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DIDGE - The View From Down Under

An Aussie’s ridgy-didge view of world affairs and popular culture.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

My thoughts on second Presidential Debate

The second debate structure was different from the first, in that it was the touted “town hall” meeting. When I first heard “town hall meeting” I pictured a barn, but that’s just me. And indeed the set was much more fetching than an old barn. Well, I mean the set wasn’t that great but then anything’s better than a barn.

Anyway… A group of around 140 “soft voters” (essentially undecided) each wrote a question to President Bush and Senator Kerry. The moderator, Charlie Gibson from American television station ABC, chose the questions he thought were the best. Gibson also chose the order in which the questions would be read out. The question writer got to ask their question directly, but didn’t know if their question had been selected until the moment they were called to read it out.

After explaining the rules to Bush and Kerry, Charlie added: “Those are the candidates' rules. I will hold the candidates to the time limits forcefully but politely, I hope.” He then went on to say, “And thanks to Bush forgetting to renew that gun law I’ve got an AK-47 under the desk, so pay attention to the red light, or I’ll pop a cap in yo ass.”

Have you ever noticed that when Bush finishes a sentence he always moves his head forward, like a chicken pecking at feed? That really irritates me. Also, whenever Kerry was talking Bush would fidget and his gaze was moving all around the room, very disconcerting. When Bush was talking Kerry remained still. Sometimes when Bush would say something stupid Kerry would smile, I found that really cute. And I really hate it whenever Bush finishes a sentence, he smiles and pauses as if waiting for everyone to pat him on the back for constructing a sentence or for making such a great point.

Bush showed early on that he was still living in la-la land. “Saddam Hussein was a threat because he could have given weapons of mass destruction to terrorist enemies.” Let’s just back up a second. In a previous question, was the Iraq invasion justified because they had found no weapons, Bush said: “I wasn't happy when we found out there wasn't weapons, and we've got an intelligence group together to figure out why.” Ok, I’m no genius but if Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons how could he have possibly given them to terrorists?

“I know how these people think. I meet with them all the time. I talk to Tony Blair all the time. I talk to Silvio Berlusconi. They're not going to follow an American president who says follow me into a mistake.” Does that sound familiar? This is from the first debate: “I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently. They‘re not going to follow somebody who says, “This is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Damn, he really is a broken record.

The next question was excellent: “Mr. President, my mother and sister travelled abroad this summer, and when they got back they talked to us about how shocked they were at the intensity of aggravation that other countries had with how we handled the Iraq situation. Diplomacy is obviously something that we really have to really work on. What is your plan to repair relations with other countries given the current situation?”

Bush, as usual, tripped over the question and in fact didn’t answer it at all. “No, I appreciate that. I… listen, I… we've got a great country. I love our values. And I recognize I've made some decisions that have caused people to not understand the great values of our country.” Um, ok.

“I remember when Ronald Reagan was the president; he stood on principle. Somebody called that stubborn. He stood on principle standing up to the Soviet Union, and we won that conflict. Yet at the same time, he was very - we were very unpopular in Europe because of the decisions he made. I recognise that taking Saddam Hussein out was unpopular. But I made the decision because I thought it was in the right interests of our security.” No, taking out Saddam Hussein was never the problem, it was how you went about it that was the problem.

“You know, I've made some decisions on Israel that's unpopular. I wouldn't deal with Arafat, because I felt like he had let the former president down, and I don't think he's the kind of person that can lead toward a Palestinian state. And people in Europe didn't like that decision. And that was unpopular, but it was the right thing to do. I believe Palestinians ought to have a state, but I know they need leadership that's committed to a democracy and freedom, leadership that would be willing to reject terrorism.” Um, ok, that’s all good but you’re not actually answering the question. In fact you’ve gone completely off the question.

“I made a decision not to join the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is where our troops could be brought to -- brought in front of a judge, an unaccounted judge. I don't think we ought to join that. That was unpopular.” Yeah, I get the message that sometimes you make unpopular decisions, but you’re still not answering the freaking question. Which was, incidentally, and I’m paraphrasing here: The Iraq invasion made pretty much the whole world hate America. How are you going to repair that?

“And so, what I'm telling you is, is that sometimes in this world you make unpopular decisions because you think they're right. We'll continue to reach out. Listen, there is 30 nations involved in Iraq, some 40 nations involved in Afghanistan.” So what? Just because the country is involved doesn’t mean the people hate America any less. Australia has troops in Iraq but the invasion was very unpopular here.

“People love America.” Yeah, I constantly see people all over the world waving the American flag with pride. Though most of the time the flags are burnt and desecrated, although I guess the people of the world have been waving their American flags so fervently that they have worn out or caught fire.

“Sometimes they don't like the decisions made by America, but I don't think you want a president who tries to become popular and does the wrong thing. You don't want to join the International Criminal Court just because it's popular in certain capitals in Europe.” You know, there is more to the world than Europe. There were huge protests against the invasion of Iraq in Asia. And you never even answered the question.

Bush: “That answer almost made me want to scowl.” Oh, ha ha ha ha ha! You’re so funny! Oh, and he’s making fun that he looked like a defensive sourpuss in the first debate. Oh, that’s so cute.

“I hear there's rumours on the Internets that we're going to have a draft.” Oh dear me! Is Bush actually trying to look dumb? Perhaps buy the hick vote? I wonder if Dick Cheney visits factcheck.com on the Internets? Though I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on Bush, I mean that’s what you get from years of alcohol abuse, the inability to say complex words like internet and subliminal.

Lately people have been watching Mount St. Helen’s, thinking that it might erupt again. But the real eruption came from President Bush. He rudely interrupted the moderator: “Let me just - I've got to answer this.” Wow, calm down cowboy! But he didn’t calm down: “Let me answer what he just said, about around the world.” Yes, yes, please answer about around the world. God, this guy sounds like a little child. But I wanna do this, I wanna do that. And then the huge eruption came: “You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone.” He yelled this at the crowd. People gasped, children cried. People around the world stopped burning American flags for a few seconds to ponder what was up with this guy? Why is he yelling at those people? What is his problem? Can’t he control himself? What a dick.

Then Kerry counted with possibly the best line from all three debates: “If Missouri, just given the number of people from Missouri who are in the military over there today, were a country, it would be the third largest country in the coalition, behind Great Britain and the United States. That's not a grand coalition.”

And to add insult to injury: “Go to johnkerry.com. You can pull it off of the Internet.” Yes, John Kerry is able to say the word Internet without trouble. How refreshing!

“And you'll find a tort reform plan.” I’m sorry, I don’t have anything to say about this line, I just find the word tort funny.

Bush: “Let me see where to start here. First, the National Journal named Senator Kennedy the most liberal senator of all.” Now let me see where to start! First, his name is Kerry. K – E – R – R – Y. Kerry. Not Kennedy. I know they both start with the same letter, followed by an “e” and then followed by a double letter, so it must be very hard for your feeble brain to understand but they are not the same person. You’ve got to learn that, George. Just keep repeating, K – E – R – R – Y. Secondly, yes the National Journal named K – E – R – R – Y the most liberal senator of all, but how they came to that conclusion is flawed. It is technically true for the year of 2003, but only because they judged it on 22 of 62 votes cast. Kerry’s lifetime rating puts him at #11 in the list of most liberal senators, not #1.

Bush: “Maybe you think that makes sense. I don't.” Is he trying to boost Kerry here?

Kerry: “But look, what's really important, Charlie, is the president is just trying to scare everybody here with throwing labels around. I mean, "compassionate conservative," what does that mean? Cutting 500,000 kids from after-school programs, cutting 365,000 kids from health care, running up the biggest deficits in American history. Mr. President, you're batting 0 for 2.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Bush: “You see, he's proposed $2.2 trillion of new spending. And you say: Well, how are you going to pay for it? He says, well, he's going to raise the taxes on the rich -- that's what he said -- the top two brackets. That raises, he says $800 billion; we say $600 billion. We've got battling green eyeshades. Somewhere in between those numbers -- and so there's a difference, what he's promised and what he can raise.” I’m sorry, but… WHAT THE F - - K?!?!! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS GUY TALKING ABOUT?!?! BATTLING GREEN EYESHADES? WHAT THE F - - K DOES THAT MEAN?!?! WHAT THE F - - K IS THIS GUY ON?!?! Ahem.

Bush: “Is my time up yet?”
Moderator: “No, you can keep going.”
Bush: “Good. You looked at me like my clock was up.”
Moderator: (thinking) “We already went through the damn lighting system. How much easier can it get? Damn this guy is dumb.”

Bush: Yes, I mean, he's got a record. It's been there for 20 years. You can run, but you can't hide. He voted 98 times to raise taxes. I mean, these aren't make-up figures.” What? Bush’s talking about green eyeshade again?

Bush: “You can run, but you can't hide.” I’m sure Kerry is afraid, being told he can run but he can’t hide by the guy who said he was going to get Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.”

Another great question: “Mr. President, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist? What specifically has your administration done to improve the condition of our nation's air and water supply?”

Bush: “I guess you'd say I'm a good steward of the land.” Oh my god, please tell me he is joking. That answer is proof that George W. Bush is officially retarded.

Kerry’s response: “Boy, to listen to that - the president, I don't think, is living in a world of reality with respect to the environment.” Oh my goodness, this guy is my hero!! That’s telling the environment hating, alcoholic, coke snorting, C grade student cowboy.

Kerry kept up the attack: “Now, when it comes to the issue of the environment, this is one of the worst administrations in modern history.”

I loved how Kerry brought back a previous question into the environment question: “You wonder, Nikki, why it is that people don't like us in some parts of the world. You just say: Hey, we don't agree with you. Goodbye.” (Kerry was talking about Bush's response to the Kyoto protocol).

Bush: “I own a timber company? That's news to me… Need some wood?” Need some wood? Need some wood?! THIS IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE FREAKING UNITED STATES, AND HE IS ASKING, “NEED SOME WOOD?” THIS GUY IS TOTALLY INSANE.

Another brilliant question: “President Bush, 45 days after 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which takes away checks on law enforcement and weakens American citizens' rights and freedoms, especially Fourth Amendment rights. With expansions to the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II, my question to you is, why are my rights being watered down and my citizens' around me? And what are the specific justifications for these reforms?”

Bush: “I appreciate that. I really don't think your rights are being watered down. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't support it if I thought that.” Wow! Then he must be really stupid. Government being able to find out what books you are borrowing from the library? That’s not watering down people’s rights? I still don’t understand why people support Bush when his stupidity is so blatant.

Bush: “Every action being taken against terrorists requires court order, requires scrutiny.” So your plan to fight terrorism is A) let the guy responsible for the worst terrorist attack on American soil get away, invade a country that was not responsible for it, making a whole new generation hate America and erode your own peoples freedoms. Great, just great.

“I mean, I… because I think whoever is the president must guard your liberties, must not erode your rights in America.” He’s just said he doesn’t want to be president!!

“And so, I don't think the Patriot Act abridges your rights at all.” I, I… I don’t know what to say. This guy needs help. I’m almost starting to feel sorry for him.

Another audience member asked a very good question: “Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose and why?”

And what was Bush’s response? “I'm not telling. [Laughs] I really don't have… haven't picked anybody yet. Plus, I want them all voting for me. [Laughs again].” That’s a great way to respect someone’s question, ar - - hole, just laugh at them.

Bush: “Culture of life is really important for a country to have if it's going to be a hospitable society.” Yeah, tell that to the more than 150 people you executed, including mentally disabled people. Tell that to Karla Faye Tucker Brown, who you publicly mocked over her plea for clemency. Taken from Talk Magazine: “Please,” Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, “don’t kill me.” What kind of person does that? Someone without any compassion in them at all. What a disgrace. What a dick. What a hypocrite. He loves life? Yeah, and the moon is made of cheese.

And we reach the final question of the night: “President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realise you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it. Thank you.” That is a fantastic question. The test of a real man is if he admits he has made a mistake and tries to fix it. Is Bush a real man? Let’s find out…

“I have made a lot of decisions, and some of them little, like appointments to boards you never heard of, and some of them big.” That’s a great start, talk down to her.

“And in a war, there's a lot of… there's a lot of tactical decisions that historians will look back and say: He shouldn't have done that. He shouldn't have made that decision. And I'll take responsibility for them. I'm human.” Um, ok. Care to elaborate? Cause you know, the question was for you to name three mistakes you’ve made. Care to actually answer the question?

“But on the big questions, about whether or not we should have gone into Afghanistan, the big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq, I'll stand by those decisions, because I think they're right. That's really what you're - when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about. They're trying to say, "Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?" And the answer is, "Absolutely not." It was the right decision. The Duelfer report confirmed that decision today, because what Saddam Hussein was doing was trying to get rid of sanctions so he could reconstitute a weapons program. And the biggest threat facing America is terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.” Um, ok, but like the lady didn’t ask you to defend your decisions. She asked you to name three times when you’ve realised you’ve made a mistake. You’re not doing that. Answer the damn question!!

“We knew he hated us. We knew he'd been - invaded other countries. We knew he tortured his own people.” Yes, we get that, ar - - hole, Saddam Hussein was evil. Don’t you think we already know, you stupid c - - k? ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION!!

“On the tax cut, it's a big decision. I did the right decision. Our recession was one of the shallowest in modern history.” ANSWER THE F - - KING QUESTION YOU F - - KING AR - - HOLE!!!

“Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV. [Laughs].” So he finally comes as close as he will ever to answering that woman’s question and he disrespects her by making a joke out of out. Bush is the real joke.

“But history will look back, and I'm fully prepared to accept any mistakes that history judges to my administration, because the president makes the decisions, the president has to take the responsibility.” You didn’t even answer the question. So there, George W. Bush is not a real man. He is just a little wimpy alcoholic, drug addicted, civilian killing moron.

Kerry: “I've met parents who've on the Internet gotten the armour to send their kids.” Ok, ok, we get it! You can say really complex words like Internet and cat. Stop rubbing it into poor Bush. It’s not his fault he is inarticulate. Blame the years of alcohol abuse.

“And you can't say, because Saddam might have done it 10 years from now, that's not a reason; that's an excuse.” Take that Bush! KERRY FOR PRESIDENT! KERRY FOR PRESIDENT!

Bush: “Saddam Hussein was a risk to our country, ma'am.” Um, with what? I still can’t believe people support Bush after all the crap he says. Are they really that dumb? If so, that’s pretty sad.

In Bush’s closing statement I enjoyed this line: “The great threat to our country is that these haters end up with weapons of mass destruction.” Is Bush trying to appeal to rap fans now?

Bush: “But our long-term security depends on our deep faith in liberty. And we'll continue to promote freedom around the world.” Bush went on to say, “Because we sure ain’t promoting freedom and liberty here, huh Guantanamo Bay, wink, wink!”

Bush: “Freedom is on the march.” Yes, it is, on the march out of America.

I'm starting to become a huge Kerry fan now, but his constant namedropping was irritating. Here's what I mean:

" I just don‘t like the way John Ashcroft has applied it..."
"King Abdullah of Jordan said just yesterday..."
"Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee..."
"Senator Hagel of Nebraska said that the handling of Iraq is beyond pitiful..."
"General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff..."
"... if we were ready to work and letting Hans Blix do his job and thoroughly go through the inspections..."
"... despite the warnings of former Secretary of Defense William Perry..."
"The president—and this is one of the reasons why I am very proud in this race to have the support of General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral William Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Tony McPeak, who ran the air war for the president‘s father and did a brilliant job, supporting me, General Wes Clark, who won the war in Kosovo, supporting me; because they all—and General Baca, who was the head of the National Guard, supporting me."
"... because I‘m going to run a foreign policy that actually does what President Reagan did, President Eisenhower did, and others."
"Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, others, knew how to lead."
"And I‘ve gotten good people, like former Secretary of the Treasury Bob Rubin, for instance..."
"I think John McCain called the energy bill the “No Lobbyist Left Behind” bill."
"... you‘re going to see a rollback to the level we were at with Bill Clinton..."
"Former Governor Racicot, as chairman of the Republican Party..."
"Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, he is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee..."
"... Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois intervened and was able to get him out."
"But like Nancy Reagan, and so many other people—you know, I was at a forum with Michael J. Fox the other day in New Hampshire..."
"Chris Reeve is a friend of mine."
"And he said also that his two favorite justices are Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas."
"I subscribe to the Justice Potter Stewart standard."

With that said, Kerry easily won the debate. There really is no question about it.

And that’s it. I’ll post my thoughts on the third debate tomorrow.


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