...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

October 05, 2004

Notes On The Vice Presidential Debate

i live blogged the debate on my crappy laptop. i don't think i'll be doing that again. It's too hard to watch and type at the same time. Here's my notes:

Edwards broke the rules in his first sentence. That wasn't nice. He spoke directly to Cheney. He knows he can get away with it now, and he's testing the moderator. Tricky lawyer. And Gwen Ifill just got done saying she was going to enforce the rules. i guess that doesn't apply to Democrats, though.

Speed up the reconstruction? Kerry's been saying it was going too fast.

Cheney sounds competent and articulate.

Edwards breaks the rules again. Directing comments to the opponent.

Edwards is asked whether Saddam Hussein would still be in power if no war. Answer the question, Senator! If we had relied only on weapons inspectors, they would have found no weapons, there would be no war, and Saddam Hussein would still be in power! As soon as the inspectors left, he'd have re-started his weapons program. The world is safer because he is gone.

John Edwards sidesteps the question and talks about Afghanistan and OBL.

Stop saying that, John. Cheney never said that there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11,

Cheney: Kerry and Edwards have a limited view of how to use American power. Good. Good. Spell it out for us, Dick.

Cheney bringing up Kerry's consistent pattern of pacifism, excellent.

30 years of being on the wrong side of defense issues.

Cheney has good energy now.

Black jacket on Cheney, trying to look like Darth Vader.

Edwards: Kerry said he'd never give anyone a veto. Sorry John, but a global test is the same thing. It's letting world opinion influence American national security policy. Your attempted reassurance is not good enough.

Cheney brings up El Salvador. Why didn't Bush do this?

The moderator stays on the global test issue. Nice followup question. i take back what i said about her.

John Edwards' response is effective only to his base. Kerry's "global test" comment is a bell that can't be unrung. People realize that no Republican would ever propose a test.

On the other hand, when Edwards talks about the cost of the war, he scores points. This is good stuff for the independents. Could be persuasive.

Cheney counters well by challenging the accuracy of the facts behind John Edwards's cost argument. Ho ho ho! He gets the first jab in too: "you probably weren't there to vote for that."

John Edwards leans over. Is he reaching for a gun?

Now the "87 billion" makes it's first appearance of the night. Cheney: "you're not credible on Iraq because of the enormous inconsistencies." Nice. Things are heating up.

Haa! Now Edwards is on the defensive. He counterpunches. And Cheney is spot on with his rebuttal: "your rhetoric is not backed up by your record." Nice one, Dick!

Kerry's judgment is flawed and the record is there - he voted against weapons in the cold war-- against the first Gulf War.

Another good punch -- Howard Dean was the reason they both flip-flopped on the 87 billion. And John Edwards doesn't respond? No, he does, by invoking Halliburton!

This is going exactly according to script, isn't it?

Who gets to keep the notes they scribble afterwards? The Smithsonian? The National Archives? It's not like they're going to need them after it's over, but the notes are historically valuable.

John Edwards brings up the 1991 Gulf War coalition as an example of the kind of coalition he favors. But isn't that the war Kerry voted against?

Edwards says they should take the Iraqis out of the country to train them. But i think we're already doing exactly that, i read somewhere.

Ha! Cheney was Defense Secretary during the Gulf War. Touche! Don't preach to him about that coalition. He knows firsthand which coalition had more countries.

John Edwards compares gulf wars. But they're not analogous. The goals were different. Of course '91 took three days; we weren't trying to do what we're doing now.

Cheney is clearly winning now. He nails Edwards for demeaning the sacrifice of the Iraqis. Edwards is visibly rattled. Talk about body language! Even a seasoned litigator looks flustered when he's on the defensive.

Iraq is now our ally in the War on Terror. Perhaps our strongest, judging by their sacrifice. If the anti-war Kerry'd had his way, Iraq would still be our enemy, working against us.

John Edwards' rebuttal is off point. He plays the "things are bad in Iraq" card. Not a terribly effective rebuttal.

Kerry wants all the 911 commision reforms. Doesn't Bush too?

Zarqawi is an example of the links between Iraq and terrorism. He moved from Afghanistan to Iraq after we took out the Taliban. Doesn't it make sense? Iraq War or no Iraq War, Zarqawi is an example of how you had to follow up Afghanistan by taking out Saddam, because it was only natural that the terrorists would move to Saddam's Iraq after they got kicked out of Afghanistan.

Edwards blunders: He makes the point that there's al Qaeda in sixty countries. "How many of those countries are we gonna invade?" This contradicts Kerry's idea that we should be going after al Qaeda exclusively. If so, the answer to Edwards' question, logically, is all of them.

John Edwards wants to speed up the reconstruction, while at the same time cutting off all pay to Halliburton. How exactly is that supposed to work?

Edwards was in Jerusalem on the day of the Sbarro bombing? i hope, for his sake, that's true, because it'd be really easy to verify.

Cheney: "The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight." Owwww, that had to hurt. And you're no Jack Kennedy either, Senator Edwards. There's your sound bite for tomorrow.

Edwards is starting to unravel. Just slightly. "I did talk about Israel. He's the one who didn't talk about it!" He sounds like a whiny little kid. i think he was only trying to lighten the tone, but it ended up sounding childish. Bad move, John.

Yah i know. Those are style points. Trivial fluff. But that's what's fun about these things. Its how these debates are scored.

Now on to domestic policy. John Edwards gets his second wind. He seems to have recovered, and he knows this is where he can shine. Domestic is really John Edwards' strong suit, in contrast to Kerry who i think is more comfortable in foreign affairs.

Did i just see an Al Gore head tilt by John Edwards? i hope not, Gore is not the vice president you want to emulate.

Ifill's tax question unfairly accepts the liberal myth that tax cuts and increased revenue are mutually exclusive.

Edwards talking about increasing upper income taxes, while cutting taxes on the middle class. That Democratic plan will result in fewer jobs. What good is a tax cut when you're out of a job?

i like that they're focusing so much on taxes right up front. Republicans win whenever the dems are forced to talk about raising taxes. Even if they're talking about those with over $200,000 in income, that's within reach for a lot of small business owners. Plus, a lot of people still hope someday to get there. Not a winning issue, i don't think.

$200,000 is a multi-millionaire? if i may borrow a forgotten phrase from the 2000 debates, "that's fuzzy math."

The gay marriage issue. Cheney says the issue is judges. i wish he would say the words: full faith and credit clause.

Edwards passes up an opportunity to challenge Cheney on this marriage issue, going back to the tax talk and losing a bit of momentum.

Now he blows sunshine up Cheney's ass about his gay daughter.

No state for the last 200 years has ever had to recognize another state's marriage? what????? How can he say that? He's a lawyer! Full Faith and Credit Clause! WTF?

Enough with the kind words about the other guy's family, already.

Edwards says marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Ifill throws Cheney a softball, gives him a chance to bash trial lawyers and Edwards by association. Cheney won't take the bait.

This debate has had a good range of subect matter, and so far i'm impressed with the moderator, i thought Jim Lehrer was disgustingly biased, in his choice and phrasing of questions. i've been pleasantly surprised by Gwen Ifill.

i dont like the Kerry-Edwards plan for tort control, since i'm studying to be a lawyer. But i agree with John Edwards, most lawyers don't want frivolous lawsuits either.

And how does the government impose such a tort control plan on a federal system? i dont understand it. And wouldn't this just become a huge federal subsidy for a new professional expert industry.

Cheney's performance tonight, while very heartening, also makes Bush's performance last Thursday look even worse. Cheney raises the bar for Bush next time. And it must be said, that bar would not have been an issue if Bush had simply done an adequate job, instead of handing the dems a victory without a fight. His performance became the story, and it shouldnt have been. Now Bush has to prove that he can approach a minimum level of articulateness. Thankfully, he does better in the town hall format.

Edwards' biggest doozie of the night: lack of healthcare causes AIDS!

Edwards says he and Kerry want to find the terrorists and kill them before they kill us? Well, now thanks to Bush, we know where a lot of them are: in Iraq. Let's kill them there. If Kerry'd had his way, we'd be playing hide and seek with al Qaeda.

Cheney questions the questions subtly, with hardly a hint of sarcasm. Not like Rumsfeld, who basically ridicules the press.

Cheneys was laid off once? Hospitalized without health insurance? i did not know that.

Please Cheney, don't hold your hands under your chin. It blocks the microphone and muffles your voice.

Cheney's done well tonight. His name has really become synonymous with gravitas.

Kerry and Edwards want to go on offense in the War on Terror? How? What's their long term plan? With a watch list? Thats it? That's not proactive. Screening cargo? What if one gets through? We can't be perfect 100% of the time. Terrorists only have to be right once. Let's change the Middle East and spread freedom. That's the long term solution Kerry-Edwards won't talk about.

Edwards smiles, he should do that more. Edwards' "lean to the right and point with four fingers" move should be patented, or trademarked or whatever.

Hanging the flip-flop label on the administration is a loser, no one except die hard democrats are gonna buy that one.

How did Bush stop the Patient's Bill of Rights? i'm curious.

On one hand the dems are actively trying to scare college kids by saying there's going to be a draft, then they're saying Bremer's right, we need more troops. Cheney and Rummy say they're opposed to a draft, and that we don't need more troops because they trust the commanders on the ground. who havent asked for them

Oh no, the moderator fucked up. Too bad, now people will criticize her, but i think she did an outstanding job.

At the closing statement, will Cheney shock the audience by revealing that he is, in fact, Luke's father?

Will Edwards, in his closing, go for the punies, or will he limit himself to asking for only compensatory damages?

Edwards asks rhetorically whether America has ever been more divided. The answer is easy. Yes, from 1861 to 1865.

Ah, finally John Edwards mentions the millworker's son thing. He waited until his closing to do it.

If i did see incomes going down, etc, i'd blame the Democrats. So that argument is not persuasive to me.

Edwards gave a good closing though.

Cheney's closing is starting out flat. Picking up now. But he's got good eye contact, which he sometimes has trouble doing.

Cheney: "It's important that we stand up democratically elected governments as the only guarantee that they'll never again revert to terrorism or the production of deadly weapons." A very concise statement of the basic argument.

Its over, Ms. Edwards rolls out onto the stage. John Edwards got a cute kid. He should have that kid on his arm at all times, good prop, worth probably half a point in the battleground states.

i like both of these guys. It was a real good debate. Even cordial, after Edwards got burned a bit and learned to respect Cheney. Then i think Edwards regained some ground in the domestic portion. It was probably a draw, but since the foreign policy portion is more important right now, Cheney comes out a bit ahead.

Cheney is a solid debater. i never had any worries about him, and i chuckled at all the naysayers.

The debate was probably very boring to the casual viewer. i was riveted, since i love this stuff.

Vice presidential debates decide nothing, but this year, Cheney went a long way to reassure Republicans after Bush's dismal perfirmance last Thursday.

Posted by annika, Oct. 5, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


A valuable read, Annika. Thanks.


Posted by: Kevin Kim on Oct. 6, 2004

"Who gets to keep the notes they scribble afterwards? The Smithsonian? The National Archives? It's not like they're going to need them after it's over, but the notes are historically valuable."

My guess would be the Commission on Presidential Debates, the non-governmental, non-partisan body that's sponsored these things since 1988.

"The gay marriage issue. Cheney says the issue is judges. i wish he would say the words: full faith and credit clause."

Well, unlike Edwards, who has no excuse whatsoever, Cheney's not a lawyer, so I don't think you could really expect him to get into the details.

"And how does the federal government impose such a tort control plan on a federal system? i dont understand it."

To a far lesser extent than most politicians who support tort reform seem to think, but primarily I would guess by expanding the diversity jurisdiction of the federal courts, especially in the context of class actions.

Posted by: Dave J on Oct. 6, 2004

i didnt know what diversity jurisdiction was until a few weeks ago.

Posted by: annika on Oct. 6, 2004


Yeah, that liveblogging stuff is hard, isn't it? I tried, but did a terrible job.

"And how does the federal government impose such a tort control plan on a federal system? i dont understand it."

Presumably the same way they do lots of other things that they probably have no business doing under a federal system: They call it a commerce issue and pass a statute that directly regulates the field. That'd be my guess, anyway, but maybe they're more subtle than that. (I doubt it, but who knows?)

I was heartened to note that Cheney at least seems aware of the concept of federalism, even if he conveniently ignores it in the tort reform context. ("Traditionally, that's been an issue for the states. States have regulated marriage, if you will. That would be my preference.") Some of my colleagues think federalism is too metaphysical a point to raise in a national debate, and that it will turn most voters off. They may be right, but it warmed my heart anyway. Sadly, though, Bush doesn't seem to have much respect for federalism. (Neither, of course, does Kerry.) This is one of my biggest complaints against W.

Posted by: Matt on Oct. 6, 2004

I enjoyed your perspective.

A personal aside: Because of his personal story and his cute kids, I would like to like John Edwards, but I do not. He is all about cleverness and none about substance. He is insincere sincerity. He is cotton candy. He promotes class warfare for his benefit, with nary a thought of the nation's benefit-- this is detestable-- John Edwards is actually being part of the problem when he does this. He is being part of the problem with his cleverness masking his lack of substance.

My group of XXL men friends is much different than we would've been 30 years ago. We are more "sensitive." We don't yell at the Little Leaguers we coach, and we talk about stuff our fathers never would've touched. But one thing has not changed: a cotton-candy ass poser like John Edwards gets no respect from us. Neither I nor a single one of my friends like this guy.

Posted by: gcotharn on Oct. 6, 2004

Something else. Cotton-candy ass is not that effing clever! If he was that effing clever, me and every friend I have would not see through his bullshit with such ease.

The media infatuation with Edwards has an underlying theme: "Edwards is so good at fooling the rubes." That pretty much says it all about the media, and about Edwards.

Posted by: gcotharn on Oct. 6, 2004

Was curious what you had to say about the Factcheck.com slip-up...

Posted by: Amy on Oct. 6, 2004

Wow Amy, that was a big screw up! Yuck, Soros.

Thanks for the great work, annie.

Posted by: d-rod on Oct. 6, 2004

"Vice presidential debates decide nothing, but this year, Cheney went a long way to reassure Republicans after Bush's dismal perfirmance last Thursday."

what would you base your decsion on if you were an undecided voter. The VP debates? maybe.

you could try to expand you knowledge of the entire ticket by looking at the VP debates, or by doing more research.

Basically, the VP debates could decide a few people's minds.

Posted by: cubicle on Oct. 6, 2004

"i didnt know what diversity jurisdiction was until a few weeks ago."

Heh, Civ Pro's the "insider" class, now isn't it? The one that most separates lawyers from laypeople, I mean, more so than the substantive subjects.

"Presumably the same way they do lots of other things that they probably have no business doing under a federal system: They call it a commerce issue and pass a statute that directly regulates the field."

But with respect to this area, then you'd almost certainly just have a federal statute sitting alongside preexisting state law, since you're just not going to see Congress preempt whole swathes of the general law of torts even if the courts were to let them get away with it: hence, that would still not make much difference, since plaintiffs could sue under either state or federal law or both, and state courts have concurrent jurisdiction over federal questions unless Congress specifically excludes them.

The reason I said I expected an expansion of the diversity jurisdiction of the federal courts to be the key to any federal tort reform is that Congress legitimately has much greater leeway to do things there than its (essentially non-existent) power re: the state courts. Because the federal constitution establishes only the US Supreme Court, Congress as the creator of the lower federal courts has the last word on their rules of procedure (I could go into snore-inducing detail on the 1934 Rules Enabling Act, but I'll spare you), so anything with respect to, just for example, limitations on attorney fees or punitive damage awards could at least be argued to be procedural even with respect to state-law tort claims. Moreover, at a practical level, the jury pool for a federal district court even in the same state's going to be much larger and less hospitable than in some notoriously plaintiff-friendly rural county where those of Senator Edwards' ilk typically go shopping for clients.

And Congress does have the power to do this: the US Constitution allows for "partial diversity," i.e., federal courts hearing state-law cases where at least one party differs in citizenship from the party or parties opposite, but Congress has never authorized this, never expanded federal jurisdiction to the maximum scope allowed. The statutory diversity jurisdiction of the federal courts has been the same since the Judiciary Act of 1789: "total diversity," wherein all the parties on one side must differ in citizenship from all the parties opposite. This makes it VERY easy for a plaintiff's attorney to keep a case in state court if wanted, simply by finding just one client who's a resident of the same state as any of the defendants and/or naming as a defendant a party from the same state as a plaintiff.

Posted by: Dave J on Oct. 6, 2004

Nice, Dave.

While we're at it, anyone wanna help me on the scintillating subject of the difference between rules vs. statutory class action?

Just kidding, of course! That would drive away all visitors.

Posted by: annika on Oct. 6, 2004

Scintillating indeed, at least compared to what I'm working on now. ;-) But that's NFPC (Not For Public Consumption) until it's finished and published--not that you'd likely have much idea what it was about anyway until you're well into Property next semester. Or is that a first-semester class for you? I know different schools vary the first-year curriculum somewhat.

Great job on this, BTW: an insightful but also fun read.

Posted by: Dave J on Oct. 6, 2004


Wanna know a dirty little secret? . . .

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. . .

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Even now I don't understand the difference between "rules" and "statutory" class actions! I don't think I ever really did. You should try to learn it, though -- it may be on the exam! (And if you figure it out, let me know. I'm not interested enough to research it myself at this point. The odds that I'll ever end up litigating a class action are roughly the same as the odds that God will give me two stone tablets to take down to the Israelites.)


You might be interested in this.

Fair enough, but why fiddle with diversity jurisdiction?

Posted by: Matt on Oct. 6, 2004

Matt, thanks for that. As staff of a state legislature, it strikes me as a useful if rather disturbing read: I'm a supporter of tort reform, but still. Congress couldn't get rid of jury trials in the federal courts and, while the Seventh Amendment doesn't apply to the states, as far as I know every state constitution has an analogous provision, so for the feds to step and abolish civil jury trials in the state courts for specific causes of action, while CRS may be correct in saying it's not strictly unconstitutional per current US Supreme Court case law, still seems blatantly contrary to the principles underlying those constitutional provisions, an overly-convenient end-run around them.

I don't think we even discussed class actions in my Civ Pro class. The professor was too obsessively interested in diversity jurisdiction. ;-) Why fiddle with it? I'm not actually sure that I would, just that if Congress did seriously pursue tort reform, it might be a means to do so without raising as many of the federalism concerns as some other proposals do.

Posted by: Dave J on Oct. 6, 2004

Nicely done, Annika. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

Posted by: Margi on Oct. 6, 2004

I don't know if the VP's couldn't direct questions to each other. Besides I really doubt that Bush could back out of the last two debates and save face. His failures of his administration and his failed debate would make it look real bad if he dropped them. So, truthfully Kerry and Edwards don't really have to follow the rules. Then again Bush broke the rules when he went to war. I just want to know what is Bush afraid of, that he had to write up so many rules, and didn't want to talk to the 9-11 commision. I seriously think he is hiding something that still hasn't come out yet. Think Watergate.

Posted by: Sean Carter on Oct. 6, 2004

The "new" annika doesn't get involved in comment debates.

oh what the hell...

Sean said:

I really doubt that Bush could back out of the last two debates and save face. His failures of his administration and his failed debate would make it look real bad if he dropped them.
What are you smoking dude? Has any rational person suggested that Bush back out of the last two debates?

And i simply can't follow the logic which leads you to conclude that "truthfully Kerry and Edwards don't really have to follow the rules." Oh i get it, they're democrats and the rules never apply to democrats. (See recent disputed elections in FL, NJ, MO, CA etc.)

I just want to know what is Bush afraid of, that he had to write up so many rules
The rules were agreed upon by both campaigns. You could just as easily ask what Kerry is afraid of, since his campaign agreed to the rules.
I seriously think [Bush] is hiding something that still hasn't come out yet.
Actually, i know what Bush is hiding "that still hasn't come out yet":   it's yo momma!

Posted by: annika! on Oct. 6, 2004