October 5, 2004

Hatchet men  

Just a few words on the debate. Despite all of the hype about how it would be more important than usual because of the changed landscape after last week's debate, I doubt what happened to night really matters that much. If it was supposed to have the effect of rallying the candidates' respective bases, then it was probably a success on both sides -- it was a vicious debate with lots of unnecessary roughness, and neither of the candidates came away smelling very good. It was certainly a lot less substantive than what we saw Friday.

Cheney looked especially bad because of his hunched over/inclined posture and constant hand wringing. This just reinforced the view a lot of us have that he's the evil mastermind behind the Bush administration's policies. He also seemed tired at the end of the debate. I have to wonder about his strategy of declining to respond -- was it about not having anything to say, fatigue, or just disgust at the whole proceeding? Edwards, by contrast, seemed almost too eager to respond, and I often had a hard time seeing the relationship between the answer and the question. The strangest answer was on Cheney's daughter, when he lavished Cheney with praise but then didn't tie it directly to the Bush administration's policies. It seemed almost inappropriate, and Cheney did well by not answering.

Anyway, as I said above I don't think this debate means a whole lot in the context of the election. It might have some significance for Edwards's career beyond a lost election, although his performance wouldn't convince me to support him next time out. Maybe it was the lack of details, or maybe it was just his presentation, but I thought he had a hard time articulating the message of hope he had during the primaries. It seems strange to say, but maybe Kerry can do better.


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