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October 06, 2004

Enter The Gerbil...(VP Debate Recap)

Well, I refused to even attempt to liveblog the debate after reading Pile On's unique attempt at liveblogging, which I have decided to incorporate into this post. Instead, I'll do my usual reconstruction from my notes. To help you tell my comments from Pile's, I'll put our names in brackets before each entry:

[Cass] We watched Fox, having decided that neither the Unit's nor my blood pressure could withstand CNN this go-round. As the candidates enter, Cheney looks calm and mildly amused. Edwards looks (to me) nervous and brittle – keeps flashing his trademark gerbil smile. Both men scribble furiously for a moment, then Cheney looks up, appearing at ease. From behind, Cheney is still, Edwards fidgets constantly. I think he may have forgotten that all-important potty break before the broadcast. Too late now...

[Pile] I will commence with the live blog.

Since it seems to be customary to discuss food during these things let me just say the lovely bride made homemade chinese dumplings and an eggdrop soup with fishballs in it. Now, I have never been one to cook fishballs and I enjoyed it. But it must have been some pretty damn big fish.

They are doing the intro, both fellers showed up.

Gwen Stefani is moderating the debate. She looks different than I remember her.

Edwards seems to have a milk mustache. That is probably to make him appear youthful next to the aging Cheney. He also has something on his lip, some sort of growth.

I can't take my eyes off it.

[Cass] The Unit was unavoidably detained due a late meeting at the Pentagon and Beltway traffic, so we settled for Domino's Pizza with Beck's beer instead of the promised dinner out. Ifill (not Gwen Stefani, for Pete's sake...) can't wait to hit Cheney with Bremer's statement, winning me a $5 bet with the Unit, who has been vilifying Ifill since the debate started. It hurts to be this good... Nice response by Cheney. Edwards' opening response on the war was damaging though - it will resonate with those who opposed going in. Did an excellent job of highlighting casualties, Republiscam opposition, strongest point: no hard evidence of connection to al Qaeda. Cheney rebutted well but this is an abstract case that is difficult to make in 30 seconds. Stronger than expected showing from The Gerbil.

[Cass] Ifill to Edwards: You and Senator Kerry have said that the war in Iraq is the wrong war at the wrong time. Does that mean that if you had been president and vice president that Saddam Hussein would still be in power? Edwards is evasive, teleports self to Afghanistan, begins obsessing about Osama, which is damaging. Why doesn't Cheney point out Osama isn't the whole WOT? He's a figurehead. This is a simple point - even if we get him, we won't have won - we can't pack up our toys and go home. He missed an opportunity to make Edwards look foolish...although Edwards seems to be quite capable of handling the task on his own.

[Pile] They are mixing it up pretty good. Cheney gets in a zinger about Edwards missing the exact amount that has been spent on Iraq because he probably wasn't there. [for the vote]

Lotsa barking.....incessant barking.....I can't hear right now......there must be a bad guy outside, friggin dogs won't shut up.

[Cass] The Gerbil launches surprise attack, leaps onto Cheney, chattering about mistakes in Afghanistan, begins dementedly gnawing at Cheney's left earlobe. Calmly, Cheney bats him across the room. Gerbil hits wall, slides down to floor and lies there, briefly stunned. FINALLY! Cheney counters with Kerry's crappy record of being on the wrong side of the issues for 30 years, progress in Afghanistan, elections in El Salvador despite civil unrest (which works for both Afghanistan and Iraq), determination of people to be free - great stuff. Ifill is not controlling the debate - keeps letting Edwards interrupt Cheney - very annoying. Edwards starts in on how much the war is costing - we're paying 90% of the costs of this war...blah...blah...blah... Cheney smiles that wicked little smile of his:

Well, Gwen, the 90 percent figure is just dead wrong. When you include the Iraqi security forces that have suffered casualties, as well as the allies, they've taken almost 50 percent of the casualties in operations in Iraq, which leaves the U.S. with 50 percent, not 90 percent.
With respect to the cost, it wasn't $200 billion. You probably weren't there to vote for that. But $120 billion is, in fact, what has been allocated to Iraq. The rest of it's for Afghanistan and the global war on terror.
The allies have stepped forward and agreed to reduce and forgive Iraqi debt to the tune of nearly $80 billion by one estimate. That, plus $14 billion they promised in terms of direct aid, puts the overall allied contribution financially at about $95 billion, not to the $120 billion we've got, but, you know, better than 40 percent. So your facts are just wrong, Senator.
You also have a situation where you talk about credibility.
It's awfully hard to convey a sense of credibility to allies when you voted for the war and then you declared: Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. You voted for the war, and then you voted against supporting the troops when they needed the equipment, the fuel, the spare parts and the ammunition and the body armor.

Edwards looks vaguely ill... is that blood coming out of his left nostril? He starts scribbling every time Cheney scores major points on him. Probably a suicide note...

[Pile] Cheney: They voted for the war, but then under pressure from Howard Dean they voted against funding the troops. If they can't stand up to Howard Dean how can you expect them to stand up to Al Quaiuaiada.

That growth is still there. I think it is getting bigger. I am waiting for Cheney to flip him a quarter like Uncle Buck and tell him to go downtown and find a rat to chew that thing off.

[Cass] Cheney gets in line about not challenging Kerry's patriotism for the record, reminds voters Kerry voted against liberation of Kuwait, worse, that Kedwards voted against appropriations bill as political move against Dean... ouch

Kedwards voted against the $87 billion for the troops because of Halliburton? Why doesn't Cheney point out the majority of the funds went to the troops? The Repugs never make this point - it's the obvious rebuttal - you don't kill a 90 billion bill because less than 10% goes somewhere you don't like. Stupid. Plus Cheney doesn't work for Halliburton anymore, and they have the K. Ok, I wouldn't have made that point either, but it's annoying.

[Cass] The Gerbil: "We...we have a plan for Iraq...I swear we do...". There's not enough alcohol in the world to make me want to listen to this. Edwards gets award for Moronic Idea of the Century: they will take Iraqi security forces out of Iraq to train them. (You can take the Iraqis out of Iraq, but can you take Iraq out of the Iraqis??? Good Lord... Idiot...) Oh, and they will "speed things up" - maybe by issuing NoDoze, RedBull, and methamphetamines to the IDF? I'm so tired of hearing that. Translation: "I can't wait to cut and run".

[Pile] Spd, you just missed Cheney raking Edwards over the coals for the way they have treated our coalition allies and for the way Allawi was treated after he spoke to congress. Brutal, and he never raised his voice.



Dang, there are not commercials. I am out of beer.

Wait, I have a DVR, I can just pause the action.

Don't be alarmed though, my comments will be a few minutes behind now.

[Cass] Major body blow by Cheney: The Gerbil renews the attack, Cheney gets him in a half Nelson and starts to squeeze:

"...troops wouldn't have what they have today if you guys had had your way. You talk about internationalizing the effort. They don't have a plan. Basically, it's an echo.You made the comment that the Gulf War coalition in '91 was far stronger than this. No. We had 34 countries then; we've got 30 today. We've got troops beside us.
It's hard, after John Kerry referred to our allies as a coalition of the coerced and the bribed, to go out and persuade people to send troops and to participate in this process.
You end up with a situation in which — talk about demeaning. In effect, you demean the sacrifice of our allies when you say it's the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, and oh, by the way, send troops.

Cheney moves in for the kill: most important ally in the WOT is Allawi and Kerry called him a liar - way to build a coalition, Big Guy.... Gwen Ifill leans over Edwards, administers smelling salts. He's out cold. No signs of life. At this point, I would sleep with Dick Cheney...

[Pile] Edwards is telling a personal story. He channeled an Israeli boy who was killed in a terrorist attack.

The jury is sobbing.

I understand Cleveland sucks. And by that I don't mean sucks good.

If you live there, move, evidently there are no jobs there.

John Edwards has me completely confused about gay marriage. Must be too nuanced.

[Cass] Wunderbar...John-boy Walton is feeling our pain... I'm having flashbacks to the Clinton Years... Why don't we ever mention that fewer than 1% of lost jobs were due to outsourcing? Insourcing? Hellooooooo.... [echo] Ifill hits Edwards on cutting the deficit without raising taxes. Edwards falls into the trap [thud]...The buzzards are circling...this is gonna hurt.

Cheney points out small business owners pay personal income tax, so Kerry plan will hit them hard. They create 7/10 new jobs - Kerry plan will crush job creation. Edwards again bleeding profusely. Edwards rebuts with "middle-class tax cuts" shtick, Cheney wonders why neither Kerry nor Edwards showed up to renew the middle-class tax cut extension just passed by Congress? Edwards working on suicide note again ...

[Cass] Edwards does well on gay marriage - breaks into stirring rendition of "when a man...loves a woman...". No amendment to "ban gay marriage". He's lying through his teeth about no need - as a lawyer he knows better - this is a despicable answer. You can disagree on the merits, but technically his answer is disingenuous and dishonest even though I happen to agree with him. I also thought his mention of Cheney's family was a low blow - he played it as a sympathetic gesture but I saw it as meant to rattle Cheney and (to me) he looked pissed. We may find Edwards' body in an alley later tonight.

[Cass] AIDS. Cheney mentions $15B, Edwards says should be doubled. IF EDWARDS IS UPSET WE ARE PAYING 90% OF COST OF WOT, WHY SHOULD U.S. PAY 90% OF GLOBAL COST OF WAR ON AIDS??? HOW WILL KERRY PAY FOR THIS AND STILL BALANCE THE BUDGET??? HELLOOOO............................ Cheney was asleep on this one.

[Cass] Overall: points to Cheney. He was consistently effective and unrattled, did a great job with the homey bits on his working class background, "I've been laid off", etc. Nice reminder on "I never questioned Kerry's patriotism". Nice repetition of key points - very effective. He got tired at the end of the debate though, and didn't finish as strongly - I think he and Bush need to check out GNC for some vitamins or natural supplements. I thought Ifill got too much credit as moderator - the bar is set so low that simply doing a creditable job seems to be cause for glowing tributes. She did ask some tough questions, but failed to control the debate - she let Edwards interrupt Cheney several times and didn't allow Cheney several opportunities to rebut when he was owed them. She was inconsistent in applying debate rules, favoring Edwards at times, but it didn't seem to hurt Cheney.

I thought Edwards did better than expected, but lost on substance. The only place he connected was on casualties and on why we're in Iraq in the first place. He did a fairly good job here, even though I disagree with him. His case was well-presented and clear. He didn't say how he would do it better. He didn't have to. He may have connected on Osama, although it's a stupid argument. But it's an emotional one that may resonate with those who are easily led. People fixate on figureheads rather than having to think through complex issues, and Osama's a convenient nexus for the more complicated issue of global terror. It's not as though, if he were arrested tomorrow, global terrorism would go away or al Qaeda would fold up or go poof! But everyone would have a warm fuzzy and sometimes that counts more with voters, sad to say.

On balance, it would have been a more successful debate if I'd made dacquiris. The Beck's ran out prematurely.

[Pile] I have tried to bring you the highlights of the debate in a fair and objective manner. I will not engage in any spin but I will briefly give you my impressions of the debate. After all it is all about who won.

They both looked better and had a more meaningful debate than during the presidential debate. Having said that it is hard to get over on Cheney, and during the foreign policy part he was the clear winner. During the domestic issues on the last half of the debate I would call it a draw.

On hair, Edwards wins hands down. Cheney was ill prepared for this part of the debate as he hardly brought any with him.

On the issue of having things growing on your face that need to be gnawed off, Cheney was the hands down winner.

On style, again, you have to give that to Cheney, how seriously can you take someone with a milk mustache.

Good night, it was a thrill to see my name on all ten recent posts. A feat that may not soon be repeated.

Other reactions:

Ed Morrissey: ...the first half of the debate had the most resonance...Cheney tromped on Edwards all night long, but especially during the first half. Edwards spoke well but only in slogans...no indication of independent thought.

John Hawkins: Cheney absolutely dominated Edwards during the foreign policy debate and beat Edwards solidly in the more boring domestic policy debate.

James Joyner: I thought his opening comment was good: Cheney has already outperformed Bush. He's displaying the same calm, steady demeanor he had during the Lieberman debate. He rattles off facts matter of factly and conversationally. Summary: Overall, I think Cheney won this one. Moreover, the debate was much more illuminating than Round 1 of the presidential debates. As usual, the entire blogosphere tracked back to OTB, so you can pick up most other debate posts from here.

Jeff Goldstein: Dick Cheney smokes imported cigars, drinks double Scotch neat from a chunky tumbler, and talks to his friends about dames and gams and stock options. John Edwards wants to be a fireman when he grows up. Bless his li’l heart.

Incidentally, Twins 2 Yankees 0.

Michelle Malkin: It was a substantive debate and the reason the MSM navel-gazers are grumpy is that they didn't get any non-substantive fireworks--no sighs, no frowns, no major flubs--which forced the pundits to do what Kerry/Edwards don't want them to do: talk about the Dem ticket's pathetic record, constant flip-flopping, and perilous weakness on fundamental national security questions. Advantage: Bush/Cheney.

Beldar makes a point we kept noticing during the debate: John Edwards is a natural advocate. His client? John Kerry. He couldn't follow the moderator's rule on the question where he was forbidden to mention John Kerry's name, then laughed and breathed a sigh of relief again on the next question when he could talk again about his client. Dick Cheney is a principal. He has presence and gravitas independent of the President he serves and supports.

Dale Franks points out that Cheney's "that was the first time we met" quip was inaccurate.

- Cassandra

October 6, 2004 at 07:05 AM | Permalink


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Posted by: spd rdr at Oct 6, 2004 7:55:06 AM

I thought spd rdrs didn't take vowels into consideration.

I laughed until I cried and learned again. Thanks, Pile and Cass. I called my darling husband and told him to put this up at work.

It will resonate through 3rd Army HQ and have
people rolling in the aisles and the cubicle dwelling ones will have a reason to raise their heads above their partitions.

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at Oct 6, 2004 8:06:42 AM

ONe more question:

Was Kerry waiting off in the wings to try to revice The Germbil? We know he has a way iwth small rodents...

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at Oct 6, 2004 8:07:25 AM

INCIDENTLY WHAT, mr. rdr????

I just poured my soul out for you people....

I'm exhausted - you're going to have to break it down for me.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 8:11:53 AM

Pay no attention to the typos. I was laughing so hard I wasn't looking.

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at Oct 6, 2004 8:13:24 AM

Cass, you honor me with inclusion in your post. I are not worthy.

Posted by: Pile On® at Oct 6, 2004 8:48:53 AM

Pile, frankly I was a little annoyed with you for being funnier than me, but on the otter heiny what else is new?

I hope you're not mad at me :) It was just too good material to hide in the comments section. You guys are too talented.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 9:15:17 AM

As always Pile, you complete me...

(actually I ripped that line off from my salesdude friend at work - another funny guy. We usually riff off each other since we both have a sick sense of humor).

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 9:17:30 AM

Thanks Cass, we make a pretty mean tag team.

But now that I am a blog published writer with ego to match I have a few issues with the editor. Some of my best stuff ended up on the cutting room floor. We are going to have to renegotiate my contract, I need more artistic control. :)

Posted by: Pile On® at Oct 6, 2004 9:22:45 AM

I know, I know... I'm sorry. I cut a lot of my notes out too - I had another funny gerbil scene that got axed - it was getting too long. I'm waiting for spd to get issues about his baseblogging not being included... sigh...

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 9:25:59 AM

I think blogs should come with spell checkers.
Well, maybe they do...in the form of the WHOLE FREAKING WORLD!

Anyway, I'm sure glad that I watched the baseball game. Having a clear winner (Twins) is satisfying after months of "too close to call" punditry. Correct me if I'm wrong, but for all the smear thrown at Cheney about HALIBURTON HALIBURTON HALIBURTON, I don't believe that Dick once mentioned the Jimmy Carter, er...John Edwards is a scum sucking trial lawyer vehemently opposed to tort reform (on account of all the trial lawyers shovelling their dough into his pockets). The debate would have been more fun if Dr. Evil had pushed a button and drop the Gerbil into a tank of hungry doctors. It would have been a nice touch, and probably worth a couple of percentage points in the polls.

Posted by: spd rdr at Oct 6, 2004 9:33:13 AM

I dunno...I even ran a spellchecker on the post after spd's comment and caught three other errors but not that one.

I give up.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 9:37:34 AM

If Dr. Evil threw Edwards into our tank, we would not harm him as a show of professional courtesy.

Posted by: Sharks with laser beams shooting from their heads at Oct 6, 2004 9:42:27 AM

Just giving you a hard time darlin'. Your editing skills are above reproach.

When you are writing on the fly covering real time action, you are bound to write some things that are deserving of the axe.

Posted by: Pile On® at Oct 6, 2004 9:48:38 AM

Debate? What debate?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at Oct 6, 2004 9:56:04 AM

Pile On and Cass both did an excellent job. I am proud to be ... well what ever I am, I am proud.

Posted by: KJ at Oct 6, 2004 9:56:49 AM

You should see all the beer bottles lined up on my office desk...

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 10:02:17 AM

You know, Cheney really reminded me of a large cat studying a small rodent during the debate.

He had that vaguely detached air lions get when they're batting their prey back and forth between their paws, as though he were trying to decide how much entertainment value there was in toying with Edwards for a while longer vs. eating him immediately.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 10:14:43 AM

The Satellite'll come out tomorrow,
So I gotta hang on til tomorrow,
even though it's done.

I have a Good Sister Woman friend who has more than likely put this on tape and who will take pity on me if I whine loud enough.

I hate dish network before I even have it...scheduling this so late. AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at Oct 6, 2004 10:20:07 AM

I heard this comparison" Edwards was like a chihuahua yapping around a the legs of an old golden retriever. But my favorite is " Edwards acted like the lawyer he is, but Cheney was the judge."

Appropos of nothing, my youngest girl went to high school today dressed like a hula girl.

Posted by: spd rdr at Oct 6, 2004 10:22:16 AM

Papa Bear must have been loving that one.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 10:41:05 AM

Pretty good debate. I give Kerry more points for "gravitas" in the first one but Cheney has the gravitas edge in this one. Cheney's not a real likeable guy on camera. However when he sits down and explains himself to the American people without the filter of the media or the campaign (and this is as close as we get to it), he is much more genuine.

It is not that hard for me to envision Cheney earnestly wrestling with the towering questions of our time and trying to do his best. I read a pretty good article called "Sympathy with the devil". About Cheney. Here's a link. http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200302/msg00186.html

I don't think Cheney gets it right more than half the time, but he tries.

It is, however, hard for me to imagine Bush doing the same. Not with the intelligence and discipline that such questions demand.

As to Edwards, good talker, fast on his feet, as one would expect. Not that deep. But then neither is Dubya and he's the top of the ticket.

Posted by: Al Peck at Oct 6, 2004 2:45:10 PM

I actually really like Cheney Al - I find him enormously attractive as a person.

He was the guest of honor at the McBall a few years back and he was a huge hit - the Marines loved him. To me, he seems genuine and funny and very intelligent - he reminds me very much of my husband. But then I think Bob Dole is attractive too, so maybe I'm just weird. I admire intelligence and wit, and I don't like what I perceive to be false warmth or folksiness, I hate flesh-pressers.

Cheney seems like the kind of guy you can depend on in a clinch and he doesn't waste time trying to impress you, and frankly that impresses the heck out of me. He's comfortable in his own skin.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 6, 2004 2:52:01 PM

One thing about Cheney, is, even if he thinks he has a good reason for doing a thing he prefers to misrepresent the reason. I can make a better argument for taking out Saddam than Cheney ever did, or Bush neither. The reason they do this is they think of the American people as ten-year-olds who can't be trusted with too much information.

Here's my case:

(1) Sanctions were eroding support for the US and were inhumane to the Iraqi people.
(2) If we take sanctions off, Saddam will go trying to re-start WMD programs.
(3) If we don't then we have a steady drip, drip, drip of damage to our image in the Muslim world.
(4) So, get rid of Saddam, get rid of problem.
(5) Bonus, we can establish permanent bases, and we can then move our troops out of Saudi Arabia.

This is a good case, but it doesn't have the kind of panic-button effect as the mushroom cloud thing. Meanwhile Little Kim really has muchroom clouds. So if I'm making this case to MY people (wife and cats), they might ask, but is Saddam the BIGGEST threat, or the highest-priority? What ought we to tackle first?

The other question the wife and cats ought to ask me, is: Am I sure that in doing this I won't just cause a bunch of bigger and more immediate problems?

Posted by: Al Peck at Oct 6, 2004 2:55:15 PM

P.S., I always kind of liked Bob Dole, for a Republican.

Edwards always seemed, "great taste, less filling". But he's a good talker.

Posted by: Al Peck at Oct 6, 2004 2:58:22 PM