October 06, 2004

THE VEEP DEBATE: Cheney plugs Soros! Both flub AIDS!

I thought Cheney came across just a bit more effectively than a somwhat nervous Edwards--who fumbled or paused over his words at times, parotted Kerry too much, and didn't produce a single memorable soundbite on Halliburton, Cheney's Achilles hell--but that was before the blogosphere started ripping into some of the Veep's statements. There was Cheney's claim that, even though he presides over the Senate, he'd "never met" Edwards until the debate. Chris Matthews and others on his post-debate MSNBC panel immediately said that the two veep candidates had to have met when he stood in the well of the Senate beside fellow North Carolinian Liddy Dole at her swearing-in, as Senate tradition dictates. Then, Daily Kos ran a video capture from C-Span of Dick and Johnny Ray standing next to each other at a National Prayer Breakfast!

But the first prize goes to Reason mag's Hit and Run blog, on which Julian Sanchez quickly posted this comment, revealing that Cheney had mistakenly given a huge plug to prime GOP enemy George Soros:

"Props to New Republic's Telis Demos, with whom I watched (half of) the veep debates for spotting this one: Cheney mistakenly pointed viewers to FactCheck.com rather than Annenberg's FactCheck.org. The former is a pointer to George Soros' website" !

The networks' insta-polls were all over the place. ABC's flash poll had Cheney winning, with 43% to Edwards 35%... and also found that, by 11 points, more Republicans said picked Cheney as the winner than Democrats did Edwards as the winner: 80% of Bush supporters say Cheney won the debate, while 69% of Kerry supporters say Edwards won the debate...

In a completely opposite view, a CBS News poll of 178 uncommitted voters found that 41% said Edwards won the debate, versus 28% who said Cheney won. And 31% percent said it was a tie.

When Cheney compared Iraq to El Salvador--a notion he filched from a David Brooks NY Times column a week ago--it was probably over the heads of his audience, but may have sounded true. Edwards could have knocked that one out of the park--if he'd read l'ami Marc Cooper's destruction of Brooks' El Salvador analogy on his blog (Marc had reported on those El Salvador elections himself, and knew what he was talking about).

Cheny's nose got longer when he declared, ""The senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." This morning's Washington Post rolled out a series of Cheney's statements in refutation (but the WashPost piece strangely failed to mention the Rumsfeld declaration earlier in the week that he'd seen "no strong, hard evidence" of a Saddam-9/11 link. And Edwards didn't handle this with as much razor-sharpness as he might have.

Probably the most stunning moment, however, came when moderator Gwen Ifill asked about AIDS. Her question:

"I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts. What should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?"

Cheney's mind-blowing response: "I have not heard those numbers with respect to African- American women. I was not aware that it was -- that they're in epidemic there..." On the other hand, Edwards wasn't much better, doing exactly what Ifill had asked the duo not to do--address AIDS in Africa--and seemed as ignorant as Cheney on domestic AIDS when he pirouetted away from it to utter banalties about health care in general...

All in all, it was an uninspiring evening, probably a wash, and will fade quickly from the voters' memory as Friday night's Kerry-Bush debate displaces it.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who has a nicely insouciant take on the news in his nightly broadcasts, chose a boxing metaphor for his colorful and irreverent round-by-round account of the debate on Hardblogger, which is as good a summary as any if you missed the debate and don't want to wade through the transcript. And it's awfully hard to disagree with Olbermann's conclusion that anyone trying to score this debate ended up "with their heads feeling like mush."

For a foreign view, if you read French, check out the witty debate take by Le Nouvel Observateur's American correspondent, Philippe Boulet-Gercourt, on his presidential campaign blog, Carnets de Campagne.

DEADLY AIM: Brennan Houlihan has produced a brilliant, black-humored flash-video compilation from the Republican National Convention that is a must-watch. Turn on your computer's speakers, and click here!

Posted by Direland at 03:40 AM | Permalink


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I should note the real credit for the Factcheck.com catch goes to TNR's Jon Chait--Telis was the one who mentioned it to me, but I hadn't realized it was because he'd gotten an email from Chait on his laptop.

Posted by: Julian Sanchez | Oct 7, 2004 10:18:05 PM

Trial lawyers are used to having a lot more time than two minutes to make a point, and Edwards seemed like he ran out of time too often. Overall, Edwards proved, yet again, he isn't ready for prime time.

I thought the zings by Edwards toward Cheney on Halliburton were long overdue (as opposed to your comrade Marc Cooper, I think Halliburton plays well beyond the 5 watts of Pacifica Radio).
Heck, even here in the flight path we know of such things.

The AIDS issue was a complete bust for both. I suspect it is because AIDS is viewed as a sexually transmitted disease and neither of these two can ever bring themselves to say the "S" word. Glad to know that Cheney loves his daughter though, not quite enough love their for the real CIC to prevent lil W from using gay marriage as a wedge issue. Far more important to protect corporate interests than one;s own daughter.

Posted by: Stephen | Oct 7, 2004 1:57:46 AM

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