Oct. 6, 2004 #01Political Satire/Commentary where satire is always commentary but commentary isn't always satire 
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Commentary:  Cheney-Edwards debate-- John Edwards thanks wife for reminding him of pre-debate meetings with Dick Cheney and then calls Cheney's memory lapse a "failure to be straight."

            Post-debate spin is in high gear after last night's Cheney-Edwards debate.  As was the case with the first Bush-Kerry debate, the effects are not likely to become discernible until much later.

Thanks for the Memories.

            Shortly after the debate, John Edwards publicly credited his wife with reminding him after the debate that he'd met Dick Cheney several times before the debate.  (I witnessed this myself.)  As part of the predicate for criticizing Edwards for his long periods of absence from the Senate, Cheney said that despite his regularly presiding over the Senate every Tuesday, he had never "met" Edwards until the debate and then added that Edwards had exhibited such a long pattern of being absent from the Senate that his hometown newspaper began calling him "Senator Gone."  During the debate, Edwards did not dispute Cheney's assertion either because he sensibly interpreted it as having been impliedly limited to the context of business in the Senate or, if he interpreted it more broadly, because he had simply forgotten that he and Cheney had met several times in the past.  

            After Edwards' wife "reminded" him after the debate that he had "met" Cheney several times before the debate, he then characterized Cheney's assertion as an example of "not being straight with the American people."   If one were assume the reason Edwards failed to dispute Cheney's assertion during the debate was that he had sensibly interpreted it as an assertion that Cheney had not met Edwards in the Senate, then Edwards' post-debate comments were disingenuous.  However, even if one were to assume the reason Edwards failed to dispute Cheney's assertion during the debate was that he had forgotten that he'd met Cheney several times before the debate, then his post-debate comments were nevertheless disingenuous for characterizing Cheney's assertion as an example of "not being straight with the American people" rather than a memory lapse like the one just experienced by Edwards.

Conventional Wisdom versus Conventional Wishdom.

            Regarding the substance and tone of the debate, the consensus among most political experts is that debates between vice-presidential candidates do not significantly affect the votes for president.  However, the debate last night is destined to become the exception that proves the rule.  Why?  Because a question posed by Cheney sharply focused attention on a vulnerability of both Kerry and Edwards rivaling, if not equaling, the vulnerability inherent in their self-contradictory claims that they could "bring more allies to the table" as a means for reducing our "disproportionate" share of the casualties despite their having characterized Operation Iraqi Freedom as "the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place," as a "colossal mistake," and as a "grand diversion."  

Political Expediency to Counter the "Dean Machine"-- i.e., the "Dean of Mean" and "Doctor of Spleen."

            What's the basis for this assertion?  The most profound, most relevant, and most likely to endure "sound-bite" was a question posed by Dick Cheney, the gist of which was:  

            Since John Kerry said-- before voting against the $87 billion supplemental authorization to support the troops in Iraq and provide funds to rebuild infrastructure-- that it would be "irresponsible" for a Senator to vote against it, and since at the time of the vote two weeks later, Howard Dean seemed clearly on the verge of achieving a potentially insurmountable lead in the primary race for the Democratic nomination by running on an overtly and unequivocally anti-war platform, Kerry (and Edwards) found it politically expedient to vote against the authorization, the American people should ask themselves this question:  Since Kerry and Edwards were unable or unwilling to stand-up against political pressure from Howard Dean, how could they be expected to stand up against al Qaeda in waging the war against terror regardless of political pressures that will arise from anti-war sentiments, the "international community," and/or tactical setbacks in our struggle against Islamic fanaticism?  

This was the first show-stopper but not the last one.

Political Callousness-- Kerry/Edwards "body count" formula.

            The second show-stopper was in the form of a profound, yet heretofore unexpressed, observation about the political callousness of Kerry's and Edwards' repeated assertions that "we" are sustaining "90%" of the casualties as though the much larger number of Iraqi soldiers, policemen and officials killed or murdered by the enemy "don't count."  This observation by Cheney exposed a political callousness as offensive as their callousness in providing propaganda to the enemy killing our soldiers by mocking Prime Minister Alawi as a "puppet" of the United States almost immediately after Alwai had received a standing ovation in Congress for a moving speech in which he expressed profound appreciation for the sacrifices our troops have made, and are making, in Iraq.  Ostensibly, Kerry and Edwards would count the bodies of French "fighters" in Iraq (if there were to be any) but not the bodies of Iraqis fighting for their own freedom in determining whether American losses would be "disproportionate" to whatever may be Kerry's "global test" for what's right or wrong.  Isn't it better to have ten divisions of Iraqis fighting on our side than ten divisions of the French?

Starkly Differing Visions; Tactics versus Strategy.

            Rarely has an election presented the electorate with two such starkly differing visions for the future:  Tactics versus strategy; the tic-tac-toe tactics that Kerry and Edwards seem to favor versus or the chessboard "strategery" Bush has been implementing.  Has Bush and/or his subordinates made mistakes in the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom?  Of course.  Did Eisenhower/Churchill/Roosevelt and/or their subordinates make mistakes in the course of planning and implementing Operation Overlord?  Of course.  Did Truman and/or his subordinates make mistakes in handling the post-war occupation of Germany and Japan in preparing them for democracy?  Of course he did .  Did any such tactical mistakes negate the moral justification for their visions and strategies designed to increase the scope of liberty against the darkness of tyranny?  Of course not.

   The issue is not how best to "respond" to terrorism, it's how to eradicate Islamic fanaticism that seeks a return to the Dark Ages.  That's why "strategery" chess beats the tic-tac-toe mess that the Kerry/Edwards "internationalist" tactics would yield.  The tactic of "responding" rather than preempting exemplifies the pre-9-11 mentality that we all shared-- including yours truly, who always thought Bush 41 was right in refusing to "go all the way to Baghdad" notwithstanding post-Persian-Gulf-War criticisms of his failure to do so, most of which criticisms emanated from those who had opposed the Persian Gulf War.  How short are most people's memories regarding these things.

No Sex, Please-- We're Americans.

            Edwards also seized the opportunity of this debate to exhibit faux admiration for Dick Cheney's support for Bush's position on "marriage" while also supporting his lesbian daughter.  Rather than engaging Edwards' faux "compliments," Cheney declined to say more than he said in his initial response to the question asking him to explain how he reconciles his support of his daughter with his support of Bush, who favors a constitutional amendment to make it black-letter law (rather than merely judicial precedent) that the Full Faith and Credit Clause not be used to force one state to recognize marital policies of another state that my violate its public policy regarding marriage. 

             There may be, and probably are, compelling reasons for which government ought to recognize "civil unions" in which people help society at large by making long-term commitments to each other.  There are equally compelling reasons for according presumptions favoring heterosexual marriage over civil unions in particular contexts-- such as adoption, for example.



--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.











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