Friday, October 01, 2004

Who Won?

The important thing to recognize about the debates are that: a) there are a number of them--what matters is the cumulative effect of all three, not anything particular that happens in one; b the folks we care about in re. the debate are very small...5-10% of the electorate at most, many of whom probably didn't watch or only flipped by and; c) so national polls of the whole electorate are kind of silly. If you want to know what the debate impact is, the question isn't whether one guy "won": this isn't college debating. You can lose by winning in this game.

That said, I think, overall, Kerry did pretty well. I find his prattling on about how he's going to bring our allies in to save the day transparently fictitious--as he said himself, in Iraq if you break it, you buy it. Well, we broke it, and now we're going to have to clean up the mess ourselves. But I can't imagine why Kerry repeats this over and over again if it's only because he's caught a case of diplomania--he must have found that this polls well. I thought he did well by pushing Bush on Tora Bora--the right place to be in re. Bush and Afghanistan is on his right. But I think he mixed this all up by going back to diplomania in regards to Iraq. In the next debate, which will inevitably be a little less structured, if I were coaching Kerry I'd tell him to hit Bush over and over again about not fighting the war to win--say that Tora Bora isn't the exception, it's the rule--it was followed by going in light to Iraq, not sealing the borders, having insufficient troops to police major cities after the US won on the battlefront, letting enemies of the US take effective control of large parts of Iraq, etc. Say, "As a military man, I know that you should always be hesitant to commit to military action. But once you do, you go all out. You don't tie one hand behind your back, you don't take a knife to a gunfight, etc. President Bush has been too willing to commit to military action, but then insufficiently fierce once he's put men in the field." Or something like that.

Kerry's biggest failing is his problem settling on one overarching rhetorical wrapper for the whole package. He's creeping up to it, but he's got only two more shots at Bush, only two more opportunities to assuage the doubts of an American public that is troubled by the direction Bush has taken the country, but has not been given sufficient reason to trust Kerry. Kerry's problem is that he's boxed in by his previous rhetoric--given the Bush people's emphasis n his flip-flopping, he needs to come up with a general wrapper for his rhetoric that is powerful, direct, and yet consistent with his previous rhetoric. Any ideas?

9 comments:

M@ said...

It seems that Kerry has always done his best when his gums weren't flapping. Maybe that's the answer to him winning this election. Maintain his show horse image. Mmm. Probably not. I think Kerry's already lost.

Actually, Kerry's biggest failing is his pathetic 20 year senate vote record. I mean, Kerry, has drafted more than 270 bills. 9 have passed. 6 of which have been of a ceremonial nature. (renaming federal buildings, etc.).

An ineffective senator will be an ineffective president.

carla said...

You can't sum up a very serious and complex problem (Iraq and Afghanistan) with one rhetorical wrapper. Iraq is a very big, very complex mess.

The reason Kerry kicked Bush's ass last night was because Kerry remained succinct and focused. He took Bush off his game immediately...and Bush couldn't get back on the horse. Bush's temper got the best of him in the end.

This debate was huge for Kerry. He came across as strong, Presidential and extremely smart. He showed up as the real deal last night. Bush didn't.

There are indeed two more debates and Bush has plenty of time to redeem himself. But he'd better come to the next debate with his A game.

Palooka said...

Smart equals contradicting yourself in a subsequent question? Iraq's a mistake, wait, kids are dying? Nevermind, it's no longer a mistake.

Smart equals offering Iran nuclear fuel?

Smart equals offering the "passing the global test" formula to the American public?

He just gave the Bush team more ammo, and lot's of it. I'm happy with it. Let him APPEAR more polished temporarily, before you know it, he will have destroyed himself.

carla said...

The Bush people will make up ammo. That's what they do. They've been outed taking partial sentences and bits and stringing them together to form a lie about Kerry's stances....pretty much just the way Palooka just did above.

The problem the Bush people have now is...their doing that only reinforces their choir...and shows them to be dishonest to everyone else. After Kerry's performance Thursday night...no honest or objective observer believes the Bush BS about Kerry.

Palooka said...

OK, which one of the following accusations is false, Carla.

Did Kerry not categorically oppose the development of bunker buster nuclear weapons, which may be our best hope for destroying deeply buried command and control centers and buried WMD.

Did Kerry not say that America must pass a "global test" to take pre-emptive action? Is that not giving a veto power to foriegn bodies?

Did Kerry not say that American should GIVE nuclear fuel to Iran to "test" their intentions?

Did Kerry not say that Iraq was a mistake, only to say it wasn't in the next question?

Which of the above is "Bush BS", Carla?

Ben Grimm said...

We don't need "bunker busters". Sure, they'd make things a little easier - but when you get down to it they aren't necessary. If an enemy cornered in a bunker so deep that you can't use conventional weapons against them, they can't use weapons against you. Blowing them up with nuclear weapons - irradiating the surrounding earth for hundreds of years is not the answer. What happened to our having the best trained troops in the world?

Passing a "global test" as Kerry put it... sigh... poor wording. As I'm sure you must realize his point was that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. If it looks like naked aggression to the rest of the world, then that's how it will be perceived unless we can convince them otherwise. We're not supposed to invade sovereign nations without just cause - otherwise we're no better than Saddam Houssein invading Kuwaite. He had reasons, he even explained them to his citizens at the time. The majority of the UN disagreed with Saddam, and we had the first Gulf War. If the rest of the world does not at least agree in principal with the motives and intended results of a war, we could literally end up with a third World War. That's the global test. It's not about veto, it's about maintaining good relations.

Kerry was saying to handle Iran the way we handled N.Korea under Clinton (and it can be argued that Bush allowed the situation in N.Korea to deteriorate). The idea is that by giving the nuclear fuel, and making sure that can't construct the equipment needed to enrich uranium or plutonium, you ensure that it's used for power generation and nothing else. I'm not saying it's the best idea, but good will goes a long way.

Kerry had always said Iraq was a mistake. He gave the war powers authority to threaten Saddam, wanting more opportunity for inspections and diplomacy to prevail. But he wasn't the president so he couldn't control the situation. Fast forward, we've invaded, and made numerous mistakes in the post-war. Kerry can't wish away the war by sticking to that and whining that we're not supposed to be there and we need to pull out in 6 months (like Howard Dean). Kerry's positions don't change based on the political wind - they change with changing reality. It was a mistake to go in the way we did - but we're there, and we can't leave until the job's done.

In my opinion, that's what Kerry's position is. The 2 minute format of the debates restricted his typical long-winded answers. And my point is that you don't want to hear what he's saying - you only want to hear the way he's saying it. When Kerry doesn't fully articulate his position and then corrects his statements he's a flip-flopper; when Bush is inarticulate, he's laughed off saying "you know what he meant" and corrected.

-- Ben

Palooka said...

Kerry's position isn't that we don't "need" bunker busters, it is that we are morally wrong for pursuing them.

Kerry let the "Iraq was a mistake" remark slip. However anti-war he has become, he has never said that. He did during the debate. Then Lehrer asked him if Americans are then dying for a mistake? If one believes the war was a mistake, the logically unavoidable conclusion is YES. Kerry said no, however.

Ben you're living in fantasy land if you think Kerry hasn't flip flopped. He's done it on more than the Iraq war. He does it all the time. If you're stupid enough to believe he's consistent, then I doubt if there is anything that will change your mind.

Palooka said...

"Kerry was saying to handle Iran the way we handled N.Korea under Clinton (and it can be argued that Bush allowed the situation in N.Korea to deteriorate)."

Did we give them nuclear fuel? ANSWER: NO!

There was a deal to make reactors which could not be used for making plutonium, but Kerry didn't say that. He said we should give them NUCLEAR FISSILE MATERIAL.

Maybe you can explain the inexplicable.

Oh, and I love your moral equivalence. A mass murdering tyrant invading Kuwait to steal their oil is the equivalent of a liberal democracy deposing a murderous tyrant in order to remove a threat and promote justice and freedom in the middle east. They're only equivalent to the morally bankrupt, Ben.

carla said...

Palooka queries:

Which of these is "Bush BS"? Carla answers...all of it is Bush BS. It is, after all, what Bush is best at.

1. Did Kerry not categorically oppose the development of bunker buster nuclear weapons, which may be our best hope for destroying deeply buried command and control centers and buried WMD.Your question is phrased in a typical GOP way...why don't you just come out and ask when the last time was that I beat my kids? LOL

Do you have some sort of proof that military experts agree that bunker buster nukes are our best hope for destroying WMD? The same for the command/control centers? Are you unaware that it is hypocritical to demand that others disarm their nuclear capablities while we're ratcheting ours up?

2.Did Kerry not say that America must pass a "global test" to take pre-emptive action? Is that not giving a veto power to foriegn bodies?Nope. That's not what Kerry said at all. Kerry said that after you take an action...you must be able to pass the "global test", meaning that you can explain it to the American people and to the world-at-large. I see you've been lapping up the GOP spin like a thirsty dog, tho. Nice.

3.Did Kerry not say that American should GIVE nuclear fuel to Iran to "test" their intentions?Nope. Kerry proposed that we not fight Iran on using nuclear plants to generate energy.

4.Did Kerry not say that Iraq was a mistake, only to say it wasn't in the next question?He said that they don't have to die for a mistake with real leadership at the helm. Kerry: "No, and they don't have to, providing we have the leadership that we put - that I'm offering."

Now it's your turn to answer, Palooka.

In the lead up to the Iraq invasion, why did Cheney and Rice continually trot out the aluminum tubes argument to say Iraq was pursuing nukes...when THEY KNEW that the government's foremost nuclear scientists disagreed that the tubes were used for that?

When Allawyi was in DC...why did Bush boast about Iraqi elections to be held in January? Bush said that the Iraqi electoral commission is up and that the UN electoral advisors are on the ground in Iraq. Yet the UN says they have a total of eight people working on the Iraq election because they are reluctant to send people in due to security issues?

Bush also said that nearly 100,000 "fully trained and equipped" Iraqi soldiers, police officers and other security personnel are already at work, and that would rise to 125,000 by the end of this year. Yet Pentagon reports show that of the nearly 90,000 currently in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained," and it will be July 2006 before the administration reaches its new goal of a 135,000-strong, fully trained police force.

Why are Bush and his surrogates lying to the American people?