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DIDGE - The View From Down Under

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

Monday, October 18, 2004

My thoughts on the third Presidential debate

And finally we reach the third and final debate. The structure was pretty much the same as the first. So here’s my take...

The first question of the night: “… will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world as safe and secure as the world in which we grew up?” The moderator then translated for Bush: “… is our children and grandchildren ever living in a world as safe and secure as was the world in which we were grewed up in?”

Kerry: “Police officers are being cut from the streets of America because the president decided to cut the COPS program.” What? Bush axed COPS? I love that show. How dare he!

Kerry: “Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, “Where is Osama bin Laden?” He said, “I don‘t know. I don‘t really think about him very much. I‘m not that concerned.”

Bush: “Gosh, I just don‘t think I ever said I‘m not worried about Osama bin Laden. It‘s kind of one of those exaggerations.” Gosh George, you have a pretty poor memory, don’t you? This is what Bush said in 2002: “Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the centre of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I… I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.”

Bush on the flu vaccine shortage: “We‘re working with Canada to hopefully - that they‘ll produce a - help us realise the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season.” Oh Canada! You’re going to get the vaccine from Canada! But in the last debate, on importing drugs from Canada you said, “Just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you. And what my worry is is that, you know, it looks like it's from Canada, and it might be from a third world.” How much of a flip-flop is that!

Bush: “They were just shuffling too many kids through the system, year after year, grade after grade, without learning the basics.” Yeah, you know all about that, Mr C Grade.

A good question: “Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who‘s being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?”

But George, as he has constantly done in the previous debates, didn’t actually answer the question. He just went on about education for when people lose their jobs. Yes, he is not even trying to cut down on outsourcing. And of course Kerry noticed it: “I want you to notice how the president switched away from jobs and started talking about education principally.”

You’ve gotta love this quote from Kerry: “Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country.”

Moderator: “Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?”

Bush: “You know, Bob, I don‘t know. I just don‘t know.” You don’t know? YOU DON’T KNOW?! Oh no, of course it’s a choice. Teenagers all over the world, struggling with their sexuality in a world of hate just choose to be gay. Teenagers come out to their parents because they want to be hated. Oh hey look, homosexuality looks cool with all the homophobia and hate crimes. You don't know if homosexuality is a choice or not? What a complete moron!

Bush: “And if it gets overturned, then we‘ll end up with marriage being defined by courts, and I don‘t think that‘s in our nation‘s interests.” No, we wouldn’t want the courts defining marriage, would we? We’d rather leave that to the religious right. You know, this really bothers me. Marriage should not have anything to do with religion when it comes to the government. What do they say to the many married atheists? If you are looking at marriage from a religious viewpoint doesn’t atheists getting married destroy the sanctity of marriage? And what about the millions of divorces? Does that not destroy the sanctity of marriage? Ultimately, marriage is a legal contract in the eyes of the government, nothing more, nothing less. If you are to bring a church service and religion into it that is fine, but it most certainly is not the be all and end all of marriage. Opponents of gay marriage cite that the Bible is against homosexuality and therefore gay people should not be able to get married. But to think such a thing is to completely miss the point, marriage is a legal contract. I know it should be about love, but in the eyes of the government it is a legal binding of two people. To stop gay people getting married is to bring religion into government, where it absolutely has no place.

Bush: “I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I think it‘s very important that we protect marriage as an institution, between a man and a woman.” I’d like to know how gay people would ruin marriage for heterosexual couples. Would gay people fly into their homes at night, sprinkle fairy dust over the poor heterosexuals and poof, when they wake up they hate each other and want to bang the closest member of the same sex? Or perhaps it simply comes down to the fact that people who are against gay marriage are bigots, who look at homosexuals as inferior human beings and therefore will ruin marriage, as if they opened up marriage to animals.

John Kerry’s response turned out to be arguably the most controversial thing said in all three debates. He said of Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary, that, “I hope that f - - king f - - - - t gets Aids and rots in hell for eternity.” Well, actually no, he didn’t say that. But he did say that he hopes she is sexually assaulted and has her throat cut. Well, actually no, he also didn’t say that. What he did say was: “We‘re all God‘s children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney‘s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she‘s being who she was, she‘s being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it‘s not choice. I‘ve met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it. And I‘ve met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them.”

This has to be one of the most beautiful things to be said by a politician in years. The idea that anyone could skewer it to make Kerry the bad guy totally boggles my mind. To hear Lynne Cheney attacking Kerry just shows how low she is. And the spin by the Republicans just goes to show that Kerry won so convincingly that they were grasping at straws for material to attack Kerry with. They should be downright ashamed with themselves. John Kerry, my heart goes out to you. You are a truly beautiful human being and deserve to be President.

On the issue of abortion Bush gave this wonderful gem, “I think it‘s important to promote a culture of life. I think a hospitable society is a society where every being counts and every person matters.” Oh, really? I know I wrote this in my review of the second debate, but it bears repeating. 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.

Moderator: “Health insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last four years according to The Washington Post. We‘re paying more. We‘re getting less. I would like to ask you: Who bears responsibility for this? Is it the government? Is it the insurance companies? Is it the lawyers? Is it the doctors? Is it the administration?”

Bush: “Gosh, I sure hope it‘s not the administration.” Is anyone else tired of Bush treating serious issues as a joke?

Kerry: “When I‘m president, I‘m sending that back to Congress and we‘re going to get a real prescription drug benefit.” When I’m president – it’s nice to know he is so confident! President Kerry, can’t wait to hear that!

Bush: “Our health-care system is the envy of the world…” Oh really? That’s the first I’ve heard of it. What a load of nonsense!

Moderator: “Mr. President, the next question is to you. We all know that Social Security is running out of money, and it has to be fixed. You have proposed to fix it by letting people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into private savings accounts. But the critics are saying that‘s going to mean finding $1 trillion over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits as those accounts are being set up. So where do you get the money? Are you going to have to increase the deficit by that much over 10 years?”

Bush, again, doesn’t even answer the question. I was going to quote the entire response, but it's too long and boring. If you want to see Bush dodging the question there are many transcripts of the debate on the internet.

Bush: “They‘re coming here to work. If you can make 50 cents in the heart of Mexico, for example, or make $5 here in America, $5.15, you‘re going to come here if you‘re worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families.” If you had seen Bush’s interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Channel all that would sound very familiar: “If you can make 50 cents in the interior of Mexico, and five bucks in the interior of the United States, you're coming for the five bucks, and they're poor.”

Bush not answering questions again: “Mr. President, I want to go back to something Senator Kerry said earlier tonight and ask a follow-up of my own. He said, and this will be a new question to you, he said that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So I‘d ask you directly, would you like to?” Now that seems like a yes or no question, but of course Bush darts around answering the question. “What he‘s asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I‘ll have no litmus test.”

Bush: “But the best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.” Oh, that makes everyone so safe. Let AK-47’s available on the open market, and then when someone goes on a murderous rampage put them in jail. I’m sure everyone feels so much safer than if the guns were unavailable.

Bush: “I believe we ought to love our neighbour like we love ourself, as manifested in public policy through the faith-based initiative where we‘ve unleashed the armies of compassion to help heal people who hurt.” Armies of compassion? That has a disturbing connotation.

And we finally reach the very last question of the very last debate: “All three of us are surrounded by very strong women. We‘re all married to strong women. Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud. I‘d like to ask each of you, what is the most important thing you‘ve learned from these strong women?”

Bush: “To listen to them. To stand up straight and not scowl.” Yeah, keep making fun of the fact you looked like a moron in the first debate.

Bush: “And she (Laura Bush) speaks English a lot better than I do. I think people understand what she‘s saying.” He is actually making fun of the fact that he is completely inarticulate. How can people find that endearing? Why aren't people thinking, Hmmm, we’ve got a dumbass for a president, maybe he should vote for someone who has a command of the English language.

After Bush’s failed attempts at humour, Kerry showed some comedy with nuance: “Well, I guess the president and you and I are three examples of lucky people who married up. And some would say maybe me more so than others. But I can take it.”

During Bush’s closing statement he brought back this little gem: “Over the next four years, we‘ll continue to rally the armies of compassion, to help heal the hurt that exists in some of our country‘s neighbourhoods.”

Bush really wanted to hammer home what century we are currently living in:

“I‘d say, Bob, I‘ve got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the twenty-first century.”
“We want to help pay for you to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the twenty-first century.”
“… a community college which is providing the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the twenty-first century.”
“In order to make sure people have jobs for the twenty-first century, we‘ve got to get it right in the education system, and we‘re beginning to close a minority achievement gap now.”
“You see, we‘ll never be able to compete in the twenty-first century unless we have an education system that doesn‘t quit on children…”


And that’s it. I guess there’s not much else to say but goodnight and god bless the United States of America. Oh and, vote for Kerry!

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