VP Debate

One of the first questions that came to mind is: “Would you buy a used car from this man?”

I’m not kidding.

Cheney came across like the CEO of an innovative, well run company, giving a talk at a conference of business-school professors. Edwards came across like a PI lawyer arguing a slip-and-fall case. I think Cheney was much better on substance, but even on style I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t prefer Cheney.

OTOH, the reason why used-car salesmen and some lawyers are known as slick, fast talkers is that that style is effective. I suspect that it may be disproportionately effective on the kind of voter who is still undecided one month before one of the most important presidential elections in recent history.

35 thoughts on “VP Debate”

  1. Edwards won where it matters.

    A majority of uncommitted voters who watched the debate preferred Edwards.

    His approach works with jurors, and it apparently works with voters who at this late date don’t know whom to vote for. You are right about this. The kind of people who are intellectually capable of appreciating a CEO-like presentation from Cheney are no longer in play.

    At this point, Edwards’ hair and shiny teeth pick up more votes than Cheney’s mind.

  2. The only poll that matters is on election day. Kerry’s internals are horrible. The Democrats mistakenly believe that the closeness of the polls reflects their anger, but it is not anger, it is fatigue. The President himself looked fatigued last Thursday, he must reassure his supporters that he will endure this scourge. If he does, the turn out will be massive. Laugh at me if you must, but I put my money on a clear indicator of the publics preferences. Liberals hailed Michael Moore’s film’s $100 million take in the first month. The Passion of the Christ made 3 times that. I’ll take the people willing to read subtitles over used car buyers.

  3. Seriously, how many voters who haven’t been paying attention to this point actually sat down and watched the VP debate?

  4. Maybe people won’t prefer Cheney because he came across as the CEO of an old school company that’s robbing its customers and shareholders blind…like Enron? I am not reassured by his demeanor or his unwillingness to answer for Halliburton misdeeds. He gave me the heebie jeebies. But to be fair, I found Edwards’ shine equally unwatchable.

  5. Please tell me what Halliburton did wrong and how Cheney benefitted from it. He has no managerial or financial stake in the company any more, and he gave up a lot of deferred compensation in order to be VP. If he were out for money he could have stayed at Halliburton rather than put up with the hassles of elected office. The Halliburton “no bid” contract that Edwards carped about was for work for which there were no other bidders. The other complaints seem to be about managing the company accounts (legally) to minimize taxes, and govt fines over paperwork violations. Who is/was being robbed and how? The shareholders? — it sure doesn’t look that way. And why is any of this relevant, since Cheney left the company years ago?

    WRT Enron, there is no comparison, unless the mere thought of big corporations gives you the heebie jeebies. In that case Kerry and Edwards are your men. Just don’t use vague conspiracy theories to justify your opinion.

  6. It was a classic confrontation of form and substance. I enjoyed the show immensely; it was wonderful theater.

    For those who prefer form over substance; for whom the elegance of intricate process and flowery rhetoric are important, I think Edwards would be a clear choice.

    For those who prefer substance; who value achievement over process and prefer clear-cut goals and actions to paralysis-by-analysis, I think Cheney would be their preference.

    Our body politic contains plenty of both, and I haven’t seen much sign their going to reconcile their respective world-views anytime soon, so I imagine we’ll just agree to disagree about who ‘won’ the debate.

  7. Enron was “old school”? Enron’s operations, accounting standards (or lack thereof), and culture were developed during the tenure of Bill Clinton in the 90’s. Prior to that, Enron WAS “old school”; a sleepy pipeline company, more like a widow & orphan utility. The transgressions that occurred under Skilling, Lay, et al were a recent phenomenon.
    And if you’re going to buy into this Halliburton bullshit, cite the offense and provide evidence tying Cheney to it. I still have not seen any.

  8. “Congressman Watts, Sen. Edwards, friends from across America and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, Lynne and I are honored to be with you all this morning,”

    Cheney said, according to a transcript from the Feb. 1, 2001, National Prayer Breakfast showing Edwards and Cheney standing side by side.

  9. Luke: If you accuse someone of lying you should provide specifics.

    Chris: Cheney has been in public life for decades, he’s been VP for 4 years, he’s a busy guy, he meets a lot of people. He met Edwards one or three times previously and doesn’t remember? Could be. Could be he’s lying. More likely, he forgot. Perhaps Edwards would be wise not to make an issue of it.

  10. Jonathan, I’m a pretty good bullshit artist myself. Yet every once and while I enjoy listening and learning from a real pro. So continue, I’m all ears.

  11. The transcript is here.

    The relevant passage is this:

    And 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.
    You’ve missed a lot of key votes: on tax policy, on energy, on Medicare reform.
    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.

    Sounds like Cheney is saying he never met him, ever. But you could take it to mean he never met him in the Senate even though he is there every Tuesday.

    If Cheney lied, that is a bad thing. I think he meant, in context, “you never show up in the Senate”. Edwards still has a rotten attendance record. He’s mailing it in because he has been running for President the whole time. Whatever. I hope he makes a big deal out of this it just emphasizes the real issue, that he doesn’t do his job.

  12. Chris, don’t flatter yourself.

    If Cheney forgot meeting Edwards, you might ask why. I don’t think Cheney is senile. The alternative possibility, which is not helpful for Edwards, is that Cheney did not find Edwards memorable.

    Of course Cheney could be lying. But he’s been in politics for 30 years, has a rep as a straight shooter who’s contemptuous of political spin, and is going to retire soon. If you want to believe he intended to deceive you can go right ahead, but it seems unlikely to me.

  13. “But you could take it to mean he [Cheney] never met him in the Senate even though he is there every Tuesday.

    “In the past 4 years, there have been 128 Tuesdays. Dick Cheney has presided over 2 of them.
    One more time, Dick Cheney has presided over 2 Tuesdays, or 1.5% of the total.
    During the same period, John Edwards also presided over the Senate twice.

    So Dick Cheney and John Edwards have both presided over the Senate two times, and Dick Cheney is supposed to be the presiding officer. Also, Cheney attends a Republicans only breakfast on the Tuesday mornings that he deigns to visit.” from Pandagon.net

  14. Mr. West seems to have many good facts. One must respect that.

    OK. Let’s assume that Cheney either lied or forget he’d met Edwards. So stipulated.

    Now what? I suppose Kerry and his guys will make the most of it, which they are entitled to do.

    I don’t know if anyone on the margin voter for Kerry as a result.

    Perhaps this can be as big a deal as Kerry’s pen.

  15. To demonstrate a “fair and balanced” POV, read this take on the VP debates from the avowadly liberal Village Voice. You’ll be surprised and heartened. It is subtitled, “Even sitting at a desk, Cheney walks all over beta-male Edwards.

  16. So 90 minute of debate and all people talk about is : did they ever meet or not ?

    Assuming anyone cares, why didn’t Edwards correct Cheney and shut him up right there and then ? Clearly, the two of them didn’t even remember they met before. But why should we care exactly ?

  17. Yes. Edwards could have corrected him by mentioning the prayer breakfast or similar meeting(s). But it appears Edwards either 1) didn’t remember meeting or 2) didn’t want to draw attention to his own poor Senate attendance record, which pointing out that they had met elsewhere would have done.

    Cheney’s point, which I think he made effectively, was that Edwards is inexperienced and (WRT his Senatorial career) unserious. I think that’s worth caring about. The Democratic partisans, by accusing Cheney of lying on a small point, effectively concede this big point.

  18. In the meantime, I don’t see anyone questioning Edwards’ and Kerry’s repeated assertions that we let Bin Laden escape from Tora Bora. Where is the evidence for this ? How do we know he was there and how he escaped ? Interesting how some can accuse others of lying and manipulating intelligence by pulling tall tales out of their own arses.

    My favorite of the recent self-defeating arguments is still the ridiculous “just guessing” uproar. One day we are Bush shouldn’t have acted on CIA intel reports regarding Iraq WMDs because they were not solid enough; in other words, they were not much more than educated guesses. But as soon as Bush learns his lesson and, by saying the agency is “just guessing”, indirectly reminds us that those are the same people who said Iraqi WMDs were a ‘slam-dunk’, he gets clobbered for not listening to them as if theirs was the word of God. Bottom line, Kerry and Edwards display the very flaw they criticize in the current Administration : a willingness to simply trust anything that fits their existing prejudice.

    Except they get away with it…

  19. Under the heading, “Sad But True”, pollsters following up on last week’s Presidential debate report that, one week later, 100 million people are now responding they viewed the debate (which will shock the hell out of Nielsen, who recorded 60 million viewers) and that Kerry absolutely wiped the floor with Bush.

    This entire discussion thread may be a waste of our time. Perhaps we should just watch sitcoms and let our media masters tell us what we think?

  20. Sylvain, during an “Imus in the Morning” radio spot the day after the VP debate, Pat Buchanan said, something like, “sure Cheneny remembers meeting Edwards before and he was hoping that Edwards would make an issue of it…..thereby allowing futher discussion about Edwards’ congressional attendance”. Buchanan was delighted with Cheney.

    Unfortunately, Edwards kept to his script.

  21. Here’s an interesting day dream scenario:
    Perhaps Bush and Cheney want to lose the election.
    Perhaps they know the party’s over and they want to give the cleanup to Kerry. Let him reap what they have sown. Financially, both men are set for their remaining days. The false pretext for the war is now very public. Only the intellectually and morally deaf, dumb and blind would attempt to support their monumental folly now. President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction,….
    Their true objective has been met: get Saddam. They got him. They’ve made millions for friends in business. They can say they fought the good fight and leave Washington. Four years from now, Jeb arrives on the scene and seeks to reclaim the throne and clean up the mess that Kerry tried to deal with ( a failing economy, rising health costs, unemployment all due to the gargantuan deficits, Mideast in a tumult)

    How else do you make sense of Powell’s and Rumsfeld’s and Bremer’s recent statements and the WMD report and the leaked CIA docs, each of which contradicts Pres. and Veep who were out on the trail singing their tired ol song of evil Saddam.

  22. First, your premises are disputable. Iraq had and used WMD in the past and had the capability to make and use them again, and there were other justifications for the war. Also, it is despicable to suggest, as war opponents now suggest, that good-faith judgments were really lies because hindsight reveals them to have been imperfect.

    Second, are you really suggesting that conspiracy is a better explanation for recent events than is bureaucratic or political confusion, or the jockying of officials who have differing values and interests? Bush can’t even control his own CIA, not to mention incompetents like Norman Mineta and loose-canon solo operators like Colin Powell (and never mind the hostile State Dept. bureaucracy), yet you think the likely explanation for dynamic political events is a conspiracy, with intricate contingency plans made several moves in advance like in a chess game? Sure.

    Third, what do you mean by, “their tired ol song of evil Saddam”? What’s tired about it? Saddam was evil. He’s probably responsible for two million deaths. We were at war with him for 12 years. He was enough of an enemy that Kerry in 1997 called for preventive war against him, a la Serbia.

    And a failing economy? That’s just silly. Argentina has a failing economy. The U.S. is in a period of moderate-to-strong growth with record levels of productivity and wealth. You’re straining so hard to score partisan points that you’re saying ridiculous things.

  23. Sylvain, perhaps it was Dick Cheney’s arse, where they pulled out the info regarding bin Laden and Tora Bora:
    And on Nov 29,[2001] Vice President Dick Cheney told ABC’s “Primetime Live” that, according to the reports that were coming in, bin Laden was in Tora Bora.”I think he was equipped to go to ground there,” Mr. Cheney said. “He’s got what he believes to be a fairly secure facility. He’s got caves underground; it’s an area he’s familiar with.” Here’s the entire article. It’s a good read from the Christian Science Monitor.

    that explains the new rasmussen poll that has bush up 50-46. moron.

    Presidential Tracking Poll: Bush-Kerry
    Saturday October 09, 2004–The latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 50% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 46%. Today is the first time all year that either candidate has hit the 50% mark in our survey.

  25. I always love it when a fact is answered by a personal reference.
    By the way, does anyone really believe that Osama bin Laden is functioning (or even alive, for that matter)? Assuming that he isn’t doesn’t mean the threat has disappeared – after all his followers were not, unfortunately, the figments of his imagination. Still and all, it does seem to me to make this discussion (as well as the Kerry/Edwards attacks) a bit silly.
    And well you might ask why am I wasting time on this – well, it is an excuse not to clean house or grade papers.

  26. Jonathan, here’s my response:
    1. The Duelfer report restated what was said by many before the invasion of Iraq: Iraq had no stockpiles of WMDs, it had no weapons to give to al-Qaeda, and it had no viable programs to resume making weapons. All it had, according to the report, was Saddam Hussein’s “desire,” if military sanctions were lifted, to rebuild Iraq’s capacity — itself a speculative claim but one irrelevant to Iraq’s actual military capacity. Iraq posed no threat.

    2. Regarding Saddam’s past use of WMD’s, “starting in 1982 with Iranian success on the battle field, the United States changed its less announced policy of backing Iraq to a clear direct support, supplying it with weapons and economic aid, and normalizing relations with the government (broken during the 1967 Six-Day War). In particular, the United States, along with its allies (among them Britain, France and Italy), provided Iraq with biological and chemical weapons and the precursors to nuclear capabilities.” (Wikipedia.org)

    3. Your statement that Bush has difficulty controlling his administration speaks for itself. Yet this was not the case during the past three years. His administration is one of the most pathologically secretive.

    4. The two million number includes those in the Iraqi – Iranian war, (between 450k – 730k; remember, these numbers were with our support) Other reports question the millions number. Being “evil” or behaving in an evil manner is not based on a numbers quota. I understand the point you are trying to make. There are those who describe Bush as evil. Also, about 500,000 children died because of international trade sanction against Iraq following the first Gulf War.

    5. The economy might be rip roaring for you, but the Census Bureau stated (on August 26, 2004) that 35.9 million Americans (12.5% of population) fell below the poverty line That’s 1.3 million more than the year before.

    6. And here’s a bonus observation:
    Another example of a Cheney mis-statement was the comparison of El Salvador with Afghanistan: Twenty years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador,” Cheney said. “We had a guerilla insurgency controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead. And we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress… And as the terrorists would come in and shoot up polling places as soon as they left, the voters would come back and get in line and would not be denied their right to vote. And today El Salvador is a [whole] of a lot better because we held free elections… And [that concept] will apply in Afghanistan. And it will apply as well in Iraq.”

    The most relevant fact that the Vice President omits here is that the 75,000 people were killed not by the guerillas, but by the government that Cheney was supporting and its paramilitary death squads. The second most relevant fact is that the 1984 elections were widely recognized as a farce, with a long line of genuine opposition candidates already having been killed off and with the U.S. spending $10 million to manipulate the outcome.

  27. Chris, your responses in items 1, 2 and 4 make clear that you are a Saddam apologist. “No threat” indeed. Tell that to the Kurds. Tell it to British intelligence. Tell it to all the Democratic Congressmen who were in favor of preventive war against Iraq in 1998. Tell it to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Tell it to the Iraqis who are alive today because we took down the Baathist regime. Tell it to Americans and Israelis who are alive because Saddam is no longer bankrolling Palestinian terrorism. And don’t repeat lies about how the U.S. supported Saddam. We favored one dictatorship vs. another, and unlike the French and Russians who supplied most of Saddam’s weapons (the U.S. supplied maybe 1% of the total), we quickly backed off when it became clear that Saddam was no better than Khomenei.

    In item 3 you mischaracterize what I wrote.

    In item 5 you focus on one datum, the poverty rate, and ignore that the formal definition of poverty keeps being redefined upward, even though the price level has remained more or less consistent (i.e., there is little inflation). You might look at other measures of economic health, such as this, this, this and this.

    In item 6 you make unsupported, and to my knowledge false, assertions about the Salvadoran and U.S. governments. So you are a communist apologist too. And the fact that El Salvador and its neighbors today are reasonably functioning democracies, rather than leftist or rightist dictatorships, belies your implicit claim that the U.S. caused problems in that part of the world rather than solved them.

    And you posted an abusive comment under a pseudonym in another thread. Quite the troll, aren’t you?

    Hey, what’s the URL of your blog? I want to leave some comments there.

  28. [Comment deleted. If you want to troll pseudonymously, you might have more success if you don’t post the trolls and serious comments from the same IP addresses. Also, if you present a long list of unsupported assertions, and someone takes the time to respond to you, you’re not going to get very far by whining about “ad hominem” responses while you ignore the substance of those responses, including numerous links to govt statistics. This blog is not a public utility; you have no standing to complain. Don’t like the rules? Go elsewhere.]

  29. [points 1-4 deleted]

    5. Where are the so-called rules posted that are to be followed?

    [points 6-8 deleted]

  30. The rules aren’t posted. They don’t have to be. It’s our blog and we can do whatever we want. We are generally reasonable because it’s not in our interest to alienate readers. Most readers who post comments are generally reasonable so we leave them alone. If you peruse our archives you will notice that we occasionally take commenters to task for abusing us with jesuitical cascades of assertions, for calling us names, for making passive-aggressive insinuations about our emotional state, for having generally bad attitudes and for giving us a hard time when we call them on it. You are guilty of most of these sins, plus you have been screwing with us by leaving smart-ass comments in the names of alter egos. I will happily block or delete such comments as well as any other comments left by anyone who behaves in this way.

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