October 13, 2004

Final Presidential Debate

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at October 13, 2004 5:36 PM

I may try the liveblogging thing, although it seems unlikely that people will be checking the site during the debate. If not, I'll just put my impressions here at the end.

I'm watching on a low-res C-SPAN web feed, so I'll be missing any signs of Bush's earpiece/mind control device. So if you see it, post a comment.

(All times PST)

5:51: While I wait for it to start, I realize that I never linked to this fascinating video examining George W. Bush's debate performance over the years. It seems that he was a very skillful and articulate debater back in 1994, but something has changed since then...

6:05: Kerry: "The measurement is not 'are we safer?', it's 'are we as safe as we ought to be?'" I like that.

6:07: "Comprehensive" is Bush's word of the evening, apparently.

6:12: The flu vaccine question was good for Bush: he got to hit his talking points on both drug importation and tort reform. Kerry's taking the opportunity to talk about health care.

6:14: Kerry was asked how he can keep his pledge not to raise taxes below the highest bracket. Seems like a softball question if no numbers are cited.

6:20: Education as a solution to outsourcing? IT and engineering jobs get outsourced, too.

6:25: I think the low resolution is making Bush look more scowly. He was smiling a moment ago.

6:26: He was definitely smiling when he said "Ted Kennedy is the conservative senator from Massachusetts."

6:26: Interesting question: "Is homosexuality a choice?" Bush says he doesn't know, and launches into a defense of the FMA.

6:27: Kerry goes out of his way to point out that Dick Cheney's daughter is gay. I'm not sure I approve of that.

6:30: I approve of Kerry's comments on faith: that it guides his politics but he doesn't want to impose it on others.

6:33: Bush tries out his evil chuckle.

6:35: I hope electronic medical records cut down on error better than electronic voting machines.

6:37: Lots of violent motion by Bush's right hand. I'm concerned he's turning into Dr. Strangelove.

6:40: I have a feeling Kerry's not going to say much about how he's going to pay for his health care plan. Too bad we don't still have that budget surplus... where'd that go, anyway?

6:41: "...ah, never mind"? Well, ok then.

6:42: "I think government funded health...
...
...
...will lead to lower quality health!" Hmm, maybe there's static over the earpiece. That might be why he stopped in the middle of that sentence a minute ago.

6:44: It's good that Bush was asked about the $1 trillion price tag on privatizing Social Security. I'm guessing neither candidate is going to explain how they are going to pay for things.

6:46: Kerry's pressing this issue and working on his fiscal responsibility cred. Bush seems to think this is very amusing.

6:48: The real answer to the Social Security problem (insofar as there is a problem) is to uncap the payroll tax, but I suppose that would violate Kerry's tax pledge.

6:49: Foam? Wonkette says there was foam. Sometimes I wish I had cable.

6:52: It really bugs me when they ignore the current question to go back and respond to a previous one. Maybe it's the rules lawyer in me; I'm sure they have good strategic reasons for doing it. Kerry seems to do this more often.

6:57: Sure was nice of Bob Schieffer to ask Kerry that minimum wage question. It basically made his argument for him.

7:03: How many times have we heard "Massachusetts"?

7:10: Getting sleepy.

7:16: I completely zoned out on the affirmative action question. Now Bush is talking about how he can feel that other people are praying for him. Hmm. At least he's improved on his father by acknowledging that atheists are equally Americans.

7:18: Bush: "Freedom is a gift from the Almighty." Kerry: "Everything is a gift from the Almighty." I think I like Kerry's statement even worse.

7:20: Another softball to Kerry: Will you work to bring America together? "I'm going to crush the Republicans, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women!"

7:29: Not much content in the last ten minutes. A question about "strong women", and then the closing statements. Bush talks about a painting for a while. He wants us not to look at the mess he's made in the past, but at the mess he's going to make in the future.

7:32: And it's over. I think it was pretty close; Kerry only seemed to score points when he attacked Bush's jobs record—something he did well, but only a couple times. Otherwise it was a lot of vague talk about policy that didn't score points one way or another. Bush has reined in his petulance and his anger that came through in the previous debates, although there were times when he seemed agitated, and some of his smirking/laughter seemed weird. Maybe the guy on the earpiece was telling jokes to keep him from getting mad?

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Yay, live feed! I was wondering how i was going to watch the debate. ^^

Posted by: Zifnab | October 13, 2004 7:02 PM

I'm really surprised you didn't mention how Bush's demeanor drastically changed at about the 8:00 point (7:00 to you). Maybe that's when you were getting sleepy. He very suddenly became soft spoken, right out of the blue. So we may not have seen an earpiece (though I liked your term mind control device better), but he was definitely getting vibes from someone. Too drastic a change for him to make on his own. Unless he suddenly remembered a full hour into it that someone had told him to be softer. Still thought he was awfully smirky.

Posted by: heidi | October 14, 2004 2:32 PM

You're right, I didn't notice that. Interesting...

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 14, 2004 2:58 PM
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