Deconstructing the Debate
by the Cynic
The pundits are a bit active today, as would be expected. The big night left us with zero memorable lines and, quite frankly, really makes me wonder if I will take the time to watch the next two. So before the spin machines take over on the debate here are some quick observations:
Funniest line: George W. Bush, " I'm beginning to think not only did he invent the Internet, he invented the calculator." Hold on, let me wipe that tear from my eye, I'm dying over here.
Most irritating line: "...1% of the wealthiest Americans"
Runner up for most irritating line: "....1% of the wealthiest Americans"
Demeanor: OK, Al Gore just came off like a jerk. His frequent sighing, and insistence on getting the last word on any given subject just served his desire to hear himself talk. Bush came off as more likable and more easy going, although I wish he would have hammered at Al for acting like such a child.
Articulating positions: Al Gore did a much better job in this area. This was thought to be his strength coming in and he met expectations. I didn't agree with one thing he said, but he did do a much better job selling it.
Social Security: Bush won this area hands down. I came away feeling that Bush had a plan and Gore had none.
Medicare: Gore kept on repeating that 95% of seniors wouldn't get coverage until 4 to 5 years into Bush's program. Bush didn't deny the numbers, as he should have, he just repeated the phrase "Washin'ton fuzzy math" to distort the issue.
Big Oil: Bush really should have won this. He did a poor job of explaining his position, although he did score points by pointing out that the Clinton Administration had no energy policy.
Moderator: Jim Lehrer let this debate get out from his control. Al Gore was stepping all over him and Lehrer continued to let Gore get the last word in. I would have much preferred Tim Russert as moderator.
Post debate wrap-up: Was it just me or did the folks at CNN just seem depressed after the debate? Sam Donaldson seemed a bit irritated and Cokie Roberts seemed the most comfortable. I think they were all expecting something different. They all had their "independent voter panel" to discuss the debate. These panels help prove my theory that most people are, if given the chance, completely ignorant.
Reading the pundits this morning, I have come to the conclusion that they are completely out of touch with the voting public. They analyze the debate from a beltway point of view. They score according to command of issues and policy points. I think they give far too much credit as to the extent of the voting public's political knowledge.
Personally, I think either candidate will grow the government beyond what is necessary. Bush touched on the idea that people should control their own destiny, but didn't tap into people's natural distrust of their government.
The vote will essentially come down to a personality contest. Since the Kennedy/Nixon debates, television has played a larger role in our Presidential elections. Every election since 1960 has been won by the candidate that was most television
friendly and that people most would like to "have a beer with." Al Gore just looked like an ass up there. He bullied his way through the moderator, he was caught on camera rolling his eyes and his irritating sighing was heard clearly and often. George Bush appeared nervous at first but, in the end, came out the clear winner in the personality column. This alone gives him the "W" for the debate.
© The Cynic, 2000
See today's other columns:
A Democrat sees the light; A college studentís view of Debate #1
by Bret Rumbeck
Boston Debate a Dud by James K. Couture
arrogant, aggressive, selfish. And those are the good adjectives
by Dorothy Seese
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