Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Last Debate

The debate season is officially over and how soon it did arrive and leave. Three up, three down, game over.

Who won? Well, I would estimate it was John Kerry and most snap polls would agree with me. But if I had my way, the debate would have ended less than three minutes into the debate. In the first question exchange John Kerry ended with a quote by George Bush,

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. 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. "

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.

Gosh! George Bush lied. The President had this to say on 3/13/02 "So I don't know where he is. Nor - you know, I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you. I...I truly am not that concerned about him."

When I heard Bush makes his claim, I knew right away, LIE! I knew this because it is a well known Bushism on the web, or Internets as Bush thinks it's called. It is included as a flip flop among the many Bush flip flops as we all remember how tough he initially spoke of bin Laden, 9/17/01 "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'"

He went from "dead or alive" to "not that concerned about him" in about six months.

So as to last nights debate, I would have ended the dabate right there. A proven lie. At the least, send Bush to the penalty box and let Kerry continue on without him. By allowing Bush to lie so early, to me it set a tone that lies are not something to care about. To me it makes any lies made by Kerry subsequently, perfectly OK. Moderators should be obligated to point out disinformation at the point it happens. It wouldn't have been much for Bob Schieffer to explain to the audience that yes indeed Bush had been quoted at a press conference and that there is video to prove it that Bush had expressed his lack of concern about bin Laden.

By having moderators (assisted off camera by fact checkers) interject the truth at the point of misinformation, that would set the tone for candidates to watch what they say. It would also push candidates to vet any information they plan to use during the debate prior to the event.

It's not worth parsing all the misstatements made during the debate. Once again I feel the viewers were the losers with yet another poorly done debate. At this point it really doesn't matter what lies were told because once the statement is made to a large viewership, the only way to actually correct it after the fact is to make all those same viewers see the truth, and that can't be done. Once one of the candidates tells a fib, then the tone of fibbing becomes the norm of acceptability.

All I can hope is that Americans learn from these poor debates and insist on better discourse four years from now. Throw out the monopoly Commision on Public Debates (CPD) and replace it with the Citizens Debate Commission a non-partisan group.

Last debate transcript...


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