Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Vice presidential debates: tie

John Edwards was up against a much more difficult opponent tonight than Kerry was last Thursday. It's a win for the Kerry campaign that Edwards was able to hold his own. This debate was much more substantive than the joint press conference debate held on Thursday.

Though the VP debates in 2000 and 2004 both contained a lot of substance, this was a lot different in nature. Edwards is Kerry's attack hound (when Kerry isn't on the attack himself), and Cheney put away the nice old uncle suit and brought his Darth Vader outfit.

The debate covered a wide range of issues, including gay marriage, Iraq, and AIDS. Especially telling was the issue of Cheney's lesbian daughter and the topic of gay marriage, where Cheney had to reconcile his love and respect for his daughter while saying she doesn't have the right to marry. Edwards was equally weak on the topic when he said that gay couples should have the same potential privileges of married couples (e.g. arranging funerals, visiting in hospitals), but not be "married." I'm still trying to figure out where the candidates stand on that one. The only real thing I got is that Cheney is begrudgingly for an amendment banning gay marriage and Edwards is against it. I liked Edwards statement that the Constitution should not be used to divide people.

On Iraq, Edwards was more substantive than Kerry was last Thursday. However, I'm still unclear as to the difference between the two contenders in their plans on handling Iraq.

The issue of tax cuts is where the campaigns seem to have the starkest contrast. Cheney continues to defend the borrow-and-spend strategy of the "compassionate conservatives" of the last four years. Edwards mentioned rolling back tax cuts for those who make >$200K per year and closing loopholes for companies that outsource jobs overseas. This really seemed like playing the class warfare card, but it at least addresses the budget. The problem with Edwards' argument is that the government never creates jobs in the private sector. The private sector does, if it can. I'd like to see where the Edwards campaign cuts spending.

On healthcare, Cheney defended the biggest disaster (Medicare reform) since regulation began. Edwards responded by villianizing drug companies, but he used his rhetorical devices effectively. I'm not clear on the differences in the candidates in tort reform and the right to sue; it seems that John Edwards thinks that's not too much of a problem. I don't work in that sector of healthcare, so I couldn't tell you. The anecdotes sure do make the problem sound huge, though.

Critiques: Cheney was there to defend Bush and attack Kerry. He did so with a sneer most of the time. Edwards was there to hype up Kerry, and at times went overboard. This was especially comical when the moderator asked for differences between the candidates without mentioning the top of the ticket. Edwards mentioned Kerry at least twice, and then laughed each time.

Brilliant strategy of the evening: Edwards kept reminding the audience of Kerry's solid win last Thursday.

Cheney: B
Edwards: B
Advantage: Kerry/Edwards