I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

2004 presidential debates

I don’t know about you but I’ve been enjoying these “debates.” It’s hard to call them “debates” without quotes because there are so many damn rules they might as well just play dungeons and dragons or something. I thought one of them was gonna get a balk.

(baseball technicality where a pitcher has stepped too far away from the mound and the batter gets to walk to first)

The best was definitely the first one, unofficially titled Kerry Unambiguously Whoops Bush’s Bitch Ass Part 1. I was a little nervous before the whole thing because you never know what’s gonna happen. Obviously Kerry had a good chance of doing well, and Bush had a very high chance of looking like a complete jackass. We all know the man can’t stand there and answer actual unplanned questions. We’ve seen it many times before, from the campaign 2000 interviews to the Meet the Press interview to even the handful of fake ass scripted “Press Conferences” he’s had. Even when the deck is stacked, he loses all his money.

What I’m saying is, the president is a fucking retard. I love America and all that, but the president is a fucking retard. Quit pretending.

Still, that has nothing to do with anything. If Bush went up there wearing his pants backwards and spent the whole time talking about his Yu-Gi-Oh cards, the media could still probaly pass it off as an impressive showing by a strong, decisive leader. He was just showing that he was down with the people. When his dad was president he was so out of touch he hadn’t apparently been inside a grocery store in 35 years. This Bush though, this guy is with it, he collects Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Just like the hard working, God fearing, homeland securing NASCAR dads and security moms and juggling uncles and commemorative coin neighbors and all the other embarassingly obvious fictional demographics he represents.

But about two minutes into the “debate,” it was clear there was nothing to worry about. This was a hilarious 90 minutes of television. It really seemed like some reality show where they told Bush he was going to be auditioning for an updated MY THREE SONS sitcom, then when he asked to use the bathroom before the pre-interview, they directed him down a hallway that led onto a stage on live television where he had to debate John Kerry.

There were so many amazing moments. The part where he whined that he KNEW Osama bin Laden attacked the US. He almost said, “Duh!” The part where he mixed up Osama and Saddam again. The part where he mumbled something about “seems like a tax gap to me,” then got confused by the lack of audience response, paused for a long time and said, “Aaaaaanyway…” That was so weird. And did I imagine it, or did he say that Iraq was a city?

Oh yeah, and all the parts where he kept saying how much “hard work” he does. And the part where he demanded 30 more seconds, then seemed to blink into the camera for the first 5 of them.

And remember when he had to act shocked – just SHOCKED! – at the idea that somebody called Prime Minister Allawi a “puppet”? This was priceless coming day after it had come out that the GOP coached Allawi for his trip to the US and even wrote his damn speech.

And it wasn’t just that Bush did so very, very, very, VERY bad. It was also that John Kerry did pretty damn good. Now, I wish he didn’t have to pander to everybody with this “hunt down and kill the terrorists” macho bullshit, and I wish he would’ve said that yes, actually pre-emptive war IS wrong. But what can I expect. Other than that, he was on fire. Staying calm and concise, but tearing into Bush’s many failures and corruptions. I liked the way he turned the “flip flop” bullshit around on Bush, and kept emphasizing Bush’s ineptitude in (apparently) trying to catch bin Laden. He was almost using judo on the guy, letting him do all the damage to himself. Kerry never once said “wrong war, wrong time” but Bush seemed to say it every other time he talked. I wanted Kerry to say, “I agree with the president, this IS the wrong war,” but he didn’t even need to do that. And out of the blue Bush starts attacking the international criminal court, which I don’t remember Kerry ever discussing in this campaign. Bush is clearly wrong – the court would be the perfect place to bring bin Laden. But I guess since they’re never gonna catch him anyway…

Okay, so then there was episode 2, John Edwards vs. Darth Cheney. This wasn’t such a blatant asswhipping, but it was good stuff. Cheney sat there, snarled and grumbled and couldn’t stop lying. And Edwards kept calling him on it! Edwards made me like him better because he ripped into Cheney more than I expected. How long have we been complaining about Halliburton? It’s good to finally see an actual democrat running for office who knows what Halliburton was up to when Cheney was in office – trading with Iran and Syria, bribing officials, lying to investors, etc. And that led to one of the two highlights: after a list of (well documented) Halliburton sins, Cheney smirks that he would love to respond to the charges “but I can’t do it in 30 seconds.”

The moderator, unamused, said, “Well that’s all you have.” The implication being, “You’re the one that made up these rules, asshole.”

Highlight #2 though was a moment I’ve been praying for, but that I never thought the Lord would deliver me: somebody finally brought up the Mandela thing to Cheney’s face. I was fantasizing that the moderator would ask about it. “As an African American woman, I’d like to ask how you justify having voted against a resolution to demand the release of Mandela, who you said was a terrorist.”

Instead, Edwards brought it up himself, but completely in context. After Cheney’s familiar line of Zell Miller horse shit (Kerry voted against this weapon and this weapon and this weapon), Edwards pointed out that as secretary of defense at the time, Cheney had wanted to cut all the same programs. And as long as we’re talking about records, might as well mention that Cheney voted against banning plastic guns, against the Martin Luther King holiday, against freeing Mandela.

Cheney’s rebuttal: “I think our records speak for themselves.”

Translation: “Oh shit, let’s move on to the next question before all that sinks in.”

The coverage of these “debates” is so ridiculous you’d almost think this was the same media that bent over naked and presented their ass to the Bush administration in the leadup to the Iraq war, then acted shocked – just SHOCKED! – when Dan Rather accidentally showed a fake document once. (As if the same people who said Colin Powell made a convincing argument at the UN, who said that Bush’s State of the Union address filled us with pride and hope, who said the staged tearing down of the Saddam statue was the end of the war, who let Bush get away with Selection 2000 and WMDs and Valerie Plame and Abu Ghraib, who said he looked so majestic and heroic when he wore that Top Gun Halloween costume on the USS Mission Accomplished, who made fancy logos of the Pentagon code names for the military operations, who got dressed up and embedded with the troops and referred to the invasion as “us” and “we,” who gave us Judith Miller and that nice well spoken Iraqi gentleman Chalabi and Geraldo Rivera declaring on air that he’s gonna bronze Osama bin Laden’s severed head… these same assholes suddenly believe in integrity and journalistic standards? Am I hearing this right?)

(I mean COME ON, media. You’ve been sleeping on the job for years. WHEN exactly did you get so god damned interested in integrity and standards? Why did I not hear about this? Was I out of town? You motherfuckers don’t HAVE integrity and you know it. When Wolf Blitzer is in the CNN men’s room taking a piss next to fucking treacherous Robert Novak, then he goes to wash his hands, I bet he makes a point of NOT looking in the mirror. I’m sorry to bust your bubble, media, but you don’t HAVE integrity. You left your integrity in your other pants and it went through the wash and when it came out it was in such bad shape you just tossed it.)

([mumble mumble] Aaaaaanyway…)

After the debates, the cable news channels spend hours interviewing not objective political analysts, or honest people, but partisan politicians giving “analysis” that would’ve been the same even if both candidates had sent Native American women to debate in their place as a protest against the loss of fishing rights. What’s the point of even showing that bullshit on TV? I agree with the democrats, but I don’t want to see them just going up there and saying what they’re supposed to say. Even more painful, the republicans who have to go out there and pretend that they actually are so completely high and delusional that they think Bush did a “superb” job. Yeah, real convincing performance there, Rudy Gulianni. Better fucking hope they weren’t lying to you about that cabinet position or whatever it is they’re promising you.

You know what I also love, this business with the focus groups of “undecided voters.” In other words, idiots. Or at best, lifelong republicans still struggling with whether to vote for Kerry or write in Superman. I mean seriously, how could you actually live in this country and not yet be sure who you’re gonna vote for?

I mean there’s a pretty clear difference here. We’re not talking a decision between Coke and Pepsi. We’re talking Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. We’re talking The Rolling Stones or Milli Vanilli. Who’s it gonna be, man?

So if the very idea of undecided voters isn’t ridiculous enough, what they do, they get them in a room holding a button during the debate, and they push it down farther for a positive response and less for negative. And then on the screen they put a little graph showing men and women’s responses in real time with the candidates talking. Ooh, I like this sentence so far, positive, positive, a little less positive, I don’t like the way he says “the,” I’m going negative… no, that was a good twist how he ended that sentence, good pronunciation, I’m going a little more positive now… neutral, neutral, ooh, good word positive… Cheney’s doing a good job of hiding his evil, I will give him a positive… ooh, he just sounded like a total asshole there, that’s negative.

Does anybody believe that means anything? I think a frog race would be as accurate at predicting the election.

I really wish somebody got to debate Rumsfeld now. That motherfucker has gone completely crazy. You know he would say something completely insane. All these Bush regime assholes are the same inside, but he’s the only one who has a hard time keeping it in. He just forgets what’s secret and starts blurting shit out. It’s great. I would LOVE to see him “debate” Wesley Clark or somebody. By the end he’d announce plans to invade at least two countries and accidentally confess to sabotaging Paul Wellstone’s plane.

But we don’t get that debate, instead we got #3 coming up Friday night. This is the “town meeting” style “debate” where “real people” in the audience ask “questions” that they write down on the cards and must not deviate from. I mean, there’s a lot of potential for good questions. Imagine:

QUESTION: Mr. Bush, in interviews you’ve said that you don’t read newspapers, and I’ve read that if aides give you a briefing more than a few pages long that you will throw it down on your desk and ask what “the bottom line” is. My question is, did you make an exception for the 9-11 Commission report, and if so, how long did it take you to read it? Also the Patriot Act.

or:

QUESTION: You have many times referred to John Kerry giving France a “veto” over our foreign policy. But don’t you kind of wish France did have veto power, so you wouldn’t’ve fucked up so god damn bad with this Iraq mess?

Of course, the questions gotta be approved by the moderator, and they have to read it off a card and if they deviate from the script at all they get their mic cut. So I would like to see a protest where every single person who comes up to ask a question deviates. So question after question after question gets cut off. How long would they keep going before realizing that their rules were making them look like jackasses?

Or picture this. What if a woman is asking the question as planned, but in the middle she makes a spontaneous aside about her son being killed in Iraq. Would they have the balls to cut her off? I’m not sure if they would or not.

Well, we’ll see what happens. Have fun everybody. For your safety and the safety of others, please have soft objects such as Nerf brand products available for throwing at your television. Keep all bricks and large rocks out of reach.

And remember, the 5th anniversary of my humble web sight here is coming up on Sunday. So have your cakes and balloons ready.

thanks everybody,

Vern

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 7th, 2004 at 8:04 am and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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