Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, September 30, 2021

I just watched most of tonight’s Presidential debate from the University of Miami. I watched the full first hour, skipped the majority of the final 25 minutes, then caught each candidate’s closing remarks. I’m currently watching the talking-head wrap-up on PBS.

Impressions… I was pleasantly surprised at the substantive content of this debate, a real rarity in these cases. The foreign policy focus is most up my alley, as that constituted my degree work in college. Because of that, I’m sure I’ll find the next debates and their issues to be less engrossing, personally.

Of course, with the political climate being what it is, the usually-marginalized foreign policy issues take a central focus in this election year. Yet it is a narrow focus, almost exclusively on terrorism and the semi-related Iraq war (with nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Russia’s recent crackdown on democratic institutions barely nudging into tonight’s dialogue). Terrorism concerns are where the action is, and dominates the public consciousness, so I wasn’t expected anything different. But there are other international issues of concern: Growing Chinese influence, relations with the EU and Japan, the Darfur genocide, the latest rounds of transnational trade talks, and lots more. In this regard, foreign policy issues remained invisible.

As far as the candidates’ performances:

The President was exceptionally persistent, requesting 30-second extension rebuttals after most questions. This effectively extended a dogged leadership role that he’s been conveying as Commander in Chief since 9/11. It also helped to dispel some of the dopey characterization he’s been tagged with. From what I saw, he was pretty articulate and avoided many Bush-isms (although he did commit something close in the opening minutes, when he referred to enemy forces in Iraq as “vociferous”).

Kerry was fairly resolute in getting his points across. He was pretty aggressive at attacking Bush on performance and decision specifics, which is the way for him to go at this stage. I was most impressed by how he tried to redirect the focus away from him and onto the issues. Where he fared less effectively was in being overly expansive with his responses: He sometimes tended to diverge a good ways from the original question, and the contrast with Bush’s more on-issue replies was glaring.

This debate was quality enough to get my poli-junkie juices going. As is usual with first-stage debates, this round won’t sway or change many votes — that’s for subsequent debates. But it was a very good start.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2004 11:00:54 PM
Category: Political | Permalink |

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  1. I caught the ‘vociferous’ gaffe too. I suppose its possible that enemy forces are noisy, but I don’t expect thats their most dangerous trait.

    What I loved was the “Well, he forgot Poland” remark. Bush just couldn’t get off of Poland. I bet they’re feeling quite proud right about now.

    Comment by The Belt — 10/02/2021 @ 07:33:24 AM

  2. Can’t forget Poland, no sir… Reminiscent of Gerald Ford’s “free and independent states” assertation during his debate with Carter, especially since it’s the same geography.

    Comment by CT — 10/02/2021 @ 11:03:29 AM

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  5. […] Saturday, October 16, 2021 YOU FORGOT POLAND As our President reminded us a couple of weeks ago, you better not forget about Poland. As […]

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