T Nation

Debate Discussion

Those who think that John Kerry won the debate last night need to think twice!

The two could not have differed more in style and substance. Kerry made many factual mistakes last night: “200 billion spent on the war.” We have spent 120 billion. We have 90% of the casualtys." We lost just over 1000 men the Iraqi’s have lost almost 800, that is not 90%." President Bush also had to correct Kerry as he refused to mention that Poland was fighting in Iraq side by side American troops.

Kerry was further mistaken relative to snactions against N.Korea, President Bush corrected him on that as well.

Kerry however was a very strong speaker. Those who viewed the debate and feel he won seem to base that on his very strong speaking voice. And the fact that he was quite aggressive.

President Bush on the other hand has a laid back style. I think it is one that appeals to the American people far more than Kerry’s college debating style did. Bush’s style was more like Reagen, folksy and relaxed. Kerry’s more like Jimmy Carter’s, all business.

Bush’s strong points were apparent from the beginning: He assailed Kerry on the way Kerry (and his people) called the leader of Iraq a “puppet.” He also took Kerry to task for not voting for the 87 billion dollar package that would have helped protect our troops. Many times President Bush stood strong during the debate and told the American people that you cannot be a good and effective leader if you are attacking the war effort at every turn.

President Bush further demonstrated that America must protect America first and not worry about what foreign nations think. While at the same time showing a desire to use diplomacy first!

When John Kerry said we should have sanctioned Sadam for the 18th time I thought I was going to fall off my chair. President Bush siezed that opportunity quite well and spoke of the weakness of the UN in following through relative to Sadam breaking the many sanctions.

According to early polling of the undecideds he did not do enough! Seems that the undecideds (those that were ready to commit that is) were almost split 50/50 on who they would now vote for.

I would be interested to hear other opinions on the debate. Let’s have a discussion and not a “personal attack fest.”

Some have said that Bush didn’t counter Kerry’s claims - I say not true. I thought Bush, on several occasions, went straightaway at some of Kerry’s contentions. He could have done so much more, but I was actually surprised at some of Bush’s retorts.

But I believe Kerry did well - he avoided many of his mistakes. He looked worlds better than Gore - Kerry was sharp and ready.

But did the debates provide us with any information we didn’t already have?

Not really.

Example of a problem, though Bush really didn’t capitalize:

Kerry states “Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?”

Lehrer, directly after that quote, asks unequivocally “Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?”

Kerry replied “No, and they don’t have to, providing we have the leadership that we put ? that I’m offering.”

Now, that’s not nuance.

But it was Bush’s job to go after this, a sharper ear would have picked up on it.

The debate was good, but it wasn’t a slam dunk for anyone. Instead, it’s a jumping off point to getting out messages and answering questions for both sides. The campaigns will be in full swing parsing the language of the debates.

I personally think it is good for the country.

I enjoyed that debate.

I thought the moderator was excellent. His questions were right on. The timing lights worked much better than I anticipated.

W. made several important points last night. He echoes my thoughts about deterrance. If we stand strong in Iraq/Afghanistan we will have the clout to avoid conflict in Iran/North Korea (at least I hope).

What is this garbage about not answering questions? W., as usual, was remarkably candid.

I kept thinking back to the Democrats’ tired cry of “Cheney is President.” You can tell that W. calls the shots. He’s on top of the issues. He’s far more involved than the Dems ever gave him credit for.

Kerry the worm. So what was his position on Iraq again? What are his plans? I’m tired of this propped-up pretender. He insults my intelligence. Pointing fingers is not leadership.

I would have done a few things differently. When Kerry named off the few military leaders who support him, I would have responded, “I don’t think the Senator wants to have a discussion on who and how many military leaders support me. He also doesn’t want to get into a discussion about what the men/women in the military think about each of us. He would lose that one big.”

All in all, I it was interesting. I look forward to discussing W.'s positions with you in the coming days.

JeffR

The debate as a whole was much better than I thought it was going to be. I would have to say that on a whole Kerry did a better job than Bush did. I was under the impression that Bush had a chance to put it away last night, and he didn’t. I am a Bush supporter and thought he could have done a much better job. It makes me wonder if he wasn’t coached to not go after Kerry to much in fears that he could look too negative. The opportunites were definitely there, he just didn’t take advantage of them. A couple examples would be:

  1. Why didn’t he go after Kerry’s 4 point plan? Bush is already incorporating them in Iraq.
  2. Kerry kept harping on going alone and that he will get international support. Didn’t France and Russia say they weren’t going to Iraq even if Kerry was President. Why didn’t he site that info?

Bush did do a good job of using Kerry’s quotes against him, but he just didn’t quite bring it home like he should have.

Washington Post Editorial

The First Debate

Friday, October 1, 2004; Page A28

THE FIRST encounter between President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry last night generated both heat and some illumination about the two candidates’ positions on critical questions of foreign policy. Despite rules designed to curtail direct exchanges, there were, under Jim Lehrer’s skillful moderation, pointed and serious arguments about Iraq, the threats from Iran and North Korea, U.S. alliances, and the meaning of the war on terrorism. Both the president and his challenger spoke forcefully and, occasionally, with passion: Mr. Bush dismissed Mr. Kerry’s arguments as “absurd” and “ludicrous,” while Mr. Kerry repeatedly accused the president of exercising bad judgment and not telling the truth to the country.

The center of the debate was Iraq, though the candidates differed more on past actions than on future plans. Mr. Bush stoutly defended his decision to go to war and its results; Mr. Kerry forcefully criticized that decision and the war’s management and offered himself as a more competent commander in chief. But Mr. Kerry had a more complicated position to defend, and it showed at times. He called the war a mistake and a diversion, but later said that American soldiers were not dying for a mistake. He implied that money being spent in Iraq could be better spent on prescription drugs for seniors, but insisted, “I’m not talking about leaving. I’m talking about winning.”

Mr. Bush was skillful and relentless in underlining these “mixed messages,” and in arguing that a president who sent them could not effectively lead U.S. forces or recruit allies. “So what’s the message going to be? Please join us in Iraq for a grand diversion?” he demanded at one point. Mr. Kerry seemed not to have an answer to this challenge; his argument that “the real war on terrorism [is] in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden” seemed to us unconvincing alongside Mr. Bush’s repeated insistence that success in Iraq and on other fronts is equally vital to U.S. security. After all, not so long ago Mr. Kerry said he, too, believed that Saddam Hussein represented a grave threat that the United States could not afford to ignore.

Yet Mr. Bush’s clarity in defining goals was not matched with candor about conditions on the ground in Iraq. Mr. Kerry pointed to the president’s failure to adequately deploy and supply troops, to plan for the postwar period, and to correct his mistakes. “It’s one thing to be certain – but you can be certain and be wrong,” he said of Mr. Bush. The Democrat was effective in pointing out how nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea had increased while the administration pursued Saddam Hussein. Yet neither Mr. Kerry nor Mr. Bush appeared to offer a strategy for dealing with those two states that departed from the mostly failed diplomacy extending back to the Clinton administration.

In the end the candidates drew sharply distinct portraits of themselves and each other. Mr. Bush stressed his own resoluteness, which Mr. Kerry suggested included a dangerous tendency to be divorced from reality. Mr. Kerry stressed his commitment to alliances and patient leadership, which Mr. Bush suggested could mean weakness. Both performed credibly enough to keep voters tuned in for the next debate.

I don’t think we heard anything from either of the candidates that was new, or groundbreaking.

Kerry has been known to adjust facts to fit his position. I would liked to have seen Bush call him out on more of these.

I was disappointed in Bush’s performance. He seemed to pause for uncomfortable lengths of time.

Kerry had a chance to delineate his ‘plans’ but never came through. It would seem that in a debate one would try to steer clear of “I’m not going to tell you what I’d do - but it would be better than Bush’s plan” type statements. Kerry never made an attempt at clarifying his ‘better plans’.

The Kerry supporters all believe their guy won big, and the Bush guys all thought Bush won.

I think it was a draw.

Another thing I noticed was that the toughest questions were aimed at Bush and that Kerry had a bunch of soft questions or questions that were aimed at nailing Bush.

Thursday, Sept. 30, 2004 10:37 p.m. EDT
Lehrer Stacks Deck Against Bush

Presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer showed once again Thursday night why top aides to President Clinton used to call him “our moderator” when presidential debate time rolled around in 1996.

The questions, which Lehrer announced at the outset had been authored exclusively by him, were supposed to help the American people determine which candidate would be a better steward of U.S. national security in a post-9/11 world.

But there were no queries to Sen. Kerry about his long Senate record of voting against defense appropriations, or his sponsorship of a bill to cut CIA funding by $6 billion a year after terrorists struck the World Trade Center in 1993, or Kerry’s support of the nuclear freeze movement during the height of the Cold War.
Kerry wasn’t asked why he teamed up with Jane Fonda to protest the Vietnam War while his band of brothers were still on the battlefield, or why he met with enemy leaders in Paris, or why he accused fellow soldiers of being “monsters” and “war criminals.”

Most Americans would consider the answers to those questions extremely relevant to the selection of any U.S. commander in chief during a time of war.

But not Jim Lehrer. Instead, he focused on Iraq with question after question that suggested Bush had blown it.

Here’s a sampling:

“You said there was a miscalculation in Iraq,” Lehrer asked the president. “What was it and how did it happen?”

“What colossal misjudgments, in your opinion,” Lehrer asked Kerry, “has President Bush made in these areas [Iraq]?”

To Bush: “Mr. President, has Iraq been worth the cost in American lives -10,052 - I mean 1,052 up to today?”

To Kerry: “You’ve repeatedly accused President Bush of lying to the American people on Iraq. Give us some examples of the president being untruthful on Iraq.”

Despite his focus on Iraq, however, Lehrer never asked why Kerry voted to authorize the war, then turned around and voted against the legislation to fund it. Or why he voted against authorization for the first Gulf War, even though President Bush’s father had amassed just the kind of coalition Kerry says the U.S. needs now.

Likewise, the PBS host declined to ask Kerry about comments in recent days from French and German officials who announced they have no intention of sending troops to Iraq, even if Kerry is elected.

That’s quite a stunning development, given that Kerry’s Iraq policy rests almost solely on the promise that he’ll persuade Old Europe to pitch in and take some of the load off U.S. forces.

But not stunning enough, apparently, to interest Mr. Lehrer.

Do you mean the same NewsMax who said that Bill Clinton was a drug dealer in Arkansas, andd that Hillary Clinton was running a secret militia from the White House?

[quote]ZEB wrote:
President Bush also had to correct Kerry as he refused to mention that Poland was fighting in Iraq side by side American troops.[/quote]

Umm Kerry was right. Poland sent only a handdful of guys during the initial effort. They were talking about the original coalition Bush invaded with.

“Umm” and “uhh” are “laid back”? He could barely form a complete sentence at times.

This was supposed to be Bush’s topic where he would dominate: foriegn policy. Kerry went toe to toe with him.

Next debate will be about domestic issues: the huge deficit spending that Bush is doing, his terrible record on job creation, the gutting of environmental protection, and so on. It only gets worse from here, as far as the debates go!

Lumpy:

Remember Ronald Reagen and his manner of long pauses? He would then say “well…” That manner of speech used to be attacked all the time by the media elite and the left wingers.

What those two groups, and you as well, fail to realize is that more Americans can identify with Bush’s manner of speech than they can with Kerry. Do you honestly think that Kerry impressed the rural types who put bush into office in the first place? Think back to the 2000 election map. Virtually every rural area in America went to Bush. Was he a better speaker then than he is now? Did he have a better command of the facts then than he does now? Remember when he didn’t know who the leader of Pakastan was in 2000? Why didn’t that keep him out of office?

This might be difficult for you to believe but Bush scored big with his base and in fact about half of the undecideds, from early indicators. I know those who like their candidates polished were disapointed. However, what plays well in small town America is not always what plays well in major metropolitan areas where most of the left wingers dwell!

Bush may have had to think about his answers as he was giving them, but at least he could actually answer them in the time alloted.

Kerry stating he wanted to go back and talk about N. Korea showed(to me) that he hadn’t answered the question like he hadn’t really answered the questions asked previously.

I personally wish they would have had Badnarik in there to rip both of them to shreds.

This is Kerry’s position on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear fuel and/or material to make nuclear weapons, cited from the debate on 9/30/2004:

“I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes.”

This is a DISASTER waiting to happen!!

I oppose Kerry?s position of giving the Iranian mullahs that which they so desire to make nuclear weapons. A nuclear armed Iran will threaten the entire middle east and will subject the free world to their Islamic- Fascist ideology.

Kerry?s position is just like giving a loaded gun to a serial killer, make the serial killer promise not to use it on me, and only until the serial killer puts a bullet through my head with the loaded gun that I had given to him would I call him into account for breaking his promise.

=> Kerry?s position on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons = ABSURD & DISASTROUS!

[quote]mjagiels wrote:

Thursday, Sept. 30, 2004 10:37 p.m. EDT
Lehrer Stacks Deck Against Bush

Kerry wasn’t asked why he teamed up with Jane Fonda to protest the Vietnam War while his band of brothers were still on the battlefield,
[/quote]

This particular statement was found to be untrue and that Kerry never even knew Jane Fonda. They were at one rally at the same time but weren’t even sitting together. There is one photo loose with her sitting in the foreground and him sitting about 2 or 3 rows behind her in the same shot. If this is “news”, it makes me question everything else you just quoted.

Kerry’s presentation was pretty decent, I just didn’t like what he was saying.

I really wish that Bush would have called him out on this whole premise that he has the ability/credibility to pull all these nations together and get them to commit troops to Iraq.

I wish he would have asked him, "Based on what? Give us an example of a project you have undertaken of this magnitude that has provided him such audience and “credibility.” It would have been a great rhetorical question.

Hopefully Kerry would not be stupid enough to bring up his meeting(s) with the Viet Cong.

I’d call it a draw. I think Kerry did better then expected. I think Bush did not do as well as expected.

In the end nobody had a decided advantage. I do think Kerry played fast and loose with the facts and if he continues to do so Bush will knock him out over it in the end.

The Poland issue was a good example. Poland is a staunch supporter. They sent two Special Forces companies. They also supported us in Afganistan. The Polish Special Ops. troops are hard core warfighters. They lost some people. I wouldn’t downplay their contribution to the effort. They did what they could.

As I already said, Poland sent a small handful of guys for the initial effort. You could count them on 2 hands, if I’m not mistaken. The question at hand is how many nations were in the initial coalition.

According to ZEB, a candidate who seems easily flustered, can’t stand up straight, and has a hard time forming a full sentence, are what the rural voters favor.

Bush’s message was mainly “umms” and “uhhs” along with the repeated assertion that “there’s lots of good people working really hard and its hard work”.

As far as fact-checking, Bush claimed that there were 100,000 trained Iraqi troops. But according to the Penatgon the number is 50,000, and most of these are not highly trained, they were just trained to be security guards and that type of thing. These are the ones who tend to drop their guns and run when things heat up. The number of ‘highly trained’ Iraqis is actually only around 5000.

Bush also claimed that 75% of Al Qaida leaders have been captured or killed. Two weeks ago the number quoted was two-thirds. Bush is just pulling this number out of thin air. First of all, there is no way to know what the percentages actually are. And secondly, this assumes that once an Al Qaida leader is captured or killed, nobody else will step up and take their place. That is not very realistic.

Bushies want to make excuses for Bush’s shitty delivery, similar to the “soft bigotry of low expectations”.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
Lumpy:

Remember Ronald Reagen and his manner of long pauses? He would then say “well…” That manner of speech used to be attacked all the time by the media elite and the left wingers.

What those two groups, and you as well, fail to realize is that more Americans can identify with Bush’s manner of speech than they can with Kerry. Do you honestly think that Kerry impressed the rural types who put bush into office in the first place? Think back to the 2000 election map. Virtually every rural area in America went to Bush. Was he a better speaker then than he is now? Did he have a better command of the facts then than he does now? Remember when he didn’t know who the leader of Pakastan was in 2000? Why didn’t that keep him out of office?

This might be difficult for you to believe but Bush scored big with his base and in fact about half of the undecideds, from early indicators. I know those who like their candidates polished were disapointed. However, what plays well in small town America is not always what plays well in major metropolitan areas where most of the left wingers dwell!

[/quote]

I’d absolutely agree, ZEB, and if Bush wins, this will be the reason. That said, it really doesn’t seem very ‘presidential’ to be stammering through your responses. Honestly, I thought Bush looked under-prepared and confused at times, and lacked some of his usual confidence. I actually felt anxious during some of his longer pauses, it seemed like he had forgotten what he wanted to say. He may have corrected Kerry a few times, as you pointed out, but I don’t think he really advanced his cause. But, being the incumbent and ahead in the polls, maybe he doesn’t have to. I had low expectations for Kerry, and thought he came across very well…if I was oblivious to who either were, I would have thought he was the president. And while Bush’s manner may make him more popular with the average American, Kerry’s would probably earn more respect internationally and with other world leaders. Which is more important depends on your priorities, I guess. Or in these forums, mostly on who you already support.

I come from a province where we have a premier (similar to a governor) who didn’t graduate high school. He is very charismatic, honest, and relates well to our largely rural population. As such, he has won the last three elections in land-slides. That’s not to say he is the best candidate or wins the elections on merit, just that he is the most popular with a particularily influential segment of the population. One difference, he’s an excellent public speaker, though he tends to get himself into a lot of controversy.

Is it just me or is Bush incapable of completing a full sentence. All he kept saying is that Iraq was a threat so we had to attack them. Under that logic we could attack at least a good dozen countries by tomorrow.

Another thing that republicans keep saying over and over again is that Bush is resolved and therefore we need to vote for him. Resolve is important but it has to be matched with being resolved on the right idea. Who cares if you do what you beleive if what you believe isn’t based on any facts.

Actually, the strongest point that Bush pushed and in fact a central theme, was Kerry’s constant questioning of the war. Kerry calling it “the wrong war at the wrong time.” Then denigrating the Iraqi leader.

How does one lead after a campagin based upon that sort of talk? President Bush pushed that point home quite well. Because Bush is not as articulate as Kerry does not make his point incorrect, or even flawed!

Who was more articulate than Al Gore? Yet, he never became President Gore.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
Bush also claimed that 75% of Al Qaida leaders have been captured or killed. Two weeks ago the number quoted was two-thirds. [/quote]

Come on Lumpy Bush probably thought that 2/3rds was 75%. :slight_smile:

Just kidding guys.