Scott Tibbs

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Thoughts on the Bush/Kerry debates

Thursday, October 07, 2004, 9:17 P.M.

I finally got around to watching the September 30 debate between President Bush and John F. Kerry. I've been hearing for a week about how John Kerry "won" the debate and how poorly President Bush did. I almost expected this debate to be like a fight between Mike Tyson in his prime against Pee Wee Herman.

Basically, we did not hear anything from President Bush and Senator Kerry that we have not heard for the past nine months. Kerry got some hard jabs in, and the President was visibly angered by some of what Kerry said. President Bush also struck back, criticizing Kerry's record. There were a couple occasions where President Bush could have landed a direct hit on Kerry but did not. President Bush mentioned how Kerry "changed his positions on the war in Iraq". The President should have been more specific, noting that Kerry voted for the resolution that authorized the use of force and then criticized the President's decision to go to war.

I found it interesting that Kerry argued for bilateral negotiations with North Korea (President Bush has implemented multilateral negotiations) while criticizing President Bush for not building a coalition in Iraq.

Did Kerry "win" the debate? I would give a slight edge in the debate to Kerry. But this was far from a clear win for the Senator from Massachusetts. I expect the President will be much more prepared on Friday night.


Saturday, October 9, 2004, 10:37 P.M.

Here are my thoughts on the debate last night between President George W. Bush and John F. Kerry. It was a good debate. Some points:

  • The President is going to have to be more effective in controlling his temper in the third debate. Once again, he was visibly irritated by some of what John Kerry said. Furthermore, the President was visibly annoyed right away.
  • On Tax Cuts, Bush needs to make the facts clear. From National Review: “One of the inconvenient facts for the foes of the Bush tax cuts is that the percentage of total taxes paid by the rich rose after the economic stimulus plan was put into effect.” The President needs to bring this up in the next debate, because Kerry and the Democrats are scoring points with their class-warfare rhetoric.
  • The recession that the Democrats are trying to blame on Bush started under Bill Clinton and was deepened by September 11. Bush should state this fact more often, in addition to stressing his point about how his tax cuts made sure the recession was shallow.
  • President Bush struck a chord when he said that he knows some of his decisions were unpopular with our allies, but he believes they were the right thing to do. This point -- standing on principle despite what others think -- is something that the President should continue to emphasize. He did a great job making that point last night.
  • President Bush nailed Kerry’s hypocrisy on multilateralism. Kerry is complaining that Bush did not put together a wide coalition in Iraq, but opposes the President’s decision to go with multilateral negotiations with North Korea on nuclear weapons. Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea all have an interest in North Korea’s nuclear program, and should be included. Bilateral negotiations between N.K. and a country on the other side of the world are not the correct path.
  • President Bush made it clear he is not pursuing a draft, but missed a chance to knock Kerry down by pointing out that it is Democrats who are sponsoring bills to reintroduce the draft. Bush should ask Kerry what he thinks of the efforts of Kerry’s fellow Democrats.
  • Bush was right to reject the Kyoto treaty because of the economic harm it would cause. More importantly, Kyoto undermined our national sovereignty. Even if it were a perfect treaty, that is not acceptable and taking that position is a winning issue with the American people.
  • Kerry lied about President Bush “flip-flopping” on stem-cell research, and Bush called him on it. The stem-cell lines Bush approved funding for already existed, and the embryos that produced those lines were already destroyed. Forbidding research with those lines cannot bring those lives back, but there is no need to take more lives. An audience member correctly pointed out that there have been no cures from embryonic stem cells, but plenty of advances have come from adult stem cell research.
  • John Kerry said that poor people should not be denied the right to choose because they cannot afford it. As Karl Born points out, John Kerry is saying that taxpayers should be forced to fund abortion, right after he said how much he (as a Catholic) respected the pro-life position.
On Weapons of Mass Destruction:
  • It was pretty much universally believed that Saddam Hussein had and was trying to develop more weapons of mass destruction. (A Google search can confirm this.) The Clinton Administration believed it, Democrats in Congress believed it, our allies believed it, and President Bush believed it.
  • September 11 proved that you do not need weapons of mass destruction to be a threat. Al the 9-11 terrorists had at the beginning of their day were box cutters and the knowledge of how to fly a plane.
  • Hindsight is 20/20, but you cannot base your policy on that.
  • John Kerry voted for the war. If the war was the “wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time” he should not have voted to give the President the authority to go to war. You do not vote to authorize a war until you believe the nation is ready to go to war; it is just that simple. Kerry is just passing the buck, refusing to take responsibility for his votes.
President Bush did better than last time, and I would argue that he had a slight edge in this debate, especially toward the end when he was getting more comfortable.

Thursday, October 14, 11:49 P.M.

I watched the first half of the debate Wednesday night, but I fell asleep halfway through.

From what I did see, though, President Bush did very well, and was winning the debate. The President has improved each time he debated John Kerry. Bush under performed in the first debate, but did better in the second, especially toward the end. Last night, Bush was more confident and relaxed, as well as in command of the issues.

Kerry stumbled over himself on the abortion question. He stated his Catholic views, but said he cannot impose what is "an article of faith" upon other people. But that left me (and others) wondering; does Kerry believe that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life or not? If he believes abortion ends an innocent human life, why does he not believe that government has a role in protecting that life from those who would destroy it? Could Kerry's argument not be applied to slavery?

The zinger of the night was when President Bush said that Kerry's record makes Ted Kennedy the conservative senator from Massachusetts.

Bush's father defeated a Massachusetts Leftist by a large margin in 1988. I think 2004 will be a repeat of that, partly because George W. Bush has been a better President than his father was and partly because of the actions of the Left. Extremism amoung Bush critics will turn off moderate voters. In addition, the fact that many Leftists are more concerned with being Bush critics than Kerry supporters is hurting Kerry just as it did on the other side with Bob Dole in 1996.