Friday, October 01, 2004

Some Thoughts on the Debate

I'm going to piggy back off of Mean Mr. Mustard today because I'm feeling lazy and I always think he has good points. Poo-tee-wheet and I watched the whole debate as Miss Eryn was nice enough to go to sleep just before it started, which is good, because now I won't think the election is between Murray and Greg with Elmo moderating.
  1. In addition to looking like a little kid next to Kerry, Bush seemed to hunch a lot - at least if it wasn't a trick of the camera (addendum: I guess it wasn't), he certainly looked hunched compared to Kerry. Seeing as the last election in some respects relied on the perception of Bush's body language as a reason to vote for him, I would hope people would be un-voting for him this round based on body language. Does he feel persecuted? Like Iraq is sitting on his back? Like he's scared to have a debate? What does it say when you look that short next to your opponent, and you still hunch over, getting in a little mental ball to protect yourself. He's not an armadillo, he should stand up. I did like his angle on the camera better - he seemed to be facing "us" more than Kerry who seemed to be talking to the moderator, at least until later when Kerry seemed to get excited about some of the issues.
  2. Bush got the word "prayers" into his first sentence. Think his base noticed? I do. Oh yeah. Get the word out to your followers that you believe in their values without actually having to say "I want your vote if you're a Christian!" In the closing speeches, Poo-tee-wheet noted that while Kerry sounded like he was giving answers and summation, Bush most definitely sounded like he was offering up a prayer or a sermon. I think it's also part of why we hear the word "steadfast" so much - yes, it's a foil for the flip/flop/mixed signals image the right is trying to create for Kerry, but it also seems meant to give the impression that part of their policy has come direct from G*d and so they're merely following deific destiny.
  3. Kerry's hand gestures were annoying. They looked like the ones you learn if you have a debate coach or were on the Yale debate team - just a guess. They also looked, in some instances, like he took a page from Clinton - the whole open hand downward with a few bobs leading into the almost-thumbs-up with the thumb actually down, like a hammer that's nailed down a point. It didn't look quite as natural with Kerry as with Clinton, but it brought back fond memories. I thought Bush's hand gestures were more annoying - he looked to me, in some respects, as though he'd never had to give a real speech in his life that included any sort of hand gesture other than that damn chopping gesture he does all the time, or the two hands slightly apart bobbing up and down (thanks, Dad!). Of course, you could just listen to radio instead.
  4. Bush had trouble distinguishing between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. I've really come to believe that some of this - not all, but some, is on purpose. Always goof it up, always make the gaff, always make Americans stumble over who is who, what is what and where the war on terror begins and ends. I've seen it so many times lately that it's starting to feel scripted - and you can certainly argue they've bought into their own "it's all the same" mentality and that I'm just paranoid about the insidiousness of it all but, well, I'm paranoid about the insidiousness of it all. I was more bothered that Bush messed up his September 11th talking point - about the pre-September 11th world (that would be the September 10th world) and the post-September 11th world - you'd think that would be rote by now.
  5. I agree - Bush dodged, dodged, dodged and dodged. But more than that, I think he was too busy yelling flip flop and mixed signals to get in any other point or maybe to even care about any other point. Republicans don't see debates as debate, they see them as a chance to create a metaphor or an image - I think that hurt them this time.
  6. Kerry missed a huge opportunity when Bush talked about Prime Minister Allawi's speech to Congress. The first time I heard this idea bandied about, other than vaguely noticing it myself, was on The Daily Show. I don't think they have proof that the Bushies wrote Allawi's speech, as compelling as the evidence is, and if there's any chance he'd be labeled The Daily Show president (although he did appear on the show) he might be wise to avoid that image for a few weeks. I know some higher Dems have been saying the same thing, but it's still just insinuation. I think Kerry more than made up for it by quoting Allawi's own statements about terrorists entering Iraq. It might not mean much if you don't follow the news, but he basically got to call him a liar without saying it. I agree with Mr. Mustard about the $87 billion charge, but it's been beaten to death so maybe he was relying on the public knowing the record, I preferred his take on buying flak jackets and not finding doors for Humvees - made it a little more personal. I know it'll resonate with the families and coworkers of soldiers who are in that position (which includes my mother in Arizona who helped buy a flak jacket for a coworker).
  7. Bush looked visibly angry during many of the split-screens. Did he ever. As I think Atrios said, "Kerry looked Presidential, Bush smirked." When he actually did the mini-interruption to get in his point, he looked like a kid trying to say "unh uh!" Whereas the one time I saw Kerry jump the gun, he looked like he was elucidating and passionate about a debate point.
  8. Hug a widow Mr. President. Hug a widow. And attend a funeral. And release some pictures of funerals and coffins. You want us to know how dedicated you are to the widows and the mothers and the children of our soldiers, not to mention the soldiers themselves? You want us to know how committed you are to this cause, how much you believe it was the right path and how dedicated your are to not drafting our children into a series of preemptive wars? Then show us via your actions as the president, not as a debater with a story. In that respect, you've had a one-sided debate podium for 3 years now and you've never turned on your mike.
  9. (my own points start here, not Mr. Mustard's). Nonproliferation. Excellent. One of my pet peeves about the Bush Administration is that I've always been sort of an avid reader about nonproliferation and WMD control, biological and nuclear, and I don't see them handling it in a cohesive way at all. What I see with this administration is a total disregard for all of the policies that Clinton had in place to buy up nuclear material from the (former) Soviet Union, to hire scientists, to place biologists where they could examine and close nuclear and biological sites, to coordinate intelligence (as the 9/11 commission recommends) and on and on. I don't think nonproliferation work is something you do starting at the end of a gun, it's an ongoing process that requires a commitment of resources to keep working the whole world, to create the notion that even though we are a country with weapons of mass destruction, we're a country that wishes they could all go away, not a country with new tactical bunker busters and a will to use them preemptively. I think this administration, by creating a four year gap in the middle of what was an evolving program, has set us back more than we can ever know. Kerry handled this wonderfully with lots of solid ideas and facts to back up his points - and if the right believes that everything is black and white, then I guess that makes Bush the proliferation president.
  10. Darfur. Yes the Bush Administration supported intervention, but for the most part it was intervention in the (not so) old war that was killing Christians. The new evolution of that civil war, the one Powell is calling genocide, that's the one that needs to be addressed. It's not another Rwanda as Kerry hinted it could be, but it is bad enough that we should be there in some capacity other than with a cash handout in order to prevent future bases of terrorism and in order to help a people who seem to be having a problem helping themselves. Addressing the possibility of failed (and failing) states is directly related to nonproliferation. I wish they would have actually had more time to duke this one out.


klund said...

I think Kerry missed an opportunity to really nail down why he should be President. After Bush went on one of his "mixed messages", "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" rants, Kerry should have said something like this: "You're right, Mr. President. You can't say the Iraq war was a mistake, because that would undermine your credibility. But a new President can acknowledge the mistakes of his predecessor, and offer assurances to the troops on the ground that the war will now be handled in an intelligent manner, with more help from other countries, and with a realistic exit strategy. We can't solve the problem if we don't acknowlege it exists." Or something like that. Dunno.

BiggTree said...

I really wanted to voice my opinion of last night's debate. I perused the Internet and found that my views don't pass the 'global test'. Therefore, I will remain quiet.