Debate in progress…

I know I said that I wouldn’t be talking too much about politics in this blog. However, tonight’s debate was just a little too hard to pass up. I would normally watch this with someone else and talking with them about it. Because I’m flying solo tonight, y’all get to see my thoughts here.

10:34 p.m. – Wrapping up. I’m now totally convinced that this election’s big issue is the “war on terror” and the Iraq war (and whether Iraq should even be considered part of the “war on terror.” Kerry’s closing statements seem to focus solely on this point.

Bush’s closing statements center on the Are you better off now than you were four years ago? question. He didn’t say it, but that’s what his last words felt like. I think the president’s points are “interesting,” but I think a lot of Americans could answer that they’re not doing better than before Bush was elected.

BTW, Kerry should’ve let Bush go first in the closing statements. Bush’s simple points are relatively good sound bites and I don’t think it should’ve been the last word.

10:20 p.m. – Did the president just go back more than 150 years in his reference to Dred Scott to dredge up some examples of poor judicial judgment? Wow, that’s a bit of a stretch. Bush’s other example (the Pledge of Allegiance case) isn’t all that great either (separation of church and state is in the Constitution, Mr. President), but should help his base.

10:09 p.m. – Whoops! Kerry said something about Bush owning an interest in a timber company. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, Bush turned it around and made it into a pretty good joke. Score one for Bush.

Still, I think Kerry is doing a decent job of pointing out the shortcomings of the past four years. Bush is landing some hits, but some of his rhetoric seems a little off.

9:55 p.m. – I hope that Kerry didn’t do his impersonation of Bush 41’s take on “No new taxes.” Of course, Kerry’s statement had caveats, but I’m sure people would find examples of families earning less than $200,000 getting a tax increase. And Republicans can also bust out the old “expiring tax cuts are actually increases” argument.

9:53 p.m. – The tone of the debate has shifted a bit now that they’re talking about the economy and tax cuts. Kerry and Bush seem to be doing well although I fear that people tune out the numbers. Bush’s economic record hasn’t been all that great during the past four years, and I don’t think the president can entirely blame it on the six-month recession in his first year in office.

9:11 p.m. – Bush seems to be doing a lot better in this debate compared to last week’s relative disaster. Bush keeps hammering Kerry on the whole “flip-flop” issue. I really wish Kerry or someone else would confront Bush on the wishy-washy things he’s done over the past four years.

Homeland security, the Sept. 11 commission, UN assistance in rebuilding Iraq — all those are issues that Bush has wavered on. He was opposed to all of those initiatives before ultimately backing them. The effectiveness of all those initiatives is debatable, but the fact that Bush went back and forth on all of those for the sake of politics is obvious. Bush’s “flip-flop” comments are an obvious example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Unfortunately, saying something is so sometimes creates the perception that it’s true. Bush’s simple arguments do a decent job of making people feel all warm and fuzzy. It would be nice if reality matched the so-called optimism of the Bush White House.