"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse." --John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The VP Debate

This is out of order, but I want to return to the first vice presidential debate. I was going to post something that day, but then I read David Frum's post in his NRO blog, and I thought, what's the point? He enunciated exactly my impressions, much better than I could have.

I couldn't understand why so many conservative pundits gave so much credit to Edwards in this debate. Cheney creamed him. My dad put it well; he said, "He cleaned Edwards' clock!!!"

My response my father was, "He did indeed clean Edwards' clock. [Edwards] came off as callow, a lightweight. He kept returning to his talking points; I know, Bush does that too, but Edwards' were often lies ('the administration has said there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11' or 'there was no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda'). The first they never, ever claimed (and you know that because Edwards did not cite a quote) and the second is backed up by so much evidence it's tantamount to saying 'O.J. was innocent'".

Anyway, Frum's post heading was "Manslaughter". Here are some excerpts:

OK just caught debate rerun on CNN. What can one say about John Edwards's performance? ...With his repeated and worshipful descriptions of John Kerry--not to mention Edwards's moist good looks--you have to say that he would fill the role of First Lady much better than Teresa Heinz is likely to do. It would all have been very impressive--if Cheney's scalpel had not so swiftly and mercilessly sliced Edwards's living liver out of his body, impaled it quivering on a stick, and paraded it before Edwards' soulful eyes before the poor man expired.

The line about John Kerry's weakness in the face of Howard Dean landed with the force of a hammer blow. Cheney was reminding voters of the crucial fact of the Democratic campaign: Kerry's dangerous combination of opportunism and fearfulness...[T]he war proved tougher than Kerry expected, Howard Dean came along to pander to the pacifist fringe of the Democratic party--and Kerry panicked. He switched sides on the war. Then he won the nomination, saw the national polls, and switched sides again.

...Gwen Ifill in her question on flip-flopping suggested that Kerry's deep indecisiveness on the question of war or peace was no more serious than the Bush administration's internal debate over whether Homeland Security was best overseen by a secretary or an assistant to the president! Yes it's true: The Bush administration has sometimes changed its mind about how to fight this war. Kerry can't make up his mind whether to fight it--or even whether there's a war on or not.

Edwards's public manner is corny at best, smarmy at worst. In this debate, he was at his worst, perhaps nowhere more so than in that incredibly impertinent remark about the vice president's daughter. And did John Edwards really mean to say that the bright light of America is flickering because families have sons or daughters serving in the military overseas?

No wonder that by the end, Cheney seemed to be looking at Edwards with the compassionate regret of a trusted family vet appraising a puppy that just has not got the strength to survive.