si-blog

Presidential Debate #1

Posted Oct 01, 2004 in Events, Media, Personal, Politics.

I cannot vote. Although I hold a Green Card, that does not give me the right to vote in US elections; however, the political process is just as important to me as it is to any US citizen. So I watched the debate, and I listened carefully to what both President Bush and Senator Kerry had to say.

First, I must give you some background. When I was living in the United Kingdom, I always voted for the Conservative Party. I believed their right-of-center stance of creating national wealth, defending the country, and minimizing the size of government was the right way to go. And I still believe that, so my natural inclination should be to vote Republican; however, the Grand Old Party differs from the Conservative Party in several respects, all of which are deeply troubling to me:

Abortion
I have always thought the women should have the right to choose whether or not to have a child. The Bush Administration, and the party behind it, are trying to restrict that choice as much as possible.
Defense
The Bush Administration continues to persue a missile defense system. Even if such a system was capable of defending against a missile attack from another nation, which is doubtful, it cannot protect against hijacked airliners, suitcase bombs, or biological warfare - all of which seem more likely in this day and age.
Economy
The Republican record on the nation's economy is atrocious. The British Labour Party was always known as the “tax and spend” party, so I could never vote for them. The Republicans are responsible for spending like crazy and cutting taxes - an equation that will never add up.
Foreign Policy
The day after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the headlines around the world declared, “We Are ALL Americans Now.” Now you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who feels the same. The Bush Administration has squandered all that good feeling in just 3 years.

Coming in to the first debate then, I was leaning toward Senator Kerry and the Democrats. Although some of Democrat policy doesn't appeal to me, I consider it to be the lesser of two evils. From what I had seen of John Kerry, I found him to be wishy-washy and uncharismatic. The debate changed my opinion of him. Kerry can be a strong and focused public speaker if he wants to be, and I think he acquitted himself very well against a man who is known for being good at staying on message.

President Bush failed to answer Kerry's valid criticisms about the Iraq exit strategy, and the reasoning behind invading in the first place. He also failed to account for his inexplicable abandonment of the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. Furthermore, he referred to the terrorists as folks!

Both gentlemen got a few figures wrong (Bush overstated the number of trained Iraqis, Kerry overstated the current cost of the war), but neither were responsible for major errors or untruths. Bush emphasized the importance of continuing with existing policy, whereas Kerry was eager to show the importance of modifying that policy.

I have to say that Senator Kerry was a clear winner of the first debate. He managed to restore my faith in him, and his party. His performance wasn't exactly stellar, but it looked a whole lot better than his opponent's. I look forward to the debate on domestic issues.

Comments

  1. Gravatar

    I don't think either of them looked/sounded confident during the debate. The thing that surprises me the most is the focus that was put on Iraq but no real answers were given by either side. Yes, Kerry wants to change "policy" but what exactly does that mean? He did not lay out anything, give any kind of idea into what he plans to do which makes me think that maybe he just doesn't know. Kerry voted to go to war, then he makes a statement with Diane Sawyer about how he would go to war depending on the outcome. WTF?! Depending on the outcome? He voted for the $87B fund increase for Iraq and then voted against it. If Kerry laid out a plan and didn't just say "I plan to change our policy in Iraq" or "I want to reform healthcare" he might actually have a better following.

    I would have liked to have seen a lot more time spent on taxes, public education, and healthcare.

    Posted by Stephan Segraves on Oct 01, 2004.

  2. Gravatar

    >I would have liked to have seen a lot more time spent on taxes, public education, and healthcare.<

    Um, this was specifically a foreign policy debate.

    Posted by Bill Mason on Oct 01, 2004.

  3. Gravatar

    Despite the fact that Kerry has wobbled back and forth in the past, it now seems that he has a clear agenda. He is willing to admit when he is wrong (something that Bush would NEVER do), and he changes his strategy accordingly. The country does not need a leader who will stumble along a path simply because he is too bloody-minded to admit he is wrong and consider alternatives.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Oct 01, 2004.

  4. Gravatar

    Here are two links that sum up a few things:

    http://txfx.net/2004/10/01/tale-of-two-kerrys/
    http://sayanythingblog.com/archives/004422.php

    And, for reference only:

    http://debates.org/pages/trans2004a.html

    I am sticking with Bush (with or without Chenney).

    Posted by David Collantes on Oct 03, 2004.

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    http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2004/09/index.html#004213 for a summary of the Bush misposition. In case Kerry didn't point out enough things on his own.

    Posted by Bill Mason on Oct 03, 2004.

  6. Gravatar

    Bill, I am waiting a couple of days to see them (the things you refer Kerry pointed out) flipflop.

    Posted by David Collantes on Oct 03, 2004.

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    It seems to me that most people have already decided who they are going to vote for, and the debates are largely irrelevant now. I wish I COULD vote - I am so frustrated by the destruction of international goodwill, the damage to the economy, and the attempts to bend the Constitution to the will of the Religious Right. I am also appalled at the possibility of Dick Cheney being in charge, if something unfortunate should happen to President Bush.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Oct 04, 2004.

  8. Gravatar

    Kerry really cleaned up.

    And what was wrong with Bush? Got looked like he was hit by a car or something? Early Alzheimer's? Bizarre. Lost in La-La land.

    Salon reports that Bush had an earpiece!

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/10/08/bulge/

    Posted by user on Oct 08, 2004.

  9. Gravatar

    Thank you for your comment, Tim. Nice to see you posting here, and I totally agree with you on the right to vote issue. I'll begin my legal challenge shortly.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Oct 12, 2004.

  10. Gravatar

    I know it is every American's right to vote for who they feel is best for their country (by the way, Simon should have the right to vote as was it not George Washington who said "No taxation without representation" and I know Simon pays tax) but you would be hard pressed to find anyone outside the US who supports George Bush and his policies. Publicly Tony Blair might appear to support Bush but those in the know all say he would much prefer Kerry.

    The world is a much more dangerous place with Bush. You would not believe how much he is disliked outside the US and how his actions make other peoples tarnish all Americans with the same brush. It annoys me intensely as I know the vast majority of Americans are good, decent people.

    From a non-Americans point of view it is very hard to like George Bush. It is not just Iraq and Kyoto but just his failure to understand the consequences of his actions. This is the most worrying thing and it fills the world with dread when one considers what Dick Cheney with tell him to do over the next four years. One thing is for sure; if Bush wins I will certainly be investing in Halliburton.

    Posted by Tim Jessey on Dec 08, 2004.