Vice Presidential Debate
The Vice Presidential debate starts in about ten minutes. I’ll be watching the live feed via C-SPAN, and will update this post with ramblings once the debate is done. And we’re off. They’re both sitting down tonight, rather than standing as Kerry and Bush were. So far, nothing but silence — everybody’s either reading or writing on notepads…probably waiting for the broadcast to start.
The moderator looks like she’s about to bust up laughing as they all just sit silently, looking at each other.
And we’re (really) off. The moderator (Gwen Ifill) is going over the rules…yadda yadda. Same rules as the Presidential debates.
Asking Cheney about Paul Bremer’s recent comments about the number of troops on the ground…and something else that I missed a bit of while typing an IM message. Oops. Cheney’s going on about Saddamn and who we knew he was working with in the past. “What we did in Iraq was exactly the right thing to do, I’d recommend the same actions again.”
Edwards’ first comment: “Mr. Vice President, you are still not being straight with the American people.” He’s bringing up the various Republican leaders who have been speaking out against the current administration. Definitely not pulling any punches, or wasting time with pleasantries.
Interesting that Edwards is consistently addressing Cheney directly — the rules state that they can’t ask each other direct questions, but apparently they can address each other (or Edwards is just pushing the limits, but he hasn’t been called on it yet).
Ack — Edwards just stumbled over Osama bin Laden, starting to call him Saddamn.
Cheney: “I have not suggested that there is a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.”
Cheney’s claiming that we’ve never let up on bin Laden, and that we’ve gotten rid of the Taliban. He keeps mentioning the upcoming first-ever democratic elections in Iraq (I’m skeptical as to whether or how well those will turn out, but we won’t know until they happen).
Kerry’s “global test” comment is definitely coming into play — Cheney brought it up and Edwards started to answer, but I think he slid a little off topic as he started to run out of time.
Careful Edwards — he started to interrupt Cheney, then backed down. Don’t get too eager.
Good — the moderator is bringing Edwards back to the “global test” comment of Kerry’s. “What is a ‘global test’ if it’s not a global veto?”
Edwards is stressing that we’ll start by telling the truth, that both the American people and the rest of the world know the truth about any armed conflict before we enter into it, to ensure that we’re credible. “The first Gulf War cost five billion dollars. The Iraq war is at twenty billion and counting.”
Edwards repeated Kerry’s assertion that the US is bearing 90% of the cost and casualties of the war, Cheney is saying that that’s “dead wrong,” putting us at around 50% of the casualties and 40% (?) of the cost (he’s counting Iraqi casualties).
These two are going at each other a lot — lots of “you” comments (and so far, all of them more than a little unfriendly). Not sure what I think about this, really. More honest, I suppose — far more combative, definitely.
As much as I can’t stand Cheney, he’s good at this — picking through things to find the small kernels that he can twist and turn to his advantage. He’s a scary, scary man. As Prairie just IM’d me, “he’s smart enough to really be slimy, while Bush is too stupid to really pull it off.”
Cheney just mentioned that in the Gulf War we had 34 countries in the coalition, today we have 30. I’d love to compare the lists of the countries, how much they were/are contributing, etc. Saying that it’s a four country difference doesn’t sound like much, but if it’s four big countries, it could make a big difference.
Edward stressed that the US is taking 90% of the coalition casualties, and Cheney accused him of not caring about the sacrifices the Iraqis have made. Slimy.
Edwards was just asked a question, but he’s using the time to respond to Cheney’s last comment — he’s not going to have time to answer the question he was asked.
All the talk about Zarquawi (sp?) sounds like he’s the new boogeyman — Osama’s MIA, Saddamn’s been captured, we’ve gotta have someone to demonize and use to strike fear into the hearts of the voters! (Not that Zarquawi isn’t a bad man, that’s just how it’s coming across to me.)
Edwards: “There are sixty countries with members of Al Quaida in them. How many are we going to invade?”
Nice — Edwards is bringing up all of Haliburton’s dirty dealings, stressing those that were done while Cheney was CEO.
Cheney mentioned factcheck.com as an independent website dealing with the Haliburton issues.
Moving on to the Israel/Palestine conflict (which, as I’ve said before, I’ve never looked into enough to know much of anything about).
Did Edwards really miss as many things as Cheney claimed? That was a pretty big list.
Edwards said it was a complete distortion, but immediately started hitting Cheney’s record — not really addressing what Cheney said about him.
Cheney: “We need to make America the best place in the world to do business.” Wouldn’t it be good to stop outsourcing things left and right? Encourage business to stay in America rather than giving tax breaks to go overseas?
Cheney’s going into their record on education, after a question about jobs and poverty (nicely pointed out by Edwards).
Edwards just got asked about how we’re going to turn around the deficit — he started by going into how bad things have gotten under Bush/Cheney. Saying they’ll roll back tax cuts for people who make over $200k/year, keep tax cuts in place for people under $200k/year, and have additional tax cuts for middle to low income families. They want to close corporate loopholes. Admits that they cannot eliminate the deficit, but says they can cut it in half and put us back on track.
Cheney says the Kerry/Edwards proposed tax cuts would unfairly target small businesses.
Edwards: “We are not for more tax cuts for multi-millionaires, and they are.”
Interesting — the moderator just asked about the administration’s support for the gay marriage amendment after his comments about “freedom means freedom for everybody.” Cheney says that he’d prefer that it be left up to the states — basically, he’s saying that it’s all up to the President. It wasn’t his fault, it was the President’s idea, and he supports the President. Feels to me like he’s passing the buck.
(sigh) Edwards: “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and so does John Kerry.” He does say that the constitution shouldn’t be amended, though. I’m not happy with much of anybody on this one.
At least Edwards said that the issue shouldn’t be being used for political purposes, and that we should be paying attention to bigger issues such as the war, etc.
After all the attacks on Edwards being a trial lawyer, Cheney was asked directly if he was saying that Edwards was part of the problem, and he hedged — laughed and paused — had to be prompted by the moderator to actually answer.
Lots of talk about insurance and medical care — hard for me to take heads or tails of, to be honest, which is a shame, as I can’t afford medical insurance at the moment.
Again, Edwards is saying that all the loopholes in the insurance laws should be closed, but he’s not addressing Cheney’s claim that he took advantage of those same loopholes to avoid paying $600,000. I’ve gotta admit, I’m not thrilled with his complete avoidance of the attacks Cheney is making against him…it could be that they’re not worth responding to, but it also sounds like he may be avoiding talking about them because they’re true.
I’d have been happier seeing Edwards say something about promoting condom use and actual sex education in combatting AIDS in comparison to abstinence, but he just wandered back into health care.
“A long resume does not equal good judgement.” True, but I almost feel like it’s too obviously being used as a talking point.
Both of them were asked to state &dmash; without mentioning the other by name — how they were different from their opponent. Cheney mentioned Edwards’ name twice in the first ten seconds. Okay, maybe it’s a minor thing, but come on, it wasn’t that hard of a clause. (My bad — they weren’t supposed to mention their running partner’s name, and now Edwards has stumbled twice over that, which Cheney didn’t.)
Nice question from the moderator: “What’s wrong with a little flip-flopping now and then?”
Edwards so far is just stressing that Kerry has been consistent, now he’s pointing out various Bush administration flip-flops. Answer the damn question! Not that Cheney’s doing any better in his response — Kerry flip-flops, Bush stays the course.
From Prairie on Cheney’s claim that studies are showing how much better minority students are doing in our educational system: “credible studies DON’T show that… credible studies show that minority students drop out before they can be tested and therefore aren’t included in the numbers at all (except for the few exceptional ones)”, and, “the NEA protested no child left behind… if teachers say it doesn’t work, it probably doesn’t workthe NEA protested no child left behind… if teachers say it doesn’t work, it probably doesn’t work” (she’s a teacher, so she knows more about all that than I do).
Edwards is on about health care again. Dean was the only candidate that I could ever listen to about health care without my eyes starting to glaze over (he’s also the only one that ever seemed to talk about it, rather than just pushing talking points again and again).
Closing statements, Edwards is first.
Starting with a personal story about his dad learning math on his own time. “I have grown up in the bright light of America, but that light is flickering today.” I like that Edwards is emphasizing that every four years, we have the right to choose, and it’s up to us as voters.
Cheney’s on. Sounds to me like he’s making all the usual promises that I can’t trust him to keep. Now he’s moving on to the usual Bush/Cheney fear tactic: 9/11, terrorism, vote for us or you’re all going to die. Again, they’ve “taken down the regimes of Saddamn Hussein and the Taliban.” Saddamn’s captured, but from what I’ve read, the Taliban is regrouping, and possibly stronger than ever. Fear, fear, fear. Ugh.
Final thoughts: I’m not sure I want to declare a clear winner. Well, that’s not true — I want to declare Edwards the winner, but I’m not sure I can. Cheney’s slime, but I kept getting the feeling that Edwards was dodging things, and he consistently failed to impress me. I’m not entirely sure how this one is going to affect the race, if much at all.
After all that, what I’m really coming up with is a big fat “eeeeehhhh….”
Again, a debate schedule:
- 1st Presidential Debate: Thursday, September 30, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL (done)
- Vice Presidential Debate: Tuesday, October 5, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH (done)
- 2nd Presidential Debate: Friday, October 8, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
- 3rd Presidential Debate: Wednesday, October 13, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ