Debate, the final chapter

Debate, the final chapter

: I’m pissed we’re not getting more debates. This is damned near the only time we’ve been discussing issues in this campaign.

: The first question is a right one: Will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world as safe as the one we have known. (Read: Or will we try to convince ourselves that terrorism is a ‘nuisance’?)

Rather than giving an answer to how he will accomplish that, Kerry starts by attacking Bush on Iraq. Same Iraq line. Same cargo line. Same bin Laden line. Same, same, same.

Bush says spreading democracy is a solution. “The Afghan people had an election this weekend, and the first voter was a 19-year-old woman.” I agree with that

Domestic debate? It’s the same as the international debate. It’s about safety and terrorism. That is the issue.

: Trivial observations: Kerry looks anemic; Bush looks sunburned. At least this time, one of them isn’t standing at a kiddie podium. But by trying to equalize their heights, Bush looks as if he has a huge head, which ain’t easy next to big-head Kerry.

: Next question, a good one: How the f did we end up with this mess on flu vaccine. Bush says we cut off the contaminated supply. Actually, the Brits cut it off. “I haven’t gotten a flu shot and I don’t intend to.” Well, I wish I could. He turns this into a trial-lawyer issue. No, it’s an issue of bureaucrats f’ing up, big time.

Bush downplays it. Kerry blows it up into the issue of health insurance. That’s wrong, too.

Bureacrats f’ed up. That’s the story, boys. Take responsibility. Figure out how to fix it. Don’t blather and blame. Manage. That’s your only job as president. Management.

: Kerry drinking game: “I have a plan.” Mmmmm. Good merlot.

Bush: “I want to remind everyone listening tonight [that is to say, wussies not watching baseball] that a plan is not a litany of complaints.”

: In the first debate, Bush scowled. In the second debate, he looked as if he’d been shot full of botox. In this debate, he looks like a dog ready to run sniff a butt.

Kerry looks right now as if he is being goosed — by a short-haired terrier’s snout in his butt.

: Kerry argues for pay-as-you-go budgeting. Well, amen…. if we believed that Kerry meant it.

: Kerry: “Being the president talking about fiscal responsibility is a little about Tony Soprano talking about law and order.” Trying too hard. Just the kind of nastiness we’re fed up with out here.

: I don’t buy the only-president-to-lose-jobs jab, by the way. We had 9/11 in this administration. I blame job loss on that first.

: Question to Kerry: “It is fair to blame this administration entirely for this loss of jobs.” Right.

: “There’s a mainstream in American politics and you sit on the far-left bank,” says Bush. That dog don’t hunt for me, of course. Treating “liberal” as an insult is ridiculous; it’s not something a president of the center does.

: “Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?” That may sound like a good way to frame the question but it’s not. This is a matter of human rights, not religous philosophy or sociological speculation.

Bush: “I don’t know.” Kerry: “We’re all God’s children.”

The right answer: It doesn’t matter, Bob. Gay people have rights, too.

: On abortion, we repeat the exact same turf with Kerry: Altar boy… not legislate his religion… And Bush: Partial-birth abortion… culture of life… Same, same, same.

: Health care: Bush says the consumer is not involved in the choice and that’s the problem. Oh, no, it’s far more fundamental and revolutionary than that.

Kerry turns it into Canadian drugs. You know, I still don’t understand how we can export drugs and then reimport them at lower costs. Makes no sense.

Bush tries to say that Kerry will have government-run health care (read: Hillary alert!). Kerry says it’s not government run.

: MSNBC’s Keith Olberman is live-blogging the debate.

He tries too hard with a motif of scoring a fight. He should rely on substance, not gimmicks.

: Weird moment as Bush says something about quoting media not being credible and then cutting himself off with an “oh, nevermind.” Wacky.

: I refuse to get into the Social Security debate. I’m denying that I’m eligible for AARP. I’m glazing, too, on immigration and the minimum wage. Sorry.

: Bush says he will not have a litmus test for judges on Roe v. Wade. But he will (from the earlier debate) on “under God” in the pledge. Then he says that Kerry has a litmus test.

Well, of course, they have litmus tests. The question is: which tests?

: Now gun control. Now affirmative action. It’s as if he has a presidential punchlist: Got to hit every basic issue quickly and without new turf. The citizens last week did a better job with their questions.

: Now God. “Frankly, I think we have a lot more loving of our neighbors to do,” says Kerry. Huh?

: Nick Gillespie says (via Glenn) that both these guys are losing.

No, we’re losing.

That’s the bottom line of this debate so far: Damn, it’s a bad choice.

: I’ll see your Republican and raise you a Democrat: Kerry brags about working with McCain, Bush about working with Kennedy. Divided, hell, we’re not divided.

Bush turns it around: “My opponent keeps mentioning John McCain.” John McCain is for Bush, says Bush.

: Bob does a weird riff on being surrounded by strong women with two daughters each. Each of these news anchors has to ask a bullshit question. Again, the citizens were better.

Bush turns it into a joke about his language skills. Kerry turns it into a joke about “marrying up” and then into a sappy moment about his dying mom: “Remember: ‘Integrity, integrity, integrity.'” Oh, man.

: I expected Kerry to win this debate hands-down, given my views on domestic issues. I hoped it would shift the needle. But I still focused on the bad choice we have.

: You want a score? Zero-zero in extra innings.

: The only real conclusion from this debate is that we should have more debates — for they are the only opportunities we have had to dwell on issues rather than mud and they have had big impact on the election — and they should all be run by the citizens, not the journalists.

: Three weeks now. Just three weeks.