Presidential Debate 2 - Bush Loses on Iraq

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It was a great debate. The President performed far better than his last debate in terms of composure and body language. His confidence however, stood loudly as a weakness in his defense of his decision to invade Iraq. But, many other topics were discussed, and both candidates were on top of their game on those issues. Both hammered each other's positions effectively, both misled on their opponents records, and both held their own with their constituents.

The questions were tougher on Bush though, than on Kerry. That may account for the overall impression that the President was on the defensive most of the debate. The opening question regarding the rhetoric about Kerry being wishy-washy, was the toughest question Kerry fielded. His answer regarding being consistent was less than totally convincing. Kerry scored points on the issues of stem cell research highlighting the President's mixed position on allowing embryos to be used, but, not allowing any others to be used. The President raised the moral issue and then waffled on it by being both for and against killing embryos for scientific research.

On taxes and the economy there was a very good exchange. The President however was pushed to the defensive on the deficits when he had to address his never vetoing any Congressional spending during his term in office. The President responded the he believed we had to spend that money, citing the tech bubble, short recession, and war on terror. He said we have an obligation to spend that money and cutting taxes was necessary to grow jobs and the economy. Kerry however, was effective in raising the net loss of jobs, though his figures were distorted, and no vetoes for spending, and the largest deficits in history. Kerry made his own case for "pay as you go" and fiscal responsibility. When pressed however, neither candidate was able to provide numbers that supported their claims of cutting the deficit in half over the next 4 years.

On the Patriot Act, there was a clear difference. President Bush said we need every tool necessary to stop terrorists before they can act. This statement was made without qualification for protecting civil rights and liberties of American citizens, however. Kerry stated the Patriot Act is important and necessary but, needs to be changed to better insure protection of American rights and liberties. On this issue, it appeared Kerry may have scored points with swing voters.

On abortion, there was a clear distinction between the two candidates. Pres. Bush would not support federal funding of abortions. Kerry, though more circumspect, supported federal funding to protect the health of a mother. Kerry cited however a situation in which a daughter is raped by a father and criticized Bush's stand that parental notification and approval by that father would be required before that daughter could elect an abortion.

The President however, completely dropped the ball when the question came to him to describe three of his mistakes and what he has done to correct them. He could only cite having made mistakes on appointees and never addressed what he did to correct them. Kerry drove home the manner and decisions to invade Iraq were the President's biggest mistakes, and pointed to daily news headlines out of Iraq as proof that the President's handling of Iraq is still without a plan for removing our troops and winning and keeping the peace.

On the draft, the President assured Americans there would be no reinstatement of the draft on his watch. Sen. Kerry pointed to the backdoor draft now in place and pointed to multilateral efforts as being the only insurance the draft would not have to be reinstated.

There was an embarrassing moment when the President vetoed the moderator who was trying to move the discussion, when the President overrode the moderator both in volume and tone proceeding to ignore the moderator and acting on a response he wanted to make. It appeared the President for a moment, could not play by the rules, but he quickly recovered his composure afterward.

On homeland security Bush clearly stated his case by saying the best defense is to stay on the offense. Kerry hit the President with the tax cuts for the wealthiest preventing the President from spending more on homeland defense. The President touted how much he spent, and Kerry countered with the fact that it is not how much is spent, but, whether homeland defense is effective, citing a number of weaknesses in our homeland defense still.

Bush said he was worried about our country. Kerry said he is an optimist and looks for a safer and better future.

Asked about the years of citizens being blocked from purchasing lower cost prescriptions from Canada and elsewhere, the President responded by saying the delay is due to the government wanting to make sure they are safe. Kerry said he would make importing prescriptions legal and pointed to the windfall for the pharmaceutical companies received from the President's Medicare program by preventing the government from competitively bidding for lower Rx costs.

It will become clear from polls over the next week which candidate won with swing voters. The Electoral College predictors and national polls show a neck and neck race. From this writer's vantage point, it appeared Kerry won the debate on content. It appeared to be a tie, on style and connection with the audience, which was mostly absent from both candidates. There focus was on each other rather than the audience members.

The American people however were the big losers in this debate due to the absence of Libertarian candidate Badnarik and Independent candidate Nader. The options for our future would have been far more detailed and fleshed out had the major third party candidates been on the stage tonight. 57% of Americans believe they should have been there, and being a Nader supporter I wholeheartedly agree.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on October 9, 2004 12:21 AM.

Political News Under the Radar was the previous entry in this blog.

The Enemy Bush Fails To Understand is the next entry in this blog.

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