October 06, 2004
A friend called last night after the vice presidential debate and, referring to John Edwards, said, "You can't talk to the American people like you talk to a jury."
I couldn't have said it better.
Edwards often appeared fidgety, disorganized and even confused. I guess this is what happens when someone has to defend the claim that John Kerry has a consistent position on Iraq.
Dick Cheney, on the other hand, came off as, well, Dick Cheney -- calm, confident, professional, and reassuring.
For me, the knockout punch was Cheney's explanation of the Kerry/Edwards flip-flop supporting our troops in Iraq. Today's New York Post editorial writes about that moment:
Nothing hit home like his pointed observation on why the two Democrats first voted to commit U.S. troops — to an operation they now claim was "the wrong war at the wrong time" — but then voted against providing those troops with the $87 billion worth of bombs, bullets and body armor that they needed.
"I couldn't figure out why that happened originally," he said.
"And then I . . . figured out what was happening was that Howard Dean was making progress in the Democratic primaries, running away with the primaries based on an anti-war record. So they, in effect, decided they would cast an anti-war vote — and they voted against the troops."
"Now," asked Cheney, "if they couldn't stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to stand up to al Qaeda?"
Cheney's closing debate statement, like the president's last week, was excellent:
I've worked for four Presidents, and watched two others up close, and I know that there's no such thing as a routine day in the Oval Office. We saw on 9/11 that the next -- next decision a President has to make can affect the lives of all of us. Now we find ourselves in the midst of a conflict unlike any we've ever known, faced with a possibility that terrorists could smuggle a deadly biological agent or nuclear weapon into the middle of one of our own cities. That threat, and the Presidential leadership needed to deal with it, is placing a special responsibility on all of you who will decide on November 2nd who will be our Commander-in-Chief. The only viable option for winning the war on terror is the one the President's chosen: to use the power of the United States to aggressively go after the terrorists wherever we find them, and also to hold to account states that sponsor terror.
Now that we've captured or killed thousands of al Qaeda and taken down the regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, it's important that we stand up democratically elected governments as the only guarantee that they'll never again revert to terrorism or the production of deadly weapons.
This is the task of our generation and I know firsthand the strength the President brings to it. The overall outcome will depend upon the ability of the American people and the strong leadership of the President to meet all the challenges that we'll face in the days and years ahead. I'm confident we can do it.
Game, set, match: Cheney.
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