Oct. 6, 2004
Over on Fox Tuesday night the Twins beat the Yanks in game one of the AL Division Series, while on the other networks Dick Cheney and John Edwards basically dueled to a tie.
Still, there were some fine moments. When Edwards pointed out that 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq have been shouldered by American troops, Cheney replied, “Oh come on, Senator. That’s just not true. Shitloads of other people have been killed in Iraq.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but that really is what he said.
I also liked when Cheney hit Edwards on his poor attendance record in the Senate. The vice president said, “I am the president of the Senate, the presiding officer. I’m up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they’re in session. The first time I’ve ever met you was when you walked on stage tonight.” Then he added, [NOTE: “Go fuck yourself,” joke deleted because Jon Stewart did a similar bit on the Daily Show. Oh, the trials of a semi-weekly political humorist. Sorry folks.]
Tonight there is no debate, the MLB playoffs are on ESPN, and Fox is showing back-to-back repeats of the Bernie Mac Show. For those of you keeping track, the order of national priorities from most important to least is as follows: Bernie Mac, then Major League Baseball, then giving a shit who the next Vice President of the United States will be.
Speaking of baseball, did you see that bit about that Cleveland Indians pitcher who was saved from a stray bullet by the go-go boots he was wearing as part of a rookie hazing ritual? The media’s had a good laugh about it but I don’t think we’ve really appreciated how messed up that is. I know Ohioans attract freeway snipers like Paris Hilton to homemade porn but have we become so jaded about guns in this country that when some lunatic randomly shoots at a bus full of millionaire celebrity sports stars we don’t even care who did it?
Also, if you’re keeping track, the amount of actual combat seen from most to least is as follows: John Kerry, then Indians pitcher in cheerleader outfit, then George W. Bush.
Oct. 7, 2004
What is this “baseball” you speak of? I’m not aware of any such thing as “baseball.” (When Chicago Cubs closer LaTroy Hawkins served up a two-out, two-strike homer to some nobody on the Mets with a week left in the season, ultimately sending the Cubs into a final tailspin that culminated in them missing the playoffs, this time with no geeky fan to blame, I’ve been denying the very existence of baseball. With Rex Grossman down, I’m ignoring football as well.)
Here’s a question. I often hear the chattering class refer to Cheney as being “avuncular.” Frankly, I don’t see Cheney as an uncle-like presence unless you put “creepy” in front of it. Did you catch this chunk from his final debate comment?
Now we find ourselves in the midst of a conflict unlike any we’ve ever known, faced with the possibility that terrorists could smuggle a deadly biological agent or a nuclear weapon into the middle of one of our own cities.
Thanks, Uncle Dick! I just crapped my pants with fear! Imagine Dick Cheney trying to soothe his niece after she wakes up from a nightmare, screaming that there’s monsters under the bed.
“Well, young lady, it’s important to remember that monsters are very real, and some of them are under the bed, and they want to eat you, but what’s even more important to remember is that if we go on the offense against the monsters and capture and kill them where they live, we will reduce the likelihood of really hairy, really hungry monsters pouring out from under your bed to eat you alive. Now go to sleep, and don’t worry.”
I know that most of the pundits called the debate a draw, and Chris Matthews declared Dick Cheney the “squirrel hunting” champion of America, but I have to say, as far as the audience that matters—undecided voters—is considered, Edwards slaughtered Uncle Dick. With the final WMD report showing that Saddam was almost completely neutered, and even people like Bremer and Rumsfeld (unintentionally) undermining the core of the administration’s case for war, I think that particular boogie-man card is played out.
Oh, and in your combat scale, you can put Cheney behind even Bush, though you have to respect how he avoided the draft: first with graduate school, and then sex (knocking up his wife).
Uncle Dick indeed!
Oct. 9, 2004
When you say John Edwards “slaughtered” Dick Cheney, you are operating under the false assumption that political debates in this country are won by the candidate who presents the most compelling arguments in the most cohesive and logical fashion. If that were the case, elections would always be won by the candidate who’s not half-retarded. What would be fair about that?
Once we choose our candidates, however, we wipe the slate clean and give the less-impressive candidate the advantage of lower expectations. It’s the same system that requires Phil Mickelson to spot me five strokes a hole and you could see it on display last night following the “town hall” debate between Bush and Kerry. I thought Kerry gave Bush a beat-down, but the pundits on TV kept talking about how Bush performed much better than last week and how he energized his base, blah, blah, blah. This is all the result of successful but disingenuous White House spin: “The Democratic candidate is an eloquent statesman, professional litigator, and former Ivy League debater, while our candidate is an ex-drunk who learned the craft of argument from Cheech and Chong albums.” So you should vote for him if you’re looking for a president who can beat the spread.
I’m not usually a blame-the-media guy, but the networks eat this up because they remain under the delusion that good reporting needs to be “objective.” (All reporting is inherently subjective, so when news outlets attempt to be “objective” what they really are doing is masking their subjectivity, which is inherently dishonest. But this, like my fondness for home-makeover shows, is a discussion for another time.) And for the same reason neurotic moms refuse to keep score at tee-ball games, Tom Brokaw apparently can’t declare the more eloquent candidate the winner of a debate, because that would demonstrate a bias against the candidate who is less qualified. So instead the talking heads speculate about whom they think most Americans will think performed better. It reminds me of the famous John Maynard Keynes remark that picking stocks is like handicapping a beauty contest—you don’t pick the girl you think is most beautiful, you pick the girl you think everyone else will think is most beautiful.
If you pay attention to politics, there was nothing new to be learned in last night’s debate. And if you don’t pay attention to politics, you were watching the Wings marathon on TV Land. So the only people who might benefit from seeing these two guys square off have to learn about the debate from the pundit post-mortem, but the pundits are busy trying to appear objective by talking about how Bush exceeded his lowered expectations and how Kerry just barely met his elevated ones.
Although Peter Jennings let a bit of uncorrected wishful thinking escape his lips when he referred to Kerry as “Senator Kennedy.”
Forget everything you know about these guys. Forget everything that’s been said by pundits. Forget your expectations. Forget your own political biases. Based solely on the way they conducted themselves in the debates, ask yourself which of these two men you want representing America to the world.
Oct. 9, 2004
Our book, where we cast President Bush as a not particularly bright ten-year-old, notwithstanding, I actually have never been a believer in the “Bush is stupid” meme. That said, I thought last night’s debate exposed the reason why it’s such a widely held belief. The truth is that President Bush really doesn’t know much, including that he’s a part-owner of a timber company.
Kerry not only knows more about world affairs, the economy, and health care, he’s intimately acquainted with President Bush’s tax returns. The only supporting statistic Bush cited the entire night was that we’ve rounded up 75 percent of the al Qaeda leadership, a dubious claim at best. Those lowered expectations mean Bush only has to keep from calling the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Macaroni, and he’s statesman-like.
On the other hand, Kerry knew how many Missourians owned guinea pigs and how the guinea-pig ownership has been affected by the Bush administration. He also managed to keep a straight face when Bush spoke about the “internets.” (Maybe that other internet is where Bush’s rosy reporting on progress in Iraq and the conclusions drawn by the Duelfer report support the case for invasion come from.) Kerry also promised not to raise taxes on anyone but the rich and didn’t bust into hysterics when Bush touted his “stewardship” of the environment. (“As your president, I have not yet managed to poison all of your drinking water, but give me four more years and I’ll make it happen!”)
How could we not want Kerry as our president? He’s like Al Gore, only taller, and less irritating.
Oh yeah—he’s liberal. And according to President Bush, in Kerry’s America, your trip to the doctor will be like going to the DMV, a different line for each service. License renewal in Line 1, mammograms in Line 6, and prostate exams behind that curtain over there where you hear the guys going, “Ooph.” Don’t forget the embryo harvesting stations next to the 7-11, and tax collectors at your door shaking the pennies from your pockets.
Bush’s drive to paint Kerry as an irresponsible taxer and spender who hates the unborn and loves trial lawyers looks pretty desperate to me, but fear is the theme for the Bush campaign in the home stretch, and people have done a lot of stupid things under the influence of fear, like when NBC executives decided that Joey would be a champion idea. Some people may still want to vote for Bush too. To them I say, After MASH.
Watch for some final ads out of Karl Rove’s shop superimposing Kerry’s face with Karl Marx, or (gasp) maybe even Satan herself—Hillary Clinton—in the coming weeks.