10/07/2004: Gem o'the Day:
Worst Question: Moderator Gwen Ifill asks the combatants to describe their differences without ever mentioning their running mates by name. Now there's a useful skill in a leader. Hop to the mailbox on your left foot, being careful not to touch any cracks in the concrete! Chug a 32-ounce Yoo Hoo without coming up for air! Write a novel that does not contain the letter 'E'! Edwards' foot slipped off this particular Twister board twice in a row as he sullied his lips with the forbidden K-word, prompting a finger-wagging from Ifill. But the no-name game was no stretch for Cheney, since he barely mentioned his boss's name at all during the entire hour-and-a-half long exchange, choosing instead to stick with the royal "we" (just take a look at the transcript.) There's no doubt that trying to forget who's running the country has been a crucial survival strategy for all of us during the past four years, but isn't it Cheney's job to at least pretend Bush is in charge?
Laziest Argument: Cheney's claim that Bush would be a better commander in chief because "he's already done it for four years." The perfect argument for keeping your job: you already have it! I've been at Slate for almost a year now – can we just skip that performance review, boss? Hey, Saddam had been in power since 1979! Where's the loyalty there?
Biggest Nonverbal Mistake: Edwards' frequent sips of water from that black coffee mug. I realize a man needs to wet his whistle now and then, but every time Edwards swallowed, he let his tongue loll outside his mouth for a brief, terrible moment, like a camel ruminating in the desert sun. I came to dread those sips. There is not a politician out there whose tongue I want to see more of. Less political tongue in '04, that's my motto.
Sneakiest Save: Cheney's deferential silence, and voluntary forfeiting of his 90-second response time, when Edwards complimented him on loving his gay daughter, even as the Bush administration opposed her right to marry. Yes, it was tacky of Edwards to get personal. But his subsequent dismissal of the gay marriage ban as a meaningless wedge issue was one of the few morally satisfying moments of the debate. The talking heads are already spinning Cheney's non-response as "gracious" and "classy," but wasn't it also an effective technique to avoid dwelling on the screaming contradiction between Cheney's personal life and the Bush administration's gay-baiting tactics? ...
Len on 10.07.04 @ 07:35 AM CST