Friday, October 08, 2004

Want some wood?

George Bush's four-year assault on the English langauge continued tonight, and John Kerry I think broke his own record for the phrase "I have a plan." I'll have to wait for the verdict from Fox News to be sure, but I'd give this one to Kerry. Each man was better at refuting the other's arguments than at supporting their own, but Bush seemed agitated, almost angry during the first half of the debate, and he even seemed to debate moderator Charlie Gibson at one point. Kerry gave what for him were principled answers to the stem cell and abortion questions, while Bush was successful at times at using Kerry's Senate record against him. Kerry parried well except when it came to the Patriot Act question--he never reconciled his criticism of the law with his vote in favor of it. Kerry also came out swinging, and never let a question go by without taking a swipe at the president.

The president's attempts at humor fell flat, but then again, most of the time, so do John Kerry's, and his Boston Red Sox joke was out of place. Most aggravating, of course, is Bush's insistence that the recent U.S. weapons inspector report on Iraq, which refuted his original rationale for going to war in Iraq, somehow supports his decision to go to war in Iraq. Kerry, in characterizing the president's environmental policy, used a word that also is apt in describing Bush's Iraq policy--"Orweillian."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where to begin.

First, the actual report confected by CIA is actually pretty interesting, and it builds on an earlier working version (see and

Of course, Duelfer isn't Kay, and 2004 isn't 2002, but there's enough in it for Bush to say he was right to request a resolution for war. Barone takes up this in US News & WR this week (, but it's also in keeping with the CIA's line (including Duelfer, who wrote an influential essay in the spy community in 2002 on why inspections and sanctions inevitably fail to find WMD).

His point isn't that WMD were not found, but that Hussein eventually would have produced them, once sanctions ended, which was coming sooner rather than later because of greedy (indeed, corrupt) French, Russian, Chinese and German industrial concerns.

The age-old question of projecting force is simple, but difficult to time: When is it best to strike? For Bush, it was before Iraq had the days and months necessary to restart its programmes.

He didn't like the wait-and-see approach to N Korea Clinton took (by the way, Kerry was wrong in the first debate; everyone in the military assumed N Korea had a prototype atomic weapon in 1995, about midway through Clinton's first term. It's why he engaged in bilateral talks to begin with).

Again, the U.S. (and every other intelligence agency) assumed Hussein had tactical chemical munitions for battlefield deployment. Otherwise the troops wouldn't have gone in wearing MOPP gear. And they also assumed he had a crude biological programme, otherwise they wouldn't have received immunization against smallpox.

The clock, however, eventually would have reached the crucial hour when Hussein had a strategic cache of WMD assets, and the missiles to put them into Tel Aviv, Ankara, Kuwait City or CENTCOM HQ in Qatar.

Personally, I sleep better at night knowing Ansar Al Islam can't get a stockpile of mustard gas, that Abu Nidal isn't near the Israeli border or that the Medina Division isn't camped out near Kafji. But that's just me.

5:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And since I really don't care who "won" the thing, I will say Bush, because most thought he'd lose it again, dismally.

Watching Kerry try to say something meaningful to every possible voter about abortion was actually painful to watch. No matter what you think about Bush or his policies, at least you know where he stands.

He also was right to make Kerry revist Kyoto. There's a reason why every major industrialized country dropped it, not to mention the vast majority of the Senate (including, one might add, John Forbes Kerry).

Rewind 7 years. Kerry is in Japan at the request of Bill Clinton (who never favored the damned thing either), to quietly strangle the treaty for him.

In fact, now Kerry and Edwards say they'll never negotiate a Kyoto Protocol. Why? Well, they've discovered "Clean Coal." Could that possibly be because they're trying like all get out to win Ohio, Pennsylvania and the ever-tempting West Virginia? And I thought Bush's environmental policies were scientifically suspect.

Clean Coal!

But, of course, this will all be addressed in "The Plan," just as Gore was keeping all the secrets stuffed in his "lock box" and Clinton was hording just over the "bridge into the 21st Century." Of course, it's hard to see all those thousand points of light and the sunrise in America if there's so much gas in the atmosphere, thanks to Clean Coal, Sen. Kerry!

I'm not saying Kerry wouldn't be a greener president than Bush. Duh. But be careful what you wish for, gentle readers. Clinton promised the moon, too, and he would've burned it, too, if it would've bought some more votes in Ohio, West Virginia or Pennsylvania.

5:32 AM

Blogger christina said...

My favorite parts of the debate (besides the president referring to the internet as a plural) were when Charles Gibson would get this look on his face like, "Bitch, please!" and you know, ask for something to be said that didn't come out of magical fiscal fairyland.

Previous anonymous commenter said that it was painful to watch Kerry dance to please everyone on the abortion issue but as someone who is pro-life (I'm a pretty liberal woman, but I was raised as a Catholic and can't see it as anything but murder, especially late in the game), I liked his answer, and the one other pro-life person I know (in my age group) liked it too. I think it was a good answer for people who are against abortion in principle but don't want to go back to the days of wire hangers which probably includes alot of 'swing' voters. He also impressed me for having sensible reasons for his ultra-pro-choice votes lined up and ready. Maybe I am just easily impressed.

6:09 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Much of the problem with the pro-choice movement--and I consider myself pro-choice--and the reason they have lost so much political ground is that many have refused to admit that abortion is morally wrong in at least some circumstances. (Surely everyone can agree that it's wrong to have an abortion if you have the means to care for a child, and it's wrong in third trimester unless the mother's life is at stake.) Kerry probably represents the way a lot of people feel on ths issue.

As for the first post, I think it's clear we are going to have to agree to disagree over the war in Iraq. By the way, I wasn't defending Kerry's environmental policies--because I really don't know what they will be, either--just noting that Bush is playing the same kind of semantic games with Iraq as Kerry accused him of with the environment.

7:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, Psydreal. My only point is that Kerry, in an attempt to be all candidates to all people, comes off looking foolish. Listen, the American people didn't agree, largely, with Ronald Reagan on abortion issues. But they knew where he stood and they respected his position. He said he was going to end all federal monetary support for abortions on demand, and he did it.

If I were Kerry, I would go back a reread Mario Cuomo's brilliant and heartfelt public stand on abortion. Like you a devout Catholic, he nevertheless had to lead a secular state after it pioneered Roe v. Wade as a state's right issue in the late 1960s.

In sum, he said: (1) I abhor abortions and consider them murder and, if I had my way, there would never be another one. In fact, I worry that we're creating a culture of death instead of one of life, which is also why I oppose the death penalty; (2) But as a governor, I lead a plurality of peoples. I don't want to lord over my state with my own personal judgements. I want women to be free, even so free that they make decisions I abhor; (3) If Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, then I propose we, as a state, do everything in our policies to help the young mothers most at risk of illegitimate pregnancies, and that we create pro-family policies that benefit all of American society.

Clinton adopted this very policy in consultation with Cuomo. Cuomo, as you might recall, ended up losing the governorship largely because of his stand on the death penalty, something Pataki had no qualms about.

I've always admired Cuomo. I thought he would've made a hell of a president, and his (and Moynihan's) guidance to Clinton in the first term of his administration has often been overlooked.

In the second half of the 20th century, I can honestly say that Moynihan and Cuomo stand as two of the finest democrats never to get the crack at president; on the GOP side, I'd suggest Dick Lugar, who has done yeoman's work on the Defense, agriculture, intelligence and foreign policy circuits, and few people outside of Capitol Hill realize what a fine intellect he has.

But Moynihan and Cuomo were Democratic centrists, and Lugar is a Republican moderate, so it's likely we'll never see them at the highest stages of public office.

11:35 AM


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