Thursday, September 30, 2004

Debate postmortem

I checked out Fox News after the debate, which I like to do to temper my own views, and for the most part they gave the edge to Kerry. Of course, something about the president's speaking style aggravates me, so I may be a wee bit biased. Still, the president seemed excessively annoyed on several occassions, and, as a Fox commentator said, he seemed to run out of material about halfway through. You could have created a pretty decent drinking game based on the number of times he used the phrase "hard work." (The same goes for Kerry with the phrase "I have a plan.")


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm impressed by your attempt to temper your views by checking out Fox - that's more than I can do most days.

Still, Kerry seemed to have the edge, which surprised me. Bush seemed caught off guard, almost unprepared. At one point, he seriously misunderstood the question, which Kerry had to explain to him.

Who knows how this will play out with Joe Sixpack and wife Ethel, who live in Anchors Away mobile home court just outside Flick, Michigan.

9:38 AM

Blogger fester said...

I made a quick spin through the right wing blogs and had Fox News on after the Daily Show last night and the consensus was that "Bush could have done better." As I said over at my blog, Kerry was able to build low expectations and since he was able to say hello in under 10 minutes, he won. I agree with the point that Bush was out of material fairly quickly and I also want to think that Bush had the red flashing over time lights go off at least twice while Kerry made it in on time every time (just barely at least twice). Finally on drinking games for the debates, wait until I don't have to go to work and then it is a feasible option of getting wrecked.

10:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

J, Let's begin by assuming Kerry "won" the debate (as truncated as the question-and-answer sessions were), which I believe he did.

The problem for those of us who actually study world defense issues, what he said is of grave concern. Take N. Korea. There's a reason Bush's administration is involved in multilateral regional talks with the Jung-Il regime -- the bilateral talks under the Clinton administration failed to either alleviate the suffering of the NK people, but also didn't stem the production of fissionable weapons.

Some background: NK began building nuclear weapons and advanced missile technology more than a decade ago. By 1995, CIA analysts believed NK had built a prototype plutonium weapon or two, and Marine raid units began rehearsing attacks on the NK facilities.

Instead of an assault (which was largely a bluff), the Clinton administration engaged in bilateral talks designed to (1) end production of pu components in NK; and (2) forestall proliferation of the technology to states like Iran, Iraq, Libya, etc.

NK agreed to allow IAEA (UN) monitoring of the pu reactors and spent fuel rod depot, including continuous TV streams. The U.S. and our allies in the Pacific further granted major economic concessions (bribes) to NK, including large shipments of diesel fuel and credits to purchase fuelstocks that were other than pu generated.

Instead, Jung-Il began a different, unmonitored uranium enrichment program. When this was discovered by U.S., Japanese and Chinese intelligence, the Americans withdrew from the bilateral arena.

At the same time, worsening economic conditions in NK were leading to a flood (continuing to this day) of refugees to China. Many of these dissidents and masses hungering to be free (or just hungery) were shipped to S Korea.

Bush realized, quite rightly, that bilateral talks had failed horribly with Jung-Il. Because others in the Pacific were concerned about growing unrest in a nuclear NK, and facing a going-nowhere diplomatic front, Bush shifted focus to a regional summit. The Chinese, powerbrokers of NK since the 1950s, were given a seat at the table. So were the Japanese, who in recent years have launched several spy sats over NK and have suggested, quietly, that they, too, can build atomic weapons if they feel threatened by rogue states.

Russia, which worries about a rogue state too close to its eastern naval bases, and S Korea were also brought in.

And even the bad UN (through the IAEA) is in constant communication with Washington over the NK issue.

Now Kerry, who blasts Bush on "going it alone" on Iraq without the UN and major allies, says he should "go it alone" on NK, a repeat of policies Albright and Clinton walked away from in disgust.

It's noteworthy that Al Gore, during the last campaign, also said he wanted to avoid bilateral talks with NK because of duplicity on the part of the Jung-Il regime.

Kerry said a lot last night that led me to think maybe he is learning from his senior aides about defense and foreign policy issues (never his strong suits in the Senate), but then he said what he did about NK. I came to realize either (1) He is being intentionally callow about NK in order to appear to zing the president on a foreign policy issue most Americans know nothing about; or, (2) he really is that dense on NK.

If (1), then I question his moral capacity to be Commander in Chief. He should be honest with the American public and our troops about our security options in the Pacific. If he instead politicizes such an important issue for our Pacific allies, I don't believe he should be president.

If (2), then he either needs to bone up very quickly on the issue, or cede it to the president. You might notice that this was the one topic when the sleepy president woke up and practically shouted, "I think that would be a very, very bad idea" about returning to bilateral talks.

Bush has been wrong about a lot of things, but his policy of containment and regional peace talks with NK have not been one of them. In fact, I think it's one of the major triumphs of his administration that NK hasn't dissolved into a complete humanitarian disaster.

10:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, and the subways weren't closed during the RNC, a point so stupid and easily vetted, Kerry's aides probably cringed.

10:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops. Hungry.

5:48 PM


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