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VP debate wrap-up

Two polls are already out, showing Edwards winning last night's debate by margins of 41% to 28% and 67% to 33%, respectively. In other words, Edwards beat Cheney by a bigger margin than Kerry beat Bush.

Obviously, I went to bed thinking that Cheney hammered Edwards on both substance and delivery. Cognitive dissonance? No, these poll numbers are merely further evidence of what I've maintained all along -- these debates are about image and likeability, nothing else. Cheney is just not an appealing character, no matter what he's saying.

Still, it was satisfying for me to watch someone stand up to the Kerry-Edwards spin machine forcefully and effectively -- in other words, to say what Bush should have said. Too bad this task fell to the vice president. And too bad the vice presidential debate ultimately won't matter.


I don't think it takes a spin machine to point out the reality in Iraq is not what Cheney says it is. Four years ago, Cheney "won" the debate with Lieberman in part because he commanded such credibility and respect. Last night, he just made too many statements that Americans know not to be true and he continues to overstate a case when he makes it. The 2003 coalition is just not the equal of the 1991 coalition in the support given to America by its allies. It just isn't. The steady leader who led us through Desert Storm has become an idealogue who can not come clean. There is substance to that, especially when evidenced in the situation we see on the ground in Iraq today. Much of what Cheney predicted prior to the war, either regarding the threat level or how we would be received by Iraqis, has not come true. Pointing that out is not spin. It is reality.

PE, I certainly agree that Cheney has some vulnerabilities regarding Iraq. The Kerry-Edwards team, however, is not in a good position to exploit them. Moreover, the difference between this coalition and that of GWI is less than you might imagine. There was much attention paid to Syrian fighter pilots and French Mirages, but they were both essentially window dressing. American representation in each coalition, in terms of percentages, are not vastly different. Moreover, this time around, Iraqis are also fighting on our side, a fact that, as Cheney pointed out last night, is nearly always overlooked.

It's interesting. I don't think Edwards "won". I thought they both performed competently and pretty much how you'd expect. The fact that so many are declaring Edwards the winner does suggest to me that likeableness is definitely a factor (not that that was ever in doubt, right?). And personally, I do think that Cheney has been going around, if not outright stating, at least strongly suggesting that there was a link between Iraq and 9/11. No one challenged that. That I saw anyway. It was interesting to me to see Cheney back track from that.

I understand that Desert Storm was also essentially led by American forces. However, in Desert Storm, you did have a critical difference in support of neighboring muslim countries (with the exception of Jordan.) There also was a huge difference in financial support. Yes, much of that came from the Kuwaitis and Saudis but also from the Japanese and others, the result of which was very little cost to American taxpayers.

I don't know what you mean by Kerry-Edwards being in a good position to exploit the vulnerabilities. Who would? Joe Biden? Bob Graham? By exploiting the vulnerabilities, do you mean someone who supported the war but criticized how it was handled or someone who opposed it from the outset?

As far as the Iraqis fighting on our side, that is the key question in regards to success or failure. From what I have gathered (and I do read the positive reports on opinion journal), I don't see a high level of progress given that we are now 18 months into the occupation.

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