Wednesday, October 13


Kerry looks like he's ready to fight, Bush's smile is strained

Will we ever be safe again?

JFK: The measure should be, are we as safe as we ought to be? *(Bush is ready for first blood.)* I pledge I will do it as FDR, Truman and Kennedy did.

FURIOUS GEORGE: We can be safe if we stay on the offense. Kill, kill, kill. *(Here goes the "nuisance, prostitution and illegal gambling" gambit.)* Kerry voted against Homeland Security bill, I supported it.

JFK: Bush said he's not worried about Osama Bin Laden. We can be safer if we focus on the real war on terror.

FURIOUS GEORGE: I never said that. That's an exaggeration.

Flu vaccine shortage?

FURIOUS GEORGE: Vaccine was contaminated, so we took the right action and didn't allow contaminated medication to come in. We're working with Canada. My call to our fellow Americans, if you're young or healthy, don't get a flu shot this year. Help us prioritize. *(He's run out of things to say, can't fill his time, oh my God, is he blaming this on trial lawyers?)*

JFK: Underscores how the healthcare system in America isn't working for us, and it's gotten worse under P. Bush. Statistics. *(Amazing performance, he's citing state-by-state statistics. The people in Ohio must be saying, "Oh my gosh, he knows so much about our state! He's our man!")*

FURIOUS GEORGE: Remind people listening tonight that a plan is not a litany of complaints and not something you can't pay for. If every family in America signed up for the Senate/Congress plan, it'd cost us $5 trillion.

JFK: We're not giving this away for nothing. People will buy into it.

You said you wouldn't raise taxes on people making under $200,000 per year, but costs are going up. How can any president keep that pledge without running us deeper into debt?

JFK: I'll tell you exactly, by reinstating the "pay as you go" rules. P. Bush is only president to lose jobs, see family incomes go down, etc. I'm going to reverse that. We're going to restore the fiscal discipline of the 90s. Everything I've proposed, I've shown how to pay for. We start by rolling back GWB's tax cut for those above $200,000 income. That bill passed yesterday, $143 billion of giveaways.

FURIOUS GEORGE: His rhetoric doesn't match his record. He voted to raise taxes 98 times. He voted against tax cuts 200 times. His idea of pay-go, means you pay and he goes ahead and spends. His plan will bankrupt us. There's a tax gap. And guess who usually ends up filling the tax gap? The middle class.

What would you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who is being paid a fraction of his pay?

FURIOUS GEORGE: I'd say here's some help for you to go get some education. Best way to keep jobs here in America is to make sure our education system works. I went to Washington to solve problems. There was a problem in education. So we raised the standards and measure early to solve problems. Education is the way to keep jobs. I've got four more years. I've got more to do. *(He's foaming at the mouth now, there's something distinct at the corner of his mouth, and he's dying to wipe it off.)* Community college. Community college.*(It sounds like Bush is saying only the uneducated are unemployed or have their jobs threatened. I know a few Ph.D.'s and advanced-degree computer engineers who wouldn't appreciate the aspersion.)*

JFK: Pres diverted from jobs to education. Being lectured by him on fiscal responsibility is a little like Tony Soprano lecturing me on law and order. The jobs we're getting are paying less. He's cut training, education, Pell Grants, won't extend unemployment benefits. I will help workers to transition in every respect.

Is it fair to blame the administration entirely for the jobs situation?

JFK: I don't blame him entirely. I blame him for not doing everything he COULD do. I'll create a fair playing field. I'll change tax structure so companies aren't incentivized to send jobs overseas. We'll provide fair trade playing field. This pres didn't stand up for Boeing, but I talked about it for months. He didn't take on China for their currency manipulation. There have been markets shut to us that should have been opened. Plus we need to restore fiscal discipline.

FURIOUS GEORGE: Let me start on the Pell Grants. We've increased Pell Grants by a million students. That's a fact. He talks to the workers? Let me talk to the workers. You've got more money in your pocket because of our tax relief.

JFK: Anybody can play with these votes, everybody knows that. I broke with my party to balance the budget. I've voted for tax cuts 600 times. Pell Grant numbers have gone up because more people have less money. More qualify, but they don't get the promised $5,100.

FURIOUS GEORGE: Ted Kennedy is the more conservative Senator from Massachusetts.

Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

FURIOUS GEORGE: I don't know. I just don't know. It's important to treat everyone with tolerance and respect. I believe in the sanctity of marriage, and it's important that we keep it between a man and a woman. I proposed a Constitutional Amendment. I'm deeply concerned that justices are making decisions that should be left to the people of the United States. It's not in our nation's interest.

JFK: We're all God's children, Bob, and I think if you were to talk to Cheney's daughter, she would tell you that she's just being who she was born to be. *(I didn't like him mentioning Mary Cheney.)*It's not a choice. I've met people who have struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were trying to conform, and I've met wives who supported their husbands until they finally broke loose to let them live as they needed to. I agree with the pres that marriage is between a man and a woman. But it's not right to discriminate, so I'm for partnership agreements. They're proving today in every state that this can be managed satisfactorily.

Bishop said it would be a sin for Catholics to vote for you because you're pro-choice. How do you respond?

JFK: I'm Catholic, I grew up respecting those views, but I don't agree with them. I can't legislate to another American citizen an article of faith that they don't believe. I believe it's between a woman and her doctor. I will defend the right of Roe v. Wade. With respect to religion, I was an altar boy. Throughout my life, this has mattered to me. Like JFK, I'm not running to be a Catholic President, I'm running to be a president who happens to be Catholic. Quoted James, "faith without works is dead."

FURIOUS GEORGE: I believe the ideal world is one in which every child is welcomed to life. I understand that there are great differences on abortion, but I believe reasonable people can come together to enact just laws. For instance, partial birth abortion. Kerry voted against that ban. As we promote life and promote a culture of life, we can promote adoption. That's a great alternative to abortion. All of us ought to be involved in activities that provide an alternative to abortion.

Who bears responsibility for rising healthcare costs?

FURIOUS GEORGE: Gosh, I sure hope it's not the administration (heh heh). Consumers are not involved in the decision-making process. No market forces involved in healthcare. I like health saving accounts. Medical liability reform. Defensive practice of medicine costs government, consumers. Also, information technology isn't used. We're in the horse days. We need better medical records. Move generic drugs through the market.

JFK: This administration has stood in the way of common-sense efforts that would have reduced healthcare costs. He blocked you from importing drugs from Canada. He kept Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices. Medicare belongs to you, you pay for it, but the pres made it illegal to go out and bargain for better prices. Result: $179 billion windfall to drug companies. That's part of your high prices. Then there's the uninsured. The rest of us pick up their tab. That's more increase.

FURIOUS GEORGE: He has no record in the Senate in Medicare reform. I was deeply concerned about our seniors choosing between drugs and food.

JFK: I have co-sponsored bills and parts of bills, but I was one of the original authors of the early childcare and healthcare initiative we enacted in the nineties. So the pres is wrong.

Where are you going to get the money for your healthcare plan?

JFK: Everybody says the pres has distorted my plan. You choose between what I offer or what you have today. I don't think a lot of people are going to want to do that. Here's what we do. Government take over catastrophic coverage, incentivize states to cover the needy, you can buy into the Congressional plan, we give you broader competition. We'll allow people 55+ to buy into Medicare early. Small businesses get subsidized so they can offer insurance to their employees. Early detection.

FURIOUS GEORGE: I'm not so sure it's credible to quote news sources...well...oh, never mind. Kerry's plan wouldn't work. If you raise Medicare, why would employers offer private insurance? Government-run health will lead to poor quality health, rationing, less choice. *Can anyone tell that I'm listening to my puppet-master on the other end of this wire?*

JFK: He says government-run healthcare leads to poor quality. Maybe that's why the VA and Medicare patients are complaining, since he's underfunded them. For once and for all,

FURIOUS GEORGE: We're expanding veteran healthcare, AND HE KNOWS THAT.

Where do you get the money to keep Social Security going?

FURIOUS GEORGE: Seniors, you'll continue to get your checks. They spread a rumor in the 2000 campaign that if I was elected seniors would lose their checks. I called together a task team, including Pat Moynihan. I think younger workers should put their money into a personal investment account so they get better returns. This is a difficult issue, but I'm willing to take it on. I warn citizens that the cost of doing nothing is costly.

JFK: That's an invitation to disaster. The CBO said very clearly that if you were to adopt the pres's plan, there'd be a $2 trillion hole in the Social Security funds. They said there'd have to be a cut in benefits from 20-40%. Where does that transitional money come from? The pres is driving the largest deficits in history. I have a record of financial responsibility. We're going to protect Social Security, I will not privatize it, we will not cut the benefits.

At this point I got tired and caught up in the rhetoric. Long pause...Final thoughts...

Kerry displayed so much knowledge, and without sounding pedantic! Perhaps because he connected it so fluidly to real human problems and challenges. Warm, showed humanity, good talking about his wife, daughters and mother. Good on the faith question. A masture of the gesture, he uses his hands like a ballet dancer. Showed real humor, not just in his jokes but in his enjoyment of them. Closing statement magnificent. Hit all the right points, was inspirational, hopeful, confident. Presidential in the best sense of the word. A President to be proud of. Just beautiful.

Bush had his best debate. But his posture was aggressive, once again hunched over the lectern and often slapping it over and over to emphasize a point. His attempts at humor fell flat. His smile looked forced. He did very well with quite a few questions but always, he seemed impatient at having to justify himself. His MO was attack, attack, attack. It really did sometimes seem that his pauses were timed to receive new "instructions." Bush's closing statement hit a flat note after Kerry's uplifting prose. It was a downer.

Kerry the clear winner. In all respects.
Our next President of the United States.

UPDATE: I want to get this down so I'll never forget it. I got so caught up in this rhetoric and passion that I couldn't get it posted. But thanks to First Draft, we have this from Kerry:

"Faith is why I fight against poverty, to clean up the environment, it's why I fight for equality and justice. All those things come out of that fundamental faith. God's work must truly be our own. That's the test of public service." And when this man is elected, schoolchildren will learn that passage by heart.

UPDATE: Howard Fineman just reminded me of another magical Kerry moment. When JFK thanked Furious George for his service to the country in the days just after 9/11 and then proceeded to talk about what we needed to do in the future, it was both gentlemanly and a masterful way of announcing that his services were no longer required. Genius.

UPDATE: I keep remembering other great moments. First, when Kerry addressed the assault weapons ban expiration and his experience as a prosecutor and running one of the 10 largest district attorney's offices in the nation. His keeping-our-policemen-safe argument for gun control was effective. Man, he looked so commanding and inspired such confidence. It was a rush.


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