Highlights from newspaper editorials the day after the final debate. Note that many of these papers require registration - if you don't want to register, try BugMeNot for user names and passwords.
LA Times: Declares Bush a weak leader and says debate performance illustrated that. "Stitched together, these three extraordinary exchanges amounted to a powerful indictment of the president's leadership."
New York Times: This editorial reviews the debate, the good and bad of both participants, and concludes that viewers got a good sense across all the debates of the differences between the two men. No winner declared.
Washington Post: This editorial expresses disappointment that both candidates ducked the hard questions. It goes on to knock each candidate for providing "good theater" and complemented both on eloquence on questions of faith and relieving pressure on the National Guard. No winner declared.
The Boston Globe: This editorial tries to avoid declarign a winner, but seems to give a slight edge to Kerry, simply because the facts are not a draw, they're on Kerry's side. The pros and cons of each candidates statements and style are covered. But the real winner, according to this editorial, is the voter who got substantive debates.
Seattle Times: Gives Kerry a slight edge, acknowledging that it went into the debate with bias towards Kerry. Gives Despite that, it gives a balanced view of where the candidates did well and where they were weak.
Denver Post: This helpful editorial avoids declaring a winner or deconstructing the candidates styles. Instead it discusses the areas of stark difference between the candidates including social security, immigration, abortion, assault weapons ban, and health insurance costs. Definitely worth reading, but less an editorial than a news piece.
During the last debate, Kerry mentioned Cheney's daughter when talking about homosexuality. She is a lesbian who is not in the closet, but is working on the BC04 campaing. Republicans, including Lynne Cheney (Dick's wife) are calling it a cheap stunt.
Would they say the same if they had a disabled child that the other candidate referenced? An adopted child? A child of another race?
Don't forget to hie it over to Atrios for the list of online polls we all need to hit. No slacking now! It's the last debate so let's do our part.
That's it for me tonight. I've got to vote and then sign off. I may post tomorrow on the debate with a less granular approach. For now, it's a strong Kerry win and someone better tell Bush that education and the NCLB isn't the answer to every domestic issue.
If you're wondering who thinks what about the final debate, look no further. Here's the skinny.
Domestic Policy is Boring!
Kevin Drum struggles through the ennui of domestic policy while fighting a sluggish server. He gives a short list of who won on what point and gives Kerry a narrow win.
Um, Maybe I'm Not Mainstream
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo starts by admitting that he's been out of the mainstream in his analysis of the first presidential debate and the VP debate. With that caveat, he gives Kerry the win. He saw Kerry as presidential, collected, and forceful while Bush was, well, twitchy. As always, Marshall goes the extra mile and gives us insight into the impact of this debate in the context of the overall race. The beauty of reading Marshall is that while it's great to see his outraged posts on Sinclair and Voters Outreach of America, his analysis of events like these remain even handed and honest. It's refreshing.
When I'm Not Sick I'm Very Grown Up
For the last debate, Jesse at Pandagon was sick and gave us an uncensored live blog that was immensely fun to read, if a bit snarky (ok, a lot snarky). He's better now and it shows in his tag team coverage with blogging partner Ezra. They give the win to Kerry but give Bush credit when due. Here's my favorite excerpt: "I think Ezra's right on. This is Bush's best performance so far, mainly because he's restraining himself. But the inherent weakness of his position comes out when he's not diverting attention from it. The thing that's most surprising about this is that I think Kerry is actually out-populisting Bush, which is a surprise for a Swiss cheese-exuding Cabernet-swilling brahmin. Bush's is trying to convince that Kerry's bad for you, Kerry's trying to convince you that the last four years have been bad for you." That's Jesse. And then there's this line: "I hereby call this debate and George Bush's candidacy on grounds of excessive repetition." As you can see, they're still snarky, but in such a nicer way. [Ed Correction: I guess Jesse's still sick. But I think not as sick....]
The Vulnerable Media - Spinless
Keith Olbermann goes a third round, scoring the debate like an old-fashioned boxing match. He posts as it goes, with corrections and demerits assigned post-debate. So we get to see the unspun impressions of a media maven, and it's worth reading. He starts out with a point I heartily support - demerits across the board for debating while the Sox play the Yankees. (Really.) If you missed the debate and the transcript puts you to sleep, this is the best source by far to get a play by play. The final score - based on content, style, missed opportunities, and fumbles is Kerry 18, Bush 3. We'll see if the pundits agree and if they don't, scream heartily that they're susceptible to spin.
Slack-Jawed TeeteringAway from the Frat-Boy President (2 posts)
Andrew Sullivan at Daily Dish gives an edge to Kerry on substance but relishes the return of the friendly Bush. He gives a strong assessment of both candidates and you can almost feel his yearning for Bush to be a better conservative, a stronger leader, but his wish is not fulfilled. He finds Kerry presidential, temperate, comfortable, and more conservative than Bush in some key areas. Sullivan's analysis is even-handed, tainted a tad by his own priorities (as is the case for us all), and well worth the read.
A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
Mick at Arran's Alley gives us the lowdown on the debate as heard, not seen. He's 'watches' the debates on the radio and has a markedly different experience than do the couch potatoes among us. Even if you heavily discount his perspective and assume a bias he's clearly capable of setting aside, Bush still gets torched. My favorite line: "... that's what I heard: 'librul', 'NCLB', 'Kennedy', 'strong'--the mantra of the misbegotten mind floating in a pool of jello." Mick gives Kerry the win, but ultimately, his post gives us the opportunity to get a sense of how powerful the imagery of these men can be. Read it. It will make you think.
Fair and Balanced. Really. I Mean It.
Finally, the best place to end a debate-analysis surfing feast is at The Moderate Voice. Again, Joe Gandelman gives us a solid look at the performance of each man and this time he puts it in the context of the overall race. It's best to go here last, since Gandelman is taking time to think through his response and what's posted now isn't final. But he's already building out the comprehensive list of blog analysis from the left and the right. If you're still hungry for someone else's thoughts, hop over there and click away. I know I will.
The question is what role Bush's faith plays in his policy decisions. "If you're a Chrisitan, Muslim, or Jew you're equally an American." Um, I think he left out a bunch of religions not to mention all those secular heathons, hedonists, and pagans.
He believes that God wants everyone to be free and that's part of his foreign policy. RED ALERT, RED ALERT. I think that was a mistake.
Hah. Kerry just one upped Bush on faith. "Everything is a gift from the Almighty." This is so embarrassing that we have to take the very limited time we have and hear these guys talk like preachers. Grrr. It's hard enough to talk about politics, but do we have to talk about religion too?
On a serious note, I'm pleased to hear Kerry say that we have a right to practice or not practice a religion. Thank you, sir. That is our right and we can't afford to misunderstand that freedom of religion means just that.
Hmm. Kerry's complimenting Bush on his speech right after 9/11. Now, zoom, right into slamming him for being divisive. If I had to guess what Bush would like to say, it would be that "it's hard work, and I'm working hard".
Bush's biggest disappointment is the partisan nature of Washington? (Then he might talk to the Republicans in the house.)
Okay. First he cites his time as Governor in Texas. Many people think that Texas Dems would be Republicans anywhere else. Not great evidence of his abliity to cross the aisle.
Then he goes to entrenched special interests. Has he seen the Ethics Commitee admonishments of Tom DeLay? Have anything to say? See the overt statements on the part of Congressional Republicans about payback time for Dems or lobbyists who have the nerve to hire them? Anything to say? Nope, I didn't think so. What in the world has he done to fight those entrenched special interests? Gee, maybe he could veto that corporate welfare bill, you think?
And now we find out that we've been divided forever. And anyway, John McCain supports him, so there. Kerry has a "retreat and defeat" plan for Iraq, you know.
Final question: Strong women in their lives. What's the most iportant thing you've learned from the strong women in your life?
Bush was funny here: "To listen to them. To stand up straight and not scowl." Laura speaks English better than I do, she's compassionate and strong. Ah, we're getting the personal anecdote - when he met Laura. Love at first sight.
Kerry: His line about marrying up was awful at first, until he confronted what all of us were thinking - him more than any of them. Now, it's all about Mom. And compliments to Bush on being a great father.
Closing statements (yay).
Kerry: Very pragmatic approach - does an idea work. Unfortunately, he has to waste time clearing up the "global test" garbage. I like that he's hopeful, optimistic. He directly asked us for our trust, and help, and indirectly our vote. Good. And he made safety a higher priority than the respect of the world. Smart.
Bush: A painting... he seems very low key. He's trying to be optimistic too, but I'm not really convinced given his history - even just in these debates. And now, it's education. (I think this is the only thing in his domestic record he can safely argue is an accomplishment.) But he's doing well not being angry.
I'm biased, but I give Kerry the edge here. A pretty strong edge.
Bush. He's met them, in the White House when the mess in Haiti was going on in February 2004, as referenced in this press briefing. So Bush is factually correct. But there's plenty of history here that supports Kerry's meaning. There aren't any warm fuzzies between Bush and the Congressional Black Caucus.
July 16, 2003 - Congressional Black Caucus Snubs Bush
AP via TBO:The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, complaining of being ignored by the White House in the past, turned down an invitation to meet with President Bush on Wednesday about Bush's recent Africa trip.
Several members of Congress were invited to the White House to be briefed by Bush on his five-nation, five-day trip.
"Mr. President, I need not remind you that the CBC's requests for meetings with you have gone unanswered for more than two-and-one-half years," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., wrote in a letter declining the invitation.
Complaints from the Congressional Black Caucus about being ignored by the White House can be found dating back toDecember 2001 and earlier. I found the same complaints as recently as March 2003.
Is it any surprise the Black Caucus praised Fahrenheit 9/11 for what they said is its uncompromising examination of corruption and ineptitude in the Bush White House.
And it's not suprising Bush doesn't want to hang out with them, after that.
Ah, privatizing social security. I'll confess that I'm not necessarily in favor of this even though I don't entirely understand it. I don't trust the market or the Republicans. What happens to the person who made bad decisions and lost their invested social security?
Kerry certainly isn't being shy about his opposition to privatizing social security. "An invitation to disaster." Ouch, Kerry's hitting cuts in benefits and that will scare lots of retired and about to retire people.
Good, Kerry is talking about his record. He's gonna protect social security, but at least he doesn't have a lock box.
The moderator is hitting the scariest question for any politician - Greenspan says you'll have to cut benefits. Will you or will you leave it as a problem for someone else? No-one wants to touch this.
Interesting that Kerry is almost saying that Bush took the elderly's social security money and gave it the wealthy. Geez, that's harsh. Maybe true in a way, though.
Okay, I'm guessing we'll get some sarcasm from Bush.
Bush: "I forgot to tell you he, uh, voted to tax social security benefits more than one time. I didn't hear any plan to fix social security.
Did Bush really just say that most of the tax cuts went to the lower and middle class? Please. He really thinks we're stupid, doesn't he?
And now Bush is blaming job losses and the economy on an inherited recession. And now we've got that small business distortion again.
Immigration: Bush is vvulnerable on this. He gave a fast initial answer, but he had that smirk thing going. "It's a subject I'm very familiar with." Too close to "I know how these people think," and "I know what we need to do."
WOW. He's pushing that temporary working card again. That's risky. It's one of those ideas that sounds great on the surface but is bear to implement. It's got a three year expiration date as originally proposed. What do illegal immigrants do in year 4? No amnesty. Get the temp card and you kiss off a green card. Doesn't work.
Good. Kerry hit the fact that any tax break got eaten by cost increases, state tax increases, et al.
Kerry's proposal that we crack down on illegal hiring isn't quite realistic, I think. Whose gonna pick lettuce? Or pay $6 a head if Americans do it?
Bush says Kerry doesn't understand how the borders work. Kerry's response: 4000 people a day coming across the border.
Kerry's going for the jugular. Bush is turning down 90 plus million women in favor of rich people. Geez, that's harsh.
Kerry's talking with real conviction when he talks about the minimum wage. He's almost passionate. It's good to see.
Bush seems to believe that education is the answer to every job problem. What the f**k is the NCLB going to do for the single mother who can't pay her rent, take her kid to the doctor, get child care. This is crap. He's fundamentally out of touch with the needy in our society. You don't solve immediate needs with long term solutions. You need short-term solutions to cover the time while the long term solutions begin to work.
Bush shirked the question of whether he supported overturning Roe vs Wade.
Kerry: "We have a long distance to travel in fairness in this country." He's singing my song, here.
As for NCLB, I work in educational technology and I"ll tell you that NCLB requirements significantly increased school costs at the same time that 27 plus states cut state funding for education. NCLB is an underfunded mandate. I've watched my industry suck wind, seen businees crater. Try going into a school with a product they need to meet NCLB requirements - tests, tutoring, professional dev't - and figure out how to respond when they tell you they just cut teachers or they may go to a shorter school year because they can't fund the standard 180 day year. These programs have a huge impact on real people's lives. NCLB isn't the solution to unemployed or underpaid adults. It's not even a solution for ensuring our kids learn what they need to. (Okay, I'm off my soap box now.)
And Bush's response: "Only a liberal senator from Massacuhussetts would say a 49% increase in funding for education is not enough." Federal funding for education is only 7% of the total funding for education so it doesn't make that much difference, does it. Kerry is right, it's not about % increases, it's about whether or not it works.
The question about providing relief to the guard was a soft ball for Kerry. But I can't believe Bush said that the guardsmen and women didn't see the extended duty and stop loss as a burden but they saw it as an opportunity to defend the country. (Um, have you talked to them?)
Bush is saying that Republicans and Democrats were against the assault weapons ban so he couldn't do anything even though he supported it. Whaaa? Nice spin, but debunkable, I think. Kerry accurately says (in my opinion) that it was a failure of presidential leadership. Nice, Kerry describes himself as a former law enforcement officer. (He had to do something about telling everyone during the last debate that he was a lawyer.)
I didn't expect affirmative action to come up in the debate. Kerry's doing okay - I support it, don't support quotas, we've made progress but have a long way to go, it applies to women as well as minorities. And a slam on Bush for not meeting with the NAACP, the congressional Black Caucus, civil rights leaders.
I'm curious to hear Bush on this. Okay, he says he's met with the black caucus and doesn't believe in quotas. Bu, SURPRISE! It's all about education. Sigh. He's making a mistake here. A big one, I think. And now on to small business, home ownership, yada, yada, yada. What about affirmative action?
Basically, it's been funded well below requested levels up to now, and there are indications (from administration documents)that a cut is planned for next year.
The VA is planning a number of hospital closures as part of a larger “restructuring” plan. Originally, the VA intended to close at least 7 hospitals, but outrage from veterans groups led to a revision of the plan by an independent commission. Now, only three hospitals are slated for closure, and two new hospitals are planned in Nevada and in Florida. However, some smaller clinics are also going to be closed or cut down. Some of these clinics are underserved. But other cutbacks, like those at the clinic in Saginaw, Michigan, have angered local politicians and veterans groups. Read the article in USA Today or the AP story for details of specific clinic closures.
What about next year?
There is some speculation that the already stretched VA may be up for cuts next year, according to White House documents released in May. These planned cuts were covered by CNN.