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Debate I Kerry on points; Putsch manages not to bite own ear
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
September 30, 2004

Now comes the important bit: deconstructing the presidential debate, a process known in some circles as "spin."

Naturally, this piece is spin. I'll give Kerry the same pass the media in general gave Putsch in 2000, and assume that since he didn't fall down, burst into tears, or crap his pants while the cameras were on, he showed that he had what it took to lead this country. So I declared Kerry the winner several weeks ago. With that out of the way, we can talk about the debate.

Now, this is where I have a big advantage over the Putsch supporters. I can do my spinning based on what the candidates actually said, instead of worrying about whether anyone was dressing as an alpha male, or sighing, or sounded too knowledgeable to be president of all the marching morons of the right.

The topic of the debate was foreign policy, which amounted to discussion on the war on terrorism, Iraq, North Korea, and Iran. Kerry described Iraq as a "colossal mistake" and Bush accused him of trying to have it both ways, supporting the war in 2003 and opposing it now. That gave Kerry the opportunity to note that Putsch had said "to America that he was going to build a true alliance, that he would exhaust the remedies of the United Nations and go through the inspections." That, Kerry said, was what he voted for when he gave Putsch authorization.

For the 10% of viewers who normally get all their news from Faux, that might have been quite a revelation, assuming they didn't just hit the mute button every time Kerry spoke.

One of the more hilarious flip-flops Putsch made was on the topic of what foreign leaders want. He responded to an assertion by Kerry that the invasion of Iraq had been a bonanza, both for Osama bin Laden and the recruiters for terrorist groups world wide, by saying that the United States, not bin Laden, should decide America's strategy in the war on terror. Then, a few minutes later, when asked about staging bilateral talks with North Korea instead of the apparently permanently stalled six way talks, replied, "That's just what Kim Il Jung wants, and so we're not going to do it."

Osama bin Laden can't determine US policy, but apparently Kim Il Jung can.

When Kerry questioned the reality of the so-called "Coalition of the Willing" Putsch declaimed that Kerry had forgotten to mention Poland (a country in the midst of bailing on Iraq) and accused Kerry of "denigrating our allies." -- apparently for not mentioning an ally that had already announced they were bugging out. And Putsch did his best to ignore Kerry's assertion that in Iraq, the US had "90 percent of the casualties in Iraq and 90 percent of the costs." Great Britain makes up about another 8% of each, leaving the rest of the "Coalition of the Willing" to handle that vital 2% that makes all the difference in how well Iraq is going.

Putsch has apparently decided to drop the pretense that he isn't in a war against Islam, declaring, "In Iraq, [...]an enemy realizes the stakes. The enemy understands a free Iraq will be a major defeat in their ideology of hatred. That's why they're fighting so vociferously."

A pity they weren't fighting vociferously. That would save everyone a lot of trouble. But I was curious as to who this enemy was. Was Putsch still trying to pretend that the Iraqi people loved the American occupiers, and that the disturbances in Iraq were just the result of outside agitators?

Instead, Putsch just kept repeating how resolute he was, and unswerving. (When your car is headed toward a telephone pole at 85 mph, "unswerving" isn't a virtue. Putsch apparently hasn't noticed the telephone pole yet). Kerry punched back, saying, "This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judgment. And judgment is what we look for in the president of the United States of America...I'm proud that important military figures who are supporting me in this race: former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili; just yesterday, General Eisenhower's son, General John Eisenhower, endorsed me; Admiral William Crowe; General Tony McPeak, who ran the Air Force war so effectively for his father -- all believe I would make a stronger commander in chief. And they believe it because they know I would not take my eye off of the goal: Osama bin Laden."

Resolute is fine, and Kerry considers himself resolute. "But we also have to be smart, Jim," he said, "and smart means not diverting your attention from the real war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden."

He lambasted Putsch again for rushing to war. "Last resort. You've got to be able to look in the eyes of families and say to those parents, îI tried to do everything in my power to prevent the loss of your son and daughter.' I don't believe the United States did that. And we pushed our allies aside."

Claiming that the United States was defeating al Qaida, Putsch said, "Seventy-five percent of [bin Laden's] people have been brought to justice." You heard of any trials of al Qaida people? I sure haven't. We know that at least 90% of the people in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib had committed no crime, where held and tortured without charges. Of the 5,000 suspects that Ashcroft said he had in the wake of 9/11, exactly none have been convicted of any crime. The one conviction in a German court was overturned when it turned out Americans had cooked the evidence. So one has to wonder just what "brought to justice" means to Putsch.

Putsch uttered words that will haunt him should he get elected: "There will be elections in January. We're spending reconstruction money. And our alliance is strong. That's the plan for victory."

Yeah, we're all just positive we'll get those elections. And Putsch forgot to mention (although Kerry reminded him) that the reconstruction money was being rechanneled into trying to prop up the collaborators, who resistance members in Iraq are picking off at an astounding rate.

Kerry missed one opportunity; when Putsch trotted out the "voted against the $87 billion aid measure", Kerry could have mentioned that on the preliminary vote in which Kerry opposed the measure, Putsch himself had threatened to veto it.

On "Iraquitization" Putsch flat-out lied, saying that "We've got 100,000 trained now, 125,000 by the end of this year, 200,000 by the end of next year."

In fact, exactly NO Iraqis have completed training. And they are no finding it nearly impossible to recruit more collaborators, due to the effectiveness of the resistance.

Kerry described the situation in Iraq, using the words of President Bush back in 1992: "[T]he president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra. And the reason he didn't is, he said -- he wrote in his book -- because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. That's exactly where we find ourselves today. There's a sense of American occupation."

The two kept sparring over North Korea, with Kerry supporting bilateral talks, and Putsch stoutly standing by the now defunct six-way talks. Kerry noted that for two years, Putsch punished North Korea by refusing to talk to them, or keep them accountable, with the result that they now have four to six nuclear weapons. On Iran, Putsch just asserted that the "Moo-Las" hated freedom and democracy and all of that, which may well be true, but we aren't trying to convert them; we just want to persuade them not to build a nuclear arsenal.

The questions were more substantive than I expected, but as debates go, it wasn't much, with each candidate forbidden from directly addressing the other, two minutes to speak on each question with 30 second followup, and 32 pages of other rules and regulations, including a doomed effort by the Putsch campaign to dictate where the networks could point their television cameras. Jim Lehrer, the conservative host of the "Lehrer News Hour" on PBS, did a creditable job.

A few years back, there was a general election in Canada, and one week before the election, the leaders of the two respective major parties shared a stage with one microphone between them for two hours, with no moderators, just bantering back and forth over policy.

Now, THAT'S what a debate should look like.

In a rational world, Kerry won this debate going away on points and content. But this isn't a rational world; this is an America hagridden and controlled by psychotic millionaires with propaganda outlets masquerading as journalistic enterprises.

Tomorrow, the spin arrives in full force, and we find out who actually won the debate.

Posted: October 1, 2004


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