the debates late night were great. the best chance by far during the entire campaign to hear the views of each candidate.
Highlights: Kerry caught Bush on possibly the biggest flaw in bush's position. "They attacked us." Bush implied, again, that it was the nation of Iraq that executed the 9/11 attacks. Kerry said this is wrong, it was bin laden and al kaida. He made other points later that its special forces that should deal with that group, which i agree with.
Kerry just barely skirted a huge issue, one I think even too powerful for Kerry to talk about directly - the possibility of our invasion of iraq was primarily to secure or even steal control of oil production. Kerry said "We only protected the ministry of oil building. That makes it look like we are only interested in oil."
side bar: I imagine the pre-invasion sitation was something like this: 'In the eyes of the US oil industry Hussein was unpredictable, anti-american, and a neusance and has been his whole time in power (which i believe was multi-decade). There are big policy gains and big economic gains to be made to secure our interests in that area. Genuine, big-picture gains that even humanitarians might agree with. Still even thats not enough reason to be rash. What would that say to the other 1st world countries, especially russia which has a history of politics-by-invasion. But now, after everyone is hot about 9/11 and we have the republican congress in our pocket, things are different. There are a few honest human rights violations a couple of sketchy threats to the continential US.' Our leaders convinced themselves that these sketchy threats were enough justification, even in their own minds, to invade. all the while, possibly in their subconscious, the primary factor is a policial agenda - not worth the 1000 lives on the US side and many more on the Iraqi side we've spent so far. end side bar.
Actually he did make a direct comment about Halliburton geting the spoils of war - i think thats the largest injustice of the war second only to the loss of life and one that needs a lot more looking into.
Bush said over and over that he's steadfast. That its unwaveringness that will win this war. Okay first I have to say the phrase "win this war" has overtones of being overly millitant and oblivious to the losses and suffering of war. I take bush's comments to mean "Im going to totally defeat anyone in iraq who forcefully resists our invasion and occupation - no matter what the cost, no matter how baseless the war may become." Its almost like he was saying once the president has made a decision, the decision can never be wrong. like he's an old Japanese emperor or possibly the pope. Kerry made a great comment about this, something like its possible to be steadfast, and still make a mistake, and that mistake has to be corrected.
Bush also said over and over "its hard work." sounded like "a thousand points of light" and other catch phrases from the former president bush. Bush's ending remarks were pretty scarry, something like the valley of freedom and other words that for me had a strong biblical ring to them. Like a sermon on the mount. Oh speaking of religion, both candidates name-dropped Israel, which I though was interesting.
Bush had a suprize move on the elloquence he used when characterizing Kerry. The question itself was awful "please attack your opponent's character." who the f put that Q in there? "he's a vet, he's a 20 year congressman, etc" Kerry seemed genuinely flattered. Kerry's response was also great, "its not my place" to comment on bush's character.
Overall I was disappointed in both candidates and in our political system that produced them. I thought their arguments were simplistic, rarely going back to the big picture. I thought Hussen's and BinLaden's names were mentioned far more than they should have been. Like Bush and Kerry are papparatzi for just those two people, and our foreign policy is 99% about the invasion of iraq. Bush turned out to be smarter than I thought, and Kerry turned out to be more conservative that I thought.
I wanted a lot more facts and stronger reasons for everything they had to say. Kerry's "90% of casualties and 90% of the costs" or something like that, was very good. he bashed bush's coalition building well. Britan at 4000 troops and no one else near that number while the US has I dont know how many trooops (I should know that) but its gotta be a good sight more than 4000.
Still the debates were fantastic. The best opportunity by far to get some real insight into their thinking, or at least their platform. The vice-presidential debates next Tuesday should be facinating!