Thursday, October 14, 2004

And They're Off

Mr. Kerry, you won my vote last night, ten times over. I was not only waiting for the domestic policy debate, I was anxious, I was ready to explode. I knew you possessed the skill to run circles around C-plus Augustus, and his simpleton nature. You’ve already participated in two prior debates with a man who couldn’t tell the difference between a doorknob and the button that could launch our nukes. And boy did you EVER (finally) deliver.

Where do I begin? You cleaned Bush’s clock by citing that Pell Grants were up because more families were economically qualified, not because the government had expanded educational opportunity. You used the health benefits of senators and congressmen to your advantage, and successfully parried when Bush tried to assail you for the cost (citing his usage of the same line when defending his budget busting Medicare bill). You made yourself look like the shepherd and made Bush look like a sheep by taking religion and fusing it with your policy work, citing both John F. Kennedy and Bible passages.

I wasn’t too happy with your answers on the social security question. I admit, I’m for privatizing social security, but my stance aside, your answer was empty and came across as pandering. I also remember hearing a gaffe during your answer on illegal immigration. You said, even middle easterners are entering America illegally. Did you mean terrorists as I hope you did, or was that an acceptance of some type of covert racial profiling? Please clarify.

Bush, you didn’t do so bad either. Last night’s debate was your best performance yet. Some pundits have chided you for returning to your record on education and the NCLB as a way of changing the subject. To hell with them. I thought you were rather adept at framing the NCLB as not only an education act, but as a jobs creation act as well, because in the long run, that's one of the many benefits the NCLB could provide. You called Kerry out on many points quite effectively, but I’m sorry to say that Kerry dealt more hooks and uppercuts to your body blows and jabs. You also got reamed on the assault weapons issue. For God’s sake, Kerry quoted Osama’s terrorist handbook! How do you come back after that????

Two things I will chide Kerry for: I wasn’t happy when he mentioned Cheney’s lesbian daughter. It came across as underhanded, overly-opportunistic and unnecessary. Andrew Sullivan disagrees with me on that point, but I’ll stick to my guns. In addition, the joke about marrying up . . . I’m still not sure how that played in “flyover country”, but I sensed a twinge of arrogance in that remark.

Overall, I’d declare the debate as an oversized win for Kerry. The polls seem to agree with me. Drezner and Green don’t, while Sullivan tries to toe the line. Any thoughts?

UPDATE: Alas, I forgot to include Kerry's mention of the newly passed corporate tax bill. Lowering tariffs on imported ceiling fans from China, that was a slap in the face to you Mr. Zell Miller. Well done.