Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Sir, I regret to inform you...

that your pants are on fire.

Cheney lied straight-faced and, bizarrely, with a voice tinged by righteous indignation. While Edwards looked good, I think he was initially rattled by Cheney's ability to twist reality so shamelessly.

Cheney claimed that Edwards was "just dead wrong" (poor choice of words) when he stated that 90% of the coalition casualties have been suffered by the United States, because once Iraqis are factored into the death toll, only 50% of the casualties have been Americans. As long as Iraqis keep getting killed at such a horrific rate, BC04 can capitalize on their deaths to downplay American casualties. Fuzzy math or a sickening disrespect for the dead: you decide.

Edwards looked much stronger once the the debate shifted to domestic issues. It helps that there isn't any way that Cheney can lie the Administration out of the current economy. If I'm the average voter, I may not know whether Kerry believes in a "global test", but I am well aware that gas, groceries, and health insurance cost more than four years ago and my paycheck isn't any bigger.

As for Gwen Ifill, I was seriously not impressed, especially when she started in with the RNC talking points:

Has John Edwards, a former trial lawyer, been part of the problem of higher medical costs? What qualifies Edwards to be vice president?
I'm thinking she wasn't allowed to bring any outside materials into the debate and had to make up questions spontaneously.

Overall, I think the spin will bear out that this was a draw. Cheney should have won hands-down given his experience and highly-touted gravitas. The fact that he did better than Bush actually damages their campaign, since it polishes off that Howdy Doody persona Bush has been trying to shake.

Edwards looked energetic, intelligent, and compassionate - plus he finished strong. As long as Kerry comes out on top this Friday night, I think momentum is favoring change vs. more of the same.

By the way, make sure to visit factcheck.com as Cheney suggested to learn about how Halliburton is a good, upstanding corporate citizen. (Via Kevin Drum.)

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