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    Saturday, October 09, 2004

    What's in a name? 

    A lot -- which is why I was screaming at Kerry last night for using the term "partial birth abortion." There is no such thing. Most of the Dilation and Extraction procedures performed in the U.S. are done in the second trimester of pregnancy -- that is, before fetal viability. So the fetus, if delivered, would not live. That's one reason why three federal appeals courts now have declared the law unconstitutional, just as the U.S. Supreme Court declared a similar Nebraska law unconstitutional. If this federal abortion ban gets to the Supremes as the Court now is constituted, it likely won't even hear the case. But that's the big question. If Bush wins and gets to change the makeup of the court, this law could be the one that leads to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

    The so-called Unborn Victims of Violence Act, with which Bush attacked Kerry last night, was an attempt to cash in on the sad and sensational Laci Petersen murder case. Republicans in Congress constructed this completely unnecessary legislation as a way to get Democrats on record as voting against. The Bush campaign used it in ads, claiming Kerry didn't want to protect pregnant women from violence. The truth: The law applies only to fetuses killed in the commission of a felony on federal property – that is, maybe none. And can you imagine the accused killer, Scott Petersen, allegedly deciding not to kill his wife because he'd be prosecuted for two killings instead of one?

    As an Ohio reader reminds me, Bill Clinton had it exactly right: Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. And the proven best ways to make it rare is through comprehensive sex education and the availability of contraception.

    Of course, Bush seems not to care that thousands more abortions will be performed around the world in the coming year because the United States refuses to give $34 million appropriated by Congress to the United Nations Population Fund to provide contraception and health screenings (NOT abortion).

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 6:12 PM

    The Day After 

    A day later:

    I think I'll blame the altitude (I was watching yesterday's debate in Albuquerque, where I'm on vacation) for my mild brain block last night. A few hours sleep -- aided by a transcript -- and I have a few more points I want to make.

    DOMINANT?: That must have been the Republicans' chief talking point. As I switched channels to see the "spin," I saw Ken Mehlman say something like, "The president was clearly dominant tonight," changed the channel and saw Karen Hughes say, "The president clearly dominated tonight." Then, about 15 minutes later, on yet another channel, there was Karen Hughes again saying, "The president was clearly dominant tonight."


    The president WAS more aggressive, sometimes to the point of nearly shouting, but he was spouting the same old falsehoods, now revved up even more: The New York Times Friday used this headline to describe the latest Bush tactic: "In His New Attacks, Bush Pushes Limit on the Facts."

    It went on to say,"But the scathing indictment that Mr. Bush offered of Mr. Kerry over the past two days . . . took these attacks to a blistering new level. In the process, several analysts say, Mr. Bush pushed the limits of subjective interpretation and offered exaggerated or imprecise accounts of Mr. Kerry's positions on health care, tax cuts, the Iraq war and foreign policy."

    (This is the journalist way of not using the three letter word that begins with L and ends with E and is synonymous with fib.)

    Maybe it will work. But maybe delivering tired, old, (and false) lines -- but doing it louder -- is like shouting to a foreigner in an attempt to get him to understand your English better.

    Today's Albuquerque Journal has an interesting column by Richard Reeves, which actually does use that "L" word several times, including this one about Iraq that Kerry foolishly has failed to rebut:
    (In the first debate) "The president twice used the line, 'You saw the same intelligence I did before the war . . . '

    "That is absurd, and it was foolish for Kerry to let it go. I have been around the White House under six presidents and have written, quite extensively, about their decision-making. I know, and so does Bush, that no one, no one at all, sees what a president sees. That is what the classification "Eyes Only" means."

    The exhaustive (10,830 word)report by the New York Times last Sunday says that the aluminum tubes evidence presented by the administration as proof that Saddam was reconstituting its nuclear weapons had been in dispute in the government for months. I find it difficult to believe that if members of Congress -- Democrats or Republicans -- had known of this dispute, they would have so easily voted to go to war.

    ICH BIN EIN PARTISAN: Well, I'm one, too! Isn't that the whole idea of this exercise?

    SPEAKING OF PARTISAN: At last night's debate, John Kerry delivered this great line, in response to Bush's claim that he's an environmentalist: "Boy, to listen to that -- the president, I don't think, is living in a world of reality with respect to the environment.

    "Now, if you're a Red Sox fan, that's OK. But if you're a president, it's not."

    The line fell flat in the hall -- perhaps because the debate was in St. Louis, which could easily meet the Sox in the Series. But it made me think I should reveal my bias on this issue: Anybody But the Yankees.

    JFK AND JFK: Kerry's reference to his Catholic faith -- coupled with his explanation that, as president, he won't impose his personal religious beliefs on other Americans was exactly what John F. Kennedy said in 1960. The difference, of course, is that Kennedy was running as a Catholic before the legalization of abortion.

    But Kerry's understanding of his obligations as a Catholic politician is the way many Catholics -- not all, of course -- still feel. And why there is no real "Catholic vote," per se. Catholics tend to vote pretty much in the same proportions as America at large.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 5:42 PM

    Friday, October 08, 2004

    Post debate 

    The Town Hall meeting elicited excellent questions.

    President Bush did better than last week - then again, how could he possibly have done worse? - but he continues to distort several parts of John Kerry's platform, especially that whopper about Kerry's health care plan being government-controlled socialized medicine. The Kerry plan takes the current private health-care system and pays for it differently. It will be interesting to see what the fact checkers turn up overnight.

    John Kerry was even more direct and succinct than last week. He's clearly learning. At times he seemed - oh my goodness - almost likable. I thought it was a masterful stroke for him to credit and express respect for others' religious beliefs - and also to talk about his religious background - but then to make the point that, as president, he won't try to impose his beliefs on others.

    It was a good debate, a good exchange, eliciting the very real differences between these two guys. At least as important as the next debate, though, could very well be developments in the world and in Iraq.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 11:12 PM

    Initial wrapup thoughts 

    Bush did so much better than he did in the first debate. He was more relaxed and assured, didn't stumble. Kerry was about the same, a polished debater. It was close enough that supporters of both sides can feel good about their candidates' performance. Since my secret has been revealed - I am a partisan - I'll go ahead and call it a Bush win.

    But both of them made good points and scored some hits on the other side. And they showed us two very different philosophies very clearly, especially in the foreign policy area. Anyone who doesn't know where these guys diverge on the central issues just hasn't been paying attention. We engage or we confer. Obviously, I prefer engagement.

    Their differences aren't quite so clear on the domestic side. As a fiscal conservative, I'd love to make fun of Kerry as a typical tax-and-spend Massachusetts liberal. And I do think Bush has a better grasp of basic economics - you tax what you want less of, so if you tax wealth you will have less growth - but he hasn't exactly showed restraint on the spending side.

    Guess it's stating the obvious, but the debate results so far - Kerry win, Bush win, vice presidential tie - make the final debate Wednesday extremely important. This one will be all on domestic issues, so we should all be looking so see if the same sharp differences that we can now see on foreign policy begin to emerge there, too.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:55 PM

    A calm and reasonable assessment 

    RRVDH writes that "John Kerry is a decent honest moral citizen. Bush is a tody of rightist conservative money grubbing bozos who are undermining the society we as Americans have sweated and slaved to create." Guess I'm not the only partisan online tonight.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:32 PM

    Answer the question, Part 2 

    OK, partisans, I'll give you one. Since I chided Kerry for ducking the Iran question, I have to say that Bush is ducking this one. By NOT admitting a couple of mistakes (Good Lord, we've ALL made them), he gives Kerry an opportunity to beat him up by naming a bunch of them.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:29 PM

    Simple and complicated 

    Kerry has a good line to Bush that "It's never as simple as you make it seem." But the corollary is true: It's never as as complicated as Kerry makes it seem.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:27 PM

    Bush can't win on this one 

    An overwhelming majority of Americans - I think it's close to 2/3 - want embryonic stem cell research. From the beginning, Bush has overstated what he had allowed.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:20 PM

    Here comes the judge 

    One more reason this election is important: One of these guys WILL be naming at least one new person to the Supreme Court. And we can see a clear difference here. Bush unequivocally would pick a strict constructionist who would focus on what the Constitution means. Kerry focuses on what the court should do. Take your pick.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:18 PM

    Percentages on health care 

    Don't mean much if you're one of the 45 million people who don't have insurance, and if you can't afford to take your kids to the doctor.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:11 PM

    I worry about the Patriot act, too 

    We need to be able to fight terrorists, but not at the expense of our basic rights. But I believe these concerns were anticipated from the beginning. The Patriot Act has a sunset clause, which means it can't be renewed without review.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:11 PM

    Everybody's doing it 

    "Sourcing" is a fact of life. We outsource, and we benefit from insourcing. We benefit far more from insourcing than we lose in outsourcing. We win in the competitive global economy by being smarter, tougher, leaner, not by trying to pass rules that might bite us back.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:09 PM

    I'm getting sick of this 

    Health care reality check: According to the Census Bureau, in 1996 about 8.8 percent of Americans were without health insurance for the entire year; it went to 8.0 percent by 1999.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:05 PM

    Smile when you call me that 

    I'm not crazy about labels, either, but ... If labels "don't mean anything," why do liberals get huffy when they're called liberals? I haven't heard many conservatives getting touchy about being called conservatives?

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:02 PM

    Good on jobs? 

    I don't think we're doing very good on jobs. A great percentage of the new jobs being created are the lowest paid (the figure is that they pay an average of $9,000 a year less than the ones that were lost.)

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:59 PM

    My money 

    Read his lips, no new taxes on the middle class: Why don't I believe John Kerry when he says he'll put money in my pocket? Bush did, is what I'm saying. Here's a little dose of economic reality: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the top 20 percent of earners would have paid 78.4 percent of income taxes without the Bush tax cuts. With them, they pay 82.1 percent. The cuts also removed 14 million taxpayers from the tax rolls altogether. And income tax receipts went up this year for the first time since 2000. So Bush redistributed the tax burden upward and brought in more money. Pretty good deal.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:53 PM

    Here we go again 

    First president with a net loss of jobs, blah, blah, blah. Jeez, we lost 1 million jobs in the first month after Sept. 11. I think we're doing pretty darn good, all things considered.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:52 PM

    Spend, spend, spend 

    They're kinda losing me here. I don't think it's possible anymore for any administration, Democrat or Republican, to not spend too much money.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:50 PM

    Health care  

    Kerry's program on medical malpractice is pretty good: Has a professional look at cases before they can go to court, institutes a "three strikes and you're out" for lawyers bringing frivolous lawsuits.

    BTW, paperwork accounts for at least 25 percent of health care costs.

    At the same time, the Kerry plan would cover ALL children in the United States, and up to 95 percent of adults.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:49 PM

    Homeland Security 

    The money in the Homeland Security budget is not being distributed to the places with the most risk - for example, New York. On a per capita basis, Wyoming gets several times more than New York, about $30 to $6.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:37 PM


    Kerry agrees with the president on a new attack by terrorists. That must be a first.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:37 PM

    What the heck? 

    What the heck was that from Kerry? "Countries now pay a price for working with us, and I will change that." I believe the price they pay is that terorrists target them, or threaten them, or kidnap their people. Exactly how does Kerry plan to stop that? Make the world something different than it is?

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:34 PM

    Is he really saying that? 

    Is Bush really saying that people will be more likely to join the volunteer army because of what the Bush administration has done? People who signed on to be weekend warriors, being kept on active duty, their families in distress?

    Kerry's right: A back door draft is what we do have - and when it comes time to sign up again, who but the poorest and most desperate will?

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:31 PM

    Caught in the draft 

    I think it was a creepy trick by Democrats to start draft talk when there are no plans. But here, I think Bush and Kerry (we don't need a draft) aren't looking very far ahead. If this truly is a worldwide war against terror that will last a long time, I'm not sure we can continue doing it with volunteers. I'm not crazy about the draft, either, but isn't there supposed shared sacrifice in a time of war? Think back to World War II. If this war is as serious, shouldn't our commitment be?

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:29 PM

    Great line! 

    A general's job is to win the war; a president's job is to win the peace.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:26 PM

    Answer the question 

    Sen. Kerry says we should join the talks with Germany, France, etc. I believe the question was, what do we do IF that doesn't work. I think she was talking about preemption, Mr. Kerry.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:25 PM

    Nobody LIKES us 

    LARRY, in Texas: I don't think a lot of the other countries would "like" us no matter WHAT we did . . . Exactly so. "Hate America" is the new foregn policy, and will be, no matter who is president.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:21 PM

    Different nutshell 

    But Bush had the right answer: We ALL thought he had WMD, including Sen. Kerry. And the war on terror is about far more than Osama bin Laden. That's the whole deal right there.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:20 PM

    Better tonight 

    Bush is much better tonight, more forceful, not stumbling, seems more relaxed.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:19 PM

    In a nutshell 

    Kerry's last answer provides the race in a nutshell. We were told we were going to war, not because Saddam Hussein hoped one day to have Weapons of Mass Destruction and he was a bad man, but because we supposedly knew he had WMD that he was going to give to terrorists. And by going to war in Iraq, we have not killed Osama bin Laden.
    ... Bush appears to have no new material from last week. "I know these people, I know how they think," indeed.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:14 PM

    Nothing new 

    I keep listening for clarity on Iraq from Kerry, and I'm not getting it. Certainly there is chaos in Iraq; there's a war there! He keeps saying he has a plan, but I don't hear it. More allies, more allies. As the report they've both talked about says, sanctions were falling apart and Saddam was conning the world. And the vote can't happen? Watch Afghanistan tomorrow.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:14 PM

    Kerry approach utterly bankrupt 

    Oh, please.

    What about the rest of the report, the part that shows the utter bankruptcy of the Kerry approach?

    Although the Iraq Survey Group found no WMD, it did find documents showing that the "guiding theme" of Saddam's regime was to be able "to start making them again with as short a lead time as possible."

    "Saddam [Hussein] so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone," begins the summary part of the report. "He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted. Saddam's primary goal from 1991 to 2003 was to have UN sanctions lifted, while maintaining the security of the Regime. He sought to balance the need to cooperate with the UN inspections — to gain support for lifting the sanctions — with his intention to preserve Iraq's intellectual capital for WMD with a minimum of foreign intrusiveness and loss of face."

    International pressure to lift the sanctions led to the establishment of the Oil for Food program, which Saddam immediately saw "could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development."

    He concentrated on three members of the Security Council — France, China and Russia — by bribing government officials and business executives with billions of dollars skimmed from Oil for Food. "At a minimum," the report says, "Saddam wanted to divide the five permanent members (of the Security Council) and foment international public support of Iraq at the UN and throughout the world by a savvy public relations campaign and an extensive diplomatic effort." Almost worked, too. "By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support."

    And let's look at what Bush actually said.

    "The Duelfer report also raises important new information about Saddam Hussein's defiance of the world, and his intent and capability to develop weapons.

    "The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions. He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away."

    If you look at the whole report, instead of just cherry-picking the parts that make Bush look bad, it is very clear that Saddam was conning the world. The world fell for it - except for George Bush and Tony Blair - and Kerry remains clueless. If Kerry had had his way, we'd never have gone in, and Iraq would now be a monstrous threat. That's the whole point of preemption.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 4:42 PM

    The Next Time  

    AP reports today that President Bush finally - finally! - has acknowledged that there weren't any WMDs in Iraq (more than a year after everybody else recognized the truth.) Apparently the report of Charles Duelfer, our top inspector in Iraq, made continued denial impossible.

    Now Bush says that we lost more than 1,000 of our own children - with thousands more maimed for life - in order to stop Saddam Hussein from abusing the U.N. oil for food program.

    So all that stuff about a "gathering threat" and a "mushroom cloud" is inoperable.

    Maybe Bush's supporters will buy this new line.

    This is what the rest of the world is taking: In the test of who was telling the truth in the runup to the war, it is Saddam Hussein who has been proven right. He told the world he didn't have WMD and he didn't. It is the United States that now has been proven wrong, decisively.

    And that is about the most dangerous thing that could have happened.

    The fact that we were so wrong and yet seemed so certain, cripples the U.S. in any future attempt to marshal international support to deal with any other country we think is a "gathering threat." Heck, it makes it near impossible to marshal majority support among Americans for another military campaign.

    Duelfer's report adds even more credence to John Kerry's contention that, above all, we need a "fresh start." Kerry as president would face a monumental task in convincing our allies to join again with us in a true coalition of the willing. He may not be successful.

    But for sure, George W. Bush - with his disastrous track record - wouldn't have a chance.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 1:48 PM

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    This ain't Lincoln-Douglas 

    In the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, there was ample opportunity for the serious presentation and questioning of ideas and values. Each debater spoke for an hour and a half, and the opening speaker had half an hour to rebut the second one. And they did this seven times, all across the state of Illinois. There was no particular reason for people to attend, since U.S. senators at the time were chosen by the state legislatures rather than by the popular vote, but thousands did. They didn't come so much because of the Senate race but because Lincoln and Douglas were taking each other on over the issue of slavery that was consuming the nation. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his performance in the debates is generally credited with his successful run at the presidency in 1860. Douglas faded into obscurity.

    Now, them are debates! as my brother in Texas would say. Compare them to today's sound-bite-driven joint press conferences - two minutes for an answer, 90 seconds for a rebuttal, and heaven forbid that anyone should ask a follow-up question. Even in the first modern (i.e. TV-age) debates, Kennedy and Nixon got to make eight-minute opening statements. And that election was so close that it could be argued that the debates actually made a difference.

    But perhaps we're only getting the political conversations our attention spans permit us to follow. Some thoughts from Diane Ravitch on the dumbing down of presidential debates.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 2:12 PM

    Why start in Iraq? 

    T. Asprey writes: "Do you truly still see Iraq and terrorists as one and the same? I find this incredible. I'm a hawk, but I support Kerry because I do not see them as the same, and the administration showed terrible judgment in picking Iraq as a primary target. I believed we should have removed Saddam in the first Gulf War, but once the war on terrorism began, Iraq became a secondary target to me, because I knew it would only tie our forces down (as it has done). There was little or no evidence, that I ever heard, that Saddam's regime was working with Al Qaeda and this has only been validated by history (so far). We have more assets in Iraq than in Afghanistan and nearby Pakistan where Bin Laden is (notice that there was very little dissent on that war). I also knew that a war in Iraq would cost us in what I call good-will capital, both domestic and international, and that we had better be careful and be able to prove the connection or it would cost us dearly (as it has). Now you may pooh-pooh international support, but I might remind you that the international commitment in the first Gulf War (not in countries but in troops) dwarfs the current so-called coalition, that 7,000 French marines are fighting in Afghanistan with us, none in Iraq.

    "You mentioned in another posting that we will need to 'go through Tehran,' and I take it that you believe as I do that Iran is a major sponsor of terrorism. It is on record as sponsoring and aiding Terrorism. Unlike Iraq, there is evidence that they may have been involved in 9/11 ... To me, Iran was a much more logical target than Iraq but the administration has committed our forces in Iraq, so addressing Iran will have to wait. That was a huge mistake in judgment to me. North Korea was another 'better' target, although harder to deal with. It's not that I disagreed with eliminating Saddam, but there were clearly better targets in the war on terrorism where our resource, though vast, are still limited. These two alternative targets were advocated by many, but these voices were ignored, debate was stifled and suggestions left unaddressed by the administration.

    "... I do not comprehend your argument that Iraq was a 'good' terrorist target."

    I can't argue with the threat posed by Iran and North Korea. Either President Bush or President Kerry will have to deal with them very soon, and there don't really seem to be any good options right now; I haven't heard anything convincing from the administration that the Bush team has a handle on what to do.

    As for, "Why Iraq?" Since you call yourself a hawk and realize we have to do something more than wage a defensive war, I presume you also think we have to establish a presence in the Mideast. Certainly Iran would have been one place to start. Iraq was a better target of opportunity, though; Iran had a much bigger and better army, for example. It would have been a much tougher, more protracted fight than even the one you seem to find unacceptable in Iraq. And consider everything we know about Saddam - he had used WMD, he had trafficked with terrorists, he wanted very badly to re-arm, and oil-for-food cash to help him do it was plentiful. I suspect if we had chosen to do Iran first, we'd be saying (or at least you would) the same kind of thing about Iraq now being said about Iran - missed opportunity, let the bigger threat go, etc. etc.

    And what, pray tell, would a President Kerry have done? I doubt very much if he'd have even gone into Afghanistan, let alone Iraq. So, under him, we'd still be dealing with well-armed and evil-intentioned thugs in Iran and Iraq as well as still having Osama's breeding ground intact. The coalition in the first Gulf War you speak of so approvingly was exactly the kind of coalition Kerry says we need now, but he didn't vote for that war, either, even though Saddam had invaded another country and was poised to control even more of the world's oil supply. The senior Bush, by the way, fought that war exactly in a way Kerry should have approved, following U.N. mandates, even though it left Saddam in power, to the great displeasure of many in Bush's conservative base.

    Kerry is anti-war to his core, and, as you correctly point out, we are in a war. We can argue over strategy, but at least Bush realizes what we're up against and is willing to take the fight to the other side. As I've said elsewhere in these postings, Kerry and Bush both have a serious failing when it comes to being a war president. To make preemption work, we need a leader who will act decisively but be able to respond quickly to a fluid situation. Bush's failing is that once he sets on a course of action, he's reluctant to change course, no matter what the evidence suggests. But Kerry's is that he'd talk and debate and consult and ponder all the variables forever and not even get us out of the starting gate. As bad as Bush's weakness is, Kerry's is far greater considering the threat we face.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 1:25 PM

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    What would you call it? 

    Hi Leo,

    If the word "lie" bothers you, let's just point out that his big zinger is proven untrue by the facts. The Democrats have a video up that shows Cheney shaking Edwards' hand at a prayer breakfast, and Edwards accompanied Elizabeth Dole when she was sworn in by Cheney.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 6:23 PM

    Carrots and sticks and liars and such 

    Carol, Carol, Carol (why do I feel like we're slipping into the Dan Akroyd-Jane Curtain mode?):

    1. Almost every beginning editorial writer I've ever worked with has had to be disabused of the habit of pouncing on every perceived hint of hypocrisy and churning out 800 words on the evil of saying one thing and doing another, as if the greatest threat to civilization ever known had been unearthed. Such harangues are mostly tiresome and superficial. I'm fond of the aphorism that "hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue" and see it as a welcome sign that people still adhere to some standards (at least enough to know they don't want to be seen as violating one). And all going on about hyprocisy does is telegraph one's philosophical predisposition. Liberals seldom see liberal hypocrisy or conservatives conservative hypocrisy; we only notice the sins of the other side. Same thing with calling "foul" when it comes to political discourse. I think it's a mistake for the Bush people to keep going on and on about Kerry "flip flops." Sooner or later, voters will notice that such name-calling is just a way to avoid spelling out their own positions. When the other side starts trotting out "liar" every other sentence, it's the same kind of diversionary tactic, just kicked up a notch. The more I hear it, the more desperate it makes them seem. We only see the other side's flip flops and lies, blind to the same sins on our own side.

    2. Is it really "meeting" someone when they're standing in the same general area at the same event? I guess I'd say, in the first place, that Edwards must not have made much of an impression on Cheney. But this is another diversionary tactic. As Kerry or Edwards might say, let's keep our eye on the ball: Edwards' appalling attendance record as a senator.

    3. I'm happy to keep providing needed reality checks on deterrence.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 5:04 PM

    Reader comment 

    From Piero Brewer: John Edwards, in my opinion, parroted Bush's policy on nuclear proliferation when he said that the main threat was "nuclear proliferation in the hands of terrorists". John Kerry did not add that qualifier. And neither did John F. Kennedy:

    From July 26th, 1963:

    "I ask you to stop and think for a moment what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in so many hands, in the hands of countries large and small, stable and unstable, responsible and irresponsible, scattered throughout the world. There would be no rest for anyone then, no stability, no real security, and no chance of effective disarmament. There would only be the increased chance of accidental war, and an increased necessity for the great powers to involve themselves in what otherwise would be local conflicts."

    This most certainly describes the situation in the Middle East today and every single nation there. This does not exclude Israel, in fact, it begins and unfortunately may end with Israel.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 4:58 PM

    Foreign v. domestic 

    Leo writes: "Half of the Cheney-Edwards debate was about domestic issues, but hardly anybody is saying anything about them today. People are more concerned about security – their own and the nation's – and that will make them reluctant to change commander-in-chief."

    Not surprisingly, I disagree.

    There is no doubt that, in 2002, Democrats totally misunderstood how important was voters' fear of another terrorist attack. They focused on economic issues while the Republicans went about smearing them for being allies of Osama bin Laden. Most remarkable, of course, was their success in turning Vietnam veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland into a traitor over his vote to put off civil service reform in order to get the Homeland Security Department up and running. (This year's Swift Boat Liars paled in comparison).

    But this year is different: No question that fear over a terrorist attack is important, but it's not all-important. Before the first presidential debate, the Bush-Cheney campaign successfully had painted Kerry as a wimp and a fraud. Can't do that anymore. If people come to believe that Kerry may not have all the answers but he knows what he's doing – and they're in the process of getting there – they will then turn to the massive domestic problems we face on health care, education, jobs, poverty.

    And Bush's record on all those things is disastrous.

    At least one Cheney lie confirmed: Contrary to his supposed zinger Tuesday night, Cheney – as most people now know, courtesy of the Kerry campaign – HAD met Edwards before. At least twice, apparently. Gotta wonder how he thought he could get away with that one – except, of course, he's gotten away with so many others.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 4:43 PM

    Can you take it? 

    Seems like my mission today must be to keep the site from being completely an echo chamber in which Edwards won the debate (sort of like the alternative reality on "The West Wing" in which Democrats still occupy the White House). So from the Bush campaign, by way of National Review's blog site, here are a collection of press reactions favorable to Cheney. Relax, folks. Different echo chamber is all.

    NBC's Tim Russert: Edwards "Was Not Entirely Successful" In Laying Out "A Coherent Vision" For Iraq. "The bigger issue for John Edwards is: can he lay out a coherent vision which is contrary to Dick Cheney's, which is consistent with his votes? I think he made a start last night, but he was not entirely successful." (NBC's "Today," 10/6/04)

    The Arizona Republic: "Who Won This Debate Is Easy. Cheney Took Command Early And Rarely Let Up. If The Republican Strategy Was To Take The Fight To The Democrats, Cheney Followed The Battle Plan." (Editorial, "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em," The Arizona Republic, 10/6/04)

    Radio Host Don Imus: "I'm Supporting Senator Edwards And Senator Kerry. That's Who I Intend To Vote For. [Edwards] Got Killed." (MSNBC's "IMUS In The Morning," 10/6/04)

    MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "I Thought Cheney Won The Debate. I Don't Know How You Could See It Any Other Way." (MSNBC's "IMUS In The Morning," 10/6/04)

    MSNBC's Chris Matthews: Edwards "Had That Look On His Face That He'd Been Smacked, That He Was Hurt ... It Didn't Look Too Good For Him Last Night." (MSNBC's "IMUS In The Morning," 10/6/04)

    Des Moines Register's David Yepsen: "Cheney Came Across As A Strong, Substantive Leader." (David Yepsen, Op-Ed, "Format Is The Winner In Even Debate," Des Moines Register, 10/6/04)

    The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan: "But Just To Flip Flop Over To Edwards For A Moment, What Was With His Inability To Follow Simple Instructions?" (Maureen Ryan, "Flying Fur And Pointing Fingers," The Chicago Tribune, 10/6/04)

    Wake Forest University Political Scientist Allan Louden: Vice President Cheney "Showed What Experience Looks Like - And That's Pretty Persuasive." (Billy House And Jon Kamman, "Cheney, Edwards Score Points For Their Teams," The Arizona Republic, 10/6/04)

    Former Clinton Aide Dick Morris: "If Edwards Acted Like A Lawyer, Cheney Acted Like A Judge. The Democrat Proposed, But The Vice President Disposed. There Was No Doubt As To Who Was In Charge." (Dick Morris, "Deer In The Headlights," The New York Post, 10/6/04)

    Frank Luntz's Focus Group Gave Vice President Cheney An Overall Victory In The Debate: "With each person in GOP consultant Frank Luntz's focus group using a sophisticated joystick to record his/her opinion of the candidates during the 90-minute debate, participants actually gave Edwards the edge on the computer. But they gave the victory to Cheney when asked afterward by Luntz to pick the winner." (Ian Bishop, "It's Dick's Substance Over Style: Undecideds," The New York Post, 10/6/04)

    Washington University Political Scientist Wayne Fields: Vice President Cheney "Controlled The Pacing Of The Debate." (Yvonne Abraham, "Some Hard Punches, But No Knockout Blows," The Boston Globe, 10/6/04)

    posted by Leo Morris at # 3:28 PM

    A vote for Cheney 

    Martyn Smith: Edwards sounded like an infomercial selling John Kerry miracle hair tonic rather than boosting a presidential candidate. Edwards fell behind in the debate, unable to answer questions (i.e.: If Kerry had been president, would Saddam still be in power?). He sputtered and broke so many very simple rules that it was laughable and embarrassing. This is a very strong indicator of how poorly Edwards would handle the job as VP: Unprepared, inept and not willing to address the issues people ask him to address. That is the same, or worse than, lying. I truly believe John Edwards' biggest goal of the night was to say John Kerry's name as many times as possible ...

    posted by Leo Morris at # 3:20 PM

    The case for Iraq 

    Indiana Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh talked with our editorial board this week and, after identifying national security as the most important issue this campaign season, gave an extremely gloomy analysis of the challenge America faces in dealing with Iran and North Korea.

    Both nations will make the terrorism-plagued world less safe, the former because it actively supports terrorism, the latter because it is willing to sell anything to anybody. We have to continue to try diplomacy with them, though nobody really expects it to work; these are rogue states that are going to do exactly what they want to do. That would suggest a military option, but North Korea already has nuclear capability and Iran soon will. There is every reason to be very alarmed, because there are no good options. And the kicker: North Korea rushed to become nuclear, because it believed America felt confident in invading Iraq before Iraq had nuclear capabilities. A nuclear North Korea will be a North Korea America won't mess with.

    Perhaps it wasn't Sen. Bayh's intent, but that assessment makes the case for invading Iraq about as well as it can be made.

    As we learned on 9/11, terrorists are willing to use any tactic and can strike anywhere at any time, so we can't take a defensive posture. We have to take the war to the terrorists and engage the states that sponsor them, nurture them or give them safe harbor. There were several countries the U.S. could have chosen in order to demonstrate its seriousness in the war on terror, and Iraq was the right one for a lot of reasons. The conduct of the Iraq engagement and the conditions there can be debated, but the fact remains that we are forcing terrorists to fight on their turf instead of ours.

    The Bush administration makes these points over and over and over. That clearness of vision and singleness of purpose, as demonstrated by Dick Cheney in the vice presidential debate Tuesday night, are why poll after poll give President Bush a commanding lead when it comes to being the best candidate to deal with terrorism. "It’s important that we stand up democratically elected governments as the only guarantee that they'll never again revert to terrorism or the production of deadly weapons," Cheney said. Advance the cause of liberty, beat back the terrorists.

    The problem for the John Kerry campaign, as made obvious by John Edwards' performace Tuesday, is that there is no equivalent position as easily and clearly stated on the other side. Edwards had to critique the handling of the war in Iraq, and even question our being there in the first place, while simultaneously making a credible case that Kerry would nevertheless pursue the larger terror war in some better way. That's difficult to pull off, and Edwards was forced to just keep repeating Kerry talking points that are losing their luster. "We need more allies," they keep saying, though major players such as France and Germany have made it very clear they will stay out of Iraq, no matter what. The campaign's task is made even harder by the fact that Kerry is an anti-war politician to the core of his being. He can talk tough all he wants to, but his obvious instincts are not to fight.

    And whether people like it or not, however they place Iraq in the overall context, we are a nation at war.

    There are some challenging times ahead, and voters need to be looking for some answers from both candidates on very hard questions. The administration hasn't made a very persuasive case, for example, that it has any better idea of what to do on North Korea and Iran than the Kerry camp does. Perhaps Bayh is right that there isn't an answer right now, but the candidates need to be pushed to share more of their thoughts on the subject. And when it comes to fighting terror, both candidates have a flaw. The policy of preemption, which the nation really does need to pursue, requires a leader who can act quickly and decisively, then be responsive to a fluid situation. Kerry's problem is that he fusses over nuance so much that he might never get out of the starting gate. Bush's is that once he chooses a course he doesn't want to change it, no matter what the evidence shows.

    But the war is the issue, no doubt about it. Half of the Cheney-Edwards debate was about domestic issues, but hardly anybody is saying anything about them today. People are more concerned about security – their own and the nation's – and that will make them reluctant to change commander-in-chief.

    Whatever bounce Kerry might have gained from his victory over Bush in their first debate is gone. He still hasn't made his case that he could be a war president, and that's what he needs to concentrate on in the next two debates. Bush needs to defend his record a lot better than he did in the first debate – at least as well as Cheney did on his behalf Tuesday.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 3:13 PM

    Calling Gwen 'Gwen' 

    From David Caveda, Tampa, FL: I am struggling to understand the following:

    Judith Droz Keyes: How many times did Vice President Cheney address "Gwen," even after she corrected him!? How insulting to women that he would continue to condescend to her in this way. What a loser!

    Your comment: With a reader, I also noticed how he kept calling the moderator "Gwen," even after she retorted, "Mr. Vice President."

    In Debate 1, Bush and Kerry both referred to the moderator exclusively as "Jim," the moderator's first name.

    In Debate 2, Cheney and Edwards both referred to the moderator exclusively as "Gwen," the moderator's first name.

    How can it be condescending for Cheney to call call Gwen Gwen, yet not condescending for Edwards to do the same or for Bush and Kerry to call Jim Jim?

    Linda Thorton, Sierra Madre, CA: I thought VP Cheney was very demeaning and patronizing. The moderator was doing a very professional, courteous job of managing this debate. As Bush might have said, it was "hard work." She deserved to be treated with a higher degree of respect than gratuitously pretending to be her friend or close acquaintance by repeatedly calling her "Gwen." I thought it was presumptuous. I also think it is symptomatic of a larger problem, the lack
    of respect of people they are dealing with in professional and personal settings. I mean, who does this guy think he is?

    From Carol: I think what we have here is a gender gap.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 1:16 PM

    More reader comments 

    More readers’ comments:

    Pete Hively, Huntingdon, MD: Sen. Edwards pulled back the curtain and showed us the mean old man who is really running this country.

    WmPStone: It appeared to me that Cheney was on the defensive on Iraq all the way through the debate. And, though he did a good job, I came away believing that Cheney was the brains behind this administration. ... Edwards on the other hand, took the Iraq situation very seriously. And, seemed more vital and energetic. I was impressed with Edwards and his command of all of the issues and facts.

    Robert Flynn, San Antonio, TX: It's incredible that this administration is willing to stick to its lies no matter how obvious it becomes that they are lies. I worry some about the country because I have visited countries that are members of the "coalition," specifically Spain (no longer a member), Iceland, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic - and citizens I talked to believe that we are a outlaw nation and have no honor or credibility. That is bad enough but these are countries that are usually considered "Christian" countries and they believe the "Christianity" they see in the Bush administration demeans and dishonors what most of the world regards as Christian behavior.

    Sharon Aday: Edwards rocks. Compassion, vision, eloquence, clear communication, plus details, given in surprising moments. Edwards has more to offer than Cheney and Bush combined. Cheney gave details, but doesn't bring them together into a message which encourages Americans to have hope for the future, all the while oozing venomous impatience with a view other than his.

    Phillip Case, MD: I feel that Cheney did a better job than Bush but he still came up short. Edwards pinned him repeatedly on the fact that they lead us into a war that had nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden, that the war has been unnecessary and extremely costly. He also pointed out the huge amount of dishonesty of this administration and the facts about corruption with Cheney's company Halliburton, as well as their wanting to do business with Iran. ... Overall (Kerry and Edwards) were clearly on the side of the middle class, and Cheney and company are clearly on the side of big business, the privileged and wealthy. Cheney always looks like he is sneering, paranoid when speaking. This is the look of someone who is dishonest. ... Finally everyone seems to forget, which Edwards points out, that Kerry was the only one who actually went and fought in a war. The hawks Cheney and Bush both did everything they could to duck the war. Isn't this hypocrisy?

    "John": Cheney outright lied during the debate tonight about stating he had never linked Saddam Hussein and 9/11 and Al Qaeda. I've heard him link them over and over like a broken record. He wants America to live in fear. He should apologize for his direct lie.

    Paul Hoffinger: Did you hear the Vice President say ...
    a) we are winning in Iraq?
    b) that changing a policy about helping companies move jobs overseas is underway in this administration?
    c) that people are making more money in wages than four years ago?
    d) that we shouldn't have more participation by the U.N. in Iraq?
    e) that the final determinant of a good job in the White House is sheer determination?
    f) that diplomacy and international persuasion is second to sheer force?
    g) that companies like Halliburton and Enron shouldn't help us form our energy policy?
    h) that voting against a war does not equal voting against the troops?

    Adam Orosz: Dick Cheney showed great skill in appearing confident in the half-truths he spun - example: he confidently and repeatedly mentioned 10 million registered to vote in Afghanistan even though every paper under the sun blew that figure away since the last debate - but ultimately he only succeeded in delivering some cheap shots that the president botched before. Cheney gets points for style, I guess, but Edwards blew him apart with unanswered topics such as "No Child Left Behind," Bremer's report (a big one!), the 9-11 commission, and the fact that Cheney voted against the same weapons systems Kerry voted against but then decided to criticize Kerry about.

    Craig Skinner, Albion, IN: I agree that tonight’s debate was probably a draw, but only because John Edwards wasn't willing to expose the vice president for what he really is. Mr. Morris said that exposing VP Cheney as a conservative was not a bad thing. Dick Cheney is not a conservative. My father is a conservative. My step-father is a conservative. Most of my family is conservative. Dick Cheney is driven by a ridged right-wing ideology that values politics over the safety of the American people, and his voting record in the House exposes his extreme views. There is nothing conservative about launching a pre-emptive war against a people that have not attacked us. There is nothing conservative about sending troops off to fight a war on false pretenses, and then not having a effective strategy to secure a victory. We have seen an indefensible level of incompetence when it comes to the handling of post-invasion Iraq. If VP Cheney and his cohorts were more concerned about our troops' safety rather than setting up some kind of free-market/democratic experiment in Iraq, it is quite possible that so many American and Iraqi live would not have been lost. What more do you expect from a group of men who have never served in combat?

    Minoo Saboori, Bodfish, CA: Although both candidates were calm and collected, the repetition of Cheney's words and his apparent inability to take advantage of a couple of 30-second opportunities to rebuff clearly lost him the debate. ... Also, was just me or was Cheney downright disrespectful of the moderator’s hints at a bit of formality?

    Linda Hassler: Remarkable how calm Edwards was in the debate just an hour ago. Smiling, calm, happy, but serious, too. And really ready for the questions. Good at anticipating what would be asked. He put Cheney on the defensive. He had more facts at his disposal. He deflected the attack on trial lawyers successfully, pointing out he is for tort reform and the stemming of frivolous lawsuits. He outlined the Kerry-Edwards plan. He pointed out the flip-flops of the Bush-Cheney team, which were many and important. ... Edwards is obviously not a man who is using FEAR to scare the votes out of people. Cheney and Bush have consistently tried to scare us into voting for their brand of war. The war that alienated people not just in the Middle East, but far beyond. ... Bush's record is simply embarrassing.

    Peter Elliott: Isn't six years in the Senate as good, or better, than six years as Governor of Texas? Wish Edwards had made that point.

    Zy Wack: I hope finally that people can see the difference between the necessary war on terrorism and the war of choice in Iraq. It's just unfortunate that they have blurred into one due to the bumbling choices of this administration which resulted in Iraq really becoming a terrorist haven and training ground. Frankly I don't see the electorate at large as being discerning enough to hold Cheney/Bush accountable for this blunder. I certainly hope that Edwards has made it clear that you don't give the job of cleanup back to the clown who made the mess in the first place. It brings to mind the saying: Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice sha... ah... you... ya can't get fooled again!

    Craig A. Crispin, Portland, OR: Wow, what a debate! John Edwards kicked some ***. His vision for America is optimistic; Cheney's lack of vision is disturbing. Cheney’s distortions failed tonight under the spotlight. His sneer
    and disdain reveal his lack of honesty and his focus on the wrong ideas at the wrong time. Cheney failed utterly to defend Bush's administration and its failures in Iraq, in Iran, in North Korea, and around the world. Cheney has contributed to the loss of credibility of this country in the world community. Edwards presented a coherent and strategic plan, as did John Kerry a week ago, to re-emerge the United States of America as a true world leader, not the cowboy bully it has become under the Bush-Cheney regime.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 1:11 PM

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Post debate 

    As a debate, it was a good one: I thought both Cheney and Edwards held their own, although I don’t know if Cheney's constant sneer at what he so clearly thought was a "young whippersnapper" will be shared by viewers - or seen as arrogance.

    With a reader, I also noticed how he kept calling the moderator "Gwen," even after she retorted, "Mr. Vice President."

    But the big question is whether, as I joked earlier, people believe him or their own eyes.

    Cheney made several claims:

    Things are going great in Iraq. The generals there get everything they need, they just have to ask; (they apparently haven't asked). We've got a great coalition going, and a happy ending – fueled by the unquenchable love of "freedom" – is just around the corner.

    Also: The economy's cooking, seniors don't have to worry about prescription drugs, "No Child Left Behind" is a great success. We can halve the deficit and rich people don't have to give up anything.

    He made the points well, but do they ring true for the people there in Cleveland (my home town, by the way) and the rest of the country?

    I also tend to think that the charges about Halliburton – in effect, unanswered – will make an impression on some people.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 11:22 PM

    First post-debate thoughts 

    It's been fun zinging Edwards, knowing Carol would do the same thing for Cheney. But now it's time for an attempt at an honest assessment.

    1. I think Cheney won the first half. He was much better than Bush at linking Iraq to the global war on terror, he got Edwards to sound like the pessimistic one, he kept pushing on Kerry's Senate record. If the administration can keep the focus here and keep making Kerry-Edwards trying to explain their, um, evolving positions, Bush has a great chance for re-election.

    2. Edwards won the second half. There is simply no way a Republican can outpromise a Democrat when it comes to domestic spending, though, heaven knows, at times this administration has tried.

    3. I think the consensus tomorrow will be that this was a tie (which I would agree with), just as the consensus after the first Bush-Kerry bout was that Kerry won (which I would also agree with). Of course, a lot will depend on the spin, and that might be governed a lot by the fact-checking that goes on - Halliburton and Kerry's Senate record will now get good going-overs, for example. All the readers Carol cited who give the whole thing to Edwards are just unable to see beyond their intense hatred of Cheney.

    4. This debate won't matter very much in the overall campaign. Even a clear win, such as Kerry's, doesn't translate to much of a bounce. Each man tonight did what he had to do, keep his boss's ideas out front. No new ground broken, no knockout punches. Not many votes changed.

    Maybe more tomorrow.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 11:00 PM

    Roundup of reader comments 

    RothSmith: Having no television, we are listening to the debate on NPR. It sounds like both men have a good command of the facts. They are both doing a reasonable job of defending their personal records. But I find Edwards more convincing in his descriptions of the problems we face. Cheney is saying the same thing over and over about how things are, without dealing with the facts - especially in regards employment and the economy.

    Ray: No wonder GWB can't stay on message, he's been trained by a master of weapons of mass media diversion. Did Dick Cheney answer any question about what Paul Bremer said today ... nope. He's probably thinking, "If you can't trust your flunkies, who can you trust?"

    Frank DeSanto: One thing has become quite clear to me watching the first presidential and now the vice-presidential debate: Of the four men at the center of this presidential campaign, three of them are clearly qualified to be president; the one who is not qualified is, unfortunately, the one who now holds that office. The other three are intelligent, thoughtful, well-spoken, and impressive. A sad state of affairs. Luckily we have at hand a chance to change it.

    Jon: Has it occurred to anyone that John Edwards has more experience to be Vice President than George W. Bush has to be President?

    Radha Conrad: During the debate Senator Edwards showed the American people that he is knowledgeable, clear, tough, and capable and would be a great V.P. of the USA. He won the debate.

    Judith Droz Keyes: How many times did Vice President Cheney address "Gwen," even after she corrected him!? How insulting to women that he would continue to condescend to her in this way. What a loser!

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:48 PM

    Red state, blue state 

    Yes, the country is divided. When half the people think one thing and the other half another, it's absurd for either side to point fingers.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:31 PM


    Cheney's disappointed that he hasn't been a "uniter not a divider?" This administration - and the Republican House - have stuck it to the Dems every chance they get.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:29 PM

    'No Child Left Behind' 

    "No Child Left Behind" is driving people in the states – Republicans as well as Democrats – quite nuts: It is inflexible and it is a huge unfunded (to the tune of $27 billion) mandate. Not much to hang your hat on.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:27 PM

    Full faith and credit 

    Undecided in Ohio has it exactly right. What happens when gay marriage meets "full faith and credit?" And that's exactly how the gay marriage issue is going to hit the Supreme Court. And trying to figure out how the court would come down on that complicates the debate on so many levels.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:25 PM

    Offense, defense 

    Edwards says yes, we were attacked, but it was not by Saddam Hussein. Then, in the very next breath, we have to be aggressive and go on the offensive against terrorism. This is the central contradiction of the the Kerry campaign when it comes to foreign policy, the one they still can't quite get around.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:21 PM

    From an undecided in Ohio 

    Edwards and Cheney both missed the boat on the same gender marriage issue. The full faith and credit clause of the Constitution has generally and long been interpreted to require states to recognise the judicial decisions, acts and records of other states. The federal constitutional amendment would continue to allow each state to decide for itself. That is why many states are working on a state constitutional amendment. Yes, it is true that no state has had to recognize the Massachusetts Supreme Court decisions, but that is because the litigation hasn't yet surfaced - the MA decision was very recent.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:21 PM

    At a moment's notice ...  

    And Cheney actually has taken over!

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:19 PM

    Reader comment 

    From Betty Hester: I want to say that I have clearly decided that I do not want 4 more years of the Bush administration as I believe there will be more jobs lost, more people in poverty, more people without health care, and more loss of our leadership in the world.

    I want to see John Kerry and John Edwards lead our great country. They are committed to fighting terrorism and making the world a safer place to live. I believe that John Kerry and John Edwards are going to be honest with the people in this country and other countries and will help us regain our credibility in order for us to once again be the country that other countries follow.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:16 PM

    Health 'insurance' 

    OK, the point of "insurance" used to be to pool risk for unlikely events. Only a few people will have a house destroyed by fire, for example. So everybody pays fire insurance, a few collect payments, everybody's happy. But now by insurance, we seem to mean, especially when it comes to health, that everything is covered all the time. So let's be honest. Kerry's plan is not about pooling risk, but passing the cost along to someone else.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:13 PM

    Asked and answered 

    Stephanie Fouch: Is it just me, or is Dick Cheney a defensive, condescending, scary old man? Yes, Stephanie, it's just you.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:08 PM

    Is it just her? 

    From Stephanie Fouch: Is it just me, or is Dick Cheney a defensive, condescending, scary old man?

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:07 PM

    The truth about health care  

    Medical malpractice insurance rates are a concern, but they are NOT the major reasons why health care premiums are so high. One is administration - 25 percent of the bill goes to paperwork - and another is the fact that insurance companies can't predict their risks. In fact, it's Kerry's plan that would rationalize risk and thereby lower premiums.

    Also, Edwards now is focusing on Kerry-Edwards plans to cut frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits ...

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 10:05 PM


    I like Gwen a lot as a moderator. She puts tough questions to both of them.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 10:02 PM

    Two Americas 

    On taxes, Edwards is completely divorced from reality. Even more tax cuts for the middle class, all that spending, cut the deficit in half, all by increasing taxes on those who make $200,000 or more? Never happen. There are two Americas, Mr. Edwards, those who consume government services and those who pay for them.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:58 PM


    Outsourced or simply down the drain, the fact is that this administration has lost the most jobs since Herbert Hoover, and real wages are down $1,500 a year while health care, college tuition prices are soaring.
    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:58 PM

    Too conservative? 

    You think Cheney being unmasked as a conservative is a losing proposition? Dream on.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:56 PM

    On the ropes? 

    From reader Deb Munroe: I don't know about you guys, but John Edwards seems calm, direct, and is aggressively hitting home his points most effectively. I think he has Cheney on the ropes.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:52 PM


    It's easy to be against "outsourcing." But "sourcing" is a worldwide phenomenon; Everybody goes where the capital is, the labor, the markets and customers. The fact is that we gain far more from insourcing than we lose to outsourcing.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:51 PM

    No connection? 

    Did I just hear Edwards right? "We're supposed to be talking about jobs and poverty, but he's talking about education." He sees no connection?

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:49 PM

    What have you done for me lately? 

    Don't think I'm going to like this part of the debate very much. We spent billions for Americans! But even more should be spent!

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:48 PM

    Good for Edwards  

    He got the opening and he went right after Cheney's ultra-ultra-conservative voting record in the House: Against MLK Day, against freedom for Mandela, against Head Start. I hadn't heard the one about against Meals on Wheels.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:46 PM

    The same? 

    So being absent from Senate committee meetings is the same as war profiteering?

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:45 PM


    No wonder Cheney was against/is against sanctions. His Halliburton did business with Iran and Iraq.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:38 PM

    Wait a minute 

    Iraq wasn't part of the coalition.

    Cheney: Who are you going to believe - me or your own eyes?

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:34 PM

    Get tough? 

    So, Carol, do you agree with Kerry-Edwards that we need to get tough on terrorism, hunt them down, etc? Aren't you afraid THAT will create more terrorists? Tony Blair had it right: These people don't hate us for what we do; they hate us for what we are.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:34 PM

    One for Edwards 

    Edwards scored a point against Cheney, unless the V.P. answers it later on: The fact that Cheney was for cutting some of the same weapons systems he criticizes Kerry for being against.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:31 PM

    From readers 

    From Jeff Schult: Edwards was smart to say, directly that there is no 9/11 connection - because, in fact Cheney has lied in saying so repeatedly and so has the administration ... to the point where:

    "A new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll found that 42 percent of those surveyed thought the former Iraqi leader was involved in the attacks on New York City and Washington. In response to another question, 32 percent said they thought Saddam had personally
    planned them." (Editor & Publisher, Oct. 5)

    Americans didn't get that out of the air - they got it from Republican lies
    and distortions.

    Jane Dewing: It seems that Cheney is awful nervous for someone with "years of experience." He continues to lie and finally someone is standing up to his lies! Edwards is not afraid of these bozos!

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:30 PM

    Two for Cheney 

    Edwards really hasn't given a good answer for not supporting the $87 billion. And he didn't really explain how Kerry-Edwards can create more allies (good job, Gwn!)

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:30 PM

    Fight them where? 

    Bush Cheney say that we need to fight in Iraq so we don't have to fight terrorists at home – but how does one prevent the other? Since we invaded Iraq, we have MORE terrorists, not fewer, and we haven't done the work - or paid the money - to keep the terrorists out by spending the money to increase homeland security.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:28 PM


    So, the "global test" for defending America was just another way to say "Bush is a liar?"

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:17 PM


    If Edwards is going to hold Bush responsible for having a chance at Osama and blowing it, let's talk about the Clinton's administration much earlier chance to get him.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:14 PM

    First exchange 

    Good first question from the moderator ... goes right to the heart of "things are going wrong in Iraq," and I like the way she lets them go back and forth. Cheney was good at explaining the connection to the global war on terror. He was less forthcoming about the current situation. Edwards says bad things are happening in Iraq, Cheney says good things are. They're both right - call it a tie. Edwards finally loses, though, by trying to knock down a straw man. "There is no 9/11 connection." Nobody ever says there was.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:13 PM

    Wrong side 

    Cheney brings up the main point Edwards is going to have to answer, that Kerry has been on the wrong side of defense issues for his whole public career. The "world test" for defending America has already gained a lot of traction.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 9:12 PM

    'Global Test' 

    The "global test" line is a great example of how the Bush-Cheney types take words out of context and run with them.

    But everyone who watched that debate knew that Kerry said he wouldn’t give other countries veto power. In addition, he used the past tense – that is, he would use preemptive force if necessary, but then be able to justify it after the fact to the world, and to the American people.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:08 PM

    Cheney's not answering the question 

    It wasn't about why we went into Iraq, it was why we didn't have enough troops on the ground there. Why did we allow looting? Why didn't we plan for it?

    Same course of action?

    Edwards has called him on it, but he is persisting that things are just fine in Iraq. This ought to be a risky strategy, since more than half of Americans believe we're on the wrong track in Iraq.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 9:02 PM


    Considering all the contradictory things said by every major public figure, including Kerry and Edwards, about Iraq, we're going to single Cheney out as the one to call a liar? Concerning al-Qaida and Iraq, even the 9/11 commission agreed there were "connections." What do you suppose these people did during their meetings, exchange chicken soup recipes? Edwards' fans better hope he doesn't bring up the "L" word during the debate. Cheney will hand him his head.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 8:55 PM

    Tonight's debate 

    Leo is right again when he says of the veep candidates: "And, of course, each represents the absolute heart of darkness seen by the other side." Heart of Darkness: That describes Dick Cheney for me.

    The vice president has out-and-out lied repeatedly about the reasons we went to Iraq, and he continues to lie about connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

    The presidential historian Michael Beschloss wondered on the radio this morning if we would even be in Iraq if the man tasked with finding Bush's vice president hadn't wrangled the job for himself? Can you imagine asking that question about any other vice president?

    So John Edwards: Please, no more Mr. Nice Guy.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 5:48 PM

    Monday, October 04, 2004

    The Year of the 'Unlikely Voter?' 

    Something big is happening, and the mainstream media is only just beginning to notice.

    The New York Times reports today that the massive increase in voter registrations that we have seen here in Philadelphia is being replicated in urban and minority areas around the nation. (That is, potential Democratic, Kerry voters).

    In Philly, more voter registration forms have been turned in than any year besides 1983. The deadline to register in Pennsylvania is today, as it is for several states.

    And it appears that, unlike previous years, the "campaign" won’t end with registration. Several "527" and other groups are training volunteers to make one-on-one contact with potential Kerry voters, talking the issues with them, and getting them to the polls. (Republicans also are running campaigns to get out the vote, but the majority of registrations appear to be in Democratic-leaning areas).

    More important than its impact on the "horse race" is the impact this part of the campaign could have on America itself.

    Look at politics in America and it's obvious who votes – older (as opposed to young) Americans, wealthier (as opposed to low-income) Americans, suburbanites (as opposed to city dwellers). So that's whom the politicians aim their messages at. (It would be interesting, for example, to find out how many of the 45 million Americans without health insurance voted in the last election.)

    Among the most frustrating truths faced by liberals is the fact that people who have the most to lose from the shredding of the social safety net (the poor – working and unemployed) typically have not turned out to vote.

    In a lot of ways, that's understandable. Voting is a leisure-time activity. If your energies are taken up with survival, taking the time to register and vote may not seem worth it.

    Several years ago, when the motor-voter law went into effect, it became possible for people to register at welfare offices, among other places. A social service professional related to me how, when women would visit the office, workers would ask them if they were registered to vote, and if they wanted to. Often, the women just shook their heads no.

    If the conventional wisdom about who votes is proven wrong this year, how will that affect future campaigns, particularly the influence of the so-called "special interests?" It may become necessary for politicians to actually make their cases to ordinary Americans. In this way, the "527s" may do more to change the election dynamic than any campaign finance reform law.

    posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 3:13 PM

    The veep debate 

    If I were having trouble with neighbors, I'd feel confident in having either John Edwards or Dick Cheney take care of it, depending on how I wanted it handled. I can see Edwards going over and charming their socks off while an associate is in court getting their assets frozen. Cheney I imagine standing at their front door haranguing them while an assistant graffitis their garage and steals their dog.

    Cheney has always struck me as "the only adult in the room" type, so I like this characterization by Peter Feaver of Duke University: "Cheney is one of the most politically experienced vice presidents ever, with an extraordinarily long record of public service across multiple crises and situations ... Edwards is probably the least politically experienced vice presidential candidate of a major party in modern memory." I suspect Cheney's experience will carry the debate tomorrow night, though it would probably be a mistake to underestimate Edwards.

    The debate ought to be more fun than the presidential clashes, both because it doesn't matter quite as much and because neither Cheney nor Edwards is shy about speaking his mind. And, of course, each represents the absolute heart of darkness seen by the other side. It's the evil, rotten trial lawyer vs. the hated Halliburton oil baron. And how interesting that the match is set in Cleveland. I can't remember how many concerts I've gone to only to discover much more fire and passion in the opening act than in the headliner.

    Anyone who is on the verge of becoming a debate junkie at this point should think about learning how to keep score. Check here and here for some guidelines on the style and substance of debate techniques.

    posted by Leo Morris at # 1:21 PM


    On the left: Carol Towarnicky, chief editorial writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, from a liberal point of view.

    On the right: Leo Morris, editorial page editor of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel, from a conservative point of view.

     Latest posts
       •  What Now?
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       •  For Kerry, and a Kerry administration
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