Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Joe Friday would have hated the vice presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University. Ohioblog is with Dragnet Joe. Just the facts, guys. Just the facts. Of course, what are the facts? Vice President Dick Cheney and VP wannabe John Edwards couldn't agree on this - or much of anything else.
What these debates and this presidential campaign need are a core set of facts from a nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Campaign Facts and enforced by the Fact Police. Instead of timing the candidates, those little boxes in front of them should flash red when a fact is wrong or misused so severely that it has become unrecognizeable.
The Fact Commission would issue the numbers, say on how much the United States is spending to fight the war in Iraq, and each of the candidates would have to use the same numbers, interpreting them to their best advantage. This could be done in many instances that came up during the Cheney-Edwards. (I still believe the debate was a draw and that Cheney is much, much better at this than his alleged boss; others thoughts are here.) For example:
- Cheney said it was the first time he had met Edwards, a jab at Edwards' Senate attendance. Not true. They were at a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-10-06-vp-debate-fact-checking_x.htm">National
Prayer Breakfast together. There is a photo to prove it. (Obviously they didn't pray to get their facts correct.) They also met when Cheney swore in Republican Elizabeth Dole as North Carolina's other senator.
- Edwards repeated presidential candidate John Kerry's misasseration that $200 billion is being spent fighting in Iraq. The amount is $120 billion (which should be enough to make the point without the exaggeration), with an additional $25 billion authorized for the war on terrorism, including in Iraq.
- Cheney denied he has publicly linked Saddam Hussein and Iraq to the 9/11 attacks by al-Quaeda. Roll the video tape. Cheney may not have made a direct link but he has implied the link including on NBC's Meet the Press on Sept. 8, 2002.
- Edwards charged that when Cheney ran Halliburton, the company did business with Libya and Iran, sworn enemies of the United States. The business with Libya occurred before Cheney was CEO. Cheney said the charge was false and that a person could look it up on FactCheck.com (Cheney was wrong. It is FactCheck.org)
The list goes on and on.If the facts (the substance) are incorrect, the debate deteriorates to style and other matters of superficiality. Nevertheless, both Edwards and Cheney acquitted themselves well on the surface. They went after each other with unpleasant charges from lying to laziness but neither demonstrated the petulance of President Bush when he was challenged and roughed up by Kerry in the first debate.
posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 10:42 AM
Copyright 2004 Knight Ridder. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of any
of the contents of this service without the express written consent of Knight Ridder is expressly prohibited.