on the theory that Cheney is the brains of the administration.

posted by: Mike on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I'll be live-blogging it, so tune in later if you're interested: 10/5 VP Debate thread. I have a feeling this debate will have some significance.

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

John Edwards is one of the best trial lawyers in the country, and Darth Vader is one of the most hated political figures in the country. Not only that, but Darth is responsile for the catostrophe in Iraq and has lied soo many times on it, that a dylsexic third-grader with ADD could easily win an argument with Dick. Edwards is a very smart guy, some prep, he could easily make Cheney look extraordinarily bad. The times story on Sunday, Bremmer's comments, and Bush's attrocious performance are more than enough material. That's just Shrub administration this week.

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Darth Vader,

62% of republicans believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. When are you going to stop lying to the American people?

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Dude, they cheat just like i used to cheat on tests... memorize a bunch of stuff 2 minutes before the test and then write it all down on the back of the test. I knew it.

posted by: Mark BUehner on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Cheney's pretty good at this, but Edwards just jumped all over Big Dick's record on defense. And Haliburton ::woot::

posted by: Jim Dandy on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I gotta agree, Darth Vader is doing pretty well. But he leads the empire. this should be expected.

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Cheney really care about Iraqi civilians, which is why the Army is counting civilian casualities right? Coalition forces have killed more iraqi civilians than the terrorists. BTW, I'm so surprised he tried bringing the allawi thing up -- especially after Bush/Cheney 04 wrote Allawi's speech.

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

WOW, I thought Cheney really had Edwards by the ball on the Edwards record comments, but Edwards hit him back MUCH, MUCH harder. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Head Sart. For crying out loud Darth Vader!

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

senator "gone". should be senator dumbass. he's a joke here here in God's country.

posted by: Lee on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Jor: what the hell you want a trial lawyer running the country for? you lookin' for some'in fo' free? edwards is a joke. he's memorized his policy crap well. at least he sounds like he has.

posted by: Lee on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

One thing that's clear is that Cheney's comments about Iraqi casualties show that he reads the WSJ editorial page while Bush doesn't.

"Mr. Kerry will also want to avoid his frequent claim that the U.S. has "borne nearly 90% of the casualties" and is providing 90% of the troops. On the first point, the U.S. has suffered 800 killed in action since the Iraq war began, 1,053 including non-combat deaths. Our uniformed Iraqi allies, however, have already suffered at least 750 combat deaths. And that doesn't include the recruits who've been killed by car bombs as they've waited to enlist in the police or new Iraq army. Even using, er, liberal math, this would put U.S. killed-in-action at about 50% of the total."


posted by: PM on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Edwards had a stronger closing statement, but I think marginal win for Darth Vader. Not enough questions on Vader's egregious lies or the economy, but what can ya do.

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

My god that was difficult.

Please bring back Bush and those two-minute, live-blogging-friendly pauses.

I'm going to score this slight advantage to Edwards. Cheney scored on several points, but so did Edwards. And, Edwards got several points in that cast doubts on the things that Cheney was saying. He didn't get enough in; if he'd indicted the Bush administration for their failures he could have cleaned up.

Edwards and Cheney both have red state appeal; Cheney has zero blue state appeal.

Edwards made a major mistake by humanizing Cheney by talking about his daughter (who's gay, by the way). After that, Cheney softened a bit into a kindler, gentler Darth Vader.

So, Cheney became less scary for some people, but might have become a bit pathetic as well.

On the other hand, I think many people might have been assured that Edwards would tell them the truth, unlike perhaps the current administration.

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

the left has tried to demonize Cheney. The fact that Cheney comes across as sober and plain-spoken clashes with the stereotype.

Dan, have you been reading your own website? YOU demonize Cheney every other day. IF by "left" you mean the facts demonize Cheney -- then yes, yes, you are correct. I know the wingnuts think the facts are liberal bias, but Professor Chickenhawk, should know better.

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

This forum has degenerated quite a bit. There's no longer even a pretense at thinking. People have already picked who they're gonna back, and aren't taking into account basic humanity. Kerry is a cheap issue panderer and Cheney really did screw up on Iraq, but Cheney also loves his daughter and Kerry probably couldn't screw things up worse than Cheney has - and it's almost certain that Cheney won't improve things.

That aside, The Daily Show I think got it right by showing Condi about to testify before the 911 commission with the Darth Vader theme.

posted by: oldman on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Yeah, pretty much as expected. This was a very tough day for Cheney to be good with the news (Bremer, etc.). The debate was very dry, even when they were getting in punches, it was done in dry monotone. Lots of polemic exchanges, lots of fact-interpretation on both sides. (three sides to every story, folks). Pretty much as expected.

To sum it up, I was disappointed in Edwards this evening. I think Edwards looked very much Cheney's junior (especially the "I was president of the Senate for four years, and today is the first time I have met you exchange). Edwards is still a smarmy trial lawyer who is politically inexperienced and has no record to run on other than the fact that he looks like a Breck girl. Edwards conveyed his points well and in good trial-lawyer style...the point is, he never convinced anyone that he was a politician and NOT a trial lawyer. I think it was a bad performance by Edwards, I expected a lot more from him.

Cheney looked more like the president than President Bush did. He had facts on call, he was on top of his game. This reminds me of one of the arguments that circulated back in 2000: "at least Bush will have a good team behind him, Cheney, Powell, and the like." (Well, now that Powell has been "UN-ed" and Cheney has been "Halliburton-ed," you don't hear that argument anymore do you?). I thought Cheney won the critical substantive exchanges in the debate.

Cheney seemed more politically savvy and connected into the facts than Edwards did, even on domestic policy. I would score the debate a 10-9 political win for Cheney, but not by much...and, of course, there's no reason to think this debate is going to matter much. I haven't heard the anticipated viewership for this one, but it's a lot less.

Also, as always, it all depends on the media echo chamber and the spin doctors, but I don't think Edwards probably didn't sustain the momentum from last week, and Cheney may have put a finger in the political dyke (no pun intended, heh heh) to stop the hemorraging of voters away from Bush.

posted by: Prof Goose on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]


That is the most intelligent thing I have read all week about this debate. Thank you.

posted by: Kate on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Oldman -- it's pretty poor form to comment about how "the forum has degenerated" half a breath before a Condi Rice/Darth Vader joke. Either there's an embedded joke I'm not getting or you're a nitwit.

posted by: Harry on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

A few things:

Professor, the idea that Edwards came across as a smarmy trial lawyer only works if you went in with the preconceived notion that he was a smarmy trial lawyer, and I don't think a whole lot of people (particularly undecideds) thought that going in.

I think the lack of a consensus on the victor means this goes down as a tie. Edwards hit his points, Cheney hit his. As for me, I discovered that left tackles are grossly overpaid and that even with a nearly $200 million salary cap in 2019, it's still hard to keep my 95 average Los Angeles Lions team together.

Interesting tidbit, and soemthing I've seen said around the blogosphere, Jeff Greenfield said on CNN that Cheney's relatively strong performance tonight might end up hurting the Bush campaign. Personally, I think it's a bad sign when the VP shows up better prepared for a debate than the leader of the party and the leader of the country. A lot of this is going to hinge on Friday, though.

posted by: Jim Dandy on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Of course in 2000 many pundits were saying that both VPs sounded vastly superior to both presidential candidates.

The best thing about Cheney's performance was bucking that whole Democratic talking point about being some evi genius.

posted by: Clark on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Condi about to testify before the 911 commission with the Darth Vader theme.

Wow, what a racist joke. When did Dan start attracting such bigots?

posted by: Al on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

A quick poll.

A CBS News poll of 178 uncommitted voters found that 41 percent said Edwards won the debate, versus 28 percent who said Cheney won. Thirty-one percent said it was a tie.

posted by: sebastien on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Lee (9.49) remarks, "senator "gone". should be senator dumbass. he's a joke here here in God's country."

I thought god's country favored dumbasses. Or is that only with presidential preferences?

posted by: sinnersforsmartasses on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]


Cheney blew away Edwards. I was embarassed for Edwards. Why would he run for president after 6 years in the senate? It makes no sense. How do you answer that question "why are you qualified" if you have no experience? And you at least should show up for votes your first term. What a joke. Shrek Wins!!

Should have gone with Geppy.

posted by: Reg on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Cheney won it, but not by as much as Kerry won last week.

posted by: Phoebe Maltz on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Edwards come back: My qualifications to be Vice President is that I am an American.

Cheney pretty much held his own, but that misses the point. After Bush's fiasco Cheney had to completely demolish the Kerry-Edwards ticket. He did not and so failed at his prime mission. Edwards could have won more by pushing Halliburton harder but that probably would have backfired by losing some swing voters. All in all, Edwards had a nice run and Cheney failed to score.

posted by: wisedup on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Pretty funny to see the media trot out all the photos of Edwards and Cheney together. This only a few hours after Cheney had his big cheap shot about how he'd never met Edwards before. That's a great image for the VP, to seem like a liar or senile, or both.

posted by: Peter on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Cheney sounded shaky and uncertain, I was really surprised at how weak his performance was. In any case, it was, of course, head and shoulders over that pathetic attempt at debating by his running mate last week. Bush is done, it's time to stick a fork in him. He has less than average intelligence and is a horrible public speaker--without a prepared speech. Kerry is going to clean his clock on Friday. Bush better say he has laryngitis, or better yet, fake an assassination attempt, because if he shows up for that debate Friday, Kerry is going to alpha-male his ass into oblivion.

posted by: Kevin on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

"...Edwards looked very much Cheney's junior (especially the "I was president of the Senate for four years, and today is the first time I have met you exchange)."

I suppose it doesn't matter that Cheney's statement was a complete and utter lie? From DailyKos: "Addressing the National Prayer Breakast, Cheney said: 'Thank you. Thank you very much. Congressman Watts, Senator Edwards, friends from across America and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, Lynne and I honored to be with you all this morning.' [FDCH Political Transcripts, Cheney Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, 2/1/01]"

posted by: Rick Almeida on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Glad to know that next $80b is going to Afganistan. Cheney wouldn't lie about something as serious as that, would he?

Can someone clear this up for me? We've allocated $200b to the war on terror and spent $120b on Iraq. Are we done spending on Iraq? Why isn't Cheney's point just "fuzzy math"?

And what about going to the moon? Bush promised the moon. Where is it?

posted by: brent on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Again, interesting thing is how partisanship alters reality - a quantum thing. I'm an independent, but hate Bush and his crew and so saw Edwards as the sure winner. Those who are or want to be sympathetic to the right saw Dire Dick as the winner. Question: what is the future of democracy in in a political climate where there is no objective reality?

posted by: Pericles on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Better question: why did we ever think there was an objective reality, much less nuetral parties we could count on to convey it to us?

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Al writes: "Wow, what a racist joke. When did Dan start attracting such bigots?"

Um, I'm not seeing the racism. What's the racist interpretation of the Darth Vader theme music?

As for my own interpretation of the debate, I'm voting for Kerry, and loathe Bush, but at the end of the debate I thought Cheney came off as the winner - by a smidge.

He's good at it. He's a very smooth liar, and has the authoritative air that makes it work well.

Then again, I was listening to it via NPR, so I didn't get any of the visual impression.

posted by: Jon H on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I'm with Dan and others here: Cheney won, but Edwards did not embarrass self or ticket.

More to the point, I think, Cheney really DID make a difference for people like me (party of one?) who had their fingers crossed all summer long that Cheney would have "health problems" that necessitated his replacement with McCain or perhaps Guiliani. It'd have been good for the ticket, good for the long-term health of the party--just all around good.

Get the sense I don't like Cheney much? For real. That is why, if I can watch a lot of the debate (during the slow bits of the playoff game) and come away feeling like Cheney is recognizably human, then he won.

posted by: Kelli on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

What does it matter who won if all we are saying when they won is that they had good style and could say there lines quickly and without stumbling.

The only thing you have to do in these debates is lay your cards out on the table. Make your argument and go home. Both sides did that. As someone who voted for Clinton and Bush, I feel that I'm in the middle. But I've got to go with Bush this time.

posted by: Chad on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Nah, they both did fine - no knockouts. Edwards let his Kerry-cheerleading get in the way of more detailed answers a few times, and Cheney has now done a 180 on his Iraq/Al Qaeda assertions. But I think each side is pretty happy with the results. I'll give Cheney a very slight nod.

Lies are pretty common, Rick. The surprising thing is that the other guy didn't often score on it.

Gwen seemed uncharacteristically nervous, stuttering a few times and mixing up turns. I'll bet she's not very happy with her performance.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

The moderator's performance was embarrassing - suited for a high-school debating club perhaps, but not for this kind of debate. (But then, Dan seems to think both are about equally important...)

I was surprised to hear this morning on the radio that some people seemed to think that both Cheney and Edwards outperformed their respective running mates. I thought Cheney was so much better than Bush that some people might start asking just why Bush is the presidential candidate and not Cheney. Edwards, on the other hand, was not as good as Kerry in my opinion. (But then, I never liked Edwards much, even in the primary debates, and never completely understood why he was so popular.)

I thought that Cheney was slightly ahead going into the closing statements - he had bombarded Edwards with well-phrased facts, distortions and lies, and Edwards didn't have enough time to address all the distortions and the lies. And Cheney still managed to challenge Edwards on a few of his own distortions. They both evaded questions they didn't like.

But then Edwards delivered a very good closing statement. It was paced very well, and it probably made sense to a lot of people.

Cheney, on the other hand, inexplicably tried to cram as many details as possible into his final two minutes and spoke way too fast. It just seemed really weird, and probably few people paid any attention to what he was actually saying.

Given that the final impression is very important, I'd call it a tie.

posted by: gw on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]


I didn't see the whole debate either (we went out to see Shaun of the Dead), but I did catch most of the last half, switching between that and Austin Powers on TBS. I'm suprised you didn't pick up on Edwards' final comments when he once again launched into the rhetoric of having the federal government artificially penalize (via taxes) companies who outsource jobs and / or incentivize (via tax breaks) companies who employ more Americans. Aside from the theoretical discussion surrounding the effectiveness of government-imposed employment directives, how does he seriously believe this can be enforced?

Would all companies be forced to report their "American" employees and foreign-based employees / contractors? What about American companies with significant stand-alone overseas operations (and by this I mean revenue producing operations, not just manufacturing or cost elements)? Or what about foreign-based companies with significant US-based operations and personnel?

To me, the concept that Edwards attempts to pander to (outsourcing jobs) is ludicrous in the extreme when you explore potential implementation using any form of federally mandated controls.

All that being said, I'm still undecided on this whole thing and am starting to feel the pressure to make a decision. Ugh. Why can't we just go the Brewster's Millions route and pick "None of the Above"?

posted by: Jay on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I feel mostly the same, but I think that Edwards won "by a smidge". It was really even, I think it leaned Edwards way just a bit because of the three times that Cheney refused to respond to Edwards. It was, to me, especially damning when he didn't rebuke any of Edwards claims about his voting records. He voted against Head Start, Meals on Wheels, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and freeing Nelson Mandela. Those votes make him look like a very bad person...and he chose to let it go. Baffling.

posted by: JJ on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I think you're right that the Veep debate means little in the election. While Cheney had impressive command of details, Edwards went to the heart of the matter on Iraq when he said, in effect, if things are going so well why do we turn on our TVs and see chaos, along with escalating U.S. casualties. The debate was essentially a tie, although Edwards accomplished what he needed: making himself look like a plausible leader. And Cheney looks and sounds like your high school assistant principal.

posted by: Andrew Leslie on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

By the way, wasn't it odd that Cheney hardly mentioned his running mate? You know, the alfred e. newman-like guy who's Cheney's backup. I've heard people discuss why Bush "keeps" Cheney, but I think it's the other way around. Cheney is the anchor of this administration, the guy who knows where the bodies are buried and mediates intra-administration disputes as well as strong-arming House and Senate leadership, when necessary. He's the go-to guy, as this debate demonstrated. But he's still the assistant principal.

posted by: AWL on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Well, what I thought Cheney or Edwards could have done is not what they did do.

I thought Paul Bremer's speech on Monday gave Edwards a great opening to review Cheney's record of having predicted the American army being welcomed as liberators in Iraq, but he didn't use it. He went off on the Iraq-al-Qaeda link again -- because it is in his talking points, and Kerry's stump speech. Cheney for his point addressed the trial lawyer issue with standard boilerplate. I was not one of the people switching between this and the Twins game, but I don't blame anyone who did.

Here's another thing, obviously not part of Edwards' talking points but evident on the screen: Cheney tired noticeably toward the end. He has had four heart attacks. If you're a heartbeat away, shouldn't the strength of your own heartbeat be an issue? Maybe Edwards does think fast on his feet, but I thought that meant something more than figuring out expeditious ways to returned to one's prepared remarks.

Overall, I thought Cheney had a slight edge, but by Friday night at the latest this will all be forgotten. For what it is worth -- and apart from her letting both candidates get away with very slippery answers on the deficit -- I thought Gwen Ifill was an improvement over Jim Lehrer. Among other things I liked her asking one question (about AIDS among American minorities) that neither candidate saw coming at all.

posted by: Zathras on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]


Cheney may be out of the loop sometimes, but he is one scary mofo of an out of the loop kind of guy. Whether or not you agree with him, he is a heavy weight. Condi on the other hand is a light-weight. She clearly doesn't belong in the WH and clearly does not serve the President well in any capacity except a Sunday morning talkshow guest proxy for the President. She's supposed to be the NSA for crying out loud, she should be Vader. Anyone here remember Kissinger? Because she's been a light-weight is one of the big problems with this Admin. How I long for the days of Kissinger, when I think of Condi. So does Sy Hersh for that matter too, so I'm not the only one.

It's better to have a Machiavellian and sinister NSA but who is competent than a wimpy and preppy one. This is the real world, and the real world is scary. Jack Ryans need not apply.

posted by: oldman on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]


Clearly like Harry you never watch the Daily Show. It was featured as an episode there. Whether or not it's respectful of Miss Rice, it's certainly not disrespectful of her race. My contempt for her is based entirely upon her own demonstrated track record of incompetence and repeated personal failure. Some people knock Colin Powell for instance, but he and Richard Armitage stopped an imminent nuclear war between Pakistan and India. That's pretty good, and buys him a lot of slack in my book. What has Condi done for the President or the country except be a Sunday morning talk show flack? Nothing, nada, zippo.

Bring back Kissinger I say!

posted by: oldman on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I thought Paul Bremer's speech on Monday gave Edwards a great opening to review Cheney's record of having predicted the American army being welcomed as liberators in Iraq, but he didn't use it.

Just to clarify for those who didn't see it: Edwards didn't use Cheney's prediction, but Bremer's speech came up in the very first question asked by Ifill. Cheney dodged the question. Edwards picked it up and came back to it again at least twice later in the debate.

I thought Gwen Ifill was an improvement over Jim Lehrer

Completely disagree. I thought she was horrible. She couldn't figure out whose turn it was several times during the debate. She asked some questions that didn't match the format of the debate - she essentially wanted them both to give a statement on a topic - gay marriage, for example. And then the bizarre question where they weren't supposed to use the name of their running mate. But Cheney got the question and Edwards got a 90-second response (!) to Cheney. But she wanted him to answer the same question that Cheney did without responding to what Cheney said. That was confusing (to Edwards, too, apparently), unfair and just plain stupid.

And the AIDS question she asked might have been unexpected, but it was also fairly irrelevant. Both candidates essentially refused to answer the specific question (she wanted them to address AIDS in the US, not in "China or Africa", and they mainly talked about international aide).

I find questions about proposals to solve very specific problems generally rather pointless since there simply isn't enough time in these debates to go into any serious details. Any candidate who did that would lose the audience quickly. And the audience would have no way of evaluating specific proposals anyway.

posted by: gw on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

I think Sullivan's TNR peice has a good analysis of the debate. Although I think Darth Vader won by a smidge, Edwards appears to have delivered messages that were much more likely to persuade undecided voters, rather than the base or policy wonks. I guess we'll see if thats how it turns out in a few days.


I agree the AIDS question was mostly irrelevant, but Edwards sort of blew his response by being too combative. Given that they disagreed on everything else that night, this would have been a good question for Edwards to be conciliatory on. "I think the administration has taken a good first step inf ighting AIDS, we hope to continue that and expand etc. etc.".

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Cheney did serious damage to his team by telling a bunch of whoppers last night. Yeah, his attacks may have seemed effective at the time, but in the cool light of day he's getting roasted over the pervasive falsehoods. Why would he lie about things that are so easily refuted? The only answer is that he's such a pathological liar that he can't stop himself.

He claims to have never met Edwards, but there's irrefutable proof that he did. I mean, not even the freepers are arguing that one.

He claims to have been in the Senate every Tuesday as the presiding officer, but he's presided over the Senate exactly twice on Tuesday. Again, a lie easily refuted.

He claimed that he never made a link between Saddam and 9/11, but there are reels of archive tape showing him doing exactly that.

Meanwhile, the WMD final report is out showing that his "near certainty" that Saddam had WMD to be pure fantasy.

Cheney just has no credibility whatsoever, and has gotten quite used to being able to lie with imputiny and not get called on it. How can anyone seriously say he won the debate when he's been caught lying multiple times?

posted by: uh_clem on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

But, gw, the thing Bremer's speech is relevant to is Cheney's record of predicting (and planning for) a cakewalk in Iraq. It doesn't speak to the Iraq/al Qaeda link -- which in any case is not getting the traction with voters it might because Islamist terrorists are obviously in Iraq now even if they weren't in March 2003. And it could be argued that even having been wrong about that link the administration would be in a better situation in Iraq if it had not planned on the cakewalk Cheney expected (I'm not completely sold on that myself but every media commentator from Alterman to Zakaria seems to think that's right).

What happened seems obvious. The "cakewalk" argument is not in Kerry's stump speech and was not made in his Miami debate appearance, hence is "off message." Bremer's speech is therefore only used to give the Bush campaign momentary embarrassment, not to support an argument about why things are bad in Iraq now, as opposed to whether we should have gone to war 18 months ago. It's debate by campaign consultant.

I blame the format more than the moderator for the other things you mentioned. And at the risk of seeming crude here, Ifill's AIDS question was the only one so far in either debate that dealt with a concern specific to black Americans -- and no response by any candidate to any other question addressed a concern specific to black Americans either. So it made the candidates sound awkward and forced them away from their prepared talking points: good.

posted by: Zathras on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Uh Dem, perhaps Cheney is trying to appeal to people who heard the debate but who pay no attention to the more subtle media.

I noticed this morning that several talk radio shows were explaining that Cheney won the debate hands down. They quoted various of his lies as true, they explained that Edwards and Kerry are both ultraliberals who're trying to lie about that, etc etc.

If there are undecides who don't hear about Cheney making significant untruths or who don't care, they'll tend to swing toward Bush.

posted by: J Thomas on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]



Dan's religion, i mean idealogy, surely is the future.

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Er, J Thomas, the people getting their info about politics off talk radio are probably not undecided at this point. Talk radio's major effect is to push memes into the mainstream media, but the evening news is undercutting everything Cheney had to say.

posted by: Carleton on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Darth Vader has truly lost it, hes now claiming that Weapons report JUSTIFIES the war in IRaq. KEEP CHUGGING KOOL AID 101st keyboarders.

posted by: Jor on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Edwards won just by the fact of standing up to the far more experiences Cheney and holding his own.

Likewise, both debates, Kerry managed to look more presidential than George.

posted by: v on 10.05.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

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