THE DEBATE

I kind of like Dick Cheney. Click here (and I offer this only in the spirit of good fun) for a Bush/Satan refrigerator magnet.

People seemed impressed with his swipe at John Edwards’ Senate attendance record. I wish the Senator had come back with, ‘Well, you know, Dick, I’ve been running for office – to try to rescue this country from your team’s disastrous mismanagement. But I never missed an important vote where my vote would have made the difference.’

Something like that. Instead, given the limited time, he did it even better. He said (in effect), ‘Gosh, if you want to talk about voting records, when you were in the House, you were one of only 10 Representatives out of 435 to vote against Head Start. One of 4 to vote against banning plastic weapons that can pass through metal detectors. Against the Department of Education. Against the funding of meals-on-wheels for seniors. Against a holiday for Martin Luther King. Against’ – and this one is my favorite – ‘a resolution calling for the freeing of Nelson Mandela.’

How do you defend a vote against calling for the release of Nelson Mandela?

Given 30 seconds to respond – and again, you have to love this about the Vice President – he didn’t see any need to. Why would any of those votes need comment? He didn’t even try to change the subject, he just forfeited his rebuttal time.

CBS News tracked the reactions of 169 uncommitted voters – too small a sample to be precise (margin of error plus or minus a wide 7 points), but still: 41% to 29%, uncommitted debate watchers say Edwards won.

And Bob Schieffer characterized it this way: ‘This was a very testy debate. The vice-president tonight had the unfortunate task of defending a war that does not appear to be going very well these days. On the very day that the former top civilian official in Iraq was making a speech saying that we went about it in the wrong way. That was a tall hill for the vice-president to climb.’

TIM RUSSERT

I saw only a little of NBC’s post-debate wrap-up, but I did hear Tim Russert say that Kerry/Edwards are for ‘rolling back the tax cut.’

I’m beginning to get a little steamed at Tim Russert.

Yes, Kerry would roll it back for about 3% of us. But does Russert think the other 97% are too small a group to be considered? Is it not significant that Kerry/Edwards have said time and again that they would keep the tax cuts on the first $200,000, and even add some? Why is this not very, very bad reporting? And why didn’t my pal Tom Brokaw, who was conversing with him, make a gentle correction? This kind of thing is happening so much, one almost begins to wonder whether the mainstream press is doing its job.

A COUPLE OF OTHER FACTS

On jobs, it might be worth noting that after 9/11 and after the corporate scandals and so on, President Bush predicted a net gain of 6 million jobs in his first term. Instead, he will leave office with a million job net loss – the first President to do so since Herbert Hoover – seven million jobs shy of his own post-9/11 projection.

On taxes, it might be worth noting that, as a member of Congress, Cheney voted for 144 tax and fee increases that became law. And he repeatedly voted against the child-care tax credit, one of only 53 House members to oppose final passage in 1987.

GLOBAL TEST – EARLY EXAMPLE

‘WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation. We hold these truths . . . ‘

Ed: ‘No authority is ceded in the above . . . but if Jefferson and the founders thought it best to pay respect to world opinion prior to unilateral, pre-emptive action, then that seems like pretty good precedent to me.’

☞ Me, too.

OK – Tomorrow: Gotta Worry About Nukes After All

 

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