Two disclaimers. One: Despite two longish political posts in week, I assure you this isn’t becoming a political blog. Well, maybe a little bit. But only for the next
60 30 days (my how time flies). After the election, regardless of who wins, I promise to go back to not caring, Honest Native American. Two: I realize I’m a little late to the vp-debate analysis party, but I didn’t get back from DC until late last night and only now have had the opportunity to weigh in.
Overall I thought things were kind of boring, but I did like the ending, when Cheney cut off Edward’s hand and then revealed himself to be his father.
Heh. Okay, just kidding. Here’s my real thoughts:
I’d call it a tie. I know that “tie” is what people say about debates when they think their side lost, but, seriously, I thought the whole thing was a wash. The only time I ever predicted a winner during the course of the event was about halfway through, when I announced that Edwards was “cleaning up.” But somehow, by the end, I decided that it was just sound and fury, signifying nothing. It was like matter and anti-matter: Mr. Positive and Mr. Negative collided in a flash that left nothing in its wake except a mysterious, 100-minute void in time.
Early in the proceedings, Edwards repeated, verbatim, a few lines Kerry had used in the first debate. I dunno if that was planned as an effort to drive home a few key points or if Edwards was nervous and could only cough out some recycled one-liners, but it was a poor opening gambit either way. Wasn’t one of the major criticism of Bush’s performance that he kept repeating the same thing over and over?
After the debate the commentators on MSNBC were remarking how surprising Cheney’s performance was, because he didn’t come across as a “go fuck yourself” barking ogre and instead seemed staid and respectable. Do these people have no short-term memory whatsoever? That’s exactly how Cheney presented himself in the 2000 vice-presidential debate, to the point where many people (myself included) found themselves thinking that a Bush presidency wouldn’t be that bad, what with such a reasonable, cautious second-in-command. Since then Cheney has unmasked himself as the nephew of Satan, sure, but why people thought he was going to present himself as anything except dignified is beyond me.
Edwards: “I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can’t have anything but respect for the fact that they’re willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It’s a wonderful thing.” That might be the most wince-worthy thing I’ve ever heard in a debate. I don’t know what’s worse, Edward’s implication that Cheney might not love his daughter, or that it takes such a Herculean effort to love gay offspring that parents who do deserve respect.
You got to admire the way that Cheney can repeat known falsehoods (“I’ve never suggested there’s a connection between Saddam and 9/11”) without a trace of visible shame. No, seriously: you’ve got to admire it, by law. It’s written into the Patriot Act.
What’s the point of having a “backup buzzer system” if you’re not going to use it whenever Edwards breaks the “no mentioning your running mate’s name” rule?
Edwards says that America is taking “90 percent of the coalition casualties.” Cheney replied, “Classic example. He won’t count the sacrifice and the contribution of Iraqi allies” and that, by saying “they shouldn’t count, because you want to be able to say that the Americans are taking 90 percent of the sacrifice,” Edwards is demeaning them. In response, Edwards blusters “I’m not demeaning!” Great comeback, there, tiger. And this guy was a trial lawyer? How about pointing out that you were talking about the coalition and Cheney isn’t, so it’s apples and oranges. How about saying “This administration is so desperate to disguise the true cost of the operation that they want to count the Iraqis as part of the coalition to invade Iraq. Now there’s your classic example.”
Laugh out Loud moment: Cheney talking about his disappointment over how divided America is, as if it was just some unlucky break. Yeah, I’ll be sure to use that same tact in my next performance review with my boss: “One of my great disappointments with my job is how much time I spend surfing the Internet instead of doing actual work.”
Vice-presidental debate transcripts here: part 1, part 2. Comments are open.