I have to admit that I didn’t see this whole debate (I missed about the first 40 minutes) but from what I saw it was -as I expected- entirely more fulfilling than was the first presidential debate. There were some great shots taken at one another’s expense. In addition, each participant was much more well-spoken than the presidential candidates.
Some parts ticked me off, namely:
- Cheney kept moving around and muffling his microphone. They should have just given them mics on a stand or something.
- Edwards’ mouth moves in bizarre ways. Tell me that’s not aggravating.
- Damned if I know where all of those statistics are coming from. At one point I think Edwards mentioned the number of domestic jobs lost was one-point-something million, and then said there were over two million manufacturing jobs lost. Beats me. Wouldn’t manufacturing jobs be a subset of the domestic jobs? Maybe I misunderstood. Then Cheney comes back with millions of other jobs created. It’s ridiculous and confusing.
- The “outsourcing” issue. Kerry and Edwards sound more afraid of outsourcing than Pat Buchanan. I know it sounds great that they want to close all of these “loopholes” but let’s see what happens then. Oh, well, the fact that labor is cheaper in other countries still doesn’t change. Take that away from our companies and chop us off at the legs. After competing on a non-level playing field with the rest of the world, I can’t imagine any company wouldn’t seriously consider up and leaving the US and it’s heavy corporate taxes and regulations, and take even more jobs with it. The outsourcing argument is, in my opinion, such an outrageous scare tactic that it really bothers me when people bring it up as this big evil operation. If you want to keep jobs in the US, buy US products. If you hate outsourcing, don’t buy from companies who outsource. There are plenty of watchdog groups out there (as well as the media) so it’s no secret who these companies are. Having the government prevent outsourcing will do nothing but cost us jobs.
- Job “creation.” Here’s something you’ll never hear in the debates – the government does not create jobs. Hey, I’ll go even a step further – the government does not make the economy good. I don’t want the government to try to do either anyhow – they inevitably screw it up. Every stupid interest rate change announcement throughs the economy in a tailspin. The government should make sure we have an adequate framework for conducting business – not overtax, not overregulate, and let the private sector do what it does best. That is to create and destroy jobs as needed to cater to the needs of consumers worldwide. Cheney seemed like he almost wanted to say it, but if a former CEO is afraid to say it, then I can only assume we’ll never hear a politician make that case. They’ll both continue to take credit for creating jobs, and blame each other when jobs are lost.
- No one seems to have a reasonable solution to health care (where reasonable is defined as the solution I’d most like to see). It’s more of the same – throw government money at it. If we keep this nonsense up, I’m going to have to start punching every smoker and fat person I know. Hey buddy, pay for your own unhealthy lifestyle.
On a similar note, I read this article today about the FDA letting Vioxx out the door even though it had dangerous side effects. Now let me ask a question – what do you conclude from reading a story like this? My hunch is that politicians, and maybe even most Americans, think that means “we’d better give the FDA more money, possibly even pass some ‘reform’ because they’re not doing a very good job.” How many people look at that and think – “what a useless piece of garbage the FDA is? Why are we still throwing money at them? Drug prices skyrocket as companies go through years of federal regulations and hoops to get drugs to market, only to have this happen?” I don’t think many people think that way. I don’t hear many politicians talking that way. It’s more of the same – we’re not doing a good job, but if we spent more money everything would be great (hmmm… I believe that’s their answer to education also).
Okay, so it turns out the debate got me fairly fired up. I think that’s a sign of a good debate. Again, on most of the important issues I think neither candidate is for me. Cheney’s line about saying the first time he ever met Edwards was on the stage, calling him out for not showing up on the job, was f’n great. I was hoping Cheney would drop the f-bomb during the debate, but since that didn’t happen I think at least that comment was pretty close.
I think Edwards’ strongest technique was in appealing to the American people – talking directly to them at times. At first I thought it was annoying, but it grew on me and I think it was pretty compelling in the end.