Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The debate: Can Kerry pop Inerrant Boy's bubble? 

The instant transcript is here.

The MSGOP poll.

Spin here.

Kerry makes the opportunity cost argument (back)—and give him points for simple, clear language:

I believe that this president, regrettably, rushed us into a war, made decisions about foreign policy, pushed alliances away. And, as a result, America is now bearing this extraordinary burden where we are not as safe as we ought to be.

KERRY: The measurement is not: Are we safer? The measurement is: Are we as safe as we ought to be? And there are a host of options that this president had available to him, like making sure that at all our ports in America containers are inspected. Only 95 percent of them -- 95 percent come in today uninspected. That's not good enough.

So we can do a better job of homeland security. I can do a better job of waging a smarter, more effective war on terror and guarantee that we will go after the terrorists.

Who's running the pool on when Kerry works in the first mention of Poppy?

I have got a comprehensive strategy to not only chase down the Al Qaida, wherever it exists -- and we're making progress; three-quarters of Al Qaida leaders have been brought to justice -- but to make sure that countries that harbor terrorists are held to account.

We're doing everything we can to protect our borders and ports.

But absolutely we can be secure in the long run. It just takes good, strong leadership.

SCHIEFFER: Anything to add, Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Yes. When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped.

KERRY: Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?" He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

Big Lie #1 From President Bush's press conference of March 13, 2002:

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

And here's the video (via Pandagon)
A little bit of the needle here:

SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question, Mr. President. Two minutes. And let's continue on jobs.

You know, there are all kind of statistics out there, but I want to bring it down to an individual.

Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college.

[mush deleted]

I went to Washington to solve problems. And I saw a problem in the public education system in America.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: I want you to notice how the president switched away from jobs and started talking about education principally.

Let me come back in one moment to that, but I want to speak for a second, if I can, to what the president said about fiscal responsibility.

KERRY: Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country.


And Bush comes back—he's doing well, but my guess is that's because he's given up on anything but playing to the base:

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Whew!


Let me start with the Pell Grants. In his last litany of misstatements. He said we cut Pell Grants. We've increased Pell Grants by a million students. That's a fact.

Big Lie #2 From President Bush's own Department of Eduction'2 2005 budget:

Based on current estimates, the Budget provides sufficient funding for every Pell Grant that will be awarded to students in the 2005-2006 school year. However, the Pell Grant program also has a $3.7 billion funding shortfall that requires it to borrow from the subsequent year’s appropriation to pay for program costs. This is largely due to recent underfunding. ... We can no longer continue to underfund the Pell Grant program and make the existing shortfall even worse. The Administration will work closely with the Congress to provide sufficient funding for Pell Grants, and retire the shortfall.

So, if Bush did what he says, he just put it on plastic. (And the Republicans own all three branches of what used to be a balance of power government, and they have to "work closely" together? Why can't they just deliver? As Kerry says:

KERRY: But you know why the Pell Grants have gone up in their numbers? Because more people qualify for them because they don't have money.

But they're not getting the $5,100 the president promised them. They're getting less money.

We have more people who qualify. That's not what we want.

Yep, Bush has either given up on the undecideds, or Rove has decided that the best way to win them is to demonize Kennedy. Bizarre. This crap is Presidential? I don't know how this looks on TV, but as it reads, Bush looks smaller and smaller and smaller.

Bunch of blater from Bush on gay marriage. Kerry:

KERRY: We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.

[Coming out of the closet has been, strategically, so very, very right. Courage pays off.]

Health care:

BUSH: Health care costs are on the rise because the consumers are not involved in the decision-making process.

This sounds like a transparently bad idea to me. Actually, I'd say it's lack of single payer. I mean, if you can't afford health insurance in the first place, how the fuck do you get involved in the decision making process? [Kudos to Dean, once again, for raising the issue of universal health insurance.]

And Kerry hits this one out of the park:

Medicare is paid for by the American taxpayer. Medicare belongs to you. Medicare is for seniors, who many of them are on fixed income, to lift them out of poverty.

KERRY: But rather than help you, the taxpayer, have lower cost, rather than help seniors have less expensive drugs, the president made it illegal -- illegal -- for Medicare to actually go out and bargain for lower prices.

Result: $139 billion windfall profit to the drug companies coming out of your pockets. That's a large part of your 17 percent increase in Medicare premiums.

Bush tries to come back (and apparently champing at the bit—did the amphetamines start to take hold at the hour mark, the way they did last time?)

SCHIEFFER: Go ahead, Mr. President.

BUSH: I think it's important, since he talked about the Medicare plan, has he been in the United States Senate for 20 years? He has no record on reforming of health care. No record at all.

He introduced some 300 bills and he's passed five.

BUSH: No record of leadership.

I came to Washington to solve problems. I was deeply concerned about seniors having to choose between prescription drugs and food. And so I led. And in 2006, our seniors will get a prescription drug coverage in Medicare.

And Kerry knocks Bush down on the ground and stomps on him. What he like to see:

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry? Thirty seconds.

KERRY: Once again, the president is misleading America. I've actually passed 56 individual bills that I've personally written and, in addition to that, and not always under my name, there is amendments on certain bills.

But more importantly, with respect to the question of no record, I helped write -- I did write, I was one of the original authors of the early childhood health care and the expansion of health care that we did in the middle of the 1990s. And I'm very proud of that.

So the president's wrong.

And why not throw in an "as usual"? Why be so nice to that slippery little scut?

Kerry outlines his moderate plan for universal health coverage. Bush comes back:

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: In all due respect, I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations about -- oh, nevermind. [Cute! Bush has been practicing.] Anyway, let me quote the Lewin report. The Lewin report is a group of folks who are not politically affiliated. They analyzed the senator's plan. It cost $1.2 trillion.

Big Lie #3 See FactCheck.org "Bush Mischaracterizes Kerry's Health Plan" for what the Lewin Group really thinks about what Bush is saying about Kerry's plan.

Now Bush goes on the tired old "government sucks" theme:

We have a fundamental difference of opinion. I think government- run health will lead to poor-quality health, will lead to rationing, will lead to less choice.

And just look at other countries that have tried to have federally controlled health care. They have poor-quality health care.

Yeah, those Canadians, dropping like flies. Every other Western country ... And let's leave aside the total distortion of Kerry's plan. Never mind. Kerry does much, much better. In fact, he knocks Bush down and stomps on him again:

KERRY: The president just said that government-run health care results in poor quality.

KERRY: Now, maybe that explains why he hasn't fully funded the VA
, [here] and the VA hospital is having trouble, and veterans are complaining. Maybe that explains why Medicare patients are complaining about being pushed off of Medicare. He doesn't adequately fund it.

And now Kerry has the guts to finally say what nobody (outside of Al Franken, in an appendix to Lies and the Lying Liars) has said: That the tax cuts were, in essence, the heist of the century. Theft, simple and not so pure:

SCHIEFFER: What he's suggesting, we're going to cut benefits or we're going to have to raise the retirement age. We may have to take some other reform. But if you've just said, you've promised no changes, does that mean you're just going to leave this as a problem, another problem for our children to solve?

KERRY: Not at all. Absolutely not, Bob. This is the same thing we heard -- remember, I appeared on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert in 1990-something. We heard the same thing. We fixed it.

In fact, we put together a $5.6 trillion surplus in the '90s that was for the purpose of saving Social Security. If you take the tax cut that the president of the United States has given -- President Bush gave to Americans in the top 1 percent of America -- just that tax cut that went to the top 1 percent of America would have saved Social Security until the year 2075.

The president decided to give it to the wealthiest Americans in a tax cut.


And now! For the Surreal Quote of the Evening:

BUSH: Listen, the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it.

I really don't know what to make of that. It's so far beyond lying, it's miraculous in a way. It seems that NCLB is a kind of WunderWaffen for Bush—it just does everything! Sure, I'll think about it: A nine year old is going to get a job? My job? Or maybe Bush wants to bring back child labor? One thing is sure: Bush must believe this, since it's so insane even Rove wouldn't program him with it. Frightening.

And after more blather from Bush about NCLB, this:

KERRY: You don't measure it by a percentage increase. Mr. President, you measure it by whether you're getting the job done.

Five hundred thousand kids lost after-school programs because of your budget. $89 billion last year to the top 1 percent of Americans, but kids lost their after-school programs. You be the judge.

Not only does Kerry have the guts to take Bush on in the faith department, I like his theology better:

And the president and I have a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of our faith.

KERRY: I talked about it earlier when I talked about the works and faith without works being dead.

It's like Keillor says, at some point. When the Republicans run the ambulances, they'll take half an hour to get to you, and while you wait they'll hand you a Bible. When the Democrats run the ambulances, it takes five minutes. Which'd you rather?

Oh, man. This is beyond pitiful. Schieffer threw them both a softball as the last question, asking them about strong women in their life. Bush gave the usual tired lines about Leadfoot. Here's what Kerry said:

Can I say, if I could just say a word about a woman that you didn't ask about, but my mom passed away a couple years ago, just before I was deciding to run. And she was in the hospital, and I went in to talk to her and tell her what I was thinking of doing.

And she looked at me from her hospital bed and she just looked at me and she said, "Remember: integrity, integrity, integrity." Those are the three words that she left me with.

Gee, I wonder why Bush didn't mention his Mother? Issues there? Anyhow, yet again, Kerry, in the nicest possible way, knocked Bush down and stomped him. Then put a boot in his ribs for good measure. "Integrity, integrity, integrity." What a sound-byte!

And on that note, I have to get to bed. Looks like we're doing very well in the polls; if we don't win this in the SCLM tomorrow, we have nobody to blame but ourselves—at least in the transcript—I can't answer for what the TV looked like—the only thing holding Bush up was the ropes.

Anyone notice if, at the beginning, Kerry patted Bush on the back again—where the mysterious bulge is?

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