Friday, October 01, 2004
On this day:

The Debate

In last night's debate, I think both candidates did a good job articulating and defending their positions. On that criterion, it was pretty much a wash. However, in terms of which candidate aligned himself with the most defensible positions, I think Bush won hands down.

On Iraq - Kerry's main criticism of the President was that not enough attention was paid to consolidating a "true alliance" prior to the invasion, that he "did not exhaust" diplomatic options, and that he "rushed to war" without a plan for the occupation. All of these are valid points to make in criticism of the administration's Iraq policies.

However, the President did an excellent job of answering each point, and he did it throughout the course of the debate. He noted the significant contributions of Britain, Poland, and other allies. He criticized Kerry for diminishing the significance of these contributions. He noted the history of failed sanctions and inspections dating back to the first Gulf War and Saddam's continued defiance over the entire time. Sanctions and inspections had not worked, and regime change was required. He strongly rebutted Kerry's cheap shot that it was only after people like James Baker publicly pushed for him to go the U.N. that he did so, saying he "decided to go to the U.N. myself - I didn't need anyone to tell me."

On how to proceed in Iraq, Kerry did not draw much of a contrast between what he would do and what the President is doing already. His only selling point is that he can command more respect from the rest of the world and will have greater "credibility" than Bush. "They'll like me better," he seems to say. Uh-huh...dream on, Senator. Your own supporters don't even like you.

On North Korea - Kerry wants to resume unilateral talks with Great Leader Kim Jong-Il. This is something the North Koreans have always wanted, because it divides us from our South Korean allies provides a favorable environment for them to gain concessions. We have always resisted talking directly to the North Koreans for exactly that reason. So, Bush's response was that multilateral talks involving the U.S., North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and China would be more effective. The reasons he gave were that it keeps our allies united and also brings in China, which has the greatest amount of diplomatic and economic leverage over the North. Bush's approach is more sensible and realistic, and I thought he did a great job of defending it. Kerry was reduced to stressing how the situation on the Korean peninsula is the most dangerous situation in the world today and that the administration isn't doing enough to resolve it. But, the solution he offers is to return to the very same Clinton-Albright policies of appeasement through one-on-one talks that failed so miserably and led to the current mess. This is why it was a such a cheap shot for Kerry to blame North Korea's production of nukes on the Bush administration, when it is the preceding eight years of Clinton-Albright inaction and ineptness that put us in this position to begin with.

On Iran - Kerry basically said that the Bush administration had abdicated its responsibility in dealing with Iran, leaving it to Great Britain, France, and Germany to initiate diplomatic efforts. Bush responded that we are indeed involved in those efforts, but that it makes more sense for the Euroweenies to lead the charge since they actually have more leverage over the Iranians than we do. Unlike the U.S., the Euroweenies have continued to trade heavily with the Iranians. As Bush said, "We (the U.S.) have already sanctioned Iran...we can't sanction them any more." And it was great when Bush called the mullahs (pronounced MUL-lahs) in Iran MOO-lahs.