Thursday, September 30, 2004
POLITICS AS USUAL: CLASH OF THE TITANS
As you know from my driver's license, I'm Canadian. I can't vote in the November election. But I do happen to have a blog, so I get to have a say (you all should really start one). While I am a Conservative, I'm by no means a Bush apologist. I think the Bush Administration has given its opponents a significant amount of material by which to attack and possibly defeat it. So, I come into this debate somewhat "subject to spin".
In the past, I have been swayed by both candidates' arguments and I have had some doubts about others. So I wanted to watch this exchange to see how I would react to their style, arguments and demeanor. I'm not exactly a "NASCAR Dad", so let's call me a "STAR WARS Dork". I wanted to see if my opinion would change based on tonight's exchange.
And you know what? It did.
Before I get to that, let me speak about the format. I think it went better than I though, especially considering the 32-page rulebook that was in place. Although I have to admit, the moderator seemed less in control when we made off-the-cuff decisions like: "Well...... Sure, let's have 30 seconds of debate on that, shall we?". I though both men looked polished and look comfortable in their own skin at the podium, which I know can be hard for Dubya. You could have played football in the space you had between them, but its all we could do to stop them from inflicting mortal wounds on them (and hide the fact that John is a might bit taller than "The W").
I won't do a blow-by-blow, but I'd like to comment on each.
SENATOR KERRY: He was obviously the more skilled debater, although he almost never looked in the camera. He made his points clean and relatively effectively. He also managed to bridge some of the President's statements to make some of his own. However, he really shouldn't have been nodding emphatically to anything Dubya was saying. I thought he made some good deflections and highlighted the shortcomings of the Bush Administration.
But he lost me after that, and I blame his campaign. Its fine to be against the war in Iraq, because its the popular thing to do in the Democratic party. But he just didn't tell me what he would do different except to "get the job done". He says he would do things differently, but didn't say how. His campaign has put him is an unenviable position: "I we shouldn't have be in Iraq, but since we are, let's win".
That's your message? Lacks credibility, don't you think? How can anyone feel you are committed to winning the war when you think its a mistake? And which world leader (the one's you want to bring into the coalition) would join you with a view like that? Why would I commit my troops (all 300 Canadian forces) to a war you tell me you think is wrong? Are you telling me we will win because you're new? Senator Kerry really couldn't give a definitive answer.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I always cringe when I watch Dubya speak. I know he talks like a "real person", but I watch too much TV--I expect great speeches and compelling soundbites. I said to my wife that The W seemed to approach this debate like an aide grabbed him while he was walking by, brought him to the podium with no preparation and said "I have a great idea, boss. Why don't you debate tonight!" And Dubya said "Hell, why not? I got nothin' better to do Let's have us a chat!"
While I thought his presentation was less than stellar, I though (as expected) he drove home the message. I don't watch CSPAM (yes, Kmac, the spelling was intentional) and I don't attend White House briefings, so I don't absorb a lot of the messaging of the day. I have never been totally comfortable with how the ongoing efforts to establish peace in Iraq we progressing. Sometimes, I have been happy that Canada is not engaged. This was the first time I heard President Bush clearly and simply explain his motivations on pushing forward with the war: If we give up now, they win. We are in a fight over Iraq itself. If insurgents--who are crossing the border to fight against US troops--are able to take control, there will be no end to what else they can and will accomplish. It will send a dangerous message to terrorists in that region and beyond that if you preserver, you can eventually achieve your goals.
You might question the President's motives, but you cannot question his resolve. Senator Kerry has demonstrated to all that his resolve is not absolute. No one with his position on Iraq could be fully resolved to see this through. That's bad. President Bush reminded me (not that I totally forgot, I was just distracted by new episodes of Law & Order) that you can't blink in this situation. And because of all the criticisms the Royal Hollywood Foreign Policy Congress, Democrats, the Sean Penn National Institute of Counterterrorism and the Canadian media have constantly told me--when George W. Bush sets his mind to something, he gets to doing it. In a war like this--that's good.
Now I get it. And if he did that to me, imagine what he can do to you!
So, while it might not surprise folks that I thought President Bush won the debate, it actually suprises me. And that's where he really won.
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