The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Friday, October 01, 2004

I Love a Good Debate 

Most people who know me (who am I kidding... everyone who knows me) will tell you that I have a big mouth. I was greatly encouraged (or cajoled if you will) in high school to join the debate team (or the Deer Bait team if you're my high school chemistry teacher Mr. Katt). Apparently people thought I should put that big mouth to use. I spent four years on the team, 3 years varsity. So I have an appreciation for the "sport". To this day, even when I agree with someone I find myself debating different points if for no other reason than to play devil's advocate. I find it's extremely useful to debate your opponents side from time to time, because you learn a lot about your own side by doing it. It forces you to mentally come up with reasons why you believe what you do. Not only that... I just love a good debate. Last night I tuned into the Presidential Debates hoping to see just that. Oh well... I was disappointed.

I'll start with my overall impressions. First of all, Kerry is a skilled debater. I'm not going to vote for the guy, but as a debater, I have to say that he did well from a debating skills standpoint. That's not to say that the general population will have an appreciation for it, or that it will make people vote for you. I can tell you this... saying you were on the debate team in high school didn't attract the women in droves. *Sigh*. Ok, but back to the debate. It was boring. After about the first half hour I ended up watching "The Whole Nine Yards" part of the time, and only occasionally switching back. It was boring. I have a feeling a lot of people did the exact same thing I did. In the end, I think Bush stayed on message (in other words didn't give up a lot), but I think Kerry may have swayed some people. I think Bush missed a number of good opportunities to hit Kerry hard. Here are some of the things that made an impression...

First of all... right at the opening, Jim Lehrer asks Kerry a major question. Could you prevent a major 9/11 attack from happening again? "Yes I can. But before I answer that let me spend 1 minute thanking the audience and all sorts of other people." It made it look like he was not anxious to answer that loaded question, which was a bad move.

The times allotted for each answer were too short. The overall impression I got from both candidates, and why the debate was so damn boring, was that they repeating lots of stuff over and over again in lots of different ways. I think part of that is a general politician's style. I think another major reason is that they generally had 2 minutes or less to answer the questions. Had they had fewer repeat type questions, and more time to really dig in, it would have been substantive... maybe.

Bushed missed several key opportunities. Kerry got almost a free ride on the whole Allawi thing. Bush should have attacked Kerry on his cohorts calling Allawi a U.S. puppet. How can you lead an alliance when you insult those who you would call friend? He should have hit Kerry harder on his bashing those who have joined with the U.S. calling them the "coalition of the bribed". Is that how you build alliances Mr. Kerry?

Kerry's viewpoint on voting for the war, but saying Bush rushed to war... may win him points. I think he articulated his view best so far last night. What bothers me about that view is that it goes against my general constitutional viewpoint. I don't think Kerry gets it... which is unfortunate. Of the three branches of the national government, only Congress has the right to declare war. The President (Command in Chief) is in charge of the armed forces. This is important, because Congress represents the people, and the people are the only one's who should declare war. Kerry is saying that Congress authorized war, but Bush declared it. No Sir. Kerry voted for a war... and Bush ran it. If you think otherwise, than you don't deserve to represent anyone. I wish Bush would have pushed that point, but I know that no presidential candidate ever will. Presidential candidates always like to express the view that they can do more than they can, which is unfortunate.

Kerry's attitude on North Korea is strange. He hits Bush left and right with not "forming alliances" on Iraq... but suddenly wants bilateral talks with N. Korea? Oh wait... Kerry said "I would have both bilateral and multilateral talks." Bush's response was perfect. If you have both, then the multilateral talks would naturally break down immediately. The other countries would see that the U.S. might be talking behind their backs about this or that during the bilateral talks. You can't have both... and thinking that you can is just silly. My view is that Kerry wants bilateral talks simply to be different from Bush, who wants multilateral talks. Different for the sake of being different never wins points with me.

Nuclear proliferation is the biggest issue for the future? Where the hell did that come from? That was just strange. Why Kerry brought that up... and why Bush latched onto it second, and agreed with him, I have no idea. Yes it's an issue, and Bush had the best line (although minor overall) when he said that it was an issue, as it concerns terrorists getting their hands on nukes... but come on.

Kerry tried a lot to say that he hasn't shifted his view, but did it in a poor way. He tried to convince people he didn't shift his view by saying "I've never shifted my view." That just doesn't work. Say it all you want, but people want more... otherwise it just looks like you're protesting too much.

As far as the closing speeches... I think they both did well... but Bush got a little more. He had the last line of the debate, and closed it very very well. He had a message, and got it across.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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