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Friday, October 08, 2004

On the second Bush Kerry debate - Bush came to shove...

...but restrained his repetoire of facial expressions. Tonight he merely blinked furiously, snorted when Sen. Kerry accused him of making $84 in interest from a lumber company, and walked all over moderator Charlie Gibson (the best so far)to respond to Sen. Kerry's politely persistant mischaracterizations of the Coalition allies. Other than that, Bush was on. I thought the first debate was strong stuff. Guess I was wrong.

This debate had some added tension because both candidates entered knowing that prime campaign points had been removed out from under them. Kerry's foreign policy claims from debate one have been denied by French and German leaders, and Iran will not be accepted any fissionable material from a President Kerry thank you very much. Meanwhile, Bush had to finally admit that Charles Duelfer's report stated that no WMD stockpiles were found in Iraq, or likely to be found; aside from that, the report largely supported the characterizations of Saddam Hussein's regime made by the Bush adminstration.*

But check out Bush's response tonight on the lack of WMD: "We didn't know that when we went in there." This is an important statement for the voter. Bush trusted the sum of all CIA info collected over the last decade or so, and insisted on its' rightness until very recently. He has been called a liar so loudly, for so long, so insistently, with no moderation or manuevering room for the possibility that he could've made a grave mistake, that the word 'liar' has lost a lot of impact and meaning. If making a grave, gigantic error based on flawed infor is exactly the same thing as deliberately contriving to mislead people for hidden gain,
then 'error' has that much less meaning. Are 'lie' and 'error' really interchangeable concepts?

As for Kerry, whether he won the debate or not pales next to his part in insuring the ascendence of the Bush doctrine. There's a great quote from painter Georges Bracque, found in a fine essay by Roger Shattuck, to the effect: "Every man should keep two ideas. One to destroy the other." Kerry has apparently killed off almost three decades worth of antiwar stances, including a vote against the first Gulf War, in order to stay somewhat relevant to this campaign as something beyond an Anybody-But-Bush space-holder. His foreign policy plans shot out but good, he insists he will still fight the 'wrong' good fight. So I repeat - Kerry, if elected, will be either Lyndon B. Johnson or Richard M. Nixon. But John Kerry himself has flown ('til tomorrow?).

Kerry also scored a few points pointedly pointing out Bush's own changes since the 2000 election, namely stances on health policy and regime change (the latter was covered in Bob Woodward's "Plan Of Attack"). The difference is that Bush changed his mind in the heat of events and the subsequent decision-making. Kerry has adjusted his stances with all the diversity at his command - in the heat of election time.

*If you're interested, here's a brief rebuttal of the report by former weapon inspector Scott Ritter
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