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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

VP Debates
I have not yet perused the general opinion on the debates, nor have I reviewed the transcript. I want to just give my general impression. This was a much sharper, fiestier debate. Like the last time, I thought there were no knock-out blows. This time, the Republican gave at least as well as he got. Cheney was very well prepated, engaged, knowledgeable, and effective. His style comes across as solemn, wise, in command, even relaxed. He did a good job of pushing back on economic and issues and Iraq, pointing out the contradictions in the Kerry position. The line that I remember the most clearly is when he said he had never met Edwards before.

I expect that the right side of the blogosphere will say Edwards was a lightweight and Cheney beat him, but I thought he did pretty well. He stayed on offense a lot. He made his points about job losses (with incorrect figures) and health care (with anti-corporate demagoguery). He hammered Cheney on Halliburton, which Cheney did not directly refute (only saying "it's a smokescreen"). He is smooth and speaks well and his closing bit was very well crafted.

I'm not sure whose style will play better. Cheney has way more gravitas, but Edwards is more energetic, and charming. What do people prefer in a war-time VP? Did people care that Cheney's eye contact was poor? Did Cheney's low popularity lower the bar and help him, or did it cause people to disbelieve him, even when he was correct? Overall, I think both sides did what they wanted to do, and it was close to a draw. Given that this was a VP debate, only a rout would make any difference for the election.

Update: It turns out Cheney's claim to have never met Edwards is not correct. Also, I originally forgot Cheney's other really good point, which is that when Kerry says that US troops are bearing the entire burden, he is neglecting the Iraqi security forces. As I suspected, righty bloggers thought it was a rout, but I think that is going too far. Overshooting in the other direction is this.

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