A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Monthly Archives: October 2004

Names for believers


I didn’t know about FactCheck.org before the debate, and before Cheney mentioned it (and erroneously called it FactCheck.com, which, apparently overnight, is now a link to a George Soros site). It’s a very useful, non-partisan site set up to check the claims made by politicians. They have a great essay on why it’s legal for politicians to lie to us.

A heartbeat away

Gwen Ifill asked Edwards, “What qualifies you to be a heartbeat away?” Cheney’s follow-up was interesting:

FILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

CHENEY: You want me to answer a question about his qualifications?

IFILL: That was the question.

CHENEY: I see.

Well, I think the important thing in picking a vice president probably varies from president to president. Different presidents approach it in different ways.

When George Bush asked me to sign on, it obviously wasn’t because he was worried about carrying Wyoming. We got 70 percent of the vote in Wyoming, although those three electoral votes turned out to be pretty important last time around.

What he said he wanted me to do was to sign on because of my experience to be a member of the team, to help him govern, and that’s exactly the way he’s used me.

And I think from the perspective of the nation, it’s worked in our relationship, in this administration. I think it’s worked in part because I made it clear that I don’t have any further political aspirations myself. And I think that’s been an advantage.

In other words, Edwards’ main qualifications are his ability to pick up some votes, and his main focus will be on running for president (in 2008, said Cheney–not 2012!). I suspect the polls will show that Cheney ”won the debate.” If so, exchanges like this will be the reason. Say what you want about Cheney (and there’s plenty to say), there’s no denying his experience and his competence in getting things done. The wrong things, of course, but effectively done nonetheless. Edwards’ response to this question (“The American people want in the president and in their vice president basically three things … we know from this administration that a long resume does not equal good judgement.”) seemed cliched, clearly scripted, and just a tad desparate.

Searching for 'vice presidential debate'

It’s interesting that as I’ve searched for sources for the vice presidential debates tonight, I’m getting a lot of hits from the debates (both presidential and vice presidential) from 2000. I guess this has to do with “page rank,” but it seems odd. This CNN link, for example, was the fifth link on Google for ‘vice presidential debate. Four out of the top five results for ‘vice presidential debate’ from the beta search engine snap, as well as Yahoo search were from the 2000 election.

Cheney-Edwards Debate

Initial reactions: Today, I’m optimistic about America. Our local paper reports that about 96% of Michigan residents who could register to vote, have registered to vote. It’s clear that this election has stirred interests in and emotions about the political life of our country in ways that haven’t happened in a long time. The candidates were clearly different (as in the first presidential debate) and each gave a ‘very good and forceful presentation of themselves’ (as I just heard on the radio).

The Bush/Cheney administration has been, if not disastrous, at least destructive for America. Edwards did a good job of presenting this case, and for the Kerry/Edwards plan for repairing the damage.

At home with the Munsters

Passports with RFID tags

According to Bruce Schneier, the Bush adminstration wants to put RFID tags in our passports.

Unfortunately, there is only one possible reason: The administration wants surreptitious access [to the broadcast information on the passports] themselves. It wants to be able to identify people in crowds. It wants to surreptitiously pick out the Americans, and pick out the foreigners. It wants to do the very thing that it insists, despite demonstrations to the contrary, can’t be done.

(via boingboing.)

Bush-Kerry Debate (1)

Bush was well-briefed, articulate and scowling. Kerry was well-briefed, articulate and, well, presidential. The debate centered, justifiably, on the war in Iraq, although Bush kept wanting to make it a debate on who is more steadfast. Kerry didn’t quite make the point he should be: that, when you make a mistake, it’s muleish to be maintain the same path. Bush hammered on the “steadfastness” theme:

  • “People know where I stand. “
  • “The best way to defeat [terrorists] is to never waver, to be strong…”
  • “The way to win this [war on terrorism] is to be steadfast and resolved and to follow through on the plan that I‘ve just outlined”
  • [World leaders are] not going to follow somebody who says, “This is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
  • “I decided the right action was in Iraq. My opponent calls it a mistake. It wasn‘t a mistake. “
  • “I think what is misleading is to say you can lead and succeed in Iraq if you keep changing your positions on this war.”
  • “And you cannot change positions in this war on terror if you expect to win. “
  • “You cannot lead the war on terror if you keep changing positions on the war on terror.”
  • “The way to make sure that we succeed is to send consistent, sound messages to the Iraqi people that when we give our word, we will keep our word, that we stand with you, that we believe you want to be free.”
  • “But by speaking clearly and sending messages that we mean what we say, we‘ve affected the world in a positive way. “
  • “I think by acting firmly and decisively, it will mean it is less likely we have to use force [in other venues]. “
  • “But what I won‘t do is change my core values because of politics or because of pressure.”
  • “If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy.”
  • “By being steadfast and resolute and strong, by keeping our word, by supporting our troops, we can achieve the peace we all want. ” (second to last statement in his summing up).

(These have been gathered from MSNBC’s transcripts). Bush really does believe that showing any wavering indicates a “change in core values.” And it is the case that a strong and resolute offense against terrorism abroad is more effective than shifty policy. It’s disingenuous , however, to suggest that any change in strategy or tactics is a change in core values.

Kerry’s experience as a Vietnam vet and Vietnam protestor makes him uniquely qualified to lead us out of the quagmire that Iraq has turned into. Kerry famously asked, “How do you ask a man to the the last man to die for a mistake?” It may seem like cheap irony that Kerry may have to face this very question. But if anyone has the wisdom and experience to do this well, it’s Kerry.

The debates served well to show the clear differences between Bush and Kerry.