October 14, 2004
Kerry Blasts Bush out of the Water
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Okay, I just got home after a day of avoiding all mention of news, so the debate will be fresh for me. One starting note: Bush's back looks smooth this time, at least so far.... And I should apologize in advance for the sheer length of this post.
From the start Kerry came off strong; Schieffer sent him a national security fast ball right over the plate, and Kerry hit that sucker clear out of the park--a lucid, point-by-point best-of bullet list of what Bush has done wrong and what Kerry will do right. Direct, smooth, and right on target.
As for Bush: boy, it looks like he's on prozac or something; his voice is lilting, he seems a bit tipsy, and he acted like he was almost about to break out into song when he announced that the first voter in Afghanistan was a 19-year-old woman (can you say "staged PR event"?). But his points are still the same old ones: we have to stay on the offensive, we already got 75% of al Qaeda, and we'll spread peace and Democracy all around the world. Hard to believe he's pitching that--Kerry should be able to hit that one out of the park as well. hell, much of what Bush has said has already been knocked down by FactCheck.org. And that's what Kerry--
WHOA!!!! Bush just claimed he never said he wasn't concerned about Osama bin Laden! Astounding! Here's Bush's quote from tonight's debate:
BUSH: Gosh, I don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden, that's kind of one of those "exaggerations."And here's Bush from March 13, 2002:
"I don't know where [Osama bin Laden] is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important." And on the same day: "I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him."This is incredible! I hope they played this on the news over and over again. Especially when Bush in tonight's debate paused, got this funny look on his face, and said the word "exaggerations" in a theatrical way so as to put huge quotation marks around it. I don't have to see the blogs tonight, I know exactly how they'll report this! And keep in mind that the "I truly am not that concerned" quote comes directly from the White House web site!
New strategy for Kerry: use that "exaggerations" delivery on the stump! "Bush said his tax cuts would create more jobs; that must be one of those 'exaggerations.' Bush said we'd be greeted as liberators in Iraq; that was probably one of those 'exaggerations.' Bush said we are 'turning the corner'; I guess it must be another one of those 'exaggerations.'"
In the meantime, Bush is continuing to sound downright giddy. It's bizarre.
The question on flu vaccines was interesting: if Bush's answer was true, then it was a real softball thrown by Schieffer; but even so, it is ironic that Bush said that he is now depending on Canada to deliver a safe, uncontaminated vaccine when in the last debate he claimed that drugs from Canada were unsafe. His exact words: "When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you." So the flu vaccine bit is not exactly reassuring, if you take him at his word. He also wasn't very clear on the age issue: if you're young, don't get the flu shot--reserve them for the elderly and young. Then Bush rather clumsily and obviously turned the topic to lawsuits, which is untrue--vaccines are in short supply because they're not profitable, and so fewer drug companies make them.
Bush is getting a bit on edge already, seeming to strain at the bit to bark out that "a - plan - is - not - a - litany - of - complaints!" and then accusing Kerry outright of using "bait and switch." He had numbers ready, which means that he was absolutely prepared and scripted on that one. But Kerry hit it right back: Bush himself promised the same thing to seniors, and the costs would not be as high as Bush promised because people would buy into it, not be given it for free as Bush was implying.
Wow, Kerry just repeated the 1.6 million jobs numbers--but then, both candidates are repeating the claims others have knocked down. Bush just repeated the "he voted for tax hikes 98 times" chestnut. Bush went on in a litany of fuzzy math attacks on Kerry--you can bet almost every one of them will turn out to be a distortion like the 98-tax-hikes lie. Fully 43 of the 98 in Bush count did not affect actual taxes, but rather set targets; no one paid a penny more from them. Another 16 of the votes counted were votes on one single bill--Clinton's tax bill of 1993--that was voted on several times--and, by the way, a tax bill that heralded in one of the biggest economic booms of our time.
Then, on the question about what Bush would say to an American who lost a job to an overseas worker getting paid a frqaction of his salary:
BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college.That's it? "I've got a policy and here's a couple bucks to study metal shop at a two-year college"? If I was in that spot and he said that to me, I'd be pissed. Bush is really tanking this debate so far. Kerry's answer is devastating to Bush.
Boy, Bush is really pushing the fiction of Kerry's voting record over the top-he's repeated the 98-times number three times, the last time breaking the rules of the debate and addressing Kerry directly, insisting that he voted 98 times. But again, Bush is losing it. Kerry is coming across as convincing and presidential, and Bush is coming across as petty and childish. If this keeps up, then Kerry will have come away with a huge win.
Kerry also answered well on the question of the Catholic church saying that voting for him would be a sin. You could really see his humanity in the answer, as well as an eloquently stated argument concerning responsible enactment of the separation of church and state:
Now, with respect to religion, you know, as I said, I grew up a Catholic. I was an altar boy. I know that throughout my life this has made a difference to me. And as President Kennedy said when he ran for president, he said, I'm not running to be a Catholic president. I'm running to be a president who happens to be Catholic.Bush, on the other hand, brought up "partial birth abortion," a highly partisan micro-issue used as a political weapon, right after saying that we should all be able to come together.
My faith affects everything that I do, in truth. There's a great passage of the Bible that says, What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead. And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people.
That's why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth. That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith.
But I know this, that President Kennedy in his inaugural address told all of us that here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own. And that's what we have to – I think that's the test of public service.
On the Health Care question, Bush came across as weak explaining why health care costs are big, trying as much as he could to blame it on lawyers; but again, Kerry came through as decisive, again pointing out how Bush blocked drug imports from Canada, again pointing out how Bush forbade Medicare from negotiating for drug prices. bush then tried to attack Kerry on his record in the Senate, but Kerry hit back much harder, pointing out his authorship of bills and amendments and specifying one bill on health care that he wrote and got passed. Bush claimed he'd gotten 5 bills past, Kerry corrected him, noting he'd passed 56. Here's a list.
Bush's response to Kerry's note of major news organizations calling Bush's claims untrue was weird:
In all due respect I'm not so sure--is it credible to quote leading news organizations about-- ... uh, never mind. Anyway.. um... Let me quote the Lewin Report!Wow, Kerry really blasted Bush to the ground on the Social Security private investment issue. And then on his own plans, he was solid. Kerry is just laying down his fire steady and confidently, point by point, staying on point--he's clear and convincing. Health care. Social security. Immigration. Minimum wage. Bam, bam, bam, bam. He's beating Bush with a stick on these things, and Bush is looking bushwhacked, pun intended. And he has some great lines in there, like "I'm tired of politicians who talk about family values and don't value families." Almost sounds like Aaron Sorkin wrote some of them.
On minimum wage, Bush weakly countered that there was a plan the he supported that "would have increased the minimum wage." Ah. "Would have." Well, that's reassuring if you can't afford to feed your children. Four years in office and there's one plan he supported that never got passed. And he only had the presidency and both houses of Congress. And what was this brilliant plan that Bush approved of? Raising the minimum wage by one dollar instead of two, and including a loophole so that the wage could be stopped at the state border--any and all states could refuse to accept the new wage, which would give corporations a huge edge in that they can lobby the states more effectively. Essentially, Bush backs only an emasculated minimum wage.
Then he actually claimed that "the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it." And he hasn't even come close to fully funding it! If he's right in how to look at NCLB, then he's underfunded both jobs and education.
For his accomplishments in education, the only thing Bush could point to that even seemed positive was that he is "beginning to close a minority achievement gap now." That's his big achievement? First of all, it doesn't make clear whether minority achievement is going up or if white achievement is going down. Second, he doesn't say how it's measured, and third, he only claims that it is "beginning" to happen. After four years that's all he's got?
Schieffer just asked about Roe v. Wade and whether Bush would overturn it, and Bush flatly dodged it, rephrasing the question to himself (after Schieffer laid it out as a direct question), and saying "no litmus test, no litmus test"--and then stopping after just 15 seconds, apparently unwilling to dodge the question for the other one minute and forty-five seconds he was allotted. And Kerry cam after it just right, pointing out that Bush didn't answer the question. When Bush doesn't want to answer a question, the by golly, he doesn't answer it! Kerry at least has the guts to speak his opinion on the issue, knowing it will turn off a segment of the population.
And of course, Bush does have a litmus test--in fact, he has nothing but litmus tests. He just lies about it.
And now Kerry is just ripping Bush a new one on No Child Left Behind, with Bush just looking at him with a big, stupid, fake grin on his face, like he really doesn't want to be there right then. And again, Kerry is blasting Bush, this time on the assault weapons ban.
Kerry slipped up a bit on which groups Bush didn't meet with--he said Bush has never met with the NAACP or the Black Congressional Caucus. Bush countered that he did meet with the Black Congressional Caucus, in the White House, he added. And he did meet them--once. In the first two weeks in office. But not after that. And only because they came to the White House uninvited. On a bus.
Bush got off a few good laughs about listening to the strong women around him, and got the chance for a warm and funny last response. And Kerry got off his own great line ("and some would say maybe me more so than others!"). But that won't really erase what happened in the rest of the debate.
If you've read my last analyses of the prior debates, you'll see that I stayed pretty objective, not just claiming a Kerry or Edwards victory at every turn, admitting when Bush or Cheney came out ahead, and when Kerry and Edwards misstepped. And now I can honestly say that in this third debate was not even close. Kerry quite simply blew Bush out of the water. Kerry was on message, spoke clearly and confidently, and scored far more point than Bush, who stumbled just as much as before if not more, and came across as unconvincing.
And now a check on the news services tells me that again I called it right--Kerry wins this one hands-down.
Can't wait to see the heavy-duty national and state polls in two or three days. I have the feeling that Kerry will pull ahead at least by two points, maybe even three.
We'll see.Posted by Luis at October 14, 2004 10:18 PM
Posted by: mark at October 14, 2004 11:29 PM
Posted by: Connor Coyne at October 15, 2004 08:33 AM