Thursday, October 14, 2004

Second & Third Prez Debates

My bubble was burst. Excitement drained. Cynicism oozed in. The second debate was probably one of the longest and most boring debates of all time. I thought it'd be better than the first because it was to focus on domestic issues and the audience posed questions instead of the moderator. But the axiom that sequels do not better the original held. The questions were fake, the questioners were fake, domestic issues were given cursory treatment, and the candidates sounded like a broken record.

There were plenty of numbers and names mentioned, but with both candidates spouting figures a mile long, it didn't make any difference. If Kerry stated a figure on healthcare, Bush would rebutt with a figure on tax. If Kerry declared a heavy figure on education, Bush would fire off another on... tax. If Kerry quoted a figure on tax, Bush would meet him with a figure on... tax. Yea, that's how exciting it was.

However, my law school friends disagreed with me. I watched the second debate with Godfather, JP, Pyromaniac, 3L and Token, all (except one) law students. JP and 3L especially thought "Kerry wiped the floor with Bush". I guess. BBC disagreed, saying Bush drew even with Kerry because of this debate. My friends' view was that Kerry's plan and vision were missing from his campaign and he removed that deficiency with this debate. Also, they felt the repetition on the war in Iraq was necessary because that's what Bush screwed up most. I was just disappointed not to see a more engaging debate. I would've liked to see more details, what the Patriot Act does (or doesn't), what the figures they used mean, how Kerry would create more jobs, etc. None of that, unfortunately. All in all, a terribly disappointing and bleak debate.

Oh, Bush displayed more bluster and bullying. Big deal.

The third debate was much better. Both candidates came off stronger, Bush, particularly, improved tremendously. He must've worked hard. By coming in on Sundays.... if that's what it took (those of you who missed the season premiere of Saturday Night Live...watch the spoof of the first debate. Brilliance.). He'd lost some of his overt aggression. But he promptly replaced it with weird laughter. Was that to show the audience that Kerry wasn't scaring him? Don't think it helped.

This debate focused a lot on domestic issues. I was glad to see the moderator throw some hard and controversial questions at the candidates. The questions on a constitutional amendment on the issue of gay marriages, abortion, outsourcing, and Kerry's Catholic faith were hard-hitting and, to me, tested the true mettle of the candidates. Kerry showed the most polish and intelligence in tackling those questions. I liked the fact that he never once openly insulted Bush and indeed, paid him a compliment. But he didn't back down on picking holes in Bush's policies either. The right balance of being competitive and respectful simultaneously. It says a lot about the man. Kerry ultimately comes off a nice bloke. If the American public don't want a nice man at the helm, then Bush walks off with the vote.

Quotes from the debates:

Kerry: "Orwellian label from the sky"

Bush: "armies of compassion" (my personal favourite)

Transcript of the third (and final) debate:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/debatereferee/debate_1013.html?referrer=email

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