Thursday, October 07, 2004

VP Debate

Tom Brokaw at NBC News within a minute or two of the conclusion of Tuesday's Vice Presidential debate in Cleveland, called Mr. Cheney "the George Foreman" of debate. Tom is an afficionado of "The Greatest Generation" and easily falls prey to authority figures. His not-so-neutral comment gave one the feeling that he thought Cheney had more of Edwards than the other way around.

Slightly more sober reflections on the debate appeared in newspapers Wednesday morning. The Los Angeles Times editiorial said there was no doubt—Edwards had it on points, taking much less damage than he dished out. The Washington Post editorial said essentially that the Kerry momentum from last Thursday was not diminished by Cheney and that Edwards had acquitted himself quite well. The New York Times editorial spoke less effusively, but granted both contestants their body blows and their lapses of concentration. The Times basically called it a draw. The Village Voice, of all things, weighed in on Cheney's side, and we would bet that the Republicans will not know what to do with that sort of "good news."

In terms of demeanor Edwards was the clear winner. He looked like a good lawyer should look: bright, attentive, sincere, something held back, friendly when he needed to look friendly, concerned looking when he was appalled, never churlish or arrogant or rude or disrespectful of Dick Cheney. When confronted by Cheney with his (and Kerry's) voting record(s) on military matters, Edwards smiled in mock surprise and dished it back to Cheney, who it seems has voted against motherhood, apple pie, as well as truth, justice, and freedom over the years. Cheney was visibly chagrined.

On the other hand Cheney was scowlish and rude. He had the temerity to say that he thought the Democrats had undistinguished records in Congress. Yes, this from a man who distinguished himself by telling Senator Leahy of Vermont to go fuck himself right there on the floor of the Senate. I wish Edwards had brought that up, but perhaps it was better left to the inner voices of the audience. Cheney was effective for brief moments with his long record of public service, especially if one ignores the content of those years. But, Cheney was at a loss for words from time to time. He tried to give the impression that he had never heard such accusations, but everyone knows Edward's comments and descriptions were not only true, but have been out there for weeks and weeks. In the context of the whole campaign, Cheney in effect admitted there was no credible response.

For us, of course, there is no question about it: Cheney and Bush have to go. They have made a mess of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of the North Korean situation. They have done virtually nothing about the Sudan. Russia, needing effective help, has none from George or Dick, and is backsliding into authoritarianism. The domestic economy is sputtering and no one knows for sure whether it can drag itself clear of the insane fiscal policy of the Bush administration.

And, it was good to hear the voices of the press and the people, to hear our call vindicated again and again. Mr. Edwards will make a fine Vice President and will learn the ropes quickly and effectively. He will be ready, if the worst happens, to take the reins and preside over our government. If he likes the #2 job, he might just decide to give it a go for #1. Tuesday evening he looked and acted the part!