Wednesday, October 06, 2004

TKO: VP Debate Highlights

Click here for AmazonHere are some highlights of the VP debate with my smart-ass remarks interspersed throughout.

We heard Senator Kerry say the other night that there ought to be some kind of global test before U.S. troops are deployed preemptively to protect the United States. That's part of a track record that goes back to the 1970s when he ran for Congress the first time and said troops should not be deployed without U.N. approval. Then, in the mid-'80s, he ran on the basis of cutting most of our major defense programs. In 1991, he voted against Desert Storm.

It's a consistent pattern over time of always being on the wrong side of defense issues...

A little tough talk in the midst of a campaign or as part of a presidential debate cannot obscure a record of 30 years of being on the wrong side of defense issues.

And they give absolutely no indication, based on that record, of being wiling to go forward and aggressively pursue the war on terror with a kind of strategy that will work, that will defeat our enemies and will guarantee that the United States doesn't again get attacked by the likes of Al Qaida.

Oouchh... that's a stiff, backhanded b*tchslap.

John Edwards, two and a half years ago, six months after we went into Afghanistan announced that it was chaotic, the situation was deteriorating, the warlords were about to take over. Here we are, two and a half years later, we're four days away from a democratic election, the first one in history in Afghanistan. We've got 10 million voters who have registered to vote, nearly half of them women...

...We've made enormous progress in Afghanistan, in exactly the right direction, in spite of what John Edwards said two and a half years ago. He just got it wrong.

Why the sour expression, Mr. Edwards?

With respect to the cost, it wasn't $200 billion. You probably weren't there to vote for that...

Okay... that's gonna leave a bruise.

It's awfully hard to convey a sense of credibility to allies when you voted for the war and then you declared: Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. You voted for the war, and then you voted against supporting the troops when they needed the equipment...

Just repeat after me: Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton.

Your rhetoric, Senator, would be a lot more credible if there was a record to back it up. There isn't. And you cannot use "talk tough" during the course of a 90-minute debate in a presidential campaign to obscure a 30-year record in the United States Senate and, prior to that by John Kerry, who has consistently come down on the wrong side of all the major defense issues that he's faced as a public official..

Well, that look is just downright crestfallen, Mr. Edwards. John Kerry's record... who'da thought folks would investigate that?

We've never criticized [John Kerry's] patriotism. What we've questioned is his judgment. And his judgment's flawed, and the record's there for anybody who wants to look at it. In 1984, when he ran for the Senate he opposed, or called for the elimination of a great many major weapons systems that were crucial to winning the Cold War and are important today to our overall forces.

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and occupied it in 1990 and '91, he stood up on the floor of the Senate and voted against going in to liberate Kuwait and push Saddam Hussein back to Iraq. The problem we have is that, if you look at his record, he doesn't display the qualities of somebody who has conviction.

And with respect to this particular operation, we've seen a situation in which, first, they voted to commit the troops, to send them to war, John Edwards and John Kerry, then they came back and when the question was whether or not you provide them with the resources they needed -- body armor, spare parts, ammunition -- they voted against it.

I couldn't figure out why that happened initially. And then I looked and figured out that what was happening was Howard Dean was making major progress in the Democratic primaries, running away with the primaries based on an anti-war record. So they, in effect, decided they would cast an anti-war vote and they voted against the troops.

Now if they couldn't stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to stand up to Al Qaida

Knockdown! Someone get the smelling salts for Mr. Edwards!

I think the record speaks for itself. These are two individuals who have been for the war when the headlines were good and against it when their poll ratings were bad... ...If we want to win the war on terror, it seems to me it's pretty clear the choice is George Bush, not John Kerry.

Body blow!

It's hard, after John Kerry referred to our allies as a coalition of the coerced and the bribed, to go out and persuade people to send troops and to participate in this process.

You end up with a situation in which -- talk about demeaning. In effect, you demean the sacrifice of our allies when you say it's the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, and oh, by the way, send troops...

Our most important ally in the war on terror, in Iraq specifically, is Prime Minister Allawi. He came recently and addressed a joint session of Congress that I presided over with the speaker of the House... And John Kerry rushed out immediately after his speech was over with, where he came and he thanked America for our contributions and our sacrifice and pledged to hold those elections in January, went out and demeaned him, criticized him, challenged his credibility.

That is not the way to win friends and allies. You're never going to add to the coalition with that kind of attitude.

Oh, Mommy that hurts!

We dealt with Iran differently than we have Iraq partly because Iran has not yet, as Iraq did, violated 12 years of resolutions by the U.N. Security Council.

...One of the great by-products, for example, of what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan is that five days after we captured Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gadhafi in Libya came forward and announced that he was going to surrender all of his nuclear materials to the United States, which he has done.

This was one of the biggest sources of proliferation in the world today in terms of the threat that was represented by that. The suppliers network that provided that, headed by Mr. A.Q. Khan, has been shut down...

You see, Mr. Edwards, there's this whole nuclear threat that you've been ignoring. I know it's probably not a big deal for you "Continuity of Government" types, but it is for most Americans.

Edwards' story about his visit to Israel: We left in the morning, headed to the airport to leave, and later in the day I found out that that same day, not far from where we were staying, the Sbarro Pizzeria was hit by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed. Six children were killed... What are the Israeli people supposed to do? How can they continue to watch Israeli children killed by suicide bombers, killed by terrorists?... They have not only the right to the obligation to defend themselves.

...Senator, frankly, you have a record in the Senate that's not very distinguished. You've missed 33 out of 36 meetings in the Judiciary Committee, almost 70 percent of the meetings of the Intelligence Committee... Your hometown newspaper has taken to calling you "Senator Gone." You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United States Senate.

Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session... The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

Ohhhh, that's gonna leave a mark. Better put some ice on that, Mr. Edwards.

In respect to Israel and Palestine, Gwen, the suicide bombers, in part, were generated by Saddam Hussein, who paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers. I personally think one of the reasons that we don't have as many suicide attacks today in Israel as we've had in the past is because Saddam is no longer in business.

Mr. Edwards is now officially sorry he brought up the Sbarro Pizzeria. Ouchie!

...They talk about the top [tax] bracket and going after only those people in the top bracket. Well, the fact of the matter is a great many of our small businesses pay taxes under the personal income taxes rather than the corporate rate. And about 900,000 small businesses will be hit if you do, in fact, do what they want to do with the top bracket. That's not smart because seven out of 10 new jobs in America are created by small businesses.

Oooomph! Another body blow landed by Cheney. Did I hear the word "Halliburton" escape Mr. Edward's lips?

Yesterday, the president signed an extension of middle- class tax cuts, the 10 percent bracket, the marriage penalty relief and the increase in the child tax credit. Senators Kerry and Edwards weren't even there to vote for it when it came to final passage.

Gwen, why is Mr. Edwards twitching?

(Addressing gay marriage issue)
EDWARDS: ...Now, as to this question, let me say first that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy...
IFILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.
CHENEY: Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much.
IFILL: That's it?
CHENEY: That's it.
IFILL: OK, then we'll move on to the next question.

That's didn't go over well, Mr. Edwards. Never talk about someone's family. Even Leftie Don Imus is hammering you on that gaffe.

(Addressing healthcare costs and malpractice insurance costs) The rates for a general practitioner have gone from $40,000 a year to $100,000 a year for an insurance policy... We've lost one out of eleven OB/GYN practitioners in the country. We think it can be fixed, needs to be fixed...

We passed medical liability reform through the House of Representatives. It's been blocked in the Senate. Senator Kerry's voted 10 times against medical liability reform, and I don't believe Senator Edwards supports it, either, not the kind that would be meaningful.

Maybe you could tell us about your 'channeling' days, Mr Edwards?

...I think it allows the president to know that my only agenda is his agenda. I'm not worried about what some precinct committeemen in Iowa were thinking of me with respect to the next round of caucuses of 2008...

Someone call 9-1-1! Edwards is getting assaulted!

I don't talk about myself very much, but I've heard Senator Edwards, and as I listen to him, I find some similarities.

I come from relatively modest circumstances. My grandfather never even went to high school. I'm the first in my family to graduate from college.

I carried a ticket in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for six years. I've been laid off, been hospitalized without health insurance. So I have some idea of the problems that people encounter...


I'm absolutely convinced that the threat we face now, the idea of a terrorist in the middle of one of our cities with a nuclear weapon, is very real and that we have to use extraordinary measures to deal with it. I feel very strongly that the significance of 9/11 cannot be underestimated. It forces us to think in new ways about strategy, about national security, about how we structure our forces and about how we use U.S. military power. Some people say we should wait until we are attacked before we use force. I would argue we've already been attacked. We lost more people on 9/11 than we lost at Pearl Harbor. And I'm a very strong advocate of a very aggressive policy of going after the terrorists and those who support terror.

Did someone call 9-1-1 yet, dammit?

IFILL: Mr. Vice President, picking up on that, you both just sang the praises of the tops of your ticket. Without mentioning them by name at all, explain to us why you are different from your opponent...

IFILL: Senator Edwards, you have 90 seconds.

EDWARDS: Mr. Vice President, we were attacked. But we weren't attacked by Saddam Hussein. And one thing that John Kerry and I would agree with you about is that it is...

IFILL: You just used John Kerry's name.

EDWARDS: Oh, I'm sorry. I broke the rule.

Wait for it... wait for it... the suspense is building...

EDWARDS: OK. John Kerry has been, as have I, been completely consistent about Iraq.


...the most important and significant change in health care in the last several years was the Medicare reform bill this year. It's the most sweeping change in 40 years. Medicare used to pay for heart bypass surgery but didn't pay for the prescription drugs that might allow you to avoid it. The fact is that when that came up, Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards voted against it.

We've got a bleeder!

Now we find ourselves in the midst of a conflict unlike any we've ever known, faced with the possibility that terrorists could smuggle a deadly biological agent or a nuclear weapon into the middle of one of our own cities. That threat -- and the presidential leadership needed to deal with it -- is placing a special responsibility on all of you who will decide on November 2nd who will be our commander in chief.

The only viable option for winning the war on terrorism is the one the president has chosen, to use the power of the United States to aggressively go after the terrorists wherever we find them and also to hold to account states that sponsor terror.

Now that we've captured or killed thousands of Al Qaida and taken down the regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, it's important that we stand up democratically elected governments as the only guarantee that they'll never again revert to terrorism or the production of deadly weapons.

This is the task of our generation. And I know firsthand the strength the president brings to it.

Someone get a stretcher! Hurry, dammit! We're losing him!

Best recaps of the debate

If I ever need to sue somebody, I'll call John Edwards. If I ever need somebody killed - like, you know, terrorists trying to kill my family - I'll call Dick Cheney.

Tonight's vice presidential debate featured two superb performances. Unfortunately for John Edwards, they were delivered by the incumbent and by moderator Gwen Ifill.

Chris Matthews said: it was a battle between a guy with a water pistol and a guy with a machine gun.

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