Friday, October 01, 2004

The Big Debate (III and Final)

Nothing much new to add to my previous posts, but of course I did read some of the other blogs this morning, and here's a selection of interesting posts for your approval:

At National Review, David Frum thinks President Bush took the biggest risk of the night:

Remarkably, it was the man with the big lead – President Bush – who took the debate’s biggest risk: His frank discussion of meeting with the wife of a slain soldier, PJ Johnson. To talk so candidly and personally about grief and loss is not something that presidents who have ordered men into battle have been accustomed to do. But Bush did it – and thus created what may have been the evening’s most memorable and moving moment.
I agree with NRO Kerry Spot's Jim Geraghty's prediction:
Prediction Three: Here's my shocker: No bounce for either side out of this. This evening's comments just reinforced the messages that came out of each party's convention. Of course, Kerry got no convention bounce, while Bush got a fairly solid convention bounce, so maybe he'll get a little bump. [...] UPDATE: Kerry Spot reader Keith offers this observation that I agree with: As much as some of us political geeks may have enjoyed tonight, because there was nothing shocking or surprising, there's no way that much of the public is going to watch two more 9- minute sessions of this. They'll catch a few minutes, but so far the debate has just confirmed what they already knew.
OxBlog was live blogging, and towards the end made these observations:
10:05 PM: Every time Bush is in trouble he talks about "freedom" and "democracy" as the way to win the war in terror. How many times has Kerry used either of those words? What is his vision for winning the war on terror?

10:21 PM: I was hoping that Bush would connect the dots and say that democracy in Russia is critical to acheiving a global victory in the war on terror. If democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan is critical why not in Russia?

By the same token, why didn't Kerry challenge Bush to be consistent? Why not ask him why he demands democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan but not Russia? I think it is because Kerry doesn't believe there is an integral relationship between promoting democracy and winning the war on terror.
Kerry in my mind is someone who holds a typical diplomat's (of course, there are exceptions) view of the world, fraught of any idealism, willing to deal with anyone, no matter how many of his own people he slaughtered last year. Very Realpolitik, and, ironically, very "the vision thing".

Captain's Quarters was live blogging also (don't forget their Caption Contest!), and I wholeheartedly support their analysis of Kerry's North Korea plan:
One point Candidate Kerry has remained consistent on during last night's debate is his plan to open bilateral talks with nK. When asked how he would deal with what he perceived as the greatest threat to America, Kerry responded, "I'm going to immediately set out to have bilateral talks with North Korea."

President Bush immediately rebutted this idea, explaining:

Again, I can't tell you how big a mistake I think that is, to have bilateral talks with North Korea. It's precisely what Kim Jong Il wants. It will cause the six-party talks to evaporate. It will mean that China no longer is involved in convincing, along with us, for Kim Jong Il to get rid of his weapons. It's a big mistake to do that.

We must have China's leverage on Kim Jong Il, besides ourselves. And if you enter bilateral talks, they'll be happy to walk away from the table. I don't think that'll work.

President Bush is correct that multilateral talks are the only diplomatic method which has any chance of putting an end to the Jonger's nuclear ambitions. But there's more.

nK has been characterized by many academics and political analysts as a "tribute-seeking state" which thrives and survives by demanding respect and rewards from other states. Since 1993 Pyongyang has used its nuclear program to blackmail the US into offering recognition, security assurances, and economic benefits. Kim Jong Il plays this game well, always recognizing when he has gone too far in his demands and backing away from the ledge of war.

In 1994 President Clinton made the mistake of paying tribute to nK, allowing former president Carter (aka the "Great Appeaser") to negotiate with Kim Il Sung. nK learned its nuclear program was its greatest bargaining chip, gaining it the desired tribute from the US. This became evident during the extended negotiations for the Agreed Framework, where the US and South Korea gave the North light water reactors in return for a nuclear freeze: the nK delegation insisted that the agreement characterize the reactors as being provided by and built by the US, even though the reactors were in fact designed and purchased by South Korea.

Today nK is once again leveraging its nuclear weapons program to gain tribute from the US, and Senator Kerry is willing, even anxious, to pay it to them.
Joe Gandelman at A Moderate Voice (who's is starting to get a reputation for Rounding up All the Round Ups) has some class act analysis and, yes, a round up of other blogs' reactions. His conclusions:
In the end, this was an ISSUES ORIENTED DEBATE -- and no matter who is ultimately judged to be the winner (a product of the Spin War, media follow-the-leader consensus plus what happens in the polls that can be turned into a dramatic development to generate a new theme of pack journalism stories) the winner was the political process. This debate stayed on issues and made Democracy proud.
Ok I have to leave it at this, but I want to close with a bang --a Wizbang:
10:26: Closing statements. More platitudes from Kerry, more generalities, and one final Vietnam allusion. Bush again cites his record and promises to expand on them. The choice is clear, to me: What Bush has done vs. Kerry's vague promises. Why can't Kerry run on his achievements? Oh, yeah, over the last 30-odd years, he HASN'T HAD HARDLY ANY WORTH MENTIONING.
UPDATE: Instapundit pointed me towards The Truth Laid Bear's analysis of Lehrer's questions, something I was missing still. Must read, with further pointers to INDC Journal, who did not think there was bias, and Hugh Hewitt, who does think so.

Oh and if you're hitting this page in the archives, please do pick up my impression of Kerry As A French Mime, through the eyes of the New York Times (file under: 'it doesn't help, you know').