Tuesday, October 5, 2004

My take on the Veep debate

Without having checked what anyone else is saying, here’s my take on the vice-presidential debate.

In terms of the substance versus style measure, I give Cheney a clear win on substance and a close win on style. The more important measure, however, is how things looked to someone who hasn’t been following the campaigns closely. Those of us who have been paying attention knew the facts and the arguments ahead of time. We’re likely to give Cheney extra points for responding consistently and accurately with those facts and arguments—something the President failed to do in his debate. However, things look different when you don’t know the facts. You have to rely more on style and apparent command of the material. My guess is that Cheney also wins by this measure, but it’s a much closer decision.

All in all, this debate won’t make much difference. It’s a vice-presidential debate going head to head with a baseball playoff. The one thing it will do is get the first presidential debate off the front page, and that obviously favors Bush.

A few final thoughts:

Cheney was at his best during the foreign policy portion. That was the first half and the half most people will have watched. Aside from people wondering why Cheney can articulate Bush’s policies so much better than the President, this is big for Bush.

Edwards barely mentioned Iraq or the War on Terror in his closing remarks. For those who stuck around long enough to see it, that will stand out.

Kerry’s campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill made me chuckle after the debate. I’m going by memory here, but first she said something to the effect that Cheney was trying to talk about the past with things like voting records and such. God forbid that we should look at Kerry’s voting record. Then she said something to the effect that Bush doesn’t have a plan for getting us out of Iraq. Not a plan for winning, not a plan for launching a democracy, but a plan for getting out.

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