As far as the first presidential debate goes, I’m sure most of the blogosphere is on the fisking and fact-checking details right now. The left side will go after George W. and the right side will take on John Kerry. I’ll let them handle it.
I had something else in mind.
The most annoying thing about the 2000 debates between Bush and Gore is that both candidates dodged so many questions. They almost acted as if the “moderator” didn’t exist except to prompt them to spit out their own pre-rehearsed mini-speeches. So this time I decided to keep score. I wanted to know who answers and who dodges the most questions. I gave 2 points for answering, 1 point for half answering, and I subtracted a point for a dodge.
I hate to say this because I know it isn’t exciting but…it was a draw. (You should have tried another angle going into this — ed. Yeah, yeah.) Both of them did pretty well, actually. Each candidate only dodged one question, and each answered most of them completely. I didn’t give them points for the quality of their answers. I just didn’t want anyone getting away with blowing off the moderator Jim Lehrer as if he didn’t exist.
Bush’s answers were better than Kerry’s, I think. But I also tend to agree with Bush’s foreign policy more than Kerry’s.
Still, I thought Kerry did the best he could with what he had to work with. I thought he handled himself very well, about as good as he possibly could have. I scoffed and rolled my eyes a few times, and I’m sure Kerry’s supporters did the same thing to Bush. (Actually, I’ll bet there was plenty of screaming in people’s living rooms tonight.)
Anyway, I have to say that both candidates performed a lot better than I expected – which isn’t saying much, but there you go. I can’t get excited about either of them, but I find it impossible to hate them.
The questions, though. Come on, Lehrer. Ask something tough once in a while.
Here’s what I wanted to hear:
Mr. President, why do you insist Saudi Arabia is an ally in the war on terror when the government spends billions of dollars building mosques and madrassas all over the world in order to export their fanatical Wahhabi ideology?
Senator Kerry, what do you think about Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 911?
Mr. President, why did the commanders in Afghanistan rely on local warlords instead of the United States military in the battle of Tora Bora?
Senator Kerry, what do you think of the fact that only a few days ago the governments of France and Germany announced they will not send troops to Iraq even if you are elected president?
Mr. President, what do you think is the biggest mistake you have made while in office?
Mr. Kerry, why did you dismiss allies like Britain, Australia, and Poland as parts of “trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted”?
UPDATE: Dean Esmay says in my comments section:
I will say that in all honesty I’m LESS frightened of a Kerry Presidency than I was 24 hours ago. He managed to convince me that he probably won’t completely screw up. Although I still find his record troublingly inconsistent, I must grant that the life of a Senator is full of such things.
Yeah, I agree with that. But I’ve already tried to talk myself into voting for Kerry in my last Tech Central Station article. I can’t say I was able to turn myself into a Kerry supporter, but I did manage to convince myself that if he wins it will be okay. If Bush wins we’ll be okay, too. Neither of them are any great shakes, but we just didn’t have the option of voting for John McCain or Harold Ford or Rudy Giuliani or Barak Obama this time around. One of these guys will hafta do. And one of ’em will.
UPDATE: Joe Katzman says both candidates suck and the world will suffer for it.