St. Louis Debate ’04

I was driving up to Seattle in dismal weather and traffic, so I had to listen to the debate on the radio. I wish I could have seen it on TV, but until we get auto-driver I can’t watch TV and drive at the same time. I also was unable to hear the last 30 minutes.

Kerry said towards the end of question about the possibility of a draft, “We’re not going to go unilaterally. We’re not going to go alone like this president did.” Bush was furious over this. I could hear in his voice the barely restrained anger. He basically talked over the moderator (who picked some good questions for both sides) so he could answer it. He responded:

You tell Tony Blair we’re going alone. Tell Tony Blair we’re going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we’re going alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we’re going alone.

There are 30 countries there. It denigrates an alliance to say we’re going alone, to discount their sacrifices. You cannot lead an alliance if you say, you know, you’re going alone. And people listen. They’re sacrificing with us.

I can completely understand Bush’s fury over this common Democratic talking point. One of the fastest ways to raise my ire is by insulting or otherwise denigrating somebody or something to which I’m loyal. Bush appreciates and is grateful for the support of other countries, and his indignation underscores his loyalty to those countries. I find it interesting that the Democrats picked this transparently false and insulting talking point about the war, and the only way they can defend it is to continue to belittle the contributions of other countries. Maybe Kerry needs to re-learn a lesson from Diplomacy 101: don’t insult your friends.

My only other comment was the following exchange that had my little brother and I laughing hysterically:

KERRY: [After responding to a question about tax cuts and out-sourcing] And you know why he gets that count? The president got $84 from a timber company that owns, and he’s counted as a small business. Dick Cheney’s counted as a small business. That’s how they do things. That’s just not right.

BUSH: I own a timber company?

(LAUGHTER)

That’s news to me.

(LAUGHTER)

Need some wood?

(LAUGHTER)

The inflection of Bush’s “Need some wood?” line made it one of the funniest moments in my political memory.

Who won? Both candidates did well, but more importantly Bush didn’t get trounced like he did in the first debate. Some pundits say that Bush only needs to hold his own to win the debates. Take that for what it’s worth.

I’m still not convinced debates are all that signficant.

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