Friday, October 01, 2004


I don't know about you, but I enjoyed last night's first presidential debate -- usually I either watch and leave the room, watch from the edge of the room, or avoid them all together.

Last night's event seemed less about the back and forth of political points and more of a fairly non-shouting discussion about very important issues facing America.

I found myself less nervous and more engaged in listening to the two men. If anything happened unusual, it was that the president's very successful strategy in the past to stay on message didn't work as well. The country is nervous about Iraq. His mantra was to repeat several times that it is wrong to question his leadership of the war. In a democracy we get to do that. I noticed he talked a lot about work, and hard work. It's a Texan's phrase about engaging difficult tasks, but it did not come across very clearly, particularly in repetition. I assume we will hear the w-word on SNL's opening.

Vietnam does continue to haunt us. LBJ sent in major troops in 1964 (when I was in the 4th grade). Nixon negotiated the end of the war during my senior year in high school. At some point in the late 60s, it was obvious that we were stuck in an untenable position. The Cold War gave an extra dimension to any examination of why we were there and why we continued to pour soldiers and equipment in a war that we had no clear idea how to win or how to end. That was also a period of "guns and butter," when the American people were not asked to tighten the belt and sacrifice economically to pay for the war. To debate or question was to be disloyal. The government knew best.

Iraq is a different set of circumstances, with different kinds of issues. But if we cannot have a serious debate or discussion, and if we cannot figure out what we are doing right or wrong, we will have further losses, more mess, more destruction -- for the Iraqis and for us.

1 comment:

lemming said...

I'm still trying to work out some of what was said. GWB didn't use any babble, which I think shows that he is maturing into the job, even if I don't necessarily agree with his interpretation of it. I though Kerry had the better tie.