The Vice-Presidential debate this evening, while a bit dry, was clearly in favor of Dick Cheney. John Edwards appeared to be an amateur, fumbling with his notebook and tearing out pages, interrupting the Vice-President, not paying attention, and simply not answering questions effectively, sincerely, and when answering them, answering them out of place.
Cheney, on the other hand, seemed very well researched on the issues, clearly understood the questions and answered them lucidly and to the point, did not waste time on spouting rhetoric, and did not belittle his competition, even when given the open opportunity.
As far as national security is concerned, Cheney clearly overwhelmed Edwards here. Edwards continually appealed to Kerry’s speech last Thursday: that he clearly showed conviction and resolve and a plan was in place. Cheney simply rebutted with Kerry’s low Senatorial record. Over the course of his time in Senate, Kerry has had the dissenting vote on most issues on national security. I wouldn’t say this is a record of conviction. I’ll spare you bloggees out there the reiteration of the specific flip-floppery. However, I will note an interesting conclusion, though speculative, that Cheney made in regards to Kerry’s continual change of mind. He mentioned that as Howard Dean gained popularity, Kerry began to vote against the war, but then after Dean lost control, he was for the war again.
Edwards’ only response to the future of the Middle East was that he and Kerry had a plan of “success” unlike the Bush administration. By doing this, he basically assumed that the Bush administration charged into Iraq with no plan in mind at all, especially one that would be successful. I think that Cheney clearly outlined the plan that the Bush administration had in regards to Afghanistan and Iraq, and further, Iran and North Korea. Edwards also used the same clever tactic that Kerry did during the first Presidential debate. He said that the Bush administration had “outsourced” militarily.
Cheney outlined Edwards’ plan for “success” as follows. Criticizing our allied leaders (the “coalition of the coerced and the bribed”), remaining inconsistent (both Kerry and Edwards’ Senatorial record), and demeaning our allies in war and the sacrifice of the Iraqi people themselves. I do not think that Edwards was successful in responding to the problems with Kerry’s “global test” response to a question posited during the first Presidential debate.
As many political analysts suggested, Edwards brought up Halliburton. I do think he made some good points, however, Cheney clearly disassociated himself with the facts that Edwards presented by saying that the Democratic Party had been using Halliburton as a “smokescreen” in order to slip away from other pertinent issues. Edwards claimed that Halliburton did business with “sworn enemies,” bribed officials and gave false information; and that the company was under investigation currently. Cheney had little time to respond, but instead plugged a website—I’ll Furl that website for you when I find out what it is; I thought he said “factcheck.com” but that actually links to George Soros’ site, a man who is very anti-Bush.
As far as domestic issues are concerned, I felt the debate was less polarized. Cheney seemed to back up the current administration’s actions with facts and figures that showed support. Edwards disagreed and stated what the Kerry administration would do to solve the problems.
The question of poverty came up first. Cheney stated that creating more jobs was one of the solutions, and that the Bush administration had the record to show it. He also talked about cutting taxes, reducing litigation that increases healthcare costs, and most importantly—in his opinion—focusing on education. The core issue, according to Cheney, is a higher standard in the school systems, and making the schools and parents accountable.
Edwards implied that the Vice President had not actually answered the question by asking for a clarification and then proceeded to talk about job loss, including, manufacturing jobs. He did not mention, however, the fact that technology is really responsible for much of this. He also made it clear that the Kerry administration would restrict outsourcing and provide tax cuts for those companies that chose not to outsource jobs. He also mentioned balancing the budget.
Related to the previous question, a question came up as to exactly how the Kerry administration would cut the deficit in half and not raise taxes for those making under $200,000 a year. Edwards stated the plan to “roll back” tax cuts for those who made $200,000 or more, and that he did support tax cuts for the middle class. He also claimed he would somehow get rid of bureaucratic spending.
Cheney rebutted with Kerry’s record on taxes, that he had voted for ninety-eight tax increases. His most important response was mentioning the fundamental philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans let the American people keep their money in their pockets and believe this better fuels the economy, while Democrats take that money away and spend in on what the federal government thinks it should be spent on—thusly increasing the size of the government. He also mentioned the fact that small businesses actually take the hit with tax increases. While a small business owner may make more money than the average American citizen. It is he who must pay his employees. Paying his employees well fuels the economy.
Edwards responded with more rhetoric concerning tax cuts for the middle class. To which Cheney stated simply: Bush signed a bill which cut taxes for the middle class just yesterday—both Kerry and Edwards were not present.
Both candidates seemed to be in agreement on the gay rights issue. They both made it clear that all American citizens need to be equal and deserve similar rights. Cheney stated he would follow the President, however, with regard to the definition of marriage, and Edwards stated verbatim “marriage means between a man and a woman.” They both agreed, however, that the amendment is not necessary and that it should be left up to the state. Edwards also added that no state is required to recognize a state marriage.
Cheney was given the opportunity to seriously criticize Edwards with regards to his law record, in response to a question asking if Edwards was part of the litigation problem in America. Cheney did not take this opportunity, but instead, outlined that malpractice suits have greatly increased the cost of healthcare. His solution would include capping non-economic damages.
Edwards basically agreed with the idea that there were far too many lawsuits. His suggestion would be to place more responsibility on the lawyers in order to keep cases legitimate. The problem is that can deny access to the courts for some and allow access to others—and at whose distinction? The lawyers? Obviously this is a problem and would simply be used as yet another money filter.
Concerning the credibility of either candidate to be Vice-President, both answered in clear and distinct ways. The difference is simple: Cheney’s record lends validity to his response, whereas Edwards’ does not. Even though Edwards was not supposed to mention Kerry’s name in response to this question, he did so twice. He said that the Kerry administration would tell the truth, no matter what the situation was. He stated that a long resume did not equal good judgment. He stated that he would find the terrorists and kill them. And that he would strengthen the military. All of this sounds similar to the rhetoric of the Bush administration.
Cheney simply stated he was hired to help the team. His record gives him authority and clearly defines him as an asset to the administration. When asked the difference between him and Edwards, he mentioned that actually there were more similarities. Cheney is clearly a self-made man and very briefly appealed to his ability to relate to those American families who go through troubled times, given he too has gone through many troubled times.
Both accused each other of flip-flopping, and when Cheney mentioned the Bush administration wanted to unite the country, Edwards pointed out that the country is most divided now.
Finally, the closing arguments given by both candidates were very polarized. Edwards focused on appealing to emotion in order to engrain the concept that he is there to fight for the American people; that the light of America is currently “flickering.”
Cheney, on the other hand, was very straightforward about what he and the Bush administration had already done, and what they would do in the future.
This final sentiment of both candidates summarizes the entire debate. While one appealed to emotion, using rhetoric and hype, the other outlined plans specifically, gave accurate statistics and provided clear and concise answers.
Democrats, see the transcript: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6187803/
Republicans, see the transcript: http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_story/0,3566,134579,00.html
Oh, I can’t help myself.