October 05, 2004

Get Your Debate On: Veeps on Parade

Tonight’s debate has the possibility of being deeply weird. In the Red Corner, we have the current Vice-President, Dick Cheney. To his supporters he is the voice of reason and maturity, a calming conservative presence. To his detractors he is an evil, Gollum-like character, the puppet master behind the president, only with the shadowy world of Big Business holding his strings. In the Blue Corner, we have John Edwards, the young (and very young-looking) Senator from North Carolina. To most Democrats, Edwards is a bright shining face, a forward-thinking centrist who empathizes with the common man. To the opposition, Edwards is a smarmy, slick lawyer who babbles old-school liberalisms with an annoying twang.

The VP debate in 2000 was a school in civility. Both Cheney and Joe Lieberman are measured, dignified men, and the debate followed that course. Cheney won, I think, and to see the chances Lieberman had to hit Cheney harder than he did must drive Democrats nuts now. Still, in 2000 this was the Battle of the Grown-Ups, especially when contrasted with the top guys. Gore inexplicably thought the debates were the best time to let out his inner 12 year old, and Bush is… well, Bush.

This year it will be different. If the indications hold, expect Edwards to come out swinging. He has too, he is the challenger, and despite how well the last week has been for the Democrats, they are still losing. Edwards is a fine speaker, and has a good reputation as a debater. Do not overestimate him though. He is very weak on foreign policy, and he can come off like Eddie Haskell sometimes. Dick Cheney’s game plan is clear: let Edwards do the attacking, defend when necessary with an occasional counterpunch, and let the contrast between his maturity and Edwards’s inexperience show. You will hear a lot about Haliburton from Edwards and a lot about Trial Lawyers from Cheney. I’m not sure either will work though. Haliburton is a big deal with Democrats and other assorted lefties, but the general public has ignored it. It is much the same with the trial lawyer issue. Tort reform has been a big deal for Republicans for over a decade now, and it has not gone anywhere. It doesn’t help Cheney’s case that, as my lovely wife pointed out to me this morning, Edwards won his fame against Big Tobacco and other bad guys. If Cheney attacks that too hard, Edwards could frame it as a defense of the Tobacco industry.

It won’t be especially exciting, but it promises to be interesting.

Posted by Frinklin at October 5, 2004 05:03 PM

According to psychiatric ward patients (and no, I can't disclose which one), John Edwards was more composed and Dick Cheney was angry. They thought Edwards won hands down.

As a scientist, I don't know what conclusion to draw from this single datum:

1) You'd have to be crazy to vote for Kerry/Edwards?

2) Even the emotionally disturbed, deeply depressed, and bipolar people can see that Bush/Cheney are bad for the nation?

But as a compassionate human being and loyal American, I know that the second conclusion is most likely to be correct.

Fighting creeping fascism one HTML tag at a time.

Posted by: Elderbear at October 5, 2004 09:16 PM
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