Saturday, October 09, 2004

Much Better


George W Bush did what he had to do in last night's debate. He looked and sounded confident. He didn't "um", or hesitate before speaking, or stumble over his words like he did in the first debate. No he didn't "win" every point or engagement with John Kerry. But then, it is a mistake to score these things as if we were watching a college debate among students.

Bush was fired up. He also looked comforable with the format and audience. Kerry looked aristocratic and condescenting.

Bush also kept his body language under control, and the smirks I saw were from Kerry. Granted, I was typing or following some blogs much of the time so I didn't see all of it, but I didn't hear of any problems either.

Bottom Line: The President won. Not decisively, but he didn't need to. Kerry needed another decisive victory and he didn't get it.

I don't have time this morning to go through all of the details of the debate, so I'll save that post for another time. For now I'll let you know my general impressions.

The biggest temptation among those of us who follow politics so intently is to grade every exchange, and wish Bush had said this or that. If you followed the commentary at National Review's The Corner blog, some of them did just that.

Bush also kept his body language under control, and the smirks I saw were from Kerry. Granted, I was typing most of the time so I didn't see all of it, but neither did I hear from any commentator that it was a problem.

Perhaps the biggest problem among those of us who follow politics so intently and then write about is that we "grade" every exchange on what Bush should or should not have said. "He did't adequately counter Kerry's Tora Bora attack!" is all too easy.

It was interesting to follow the debate at National Review's The Corner blog, and compare their comments to those left at Little Green Footballs. The NR commentators are professionals, and those at LGF average people sitting at home. The former overanalyzed every comment, the latter looked at the "big picture" of how the debate was going in general.

Kerry looked like a whiner. He's saying bad things about me! He's calling me wishy washy! I am not! Really! And I have a plan!

After the Democratic primary it seemed that Kerry was running for platoon leader. Now it seems like he's running for president of the student government association: He kept listing people who support him as if it's a popularity contest. "See? All the cool people like me!"

Did anyone believe Kerry when he said that he and Edwards would push for tort reform? Or that he would not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 per year? What howlers.

We conservatives have reason to be happy this morning.

More Good News

John Howard wins in Australia!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Tonight's Debate

President Bush has a chance to really help himself in tonight's debate. My sense is that the American people will reelect Bush for four more years if they are convinced of two things: (1) John Kerry is a Left-wing US Senator from Massachusetts who will raise taxes and will not wage a vigorous war on terror. (2) President Bush is a determined leader who sees the cold hard facts and responds decisively to them. At this point a near majority of Americans already believe this. But if Bush does well tonight he will persuade a sizable number of undecided voters to vote for him and energize those who already support him. I hope President Bush can present himself as an optimistic and genial person while still laying numerous heavy blows against John Kerry's Left-wing biography.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Vice Presidential Debate

Can anyone imagine John Edwards as President of the United States after this debate? Dick Cheney was the adult, calmly reciting facts and making points. John Edwards seems like a kid. An awfully smart kid, but one not ready (if ever) to be a player in the big leagues.

Cheney won the debate on both style and substance. Edwards might have edged him out on some aspects of domestic policy but it wasn't enough. Edwards had read his briefing books well, but it came across as just that; a recital of slogans that he had just learned. Cheney displayed depth of knowledge.

Cheney played to one of his strengths in a very smart way: Rather than just say "I'm experienced so vote for me" several times, he demonstrated that experience by reciting historical events that he participated in. He then pointed out that Kerry and Edwards were absent much of the time in the Senate.

Cheney kept the foreign policy debate focused on the War on Terror, which was smart. He also attacked Kerry's record, which Bush notably did not do in the presidential debate.

Most of all, however, Dick Cheney came across as someone who knew his facts inside and out, especially with regard to foreign policy. He recited history. He told of votes in the Senate ("votes that you missed, Senator"). "I was there" was his message. This was a much better way of presenting experience rather than just saying "I am experienced", which is largely what Bush did in his first debate with Kerry.

Edwards became an attack dog in the early part of the debate but his tactics backfired. Morton Krondake described him perfectly: "a dog yapping at a grown-up's heals." Cheney slapped him down much as an adult might admonish a youngster.

This was not a friendly debate, like the one in 2000 between Cheney and Lieberman.

I won't do a complete blow-by-blow but what follows is my take on some of the highlights.

If you say it often enough

Like Kerry, John Edwards seems to think that if you say something often enough it becomes true. Last night he repeated ad nauseum that

- we have a plan
- we will be tough
- we will get the terrorists
- we are consistent

By my count he said that they have "a plan" some seventeen times.

The Haliburton Smear (corrected 10-7)

Edwards went after Cheney on Haliburton, but Cheney refused to attack Edwards on his record as a trial lawyer. And there is much to go after. The result is that Edwards came across as a mud-slinger, while Cheney as a person interested in serious discussion about policy. Cheney is the better man and it showed.

(Note; I have deleted my previous summary of Halliburton and the governement contracting program known as LOGCAP as it was not entirely accurate. As the situation is a bit complicated, I advise readers to check out Kat's post here on her blog, and also to follow the links posted at the bottom of her page for more information)

That Global Test

It is obvious by now that Kerry and Edwards know they are vulnerable on the issue of the "Global Test" from the first debate. Edwards tried to spin his way out of it tonight but failed miserably. Here is what Edwards said:

He said that — made mention of this global test. What John Kerry said — and it's just as clear as day to anybody who was listening — he said: We will find terrorists where they are and kill them before they ever do harm to the American people, first.

We will keep this country safe. He defended this country as a young man, he will defend this country as president of the United States.

He also said very clearly that he will never give any country veto power over the security of the United States of America.

Now, I know the vice president would like to pretend that wasn't said, and the president would too. But the reality is it was said.

"Really guys! Please believe me!"

Nice try, John, but hardly convincing.

I absolutely couldn't believe it when Edwards attempted to use the Gulf War Coalition to demonstate "failure" on the part of Bush/Cheney in the Iraq war. Does this man, I thought, not realize that John Kerry voted against the Gulf War? If the coalition George H W Bush assembled to drive Saddam out of Kuwait was not enough, then what would be?

Ambush Alley

The trial lawyer himself was ambushed last night. Here's Edwards
"...90 percent of the coalition casualties, Mr. Vice President, the coalition casualties, are American casualties. Ninety percent of the cost of this effort are being borne by American taxpayers."
But Cheney was waiting. He saw his chance and pounced
"Classic example. He won't count the sacrifice and the contribution of Iraqi allies. It's their country. They're in the fight. They're increasingly the ones out there putting their necks on the line to take back their country from the terrorists and the old regime elements that are still left. They're doing a superb job. And for you to demean their sacrifices strikes me as..."
Edwards saw his mistake and tried to jump in, but Cheney quickly cut him down
"... somehow they shouldn't count, because you want to be able to say that the Americans are taking 90 percent of the sacrifice. You cannot succeed in this effort if you're not willing to recognize the enormous contribution the Iraqis are increasingly making to their own future."
I came out of my chair on that one.

How often we forget the losses incurred by the very people we are helping. How often do you see a documentary about the Korean War in which the South Korean forces are completely ignored? You'd never know that the South Korean army lost over twice the number of soldiers that we did.

Edwards also tried to claim that the reason other nations (read France Germany and Russia) don't want to help us in Iraq is a "lack of credibility." This charge is seriously wrong for at least two reasons:

One, it insinuates that the Bush Administration were the only ones in the world saying that Saddam Hussain had WMD. If you only listened to the Democrats, you would get the impression that the Bush Administration (run, don't you know, by those evil neocons) were the only people in the world saying that Saddam Hussain had WMD. Not true. The entire world believed that Saddam had WMD. The only question was what do do about it.

Second, does he not know, or care, about the Oil-for-Food scandal? Or does it just not fit into his ideological worldview?

Plastic Guns?

Edwards attempted to perpetuate a falsehood that the anti-gun crowd uses frequently:
"When he was one of 435 members of the United States House, he was one of 10 to vote against Head Start, one of four to vote against banning plastic weapons that can pass through metal detectors."
This is apparently a reference to a type of automatic handgun in which the handgrip and lower assembly is made of a high-strength polymer (a type of plastic, but very strong stuff). The slide and barrel are, of course, made of steel. These handguns were introduced by a Czech company called Glock. What is important to know is that the guns are most definately not "invisible" to X-rays. Don't look for many commentators to catch this one.

Outsourcing, Insourcing

Edwards said the usual stuff about how he believes that we are losing jobs and (those evil and uncaring) conservatives don't care. Thomas Sowell wrote an excellent column a few weeks ago in which he pointed out that makes little sense to talk about outsourcing if you're not also going to talk about insourcing. From what you see and read from most media outlets you'd never guess that more jobs come to the U.S. every year than leave. And the jobs that leave are low-paying and the ones that come are high-paying.

Singing that Class Warfare Song

Much of Edwards attack was the usual class warfare that we've come to expect from the Democrats. They seem to have forgotten their Tenth Commandment "Thou shalt not envy". That's what it all about folks; rich against the poor. And to think that Edwards then had to gall to accuse Cheney of creating "divisions" over gay marriage.

The attacks on drug companies by the left are reaching almost McCartyite proportions. Just like Al Gore in 2000, Edwards was at it again:
"They had a choice on allowing prescription drugs into this country from Canada, of being with the American people or with the drug companies. They were with the drug companies."
Can you imagine if the Republicans said this about any group of Americans? As it is when they go after Kerry on terrorism they are acused of "questioning his patriotism". But more to the point, who do these people think work for the drug companies, robots? How do you think that they feel about what are, after all, attacks on their patriotism? Pretty rotten, I'd think.

Most Memorable Lines

This goes to Vice President Cheney, hands down
"Your rhetoric, Senator, would be a lot more credible if there was a record to back it up. There isn't.

And you cannot use "talk tough" during the course of a 90-minute debate in a presidential campaign to obscure a 30-year record in the United States Senate and, prior to that by John Kerry, who has consistently come down on the wrong side of all the major defense issues that he's faced as a public official."

Edwards, like Kerry, is an empty suit. And Cheney nailed them on it.

Help me, I'm so Confused!

Twice during the debate John Edwards was confused.

The first time was when he kept saying "Kerry" when the moderator specifically said they could not mention their presidential candates in their answer. He did this not just once but twice. The second time was at the end when he became confused as to whose turn it was.

This was not a devastating moment for Edwards, and most commentators will probably not even mention it, but it did make Edwards look bad. Cheney looked the crebral adult throughout, in perfect command of himself and the situation.

A Real Moderator this Time

Gwen Ifill was fantastic. She asked tough, but fair questions to each candidate. Jim Lehrer was terrible, and let Kerry get by without a single question to him about his record.

Update and Correction 10-7

For a much better description of LOGCAP and Halliburton, see Kat's post here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Tonight's VP Debate

Tonight's debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards has taken on new significance in the face of the president's lackluster performance last week. The Democrats are today energized, and the Republicans defensive.

All John Edwards has to do is prove he's not the empty suit that we know him to be. He doesn't have to know what he's talking about, but only has to look like he does. Dick Cheney has to come across as a "nice guy".

Edwards is smart enough to be able to quickly digest and memorize briefing books by the dozen. That he has no depth may not be apparent to those who have not followed the campaign. Cheney's job tonight is to expose this weakess.

If all Cheney does is tout his "experience" he will loose. The fact is that most voters will not be presuaded by this argument. Hopefully he will be smart enough not to overplay his had in this area.

I'll post my analysis either late tonight or tomorrow morning.

If you'd like a blow by blow during the debate, log in to National Review's blog The Corner. I found it excellent during the presidential debate, as I could follow the comments of the regular National Review staff along with some guests.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Proverbs 18:12 counsels: "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility."

I thought, this being Sunday, I would offer you a little Biblical verse.

Actually, it’s part of Michelle Malkin’s closing commentary after verbally putting a “Royal Jerk” in a headlock and messing up his hair-do (Maybe Bush should do that the next time Kerry tries to pull him into another ‘alpha male’ hand-shake).

“… there are some naked attributes Mr. Kerry cannot conceal: His spite. His haughtiness. His condescending core.”

I think John Kerry is a self-absorbed opportunist that would put his own aspirations above our nation’s interest. His personal interactions with those around him reflect his great conceit. But then again does character really matter anymore?