Blogger is slow right now, but it’s coming up.
– No bulge immediately visible.
– Note to Kerry: lay off the ports and cargo holds. Good point, already been made. On the other hand, there might be a lot of viewers who haven’t seen the previous debates.
– When Bush says “spread liberty and freedom across the globe,” he somehow manages to make it sound like a plague.
– Bush laughing and smirking at Kerry because Kerry brought up Bush saying he wasn’t worried about OBL. Bush, apparently thinking it’s Campaign 2000, called it “one of those exaggerations.”
So I don’t know where he is. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. . . . I truly am not that concerned about him.
– Why is Bush’s face so red?
– More smirking; Bush thinks importing ceiling fans from China is funny.
– “Pay-Go”? Is that common phrasing in DC? I’m guessing it’s not because Kerry was basically laughing as Bush said, and repeated, “Pay-Go” instead of “pay as you go.”
– “Being lectured by the President on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order.” Came off flat. Note to Kerry: you won two debates without jokes. Keep it that way.
– More smirking, in response to Kerry talking about Boeing. Bush seems to fancy the word “litany” tonight.
– Kerry “voted to bust the budget” 277 times? What does that mean? Oh. He meant voting to increase the budget limit. Something that just became necessary under Bush about two weeks ago. See this post from 10/5:
W ASHINGTON – The government should hit the national debt’s $7.4 trillion ceiling this month
– Kerry apparently isn’t in fact a Godless Liberal.
– A little fodder for the conspiracy theorists: Bush keeps looking down at his podium.
– Scheiffer: “…who bears responsibility for this [rising health care costs]? Is it the government? Is it the insurance companies? Is it the lawyers? Is it the doctors? Is it the administration?” Bush responds with a weird laughing. Heh, heh, heh, heh. “Gosh, I sure hope it isn’t the administration.” Then he says the problem is that consumers’ insurance insulates them from the costs of their decisions, which has some truth to it. Then he gives spurious costs of lawsuits numbers, which isn’t true.
– The “height gap”. Freeze frame at 9:35. NBC has both Bush’s head even with Kerry’s, and the podiums are also even, unlike in the first debate. If you look closely, though, Bush’s head looks giant. NBC has zoomed in on Bush and used an angle to create the illusion of equal stature. This is similar to how Gandalf was made to look so tall while standing next to Frodo — though I’m not comparing Kerry to Frodo and certainly not Gandalf to Bush.
– Bush: “In all due respect, I’m not so sure it’s credible to quote leading news organizations about…aww nevermind. Anyway, uh.” This in response to Kerry citing two news networks calling Bush’s accusations vis a vis Kerry’s plan “misleading” and “untrue.” Speaking of untrue, Bush says Kerry is proposing the biggest expansion of government health care ever, which isn’t true — see the creation of Medicare.
– Good counter by Kerry: Bush’s not liking government involvement in health care must be why he’s not funding the VA. Bush disagrees and says he’s increased funding by $22 billion, twice the amount Clinton did. Over to Factcheck.org?
– Who, in 2000, does Bush recall saying that if he were elected, “Seniors would lose their social security checks?” It must have been someone at the gathering where Bush first gave his apocryphal “trifecta” line?
– Kerry: Bush’s privatization plan is “an invitation to disaster.” Kerry is citing the transition costs ($1 trillion minimum), not directly questioning whether it’s an otherwise reasonable program. But he did just say, “I will not privatize it.”
– Blogger’s actin’ up again.
– Kerry: “Eleven other presidents, 6 Democrats and 5 Republican, had wars, had recessions. Had great difficulties. None of them lost jobs the way this president has.” Ouch.
– Bush just said most of the benefits of the tax cuts went to the middle class. I suppose if the middle class is those between the 20th and 90th income percentiles, then that group may have gotten more than the top 10%. Though that’s probably not true if you factor in the estate tax repeal.
– Bush to Mexicans, “if you’re worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families” you are going to come here and work for $5.15/hour instead of 50 cents. Then he advocated temporary worker cards for foreign workers.
– Directly in response to a question about the minimum wage, Kerry says he’s for it; nice contrast between tax cuts for the wealthy instead of a higher minimum wage for workers. “I’m tired of politicians who talk about family values and don’t value families” — well delivered, too.
Bush: Quickly said he supported a Mitch McConnell act to raise the minimum wage. Then he said, “the NCLB Act is really a jobs act, when you think about it.” If you’re making the minimum wage, I understand that you can also feed the No Child Left Behind Act to your family.
– Question to Kerry: what would you do about the extended tours that “some” are calling a “backdoor draft.” Included among those “some”, is John Kerry, who specifically used the term and proposed adding 40k permanent troops and doubling the size of special forces.
Bush: Winning in Iraq will lower the burden on the troops. Then on to the “Global Test” line. I’m surprised Bush waited this long for this one.
– Bush just said “Republicans and Democrats were against the Assault Weapons Ban”, which is true in the sense that Republicans and Democrats are pro-choice because Snowe, Chaffee, and Collins are pro-choice.
– Bush loves praying, and loves that people around the country pray for him.
– Kerry’s quoting scripture and wants us to love our neighbors.
– There seems to be no question that Bush can’t answer by bringing up “No Child Left Behind.” I wonder if that’s one of Wonkette’s drinking phrases.
– Kerry cites McCain; Bush says “McCain is for me for president” and says Kerry has a “plan of retreat and defeat in Iraq,” which sounds the exact opposite of what Kerry actually says.
– Scheiffer cites them all having “strong wives” and asks what they learn from them. Bush: “To listen to them [laughter]. To stand up straight and not scowl [more laughter].” He should have stopped joking; his “she [Laura] speaks English better than me” follow-up fell flat, probably because the truth of it is scary.
– Kerry got laughter for saying “we all married up; some say me more than others.” And he loves his dear, departed, mother. And his daughters. So vote for him, dammit. [That last one was me talking, not Kerry.]
And now we close.
Well, no more debates. Kerry looked good again, Bush was as good or a bit better than in debate 2. So it’s probably a small Kerry win to a draw. And I think that works out well for Kerry: people used to not like Kerry, but he came out likeable in Debate 1, and maintained that through all the debates. And he comes across smart, and committed to defense.
So I think the undecideds who say things like “I don’t like Bush, and his policies are all wrong, but I sure don’t like that John Kerry either” can be more at ease — or at least, less uneasy — with John Kerry. At no point in any of the debates did I see anything new that would similarly allay undecideds’ fears about Bush.
I think this is exactly why the common wisdom is that undecideds tend to break towards the challenger: if they’re undecided, it would take something extraordinary to swing them to the incumbent, about whom the undecided voters have revealed, by virtue of being undecided, that they aren’t comfortable. On the other hand, undecideds likely know much less about the challenger, so relatively small favorable impressions are probably much more likely to swing votes towards the challenger.
God bless, and good night.
UPDATE: Just saw the gang on MSNBC, and now Carl “Manicure” Cameron on Fox. The right wingers are trying to make a big issue out of Kerry saying that Dick Cheney’s daughter is a lesbian (Mrs. Cheney has apparently expressed displeasure; no statment yet from Cheney’s daughter, Mary.)
Then Cameron turned to the Bush OBL lie, played the debate clip (“that’s an exaggerration”), followed by a clip of Bush saying he’s truly not that concerned about him [OBL].” Cameron’s take: “Kerry campaign says they have a ‘gotcha’ there.”
Now to editorialize on the Republicans trying to make an issue of Kerry’s lesbian reference: Kerry’s answer only insulted the Cheneys if you believe gays are immoral or inferior. Your protests are disingenuous at best; more likely, they reveal your dark hate.
UDPATE 2: Andrew Sullivan (who is gay, conservative, and until recently a solid Bush supporter): “Mary Cheney is out of the closet and a member, with her partner, of the vice-president’s family … [the outrage over the Mary Cheney mention is] entirely a function of people’s lingering prejudice against gay people … Bush has decided to use this cynically as a divisive weapon in an election campaign. He deserves to be held to account for this.”