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Boy wonder v. Dr. Darko, Round 1

Bryan and I have watched both president-related debates so far with our good friend Roman T. White at the Irish Emigrant, a bar on the Ave that I usually avoid like the plague. For the debates, though, they were filled with mostly middle-aged Kerry fans, rather than the usual cast of loud, drooping ex-Greek ex-students and hangers-on. Thursday night, as you might be aware, Kerry debated Bush, and tonight the VP’s squared off.

I have a few problems with the debating process. Well, one problem, mostly: I don’t think the debates will make a shred of difference.

If the crowd at the Emigrant is any indication, everyone has already made up their mind. They watched not to help aid their informed decision, but to cheer on their favored candidate and affirm their already well forged views. In Seattle bars, the patrons applauded after Kerry’s remarks and laughed after (and often during) Bush’s. In Wyoming and Kansas, I imagine a mirrored scene playing out, with the candidates switched and boos substituted for laughs. One thing the two locations have in common: no one was taking notes. And no one was listening with an open mind. I’d like to believe, as I did when I was younger, that the debates can actually influence the outcome of this election. I’d like to, but I can’t.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I wasn’t ecstatic about Kerry’s sound victory over Bush in all categories; I just abstained from cheering like a drunken high school senior at homecoming so that I could hear what the other guy had to say. I wish the other people at the bar would have been as considerate. As for the debate itself, even Fox news, which most people realize by now is a thinly disguised propaganda machine which answers directly to the GOP, called the debate for Kerry. Where Kerry was eloquent, Bush stuttered and resorted to colloquialisms. Where Kerry exposed his opponent’s many lies to the American people, Bush engaged in petty character assassination. Where Kerry outlined specific plans for foreign policy, Bush could only repeat, over and over, “you can’t fight a war on terror if you send mixed messages”. Bush harped on Kerry’s alleged inconsistency, which I wasn’t surprised to hear – Fox news has been driving that point home with every broadcast since Kerry started to look like a serious threat, and Bush was doubtlessly very well prepared to deliver his supporters exactly what Fox has been telling them for so many months.

The VP debate was, to me, much more interesting, given that the two sides were much more evenly matched. Both Cheney and Edwards are obviously very smart men (where you can say that of only one side of Thursday’s debate), and some sparks resulted. Edwards is obviously more likable than his opponent, but his boyish zeal may have cost him points, where Cheney kept his cool throughout. But don’t discount likeability – in the debate between Nixon and Kennedy, the first televised presidential debate, a majority of TV viewers named Kennedy the winner, whereas the opposite was true of radio listeners. Although Nixon was the better debater, his ghoulish bulldog face scared the TV audience. I would argue the same is true of tonight’s debate, although historically the VP debate has affected the election even less than the presidential one.

I’m actually worried about all of this. Karl Rove, Bush’s senior campaign advisor, is way too smart to allow Bush to debate Kerry – obviously Bush’s superior in intelligence and poise – three times… unless something else was going on. I lifted the following blurb about good ol’ Karl from Erin’s blog, who in turn lifted it from Al Franken’s latest book:

In 1986, while working on the Texas gubernatorial race, a fully blossomed Rove dramatically ‘discovered’ a mysterious electronic bug in his office. Instead of calling the police, he called a press conference. The timing of Rove’s discovery was particularly fortunate: It was the morning of the only televised debate between his candidate, William Clements, and the Democratic governor, Mark White. White was forced to answer questions about the bug instead of about the issues, and subsequently lost. The Travis County D.A.’s office and the FBI later concluded that the bug had been planted by Rove himself on the same day he discovered it. The fact that the maximum battery life of the bug was a mere ten hours (meaning that a spy would have to sneak in and replace it at least twice a day) may have been something of a giveaway.

The man is infamous for this sort of underhandedness. And he’s very, very smart. This makes me worried. There’s a documentary about Karl Rove in theaters now, appropriately called Bush’s Brain. I’ll probably see it next week.

In the end, there’s only one thing you need to know about the debates, which was one point Kerry and Edwards both repeated: Bush and Cheney will give us four more years of the same. Not even they deny that. I, for one, am tired of their bullshit. I’m tired of being lied to about what goes on overseas and at home. I’m tired of watching my tax dollars pay Dick Cheney’s company to tear down and then rebuild Iraq. I’m tired of seeing my civil rights stripped away in the name of “security” we can’t enforce. I’m tired of our country losing all the credibility in the global arena we’ve earned since WWII. I’m tired of living in constant “elevated threat”. I’m tired of hearing we’ll “leave no child behind”, then watching Bush cut funding for education. I’m tired of hearing “support our troops” from the same people who cut their benefits and reduced their combat pay. I’m tired of hearing this administration promise one thing and seeing them do another. I am tired of their bullshit. I don’t care if, tomorrow morning, Kerry holds a press conference where he eats a live cat and then rubs its entrails all over a g-string-clad Edwards. I will still vote for him on November 2nd. Anyone. But. Bush.

On a lighter note…

I had an article in the Daily today, which I thought was fairly decent despite the glaring absence of puns and gags. Usually I consider the Daily to be a platform for my puns and gags and little else, but this time around I expressed an actual opinion. Luckily, it’s one that only Satan himself would dare to dispute. There’s nothing quite like taking jabs at the most hated company in the music business, is there?

Posted in Musings.


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