I'm putting it all under the fold in case anyone really wants to follow along, not that I'm assuming anyone would. It's going to get longer and longer anyway, and it's easier to reload one post than the whole blog.
b8:58 These guys are sitting there writing down everything they can remember before the debate begins. I guess they weren't allowed to bring anything in with them. The commentators are talking as if they're about to take an exam and don't want to forget their last-minute studying. There's probably some of that, but I bet in Cheney's case there's more to it. I suspect he's writing down a structured argument and wants to make sure he has it all in order in front of him for quick reference.
9:01 Another PBS moderator? Her first question assumes something false. Rumsfeld never said there was no evidence for any connection. Bad sign.
9:05 Cheney states the case for invading Iraq almost as well as Blair does.
9:08 Edwards doesn't respond to Cheney's points until after Cheney has responded to Edwards. Edwards says the Rumsfeld quote was yesterday. This is new to me. It's also shocking in that it contradicts the 9-11 Commission's report.
9:09 Edwards thinks there were no WMD. What were the WMD programs the Senate commission and 9-11 commission developing, then? The 9-11 Commission and the Senate Commission said there were such programs. Did he just say the 9-11 Commission said there was no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda?
9:14 Afghan warlords again! Does he realize how politically incorrect it is to use that kind of language about third-world allies? If he starts calling France and Germany our allies, then we'll know he's doing the snooty Eurocentric thing.
9:16 Sanctions harm only the ordinary citizens. We saw that with Iraq. Why does Cheney's support for removing sanctions a bad thing? Sanctions don't prevent development of WMD.
9:18 Here's a new way of calling Bush a liar while sounding positive. "We're going to tell them the truth about why we're using force." We've been lying to other countries, too, apparently.
9:19 Coalition insulted already -- saying there isn't one. 50% and 90% are pretty different.
9:21 Cheney works in an AWOL comment about Edwards and the vote on this. The American people saw John Kerry last night. He said stuff that looked strong. He appeared strong. Therefore, he'll be a strong, consistent leader. Cheney understands that the last debate was a fashion show. Edwards apparently thinks it should be evaluated by fashion show standards.
9:23 Good -- Cheney is focusing on the things Kerry did that weren't just in the post Cold War situation when even Cheney was reducing the military.
9:24 Cheney: Kerry has a long resume of bad things.
Edwards: A long resume isn't necessarily good, so Bush's long record of bad things is bad. (Wasn't Cheney talking about Kerry's own long resume that was bad? I don't get it.)
9:27 Saddam little or no connection to al Qaeda? Offering them a place to stay? Al Qaeda asking Iraq for aid later even though they at the time didn't lead to anything? That's more than a little, even if it's not a coordinated plan to attack the U.S. The potential was the issue, not the existence of a plan that we knew all the details of and knew was imminent.
9:28 new president = credibility with the rest of the world
According to Kerry, the only qualification he has is that he's not Bush. How is that sufficient for credibility, especially when the "ally" nations have already said they won't help. Why do these guys keep repeating this nonsense?
9:30 Cheney notes the inconsistency of saying the coalition is worthless and then calling for more foreign troops to help with Iraq. The Allawi comment is also good to bring in here. He's hitting all the points Kerry left wide open for Bush last week.
9:31 Cheney keeps saying the 90% figure of who pays is ignoring Iraqi deaths, forces, and finances. That's the difference that pulls it down to 50%? Iraqi forces are taking 40% of the cost, then. That's almost as much as Americans. We're still bearing more than anyone else, but that was true in the first Gulf War too, which Edwards is holding up as the model that we've fallen short of this time around.
9:34 Edwards cites some things not going well as evidence that it's not the case that things are going well -- logical fallacy, buddy. A lawyer should know that. It's consistent to say both that things are going well and that some things aren't going well. This evidence shows the latter. It doesn't show the denial of the former.
I've noticed that Edwards keeps calling Cheney "this vice-president". Kerry kept calling Bush "this president". Nice rhetorical trick. Remove the honorific impact of the title by making it sound negative, all the while reminding your audience that you hope to take that title away. Sneaky.
9:37 No, not sanctions! What are you thinking, Cheney? You had the upper hand with this until now. Maybe it wouldn't be as bad with Iran as with Iraq because it isn't a tight monarchical structure with as much of an extreme of haves and have nots. Still, I don't think sanctions have the effect they're supposed to.
9:39 Edwards reminds us that al Qaeda is in 60 countries, and we can't invade all of them. That's true. That's why we have to pick the ones that will be most effective at dealing with other issues, such as picking ones with WMD programs (e.g. Iraq) that we can have a hope to win (e.g. Iraq) that won't anger as many people (not one of the big Arab countries really liked Saddam Hussein). It doesn't hurt that it's also one that might allow better trade relations for oil. That's not a corruption charge. It's a good reason for favoring one choice for invasion over another given that they both constitute just causes and that only one is possible.
9:40 Halliburton! Cheney recommends factcheck.com to get the real facts. Effort to confuse voters with no substance. He's right. It's idiotic to think Halliburton is any problem at all for Cheney given the facts, but it does take longer than 30 seconds to explain why. Edwards has the rhetorical advantage here, but he's got nothing.
9:44 Cheney: Edwards is AWOL in Senate attendance. Halliburton is to distract from that. The President of the Senate just met this senator for the first time tonight. Wow! He has no reputation to lose for being nice, so he'll do all the jugular moves Bush wouldn't do.
9:46 Cheney voted against gun control and federal government expansion. That makes his record worse than Edwards, who didn't show up at anything because bad is worse than zero. Well, that assumes that all those votes were bad. We've seen good effects of some of that government expansion (though not exclusively), but is that always a sufficient reason for expanding federal programs and creating new departments?
9:48 Cheney defense No Child Left Behind. Accountability, parental choice to move to good schools, etc. Wants to expand to secondary schools. Gap between minorities and whites closing. Edwards wants the question to be all to be about jobs, even though she said it was more general, focusing on the job losses from the recession Bush inherited and then worsened from 9-11, ignoring the quick recovery. Outsourcing millions of American jobs! This guy doesn't understand how harmful protectionism is to the American economy. Cheney's tax point is right. Far more people don't pay taxed now at the lower end than ever before.
9:52 She's less biased than Lehrer was in his questions. This is at least the third question that challenges some policy of Kerry. In this case, she wonders how he'll cut the deficit without raising taxes on anyone but the very top bracket. He spends a long time insisting that what Kerry says will happen before finally saying what he'll do. Tax cuts for families are going to balance the budget? Get rid of bureaucratic levels of management in the government. That might help. Kerry's proposed budget is so much higher than Bush that I don't think will cut it with the current level of deficit expansion, never mind cutting the deficit in half.
9:55 Cheney argues against increasing the tax burden of those who hire and says they'll cut the deficit halfway in four years. So they both want to do it. Both need to reduce to government to do it. I'm not hearing what they're going to cut. Of course, each thing cut would be a special interest whose vote would be lost, so they won't specify.
9:57 Good: freedom to have a relationship doesn't mean government-regulated relationships. Judges in Massachussetts directed the legislature to modify their constitution. That's the most honest description of it I've seen. Of course, judges have no authority to do that. Edwards: partnership benefits for gays but no married, FMA uses constitution as political tool (something Cheney agrees with).
10:01 solely for political purposes -- yes, that's obvious
being used to divide the country -- pack of lies; being used to get votes on record, not to make people mad or to lead to hate
Cheney has no response -- no surpise; he agrees with all that except probably that last bit.
10:04 Cheney sounds strong on the medical liability reform issue, and Kerry and Edwards sound really bad here in his presentation of their view on it. Edwards: more responsibility on lawyers to get certification with fines, three-strike system -- sounds ok to reduce cases in system but does a Clinton in painting his stance as siding with poor children rather than insurance companies. Rhetorically effective, but I don't think he's portraying Cheney's position very honestly.
10:07 Medicare premiums went up even though people in the system who shouldn't be there are kept out. Bush won't stand up for the little guy. Cheney: lower liability insurance premiums mean a lot more jobs -- 200,000 more for one company he mentions. That's a huge blow to Edwards' unfair portrayal. Edwards' use of a loophole when a lawyer in a law supported by Kerry. Halliburton! offshore loopholes -- close those off, even though I used one when I had the chance. Not inconsistent but comes out looking bad here anyway, trying to associate Cheney with it too if he can.
10:11 AIDS question to Cheney -- good summary of the problem and what Bush is working on with it. That was a giveaway. Do I sense a followup coming on abstinence-only sex ed? Edwards -- less money than promised (isn't that Congress's fault?) Plug for socialized health care as the only way AIDS is going to be dealt with. No cutting on abstinence-only programs? Wow.
10:14 John Kerry and I will tell the American people the truth. In other words, Bush lied. That's how to keep America safe. Only after going on a lot about that for a while does he say anything specific, and it's nothing that calls for a new administration. A long resume does not equal good judgment. No, Kerry's long resume doesn't either. A short one doesn't equal good judgment either.
10:17 Cheney questions the fact that he has to comment on Edwards' qualifications. Good summary of different roles a V.P. can have and how he's been a member of the team for Bush with no political aspirations himself. Nice. That also really hurts Edwards' likeability if people see him as trying to get a leg up, which is probably why he said it, but it didn't occur to me until well into it what he was up to. Really sneaky.
10:19 Cheney focuses on similarities with Edwards in personal stories. This is good. Edwards focuses a lot on these things, and Cheney now wants to show how it doesn't make him stand out. Both had modest circumstances, Cheney had been laid off, hospitalized without health insurance, doesn't mention that both made lots of money in private sector. Cheney first in public service then back into it. Contrast Edwards first private then public but didn't point that out.
10:21 Edwards seems to be resting a lot on the fact that we weren't attacked by Saddam Hussein, which just ignores the whole case for invading Iraq. [Edwards keeps violating the rule for this question by talking about Kerry. He can't focus on the issues without making it be about Kerry?] It's another rhetorically good fashion show move, but I don't see how those who pay attention to substance should care.
10:23 Giveaway to Edwards: What's wrong with a little flip-flop? He responds by saying there is no flip-flop. Come on! She wants him to explain why changing your mind can be ok, and he just says that Kerry is consistent while Bush-Cheney keep changing their minds. That's just lame. I'd fail him on that answer on an exam.
10:25 Cheney goes back to Kerry's inconsistency on Iraq. He picks the sound bites that Kerry can explain away and doesn't focus on the real problems displayed last week in the debate. I guess there's only so much you can do in a short response like this. That's too bad. Well, the Iraqi troop thing is one part of that.
10:27 Edwards comes in saying all these awful things are happening because Bush didn't expand the deficit by funding No Child Left Behind. Results are coming, and Hispanic and African-American students doing better, gap closing. For, then against Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind. Edwards explained the reasons on NCLB. That's not a flip-flop. Oh, she was wrong and gave Edwards 15 extra seconds.
10:29 last question -- disappointment in less success in bipartisan efforts as Bush had in Texas -- No Child Left Behind and Patriot Act were bipartisan but now opposed by Democrats. When he was in Congress, things were different. He thinks they used to be able to do more than now possible, perhaps because of changes in control of House and Senate, particularly back-and-forth movement in Senate. Edwards reminds that Bush said he'd unite and not divide but division direct result of their efforts. No, it's a direct result of those opposed to their efforts. It's an indirect result of their efforts. Lawyers aren't good on causal notions, so I'll excuse him for this one.
10:32 Edwards is really good at rattling off so many things that Cheney can't hope to have time to remember all so he can respond and can't really deal with any in depth. Kerry did this to Bush also. It's a good rhetorical tool, but that's again the fashion show mentality that sees that as a good thing.
10:34 Edwards is proud of his father's personal responsibility, working hard to improve his lot. He's trying to sound like a Republican. Then he talks about how everything is bad now. Prices are much higher. Wages are much lower. It's amazing that he hasn't brought up his usual class warfare terminology yet. Maybe someone has clued him in to how ridiculous the Two Americas thing sounds.
10:36 Cheney lists off job addings, tax cuts, opportunities for business and workers, working to provide access to medical care, finest schools in world, preserve social security. Reminds of experience working for 4? presidents, reminder of biological or nuclear network smuggled into American cities. Reminder of policy of holding to account states that sponsor or protect terrorists (e.g. Iraq, which he doesn't mention) in addition to hunting terrorists themselves. Wise to end on strong point of this ticket, but I'm glad he spent more time on the other stuff where people don't know what this administration has really done.
10:43 And the fashion show evaluation has begun. Cheney looked old! Cheney was a dry monotone. Edwards looked young! They didn't look distracted! They looked each other in the eyes! People probably tuned out after a while because of its dry nature and the competing baseball game (which should have been moved). Who cares? This was a debate about substance. Critique the substance!
10:48 They're focusing on the Edwards AWOL stuff as a big deal. I expected they would. Fred Barnes: "He's saying Senator Edwards is a showhorse, not a warhorse." Now Chris Matthews is taking that up. Joe Lockhart says it means the VP was a no-show. Matthews isn't having it.
10:50 Lockhart's babbling about Halliburton. Says Cheney claimed no compensation from Halliburton. That's false. Cheney claimed no compensation dependent on their success. It's a fixed severance package. He's probably lying. I doubt he doesn't know the facts on this.
10:54 Ron Reagan lumps Cheney's standing up for his daughter with his standing up against the administration (which he didn't do anyway but merely expressed a difference of opinion, not an insistence on anything policy-wise). It's as if there's no logical separation between standing up for his daughter and the issue of gay marriage. Chris Matthews talks about those who favor gay marriage and those who are violently anti-gay as if there's no spectrum in between. Joe Scarborough says Cheney was smart enough to talk about it for 5-6 seconds compared to Edwards' 5-6 minutes. He says private ballots turn out much stronger against gay marriage than polls because people are intimidated into taking the P.C. view. Interesting.
11:08 Wow! Tom Brokaw says Kerry and Edwards are over-promising with the bringing allies in thing. That's refreshing. He just gave a long, thoughtful political analysis, something I've never, ever seen him do before. He thinks the campaigns have lost control of the ability to shape the debate now. He says Cheney gave a formidable defense of the administration on Iraq but the issue will be about whether people want a change. That sounds right. His way of framing it sounded to me as if he was urging people to consider the second option, but he really is giving some more insightful analysis than I expected. Now he's going on about the demeaning of the Iraqi people with the casualty count. This guy's really focusing on the damage done to Edwards here.
11:18 Alan Colmes is trading on the ambiguity of 'connection' to say that Cheney both said Saddam was connected to 9-11 and said he wasn't. Well, look at what he said. He explained what connection there was and then said there wasn't anything beyond that. The revisionist history that Cheney claimed Saddam caused 9-11 is still being perpetrated. How can these guys show their faces in public? Hannity, for a change, is actually showing nuance and careful grasp of fine details in his response.
11:23 Well, it's time to let the pundits do their quick response that won't stand the test of time, and it's time for me to sleep. Too bad. Jack Kemp is coming on. He says Edwards looked like Clinton and won the fashion show contest but Cheney won on substance. Hey, that's what I said! Halliburton is doing in Iraq now what it did in Bosnia under Clinton. Well, Colmes has a consistent view here, but that doesn't help his party's ticket. OK, I'm off.