October 5, 2004
The VP DebateMy immediate impressions:
Dick Cheney didn't go down in flames like Bush did. However, the number of times he evaded issues [Paul Bremer saying there wasn't enough troops in Iraq or Donald Rumsfeld saying he doesn't see a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda] or outrightly lied about them [Halliburton being a "smokescreen" or that he didn't say there's a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11] were breathtaking. His closing statement was essentially a dire warning, as he stuck to the "Vote Bush or Die" mantra.
This debate was a Catch-22 for Cheney. He had to look good to make up for Bush's horrible performance during the first debate but he can't look so good that he overshadows his boss. At the same time, he had to effectively counter the attacks from Edwards, defend the Administration's dismal record and somehow not scare voters who are uncomfortable with him to begin with. To me, his demeanor and arguments made him look like a zealot and ideologue who doesn't let a little inconvenience like the truth get in the way.
John Edwards did a good job of being the attack dog tonight. He called this Administration the height of hypocrisy. He didn't let go of issues that Cheney responded to or completely ignored, often taking time to counter the latter's rebuttals. He hammered the Administration's incompetence and failures. I wish he turned the issue of the $87 billion around and how Bush threatened to veto it. I wish he mentioned Abu Ghraib. I wish he had a more concise explanation for Kerry's global test remark.
But he did good in saying he and Kerry valued work as opposed to Bush/Cheney who valued wealth. He mentioned specific plans on domestic issues like health care and tax cuts and jobs. His closing statement was hopeful and optimistic. He may not have commanded the room but he more than held his own.
I think it was a draw. By the way, Gwen Ifill's questions to Edwards were of the "how long have you been beating your wife variety", just horrible, whereas she mostly asked inane questions of Cheney. How can she get away with questions like that? See for yourself.
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