Cheney Versus Edwards

Cheney vs. Edwards
The String on the Puppet versus the Echo

Winner: Dick Cheney, hands down.

This debate was a really good and exciting one. After two debates, I realise that the issues are well-known and most people have already taken their positions. You know all the strokes they are going to make, you just want to see the order and the manner in which they make them. If you really wanted a lesson in what great debating is, today's 90+ minute Vice-Presidential Debate was it. This debate turned out to be a really good one for a couple of reasons. The first debate already set the stage for this 1-on-1 confrontation. The format followed allowed more back and forth discussion. This made it more confrontational and often kept the answers relevant to the questions. The moderator Gwen posed much better questions and did a better job at moderating than Jim Lehrer did on Thursday. She made sure that if both candidates decided to side-step the real question, it was posed again. One of her particular gems was, 'The word "flip-flop" has been used by both sides ... What is wrong with a little flip-flop, now and then?' Clearly, Cheney and Edwards ARE better debators than the Presidential nominees and this being their only shot, they gave it their all.

Edwards despite his hot-shot lawyer experience did nothing but echo the words of John Kerry all thoughout the debate and often used sentences and words from Kerry's speech on Thursday. The problem with the Democrats has been that despite facing a not-so-bright Bush, they have done quite poorly to define themselves and where they exactly stand. Today, Edwards did not define himself but chose to define himself in terms of another yet-to-be-clearly-defined 'John F Kerry'. As the debate went on, it was clear that he was losing it and he desperately wanted to remind the viewers about Thursday and somehow hope to capitalize on Kerry's win. Did not work. He did take jabs at the current administration in strong words and directly challenged Cheney to respond to the common criticisms of the Bush administration. Edwards also did talk about what Kerry and he were really going to do with regards to domestic issues. He tried to draw the public's attention to the Halliburton-Cheney, the Saudi-Iran connections, the colossal financial mismanagement of the adminstration and also its poor record of saying something and not implementing or under-achieving their targets. I think he did a good job to show the Bush Camp flip-flops on 9/11, homeland security and the intelligence agency. He summarised, 'Do you want four more years of the same, or a real change?'.
Cheney refused to give Edwards any quarter and despite the really good strikes by Edwards, he was very successful in defending himself and also launching very damaging counter-attacks. He cited the poor voting records of Kerry and Edwards and how they simply voted depending on political concerns. He remarked, ' They could not defend themselves against Howard Dean, what will they defend America from the Al Qaeda'. However the most scathing remark was, ' As a Vice-President, I preside over the Senate and the first time I am seeing you, is today!'. To the red-faced Edwards, he said,' In your home-state they call you "Senator Gone"'. What makes Cheney a great debator is that, he also knows when to stop, shut-up and let silence do the talking. When the issue about his lesbian daughter and same-sex marriage came up, Cheney on his 30 rebuttal to Edwards, simply said, ' I thank the Senator for his kind comments, ... that's all.' This was a beauty. This got him the sympathy, ended the topic and references back to it.
The whole problem with Edwards was that he looked too good and too rehearsed. At a debate you want to be well-prepared but not appear 'rehearsed'. Cheney in contrast appeared dead-serious, sincere and more composed than an excitable Edwards. Also contrasted was their varied amount of experience in government. The amount of hair on their heads had something to do with who appeared more capable as VP.

One of the NBC commentators remarked that, 'Cheney is like George Foreman, starts slowly but when he comes down, he comes down hard'. Which is what happened. The poor kid from Carolina did do a better job than his namesake, but was pounded real bad tonight.

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