Politics, Sex, Religion, and all those impolite Human Conversations...

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Thursday, October 07, 2004

Scoring Points

Yesterday my neighbor said at our local café, “I think Cheney won the debate.” He had listened to it on the radio and thought Dick sounded more authoritative. So I asked, “How do you measure victory in a debate and does telling the truth matter?” Unfortunately I didn't get a meaningful answer from him as he had to take off; I don’t think he was running from the debate on The Debate.

It got me to thinking about how you score a debate (see World O'Crap for one scheme), especially when underhanded tactics are used.

If the debate were a fencing match, a discussion with swords, there would be specific rules on retreat and straying out of bounds. There are permitted methods of landing a hit on your opponent that allow for spirited delivery but not for dirty play. Lying in a debate is like using an illegal button to trick the electrical scoring apparatus into registering a touch. So Cheney's lying weren't valid hits on his adversary. Digby shows us what was left after eliminating the mis-truths.

John Kerry was a fencer in college and it showed in the first debate in this exchange:

LEHRER: New question, two minutes, Senator Kerry.

If you are elected president, what will you take to that office thinking is the single most serious threat to the national security to the United States?

KERRY: Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. There's some 600-plus tons of unsecured material still in the former Soviet Union and Russia. At the rate that the president is currently securing it, it'll take 13 years to get it.

I did a lot of work on this. I wrote a book about it several years ago -- six, seven years ago -- called "The New War," which saw the difficulties of this international criminal network. And back then, we intercepted a suitcase in a Middle Eastern country with nuclear materials in it. And the black market sale price was about $250 million.

Now, there are terrorists trying to get their hands on that stuff today.

And this president, I regret to say, has secured less nuclear material in the last two years since 9/11 than we did in the two years preceding 9/11.

We have to do this job. And to do the job, you can't cut the money for it. The president actually cut the money for it. You have to put the money into it and the funding and the leadership.

And part of that leadership is sending the right message to places like North Korea.

Right now the president is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn't make sense.

You talk about mixed messages. We're telling other people, "You can't have nuclear weapons," but we're pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using.

Not this president. I'm going to shut that program down, and we're going to make it clear to the world we're serious about containing nuclear proliferation.

And we're going to get the job of containing all of that nuclear material in Russia done in four years. And we're going to build the strongest international network to prevent nuclear proliferation.

This is the scale of what President Kennedy set out to do with the nuclear test ban treaty. It's our generation's equivalent. And I intend to get it done.

LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Mr. President.

BUSH: Actually, we've increased funding for dealing with nuclear proliferation about 35 percent since I've been the president. Secondly, we've set up what's called the -- well, first of all, I agree with my opponent that the biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network...

You could see Bush stumble over the word "nuclear" which he was probably coached not to use since he can't pronounce it correctly. It seemed to me Kerry knew this and in the course of the debate subtlely drove the point home using the word 31 times to Bushs once. Although Bush whipped out his trusty phrase, "weapons of mass destruction", it was a two-edge sword for him throughout the encounter.

I think both Johns showed finesse in parrying the criticisms and underhanded tactics of Dick and George. By my count,they delivered more blows on their opponents positions thereby winning this round...