October 14th, 2004



1. Kerry did really well. Bush did well, but what that means he lied fluently as opposed to the first debate where he stumbled as he lied.

2. I thought Bush's answer on judical nominations was effing awful. He said he wasn't going to have a litmus test for judges, twice, and stopped. Doesn't he have more than 10 seconds of things to say about the courts and his judicial philosophy? Not only that, it's completely bullshit -- his judicial nominees have be awful. Bob Schieffer missed the obvious followup question, which would have completely derailed him: "What physical property does the real litmus test detect and measure?"

3. Bush is perceived to do well when he speaks fluently -- BUT APPARENTLY NO ONE GRADES HIM ON CONTENT. All of his answers were rambling and if dissected, would yield little actual substance. He made shit up at will.

4. The debates are interesting to me when they say things that they haven't said before. Precious little of that. I found myself starting to drowse off.

5. The '98 votes to raise taxes' thing: Kerry needed a 2 sentence rebuttal, and didn't give it. The 98 votes has been completely discredited by factcheck.org and others -- it counts some votes twice, and counts procedural votes. More of the Bush Doctrine: "If I say it often enough it must be true."

Not to state the stupidly obvious or anything...

Here's what was bugging me last night: Both candidates for president have a nasty habit of talking crack.

You find this out if you listen to NPR, which spends most of its post-debate jawboning on evaluating the objective truth of what was said. Both Kerry and Bush base their campaigns in large part on saying things that are specious, misleading, or just plain wrong about their opponents. If you go to factcheck.org they comprehensively diagram the mendaciousness of both candidates.

Both candidates know that what they say is being fact checked, and yet they say things that they have to know aren't so. Not only that, for every stretched truth, misdirection, and howling lie they present, there's an actual fact they could use instead to make the same point. It's almost as though they're allergic to facts.

Furthermore, in those cable news shouting matches between representatives of the two campaigns, whenever one side complains about something the other side said, the complaint takes the form "he said X when really it's Y," where Y is something every bit as specious and wrong as X.

Am I naive in thinking that a fact-based, as opposed to crack-based, campaign strategy could be as or more compelling? It sure seems like the main character trait required to run for president is the ability seem authoratative while spouting drivel.

I end up having to decide on who to vote for based on how I think the guy would behave once in office, in spite of, not because of, what he says in public. But it feels really sad that I have to say "I'm voting for Kerry, because I'm guessing he won't do anything stupid, even though a lot of what he says is beside the point or wrong." At least I'm not a Republican and I don't have to rationalize the manifest idiocy both of what he's said and what he's done.

The Horse Race

Today's electoral-vote.com has the counts as Kerry 228 Bush 284. Here's my mostly unsubstantiated take on the state of play:

1. There are states that I really doubt will break for Bush despite current poll numbers: Iowa -- which I know best, after all -- will go for Kerry. A well-informed, well-educated populace away from the bicoastal echo chambers makes it inconceivable that the state would go Bush.

2. New Jersey and New Hampshire are 'too close to call' but if you look at the map, they're surrounded by Blue States, so they're likewise quite likely to break for Kerry.

That puts the score at Kerry 254, Bush 284, so Kerry only needs to steal 16 electoral votes from Bush to win. Bush is quite vulnerable in several states, and will probably be able to pick up at least that in a few states now counted barely or weakly for Bush.

So I'm guardedly optimistic.